Finding a university

Anyone looking to study in Germany is spoilt for choice. There are many different types of universities, all of which provide outstanding quality.

Germany has public and private universities. They are usually divided into universities, universities of applied sciences and colleges of art, film and music. About 60 percent of the universities are financed by the government and are therefore state-funded. 30 percent of the institutions of higher education are private universities, and 10 percent are church-financed and state-accredited institutions. The vast majority of students are enrolled in state-run universities. Anyone studying at these universities pays no or only a nominal amount of tuition fees.

Private universities, which are government approved or recognised, are generally universities of applied sciences. Students appreciate the small study group sizes, the close link to industry and the international focus. Anyone looking to study at a private university may need to pay very high tuition fees. In addition, the degrees are only recognised on the international job market if the private university is officially recognised.

Furthermore, there are a few universities that are run by the Protestant or Catholic Church. These are generally officially recognised universities with a focus on specific subjects – for example theology, philosophy, social work, nursing science or education. The Hochschule für Jüdische Studien Heidelberg is also open to students of all denominations.

In the 2015/2016 winter semester in Germany there are...

107 universities with 1,727,393 students
6 universities of education with 24,456 students
16 theological universities with 2,460 students
52 colleges of art, film and music with 35,646 students
216 universities of applied sciences with 929,029 students
30 public administration colleges with 36,424 students
a total of 427 universities with 2,755,408 students.

Research-based study at universities

Universities and equivalent colleges focus on the transfer of theoretical and methodological competencies. They are the only universities in Germany entitled to award doctorates, i.e. only they can award an academic doctoral degree. Universities generally have a strong research focus and offer the broadest range of subjects of all tertiary education facilities.

Some universities have specialised in certain subject areas, such as technology or education, and are referred to as a University of Technology (TU) or University of Education (PH). Others focus on a single subject. These include the Hanover Medical School, the University of Veterinary Medicine Hanover and the German Sport University Cologne.

Practical study at universities of applied sciences

Universities of applied sciences focus on a practical scientific approach. They are less concerned with the theoretical background and provide a more practical vocational experience.

The range of subjects is generally not as extensive and is focussed on certain subject areas, such as technology, industry, social affairs or media. The integrated practical phases are comprised of internships spanning several weeks, extended project phases or entire practical semesters. These are completed in associated companies and operations.

Dual college/university of cooperative education

A dual course combines a degree with professional training or practical phases in a company. An interesting perspective for anyone who enjoys practical education and wants to accelerate their entry into professional life. More information is available at

Artistic courses at a college of art, film and music

Colleges of art, film and music educate up-and-coming artists. For example, these include visual artists, musicians, architects, directors, actors and designers as well as art scholars and art teachers. This kind of course generally requires a special artistic talent that the applicant has to demonstrate as part of an entrance exam. Particularly gifted students may sometimes also be able to start a course without a university entrance qualification.

Contact information for Higher Education Institutions

These data have been kindly made available to the DAAD by the German Rectors' Conference - The Voice of the Universities.

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