Cost of Studying in Germany

Cost of Studying in Germany

Germany has been at the forefront of higher education for decades, leading the world in terms of programming, courses, infrastructure, and tuition rates. Taking the name of the highest-ranked country for international study and third most popular destination for international students in Europe, Germany has attracted over 300,000 international students to its nearly 400 universities, colleges, and institutes, each year.

Perhaps one of the primary reasons for increased student interest can be attributed to the fact that all students, including non-EU students, have been offered tuition-free opportunities in the country beginning as early as 2011, with all 16 German states completely abolishing tuition fees in 2014.

Now, however, some states are beginning to re-introduce tuition fees of up to 3000 EUR/year in their regions. For students looking to study in the country, what can they then expect their tuition fees to look like? That all depends on a few decisions they make along the way.

Here are three questions students need to ask themselves that will directly affect the price of their tuition in Germany:

Where Will I Study?

15 of the 16 German states still offer tuition-free education to international, non-EU students. If you are in any of these, your cost of tuition will be zero, with the exception of accommodation, textbooks, meal plans, and/or a few semesterly enrollment fees that cost typically under 300 EUR.

Students interested in universities in Baden-Württemberg, a German state in the southwest corner of the country, will, however, be charged tuition fees of 3000 EUR/year. The state was the first to abolish tuition fees back in 2011, but it has reintroduced them for international students from outside the EU the Autumn semester of 2017. For a list of universities affected by this, refer to that list below:

Universität Freiburg

University of Heidelberg

KIT, Karlsruher Institut für Technologie

Universität Mannheim

Universität Konstanz

Eberhard Karls Universität Tübingen

Universität Stuttgart

Universität Ulm


Those interested in universities located in North Rhine-Westphalia should be aware that the state is on track to follow Baden-Württemberg’s lead. Although still waiting on Parliament to approve the proposal, the state has filed for non-EU students to pay the same tuition fee of 3000 EUR/year in the region.

Private or Public University?

While undergraduate degrees from the vast majority of German public institutions remain tuition-free, those from the country’s private universities, which make up under 5% of the higher education institutions, require fees that rival some of the world’s more expensive international study destinations.

Despite the much higher cost associated with private colleges and universities in Germany, they are increasing in popularity. Around 140,000 students were enrolled in private universities in Germany in 2015, while merely a decade prior to that, they saw an attendance rate of only 24,000 students.

While there are still some affordable private universities, most tend to cost upwards of 20,000 USD per year. Students enrolled in these programs are typically studying applied science and benefit from smaller class sizes than their tuition-free, public counterparts.

What Degree Level am I Pursuing?

Tuition fees at an undergraduate level at most public universities in Germany are usually free, with a few notable exceptions in the state of Baden-Württemberg, as mentioned above. However, for higher degree levels, tuition enters back into the picture, though still at a low rate.

For students continuing education from an undergraduate degree achieved in Germany, tuition will remain free at a Master’s level. However, if transferring to the country from another destination, continued degrees will likely cost approximately 5000 EUR/year at public universities, and a whopping 30,000 EUR/year in private institutions. Overall, regardless of degree level, it is always more affordable to attend one of Germany’s public universities, which are known globally for their rigor and quality.