6 Things You Need to Know About Studying in Germany as an International Student | FindAPhD.com
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6 Things You Need to Know About Studying in Germany as an International Student

Germany is the fourth most popular study abroad destination in the world and has plenty to offer international students from historic universities to free tuition.

If you’re planning on doing your Masters or PhD at a German university, there’s a lot to take into consideration! To help you get started, we’ve put together the six most important things international students need to know about studying in Germany.

#1 You (probably) won’t pay any tuition fees – but studying in Germany isn’t completely free

Most universities in Germany do not charge tuition fees to any students, regardless of nationality (there are a few exceptions to be aware of).

That said, you should still budget for a twice-yearly semester fee (Semesterbeitrag) of between €100 and €350, which will go towards your university’s support services. You’re unlikely to pay more than €700 per year to your university, which means Germany remains one of the most affordable options for international study in Europe!

#2 You don’t necessarily need to learn German

There are over 1,400 English-taught Masters and PhD courses offered in Germany (these are actually far more common at the postgraduate level). Many people in Germany, especially in student hotspots such as Berlin and Munich, do speak English (and speak it very well), so it’s likely that you’ll be able to get by with only a basic level of German.

That isn’t to say that studying abroad in Germany isn’t a wonderful opportunity to learn a second language – or that there aren’t plenty of resources to help you do so! Most universities offer language courses alongside their degree programmes, or over the summer which is a great way to get you started in your new life. You can browse these in the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) database.

#3 There is plenty of funding available

Postgraduate study in Germany may already be a budget-friendly option, but that doesn’t mean there’s any shortage of extra financial support on offer!

In fact, the Deutscher Akademischer Austausch Dienst (or German Academic Exchange Service) is one of the world’s largest international study agencies, offering funding to students from most countries.

#4 You can choose between two types of PhD

There are two types of PhD programme available in Germany – traditional PhDs and structured doctoral programmes.

Traditional PhDs more closely resemble the programmes offered in the UK and many other European countries. They have no set curriculum or compulsory attendance, and mainly consist of independent research towards your thesis.

Structured doctoral programmes have a large taught element, with seminars, lectures, interim assessments and additional training. You may learn alongside a cohort of fellow students. These programmes are predominantly aimed at international students and almost always taught in English.

Learn more about what to expect from a PhD in Germany.

#5 You may not need a visa

Sorting out your visa can be one of the more complicated aspects of applying to study abroad, so you’ll be pleased to hear that you may not need one to study in Germany! Students from the following countries are free to enter Germany without a visa:

  • The EU, Iceland, Switzerland, Liechtenstein and Norway
  • Australia, Canada, the UK, Israel, Japan, New Zealand, South Korea and the United States (you will need to apply for a residence permit to stay more than three months)
  • Andorra, Brazil, El Salvador, Honduras, Monaco and San Marino (you must not intend to seek separate employment before or after your degree)

Students from all other countries will need a visa to study in Germany.

#6 Securing accommodation can be tricky

Unlike in many other countries, students in Germany are not automatically allocated accommodation at their university. Student halls are by far the most affordable type of accommodation, and you can browse options using the government’s ‘Find A Student Hall’ search tool. Places are very competitive, so if you’d rather live on campus, make sure you start your search early!

Other accommodation options for students include flat shares (Wohngemeinschaft) and private housing. Our complete guide to student accommodation in Germany covers these in more detail.

Search for a PhD in Germany

Browse 70+ German PhDs in our programme finder.




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Last Updated: 06 March 2023

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