If you’re looking to study for free at the world’s top universities, then you best set your sights on Germany. Whether you’re from Europe – or any other continent – it is possible to finish your undergraduate or graduate studies in German public universities for free.
Due to the high demand both for free education, international students have to secure a residence permit before they can study in Germany. While the process of doing so may be laborious, the reward of studying at free universities in Germany is great!
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What is the Application Process Like? And What Are the Requirements?
To be able to study in Germany, you need to have a good GPA, good test scores in IELTS or TOEFL, and a German proficiency test if your degree requires you to. Then, you will need to apply by completing the application form, submitting the required documents, and fulfilling the eligibility criteria.
To help you with the process, we’ve provided a comprehensive guide on How to Apply to Universities in Germany. If you are unsure, you should check the guide out!
Apply to as many universities to increase your chances, but don’t apply to too many because you will not be careful with your application. Around 10-15 is sufficient for undergraduate, and around 5-10 is sufficient for Masters and Ph.D.
Read also: How to Study in Germany for Free
Are these Free Universities in Germany Competitive?
The answer is no, compared to prestigious universities in Canada and USA. To increase your chances of attending these universities, you need to do some research about the acceptance rates.
This resource on Universities in Germany with the Highest Acceptance Rates is helpful for prospective international students wishing to study in Germany. These universities accept the most percentage of international students each year, so if you apply to these, you will definitely have a great chance of getting a free education in Germany.
How Can I Finance My Studies in Germany?
So, as you will see below, the German universities in this list have free tuition for international students. However, the catch is that they do not provide living costs.
To help you with living expenses, I highly suggest that you look at DAAD Scholarships, which is German Government Scholarships for International Students. This scholarship provides a generous living stipend, so we recommend you apply for this scholarship. Also, you should apply for other Scholarships in Germany for International Students as well as DAAD Scholarships.
Other than receiving scholarships, there are other ways to finance your education, so we’ve compiled a guide on How to Study in Germany for Free. Take a look if you are interested!
Free Universities in Germany
1. Free University of Berlin
The Free University of Berlin or FU Berlin is one of the best universities in Germany. Founded in the year 1948, it started as the West Berlin chapter of the Frederick William University. It is currently located in the capital. As of date, it has an enrollment rate of 36,000+ students – with 22% coming from outside Germany.
FU Berlin is academically organized into the departments of Biology & Chemistry, Earth Sciences, History & Cultural Studies, Law, Business & Economics, Mathematics & Computer Science, Education & Psychology, Philosophy & Humanities, Physics, Political & Social Science, Medicine, and Veterinary Medicine.
True to its’ name, the Free University of Berlin levies no tuition – except for certain graduate programs. It does, however, require a contribution worth about $313. This covers the enrollment/registration fee, student support service, student union, and transportation tickets.
2. Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich
The Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich, also known as LMU, is the top-ranked institution in all of Germany. Its programs are considered some of the best in the world, with its Arts & Humanities and Physical Science courses respectively ranking 18th and 21st internationally.
Founded in the year 1472, LMU was opened in Ingolstadt by Duke Ludwig IX. Now based in Munich, it is heralded as the sixth-oldest operating university in the country.
As one of the largest institutions in Germany, LMU oversees 34,000+ students – 17% of which come from outside the country. These students are enrolled in the university’s 20 faculties, which cover the disciplines of Catholic Theology, Protestant Theology, Law, Economics, Business Administration, Veterinary Medicine, Medicine, History & Arts, Psychology, Philosophy, Culture, Language & Literature, Social Science, Mathematics & Computer Science, Physics, Chemistry & Pharmacy, Biology, and Geoscience & Environmental Science.
LMU, which has been a tuition-free university in Germany since 2013, only charges a nominal fee for certain professional or graduate degrees and certificates.
3. Technical University of Munich
The Technical University of Munich or TUM is the top 2 institution in all of Germany. Founded in 1868, it has a main campus in Munich – and branches Heilbronn, Freising, Garching, and Singapore.
As a technical university, TUM specializes in the studies of Architecture, Aerospace, Engineering, Chemistry, Informatics, Mathematics, Medicine, Physics, Sports & Health Science, Education, Governance, Management, and Life Science.
Like most public universities, this free university in Germany draws funding from public money to deliver its services to its 32,000+ students – a third of which come from abroad.
Although TUM does not collect tuition, students will need to pay a semester fee ranging from 62 Euros (in Straubing) to 144.40 Euros (in Munich, Weihenstephan, and Garching).
4. Humboldt University of Berlin
The Humboldt University of Berlin (HU Berlin) is a free public research institution based in Berlin, Germany. It was founded in the year 1810 as the University of Berlin – many thanks to the efforts of its namesake Wilhelm von Humboldt, Johann Gottlieb Fichte, and Friedrich Schleiermacher.
The university, which follows the Humboldtian model of education, is organized into nine faculties. These are Law, Mathematics & Natural Science, Life Science, Philosophy (I & II), Humanities & Social Science, Theology, and Economics & Business.
Formerly known as the Friedrich Wilhelm University, HU Berlin is listed as the sixth-best university in Germany. Many of its programs are ranked in the world, with the Arts & Humanities programs coming in at number 20 and the Law program landing at rank 25. This reputation has helped attract many international enrollees, which represent 18% of the university’s 33,000+ students.
As with other free universities in Germany, HU Berlin only charges a semester fee of 300 Euros. This covers a seasonal transport pass and certain fees for student organizations.
5. RWTH Aachen University
RWTH Aachen University is one of the public research institutions in North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany. Founded in 1870, it is one of the biggest in the country. To date, it has 45,000+ students, 23% of which come from outside Germany.
As the top university in Germany, RWTH Aachen is famous for its programs in Mathematics, Natural Science, Computer Science, Architecture, Civil Engineering, Mechanical Engineering, Materials Engineering, Electrical Engineering, Information Technology, Arts & Humanities, Business & Economics, and Medicine.
As a free-tuition university in Germany, RWTH Aachen only requires a semestral contribution of 500 Euros. This is aside from the 1,000 Euros that every student needs to allot monthly to live comfortably in Aachen.
6. University of Bonn
Officially known as the Rhenish Friedrich Wilhelm University of Bonn, this free German public institution is ranked ninth in all of Germany. It was founded in 1818 and is currently settled in an urban campus in North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany.
The university has 37,000+ students – 13% of which come from outside Germany. They are enrolled in the university’s 7 faculties, which are organized into the studies of Catholic Theology, Protestant Theology, Law & Economics, Medicine, Arts, Mathematics & Natural Science, and Agriculture.
While the university is subsidized by the Federal State of North Rhine-Westphalia, it does levy a small contributory fee. This payment, which costs 300 Euros a month, also covers transportation in Bonn, Cologne, and the rest of the region.
7. Georg August University of Göttingen
Colloquially known as the University of Göttingen and Georgia Augusta, this eleventh-best university first opened its doors in the year 1734. It was founded by King George II of Great Britain to promote the paragon of enlightenment.
This free university in Germany, which is famous for its Life Science and Natural Science programs, also offers degrees in the fields of Agriculture, Biology & Psychology, Chemistry, Forest Science & Ecology, Geoscience & Geography, Mathematics & Computer Science, Physics, Law, Social Science, Economics, Humanities, Medicine, and Theology.
The university currently has more than 30,000 students and a foreign enrollment rate of 13%. Like most public university students in Germany, they only pay a contribution fee that amounts to 376 Euros per semester.
8. University of Hamburg
The University of Hamburg or UHH is listed as the 12th best university in Germany. It is particularly renowned for its Arts & Humanities programs, as well as its Physical Science, Life Science, Social Science, and Business degrees.
Founded in the year 1919, UHH has 30,000+ students – with international learners representing 12% of the total. These students are enrolled in the university’s various offerings, which include that of Law, Business Administration, Economics & Social Science, Medicine, Education & Psychology, Humanities, Mathematics & Computer Science, and Engineering.
Outside of the necessary living costs, UHH students also need to shell out a contributory fee of 332 Euros every semester. This covers the transport pass, the hardship fund, administration fees, and the Studierendenwerk.
9. University of Cologne
Founded in the year 1798, the University of Cologne was established as the fourth university of the Holy Roman Empire – making it the sixth-oldest in Central Europe. It’s also one of the largest with a total of 34,500+ students – 18% of which are international enrollees.
The university, which is operated by the state of North Rhine-Westphalia, is organized into 6 faculties. Those with the highest number of students are the Faculties of Arts & Humanities and Management & Social Sciences, followed by Mathematics & Natural Science, Law, Medicine, and Human Science.
As one of the best universities in Germany, it is ranked in the 100 bracket for Life Science and the 150 bracket for Arts & Humanities and Psychology.
As with most public universities, the University of Cologne is tuition-free. There is, however, a need for the students to contribute an annual amount of 500 Euros. This covers a public transport pass and administrative fees, to name a few.
10. Goethe University
Goethe University, one of the free universities in Germany, was founded in the year 1914 as a citizen’s university. Initially named after its location of Frankfurt am Main, it was eventually dedicated in the honor of Frankfurt native Johann Wolfgang von Goethe.
Goethe University has one of the biggest student populations in all of Germany with 46,000+ enrollees – 16% of which come from outside the continent. These students are dispersed throughout the university’s 16 Faculties of Law, Business, Social Science, Education, Psychology, Theology, Philosophy & History, Linguistics, Modern Languages, Geosciences, Computer Science, Physics, Biochemistry, Biology, and Medicine.
This high volume is entrants is attributed to the university’s prestige – as well as its free tuition. Here, as with most German universities, both local and foreign students can study for free. The only fee that needs to be paid per semester is about 370 Euros, which covers administrative fees and certain funds.
I hope that this article on the free universities in Germany was helpful. Head on over to our Germany Scholarships Page for more details about studying in Germany – from the different universities to the numerous scholarship opportunities!