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

Written by Sarah Hastings-Woodhouse

Hamburg is Germany’s second-largest city and major student hotspot. It is situated between the North and Baltic seas, and is home to Europe’s second-largest port, earning it the nickname ‘gateway to the world’.

We’ve covered everything you need to know about studying your Masters or PhD in Hamburg, including top universities, accommodation, living costs and career opportunities.

Why study your PhD in Hamburg?

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

  • International outlook: Hamburg’s world-famous harbour has long been its most important feature, and the city is one of Germany’s most profitable trading hubs. It has a strong international presence, with the second highest number of consulates in the world after New York City.
  • Career opportunities: Its maritime history and trade links have led to Hamburg becoming a hotspot for business and technology. It is home to countless German and multinational companies, and a digital startup culture providing exciting opportunities for aspiring entrepreneurs.
  • World-renowned research: Hamburg boasts 13 universities and research institutions offering postgraduate programmes, including the top-ranked University of Hamburg and three Max Planck institutes.

Top Universities in Berlin for postgraduate study

We’ve picked out the best universities in Hamburg for Masters and PhD students, using the 2024 Times Higher Education World Rankings.

#1 University of Hamburg

The University of Hamburg educates over 44,000 students across eight faculties and is amongst the top 200 universities in the world.

It offers over 40 English-taught Masters degrees, a range of structured doctoral programmes, and the option to propose your own research idea as a traditional PhD candidate.

Key research focuses include climate and Earth sciences, neurosciences and manuscript culture.

#2 Hamburg University of Technology (TUHH)

Hamburg University of Technology officially opened in 1978 and is amongst Germany’s newest universities. Its main focus is Engineering, with key research priorities including green technologies, renewable energies and life science technologies.

Living costs for students in Hamburg

Hamburg is amongst the more expensive cities in Germany. However, the fact that living costs in Germany are largely in line with the European average, combined with the lack of tuition fees for most students, means Hamburg is still a relatively affordable choice for international study.

The German government estimates that international students should budget €867 per month to cover living costs – though this is a nationwide average and may be slightly higher in Hamburg.

We’ve put together some typical costs for students in Hamburg, based on crowdsourced data from Numbeo:

Student Cost of Living in Hamburg - 2024
Monthly rent (1 bedroom apartment, city centre) €996
Monthly rent (1 bedroom apartment, outside city centre) €760
Restaurant Meal €15
Cinema ticket €13
Monthly travel pass €49.50
Monthly utilities €277
Based on crowdsourced data published by Numbeo.

You can save considerably on rent by opting for dedicated student accommodation. The biggest provider of student housing in Hamburg is Studierendenwerk Hamburg, which offers accommodation for over 4,400 students across 26 residences. Rent costs as little as €230 per month and utilities are generally included.

Places in student accommodation are very competitive, so it’s recommended to apply at least three months before your planned move date!

Another budget-friendly option is living in a shared flat or Wohngemeinschaft (WG). There are several online portals listing flat shares in Hamburg, including WG-Gesucht and Immowelt.

Working during your degree in Hamburg

Part-time work can be an excellent way to bring in extra income alongside your studies. EU and EEA students have the same access to the job market as German students, meaning they can work an unlimited number of hours during their degree.

All other international students can work up to 120 full days or 240 half days per year.

Employment options for students in Germany include casual roles such as retail work or bartending, working at your university as an academic assistant or completing a paid internship.

A good place to browse opportunities is student job portal stellenwerk Hamburg. You can also learn more in our full guide to working in Germany.

Things to see in Hamburg

Whether you’re looking to fill a weekend, rainy day or well-earned study break, Hamburg offers plenty of unique attractions!

The bustling Port of Hamburg is one of Europe’s most important trading hubs and offers stunning riverside views of the city. You can also take a boat tour, learn more about the port’s fascinating history in a dedicated museum, or stop for lunch at one of the many restaurants overlooking the water.

Are you a big fan of tiny trains? If so, you’ll want to visit Miniatur Wunderland, Guinness record holder for the largest model train exhibition in the world. The exhibition currently occupies over seven square kilometres of floorspace and features 1,120 digitally controlled trains with 10,000 wagons.

The Elbphilharmonie is one of the world’s biggest and most impressive concert halls, standing at 354ft and overlooking the Elbe River. It hosts a range of events from classical recitals to rock concerts and allows visitors to experience panoramic views of the city from its public plaza.

Hamburg also boasts a thriving nightlife. It is home to famous venues such as Docks, 20th-century cinema turned techno bar, and The Molotow, an underground club with its finger on the pulse of the indie scene, which helped propel bands such as The Killers and The White Stripes to fame.

Careers in Hamburg

Hamburg’s global trade links have made it one of the most connected business and technology hotspots in the world. You’ll find opportunities in every sector, but particularly well-represented industries include aviation, life sciences, logistics, foreign trade, and real estate.

There’s no shortage of multinational companies headquartered in Hamburg, from Beiersdorf, a skin-care manufacturer whose global brands include Elastoplast and Nivea, to leaders in the aviation industry such as Airbus and Lufthansa Technik.

The German government is keen for talented international graduates to start their careers in Germany after finishing a Masters or PhD. You’ll be able to apply for an 18-month jobseeker’s permit after graduating, and for permanent residence if you manage to secure employment during this window.

Find a PhD in Hmaburg

Decided you want to study in Hamburg? Browse PhD projects in Hamburg 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