Studying in Frankfurt – A Guide for Postgraduate Students
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Studying in Frankfurt – A Guide for Postgraduate Students

Written by Sarah Hastings-Woodhouse

Frankfurt is a buzzing metropolis in central Germany, and a popular destination for international students. Home to the European Central Bank and the Frankfurt Stock Exchange, it is the largest financial hub in continental Europe.

This guide contains everything you need to know about studying your Masters or PhD in Frankfurt as an international student, covering top universities, living costs, employment opportunities and more.

Why study your PhD in Frankfurt?

Here’s a snapshot of what’s on offer for postgraduate students in Frankfurt:

  • A financial hotspot: Frankfurt’s reputation as the financial capital of Germany is well-earned, with over 200 German and international banks based there. Graduates in Business, Finance or a related subject will find no shortage of employment opportunities in lucrative sectors from investment banking to asset management.
  • Travel opportunities: Frankfurt’s central location makes it a great springboard for adventures further afield! Its main train station and airport are amongst the largest in Europe. Major European cities such as Paris, Brussels and Amsterdam can be reached from Frankfurt by train within a few hours.
  • International outlook: Frankfurt has a huge international community, with one in three people on the street owning a foreign passport. It regularly hosts international trade fairs, such as the Frankfurt Book Fair, which takes place every October.

Top university in Frankfurt for postgraduate study

The top-ranked university in Frankfurt for 2024 is the Goethe University of Frankfurt, which features in the Times Higher Education Rankings, QS World Rankings and the Shanghai Academic Ranking of World Universities.

By far the city’s largest university, it educates over 48,000 students across four campuses and 16 faculties. Students can choose from over 80 English-taught Masters degrees, several structured doctoral programmes, or the option of applying for a traditional PhD. It has a strong international outlook, hosting students from over 135 countries.

It was first founded in 1914 as a pioneering ‘citizen’s university’, financed by contributions from wealthy citizens in Frankfurt, and today benefits from state funding while still enjoying administrative autonomy and drawing from a private endowment.

There are several other universities offering postgraduate courses in Frankfurt, including the Frankfurt School of Finance and Management and Frankfurt University of Applied Sciences.

Living costs for students in Frankfurt

There’s no getting round the fact that Frankfurt is one of Germany’s most expensive cities. However, there are ways to live in Frankfurt without breaking the bank! The University of Goethe estimates that students will need to budget around €952 per month for living costs, which is just moderately higher than a national average of €867.

Studying in Frankfurt is made more affordable by the fact that most universities do not charge tuition fees. You will need to pay a semester fee which is equivalent to around €60 per month (this is included in the estimate above).

We’ve put together a list of typical expenses in Frankfurt, based on crowdsourced data from Numbeo:

Student Cost of Living in Frankfurt - 2024
Monthly rent (1 bedroom apartment, city centre) €1,147
Monthly rent (1 bedroom apartment, outside city centre) €822
Restaurant Meal €14.50
Cinema ticket €12.50
Monthly travel pass €49
Monthly utilities €286
Based on crowdsourced data published by Numbeo.

Working during your degree in Frankfurt

Part-time work can be a great way to subsidise some of the higher living costs you may face as a student in Frankfurt. EU and EEA students can work in Germany without restrictions (though you may have to make insurance contributions if you work more than 20 hours per week).

All other international students can work a maximum of 120 full days or 240 half days per year.

You could choose to take on a casual role such as waiting tables, bartending or babysitting, or apply for an on-campus job at your university such as working as an academic assistant.

You can browse current opportunities on Frankfurt’s student and graduate jobs portal, Studierenwerk Frankfurt am Main, or learn more in our guide to working in Germany as an international student.

Things to see in Frankfurt

Frankfurt offers no shortage of attractions for days away from your desk!

The Romer has been Frankfurt’s city hall for over 600 years and is one of the city’s most important cultural landmarks. It continues to house the seat of the city’s Lord Mayor to this day. Though partially destroyed during WW2, it has since been reconstructed to its former glory, featuring medieval-style gables and a domed bell tower.

A striking feature of Frankfurt’s skyline, the Main Tower is one of the city’s tallest buildings, standing at 200 metres. Visitors can enjoy a spectacular panorama of Frankfurt from the tower’s viewing platform, or a meal at its 53rd-floor restaurant and lounge.

For a change of pace from the bustle of city life, you can enjoy over 50 acres of tropical plants at Palmengarten, Frankfurt’s botanical garden. The garden contains around 13,000 plant species, as well as many rare insects.

You’ll be spoiled for choice when it comes to picking a bar or club for a night out in Frankfurt. Beer lovers will appreciate the 100-strong craft beer selection at Naiv, while those with a taste for gin will no doubt find something to their taste at vintage cocktail bar Logenhaus, which offers 80 varieties. If your love of booze is rivalled by your love of cake, you’ll find both at Plank Café-Bar-Studio, trendy coffee shop by day and bar by night.

Careers in Frankfurt

There are plenty of career opportunities for Masters and PhD graduates in Frankfurt. As Germany’s foremost financial and business hotspot, Frankfurt’s many banks and firms offer no shortage of senior roles in the economic sector.

There are also opportunities available in many other sectors, however, with many pharmaceutical and biotechnological companies based in Frankfurt, as well as a fast-developing creative industry and a number of prominent advertising agencies.

If you want to take advantage of Frankfurt’s diverse job market, you can apply for an 18-month jobseeker’s permit, which will allow you to stay in Germany while you seek employment. If you secure a role during this time, you can apply for permanent residence.

Find a PhD in Frankfurt

Decided you want to study in Frankfurt? Browse PhD projects in Frankfurt now or visit our study in Germany page for information on universities, funding, applications and more.

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Last Updated: 20 November 2023