The appropriate university - Compilation of German Universities

Potential students have the option to select from various types of higher education institutions in Germany, including universities, universities of applied sciences, private universities, and universities of cooperative education located in numerous German cities. Each type of institution specializes in particular areas.

Germany hosts more than 380 officially recognized universities, providing a diverse range of over 17,000 study programs.

Types of higher education institutions

Emphasis on Scinece: Universities
Universities primarily impart theoretical knowledge and prioritize research. They typically offer a broad spectrum of subjects, while some specialize and designate themselves as technical universities (Technische Universität, TU) or colleges of education (Pädagogische Hochschule, PH). Certain universities, like the Hannover Medical School or the German Sport University Cologne, exclusively concentrate on a specific subject area.

Emphasis on Practical Application: Universities of Applied Sciences
Universities of applied sciences (HAW/FH) adopt a practice-oriented academic approach, placing greater emphasis on professional application than theory. Their subject range encompasses specific fields such as technology, economics, social work, or media. During practical phases, students at universities of applied sciences undertake work placements, extended project phases, or entire practical semesters, often within businesses.

Institutions for Art and Music
Institutions for art and music nurture emerging artists, including musicians, architects, fine artists, and designers. Admission criteria include a particular talent demonstrated through an entrance examination. Exceptionally gifted students may sometimes gain admission even without a qualification for higher education.

Universities of Cooperative Education
A dual study program integrates academic studies with vocational training or practical phases in a company. This can be an appealing option for individuals inclined towards practical learning and an expedited entry into their careers.


In the 2021/22 winter semester there were 2.95 million students in Germany, including...

  • 1.72 million at universities
  • million at universities of applied sciences
  • 38,366 at colleges of art
  • 26,858 at colleges of education
  • 2,546 at colleges of theology
  • 58,898 at colleges of public administration
  • and a total of 416,437 (2020/21) international students.

Funding Entities

Various funding models support higher education institutions in Germany, with the majority being state-run, while others are privately operated or affiliated with religious organizations.

State Funding Entities
Around 60 percent of German higher education institutions receive funding from the Federal Government and federal states, making the state their primary funding source. Most students in these institutions do not incur tuition fees. However, the state of Baden-Württemberg imposes tuition fees on students from non-EU countries.

Private Funding Entities
Approximately 30 percent of German higher education institutions are state-approved but privately operated. Many of these are universities of applied sciences, valued for their industry connections and global outlook. Some may charge substantial tuition fees.

Religious Funding Entities
About 10 percent of higher education institutions in Germany are administered by churches. State-approved and often welcoming students of various denominations, they typically specialize in fields like theology, philosophy, social work, or education.

Note: A degree from a private or church-run institution is internationally recognized only if the institution is state-approved. The German Rectors' Conference maintains an updated list of state-run and state-approved higher education institutions in Germany.

Higher Education Landscape in Germany

As of the 2020/21 winter semester, Germany had a total of 422 higher education institutions, including 108 universities, 210 universities of applied sciences, 52 colleges of art and music, 30 colleges of public administration, 16 theological universities, and 6 colleges of education.

Choosing a Location

Selecting the right study location is crucial. Do you prefer a major university town like Munich, Cologne, Berlin, or Hamburg? Alternatively, a smaller city with a significant student population, such as Heidelberg or Göttingen, may offer advantages like more accessible lecturers and professors and easier accommodation finding, despite being less renowned for their institutions.

Here are the top 9 German universities for Engineering:

  • Technical University of Munich (TUM)
  • Technical University of Berlin
  • Technical University Dresden
  • University of Erlangen-Nuremberg
  • Karlsruhe Institute of Technology
  • RWTH Aachen University 
  • Brandenburg University of Technology
  • Magdeburg University
  • Technical University of Kaiserslautern

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