Recent years have seen a surge in the number of international students wanting to study in Germany. One of the reasons for this is the solid reputation of German universities, but additional appeal certainly comes from the fact that Germany is one of few countries to offer free education at the undergraduate level, for both domestic and international students.
However, if you can’t speak any German, gaining entry to public universities in Germany can be difficult. Most programs are taught in German and require proof of proficiency in the German language. What if you can’t speak German and still want to study in Germany? The good news is that there are opportunities to study in Germany in English, with a growing selection of English-language programs designed for international students.
English-language programs are already fairly common at the master’s level, particularly within the social sciences and business-related subjects. They’re now also becoming a more widely available option for undergraduates – so with a bit of patience and research, you too might get the chance to study in Germany in English.
How to study in Germany in English…
International students who do not sprechen sie Deutsche may find it hard to gather the right information on how to study in Germany in English, particularly at the undergraduate level. Although many students attracted to study in Germany are motivated by the free tuition, finding reputable free English-language programs at public universities is not easy. This is because the majority of undergraduate courses at German universities are taught in German.
Despite this, if you are not limited to free degrees, there are many options for international undergraduates within private institutions. While tuition fees are charged at these private schools, they can still be markedly cheaper than the average price of international courses elsewhere in the world. Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) for instance, offers a bachelor’s program in mechanical engineering taught in English, at a price of €7,000 (US$7,900) per semester (two semesters per year), while ESCP Europe offers the chance to study in the capital cities of three countries (London, Paris/Madrid, and Berlin) on its Bachelor in Management program for €12,500 (US$13,950) per year. ESCP Europe also offers graduate programs taught in English across all five of its European campuses (based in Berlin, London, Madrid, Paris, and Turin), including the Master in Management and the Master in European Business programs.
If free tuition is what you’re after, there are alternative options. For these, you may need to look beyond the most famous universities in Germany, to consider institutions that are perhaps smaller, specialized, or vocational in focus. For instance, you may consider Germany’s universities of applied sciences, which offer more specialized pathways of learning to create highly skilled graduates in the science and technology sectors. This option can be good for those who already have a career path mapped out and wish to get practical skills in their field alongside a recognized degree.
Before applying to a school, make sure to do some research regarding the school’s reputation in your chosen field. You should also ensure that the institution offers the right qualifications for your career, as some only offer diplomas, rather than full degrees.
To find opportunities to study in English in Germany, the DAAD (German Academic Exchange Service) provides an international program search tool. This allows you to sort through a whole range of international programs at all degree levels, by German universities, universities of applied sciences, arts colleges, and research institutes.
German universities offering undergraduate English-language programs
There are currently a very limited number of undergraduate English-language programs at top universities in Germany. Due to the scarce nature of these programs, if you really want to study at a leading university, you may have to be a little bit flexible on your choice of program. Below is a shortlist of the types of opportunities available for undergraduates to study in English in Germany at universities featured within the QS World University Rankings®. This is by no means a comprehensive list, and new courses are being developed continuously, so it is important to conduct additional research yourself – using online searches, the DAAD, rankings, student sites/forums, and other organizations offering advice and guidance.
- Universität Freiburg
As well as offering a range of English-language master’s programs, Universität Freiburg is also one of few German universities to offer a bachelor-level degree program taught in English, allowing international students to study for a Bachelor of Arts (BA) or a Bachelor of Science (BSc), depending on their major. Universität Freiburg has a strong international reputation, ranked 121st in the QS World University Rankings® 2014/15.
- Georg-August-Universität Göttingen
Georg-August-Universität Göttingen, ranked 146th in the world rankings, offers a BSc in Molecular Ecosystem Sciences which is taught in English. However, basic knowledge of German must be proven. The school also offers a number of international graduate programs.
- Universitat Leipzig
You can study for a BA in American Studies and a BSc in International Physics Studies in English at Universitat Leipzig, which is currently ranked 289th in the world rankings.
- Julius-Maximilians-Universität Würzburg
Not solely an English-language program, but worth a mention, the Julius-Maximilians-Universität Würzburg, ranked 341st in the world, offers a BA in Modern China that is open to students who are bilingual in Chinese and English and also speak some German. This program is run in cooperation with Peking University, one of China’s leading universities.
Universities in Germany offering international graduate programs
- Ruprecht-Karls-Universität Heidelberg – international master’s programs in English
- Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München – graduate ‘English-taught courses’ (ETC)
- Technische Universität München (TUM) – international graduate programs in English
- Universität Freiburg – English-language master’s programs
- Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) – English-language graduate programs
- Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin – international master’s programs in English
- Georg-August-Universität Göttingen – international graduate programs in English
- RWTH Aachen University – international master’s programs in English
- Freie Universität Berlin – international master’s programs in English
- Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität Bonn – international graduate programs in English
- Universität Hamburg – bilingual and English-language master’s programs
- ESCP Europe – international business and management master’s programs in English (based across ESCP campuses in Berlin, London, Madrid, Paris and Turin)
- Friedrich-Alexander University Erlangen-Nürnberg – a range of master’s programs taught fully or partly in English
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