Best Public Universities in Germany for International Students in 2021

Germany is one of the most favored countries to study in Europe, and not without a good reason. The country is often mentioned as the best place to study for international students, mostly because of the high quality of education, affordable tuition fees (their absence), and the cost of living.

Best Public Universities in Germany for International Students in 2021 are:

  • Ludwig Maximilian University, Munich
  • University of Heidelberg
  • University of Freiburg
  • Humboldt University, Berlin
  • RWTH Aachen University, Aachen
  • Free University, Berlin
  • Technical University of Berlin
  • University of Hamburg
  • Technical University of Munich

Are you interested to study in one of the best public and free German universities but lost in information? It can be complicated to choose between 380 universities Germany has to offer for international students. In this post, we give detailed information about top public schools and also cities they are located in.

Ludwig Maximilian University, Munich

In 2020 Ludwig Maximilian University ranked as 32 in the world and first in Germany. Founded in 1472, it’s one of Germany’s oldest and prominent universities in Germany, where many local and international students wish to study.

LMU has almost 15% of international students, which is about 7,000 in numbers. The university offers a large number of courses in 100 areas of study, you can study almost all the popular majors there!

Bachelor’s degrees taught mostly in German with some exceptions for American studies. Master programs are divided into German and English, overall you can easily find a course of your choice in English. Fields such as business, management, psychology, and physics are especially popular.

Additionally, LMU is one of the leading research universities in Europe.

The University has close corporations with a number of partner universities, around 400 worldwide. Thus, you can spend your semester abroad almost in any country in the world.

Ludwig Maximilian university has the second-largest number of students in Germany (50,000). Therefore, you will be a part of a large international organization with unlimited opportunities.

Moreover, the city of Munich worth mentioning not only from the student perspective. It’s the third biggest city in Germany and the so-called south capital.

Known as a host of Octoberfest, it attracts millions of tourists every year. Why not study where people celebrate the biggest beer festival in the world?

Home of the biggest car manufacturer in Germany BMW and headquarter for other big companies such as Siemens, Allianz, Amazon – Munich surely will be a perfect place to work after graduation.

Munich and entire region Bavaria also has some of the highest living standards and people are especially very friendly and open towards foreigners.

Here are the best majors to study in LMU:

  • Catholic Theology
  • Protestant Theology
  • Law
  • Business Administration – Munich School of Management
  • Economics
  • Medicine
  • Veterinary Medicine
  • History and the Arts
  • Philosophy, Philosophy of Science and the Study of Religion
  • Psychology and Educational Sciences
  • Mathematics, Informatics and Statistics
  • Study of Culture
  • Languages and Literatures
  • Social Sciences
  • Physics
  • Biology
  • Chemistry and Pharmacy
  • Geosciences

University of Heidelberg

University of Heidelberg, located in a small city in the southwest of Germany, ranks on place 44 in the world.

The university is officially the oldest and most prestigious in western Europe. The specialty of Heidelberg’s university is science, especially medicine. Founded in 1386 it’s also one of the oldest universities in the world. If you want to study and feel like you traveled back in time, this is the perfect place!

The university consists of 12 faculties and offers a total of 160 programs at undergraduate, graduate, and postdoctoral levels in some 100 disciplines.

Not surprising that more than 20% of the students consist of international students from around 130 countries. Also, more than one-third of the doctoral students are coming from abroad. Although, most of the courses taught in German, especially undergrad, so make sure you are well prepared.

Many influential politicians, philosophers, and scientists are alumni or connected with the university, including Max Weber – the founder of modern sociology – and philosopher Hannah Arendt.

City Heidelberg is known as the home of German romanticism with the charming architecture and surrounding nature. The old town and castle are some of the most visited tourist destinations in Germany with over 12 million visitors each year.

With 160,000 residents, it’s a quiet and slow-paced city mostly filled with students and tourists. Big city and German financial capital Frankfurt just one hour away, so you can switch the atmosphere quite easily.

The river Neckar divides the city into two parts, it’s a popular meeting point for students to chill out, have a beer or grill.

Here are some of the fields you can study at university of Heidelberg:

  • Medicine
  • Biosciences
  • Chemistry and Earth Science
  • Mathematics and Computer Science
  • Physics and Astronomy
  • Behavioral and Cultural Studies
  • Economics and Social Sciences
  • Law
  • Modern Languages
  • Philosophy
  • Physics and Astronomy
  • Theology

University of Freiburg

University of Freiburg currently ranked as 86 among the world’s best universities.

City Freiburg is somewhat similar to Heidelberg and so the university. Founded in the year 1457 and located a few hundred kilometers souther than Heidelberg’s university, it has 16% of total students (20,000) coming from 120 nations besides Germany.

At this university, you can get your degree in all the important fields of study taught by well-known experts. It offers the best conditions in research, teaching, administration, and continuing education in a welcoming and equal environment.

The university’s website is a kind of a pain to find information, you better write an email straight to the administration with the questions you have.

Freiburg is officially the sunniest city in Germany. It receives more sunshine than the rest of the country and is a perfect place for vineyards. The location is also optimal for travelers, you can be in France and Switzerland with a short train ride.

Freiburg is also a hot tourist spot, for people loving German architecture (the city is well preserved after the second war), vine, active vacation on nature, and much more.

With a population of 230,000 people, it’s a middle-sized comfortable town, next big cities are Stuttgart and Zürich in Switzerland.

Freiburg is also fairly close located to the Basel-Mulhouse-Freiburg airport, which offers many flights in different parts of Europe and other continents.

The best-ranked majors are mostly in nature sciences:

  • Immunology
  • Microbiology
  • Biology and Biochemistry
  • Environment/Ecology
  • Plant and Animal Science
  • Cardiac and Cardiovascular Systems
  • Surgery

Humboldt University, Berlin

Humboldt University ranked in the place 74 among others worldwide. Humboldt University of Berlin founded in 1810 and is a relatively young university in comparison to mentioned above. The university is divided into 9 faculties, including its medical school shared with the Free University of Berlin.

Humboldt University has 32,000 students (16% of them are international) and offers degree programs in 189 disciplines from undergraduate to postdoctorate level.

Some of Germany’s most influential figures attended or worked at the Humboldt University, including Karl Marx, Friedrich Engels, Walter Benjamin, and Max Planck. Can you even imagine that Albert Einstein was a professor there?

University is well-known and respected across all subject areas, but the university particularly specializes in arts and humanities.

It worth mentioning that its library, which was opened in 1874 and currently one of the most extensive libraries in Germany. It contains around 6.5 million books and thousands of magazines and journals.

Humboldt is a research university with opportunities to work in fields such as the history of science, quantitative economics, and climate and sustainability research. Students interested in scientific research are highly encouraged to apply.

Furthermore, around 18% of the academic staff at this university come from outside of Germany, meaning students get to enjoy quality teaching from an international perspective.

Berlin as you might know is a German capital and the biggest city, with that, said it’s a huge hub for international students, workers, researchers, entrepreneurs and etc. Moreover, Berlin constantly ranks as the best student city in the world.

Besides studies, you will experience the most livable city in Europe, full of music events, art, history, and culture overall. Berlin is flourishing with tech start-ups, which open a creative and innovative environment for young people.

As graduate students are skilled enough to enter excellent Berlin’s job market with confidence. At this university, you can choose a degree program from the following fields of study:

  • Law
  • Culture, Social Sciences, and Education
  • Life Sciences
  • Mathematics and Natural Sciences
  • Philosophy
  • Linguistics and Literature
  • Theology
  • Business and Economics
  • Medicine (with a Free University in Berlin)

RWTH Aachen University, Aachen

RWTH Aachen University ranked under number 99 in the world. Aachen University ranked among the top 10 universities in Germany, this is the place where innovative solutions get developed.

Moreover, RWTH Aachen is a founding member of the IDEA League, a strategic alliance of five leading universities of technology in Europe.

Besides, RWTH Aachen University works in close connection with businesses and industries, giving its students even more opportunities to acquire the skills and knowledge they need to succeed in the global job market. RWTH offers around 150-degree programs in 10 faculties.

With a total of 45,628 students, 11,280 (almost 25%!) of them are foreign students arriving from all over the world. This is the most international university on our list so far!

I was fortunate to live nearby Aachen and get to know some students from RWTH. Overall they were very satisfied with the quality of teaching and student life.

I want to highlight the location of Aachen, which is just 5 min from the Netherlands and Belgium. France is also not that far away! You will have a great time traveling around and live between 3 countries.

This also means the city has an international atmosphere and many businesses work with neighboring countries. Aachen University is especially good for someone willing to study engineering majors. Here are the main faculties where you can choose a suitable program:

  • Mathematics, Computer Science and Natural Sciences
  • Architecture
  • Civil Engineering
  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Georesources and Materials Engineering
  • Electrical Engineering and Information Technology
  • Arts and Humanities
  • School of Business and Economics
  • Medicine

Free University, Berlin

The Free University of Berlin ranked on position 117 worldwide in 2020. Founded in the very unstable year in 1948 it’s the youngest University on our list.

University is known especially for the research in the humanities, and social sciences, as well as in the natural and life sciences. These areas also recommended studying for international students.

With the 31,500 students, it has 13% of international students enrolled in its bachelor programs, and 27% of non-german citizens are in master studies.

The university even has branch offices in the United States, Belgium, Brazil, Russia, China, Egypt, and India, allowing it to form strong partnerships with many other universities around the world.

All bachelor programs except North American Studies are taught in German, so at least level B2 of the German language is necessary. But many Master’s degrees are available in English.

And don’t forget about all the benefits of living and studying in Berlin I mentioned before. Furthermore, Berlin is reasonably inexpensive than the south of Germany, especially if we are talking about food and drinks. Accommodations are almost at the same price level.

Also read: The best cities to spend a weekend in Germany there you will find more information about Berlin and what you can do there.

Free University of Berlin has 12 main departments and 3 interdisciplinary central institutes with various courses to take including:

  • Biology, Chemistry, Pharmacy
  • Earth Sciences
  • Cultural Studies
  • Law
  • Business and Economics
  • Mathematics and Computer Science
  • Education and Psychology
  • Philosophy and Humanities
  • Physics
  • Political and Social Science
  • Medical School 
  • Veterinary Medicine

Technical University of Berlin

The Technical University of Berlin currently ranked in position 149. As you can hear from the name this university specializes in technical majors. If you are looking for a solid technical education backed by theories, practice, and technologies then pay attention to the TU (Technical Universities) in Germany.

TU Berlin was established back in 1770, during this time it’s changed names constantly and just in 1946 became a Technical University.

There are 35,000 students currently studying at the TU Berlin, unfortunately, I couldn’t find an exact number of foreign students. But some reviews of students mention the multicultural and international atmosphere.

Although it’s called a technical university, you can also study other majors that don’t have anything to do with technics. See below the faculties of TU:

  • Humanities
  • Mathematics and Natural Sciences
  • Process Sciences
  • Electrical Engineering and Computer Science
  • Mechanical Engineering and Transport Systems
  • Planning – Building – Environment
  • Economics and Management

All together you will find 40 Bachelor’s and 60 Master’s programs. Undergraduate are taught in German, which will require you to speak the language, but postgraduate can be found in English too.

University of Hamburg

The University of Hamburg ranked in the same position as TU Berlin – 149 under the best universities in the world. Founded in 1919, the University of Hamburg provides high-quality education for 42,000 including 5,433 international students at the moment.

The University of Hamburg is the largest institution for research and education in the north of Germany. All Bachelor’s programs are taught in German and as usual, master’s are offered in English.

The beauty of public universities in Germany is an opportunity for foreign students to take part in various English taught Master’s programs without any additional costs, which means for free!

Hamburg is the second biggest city in Germany and the largest city in the north of the country. It owns the third busiest port in Europe and is an important financial and industrial hub.

Students will enjoy a high standard of living and education while studying in Hamburg. They’ll be able to explore the city’s architecture and historic buildings, as well as famous Hamburg’s nightlife. Interestingly enough that Hamburg has the red light district almost the same as one in Amsterdam.

Similar to Munich and Berlin, Hamburg is home for many big companies, particularly for logistics, thanks to its strategic location. If you are interested to work in logistics studying in Hamburg is highly recommended.

Same as with all big public universities in Germany, you can study almost every major which comes into your mind. For instance, the University of Hamburg has 149 different majors offered by the main faculties, which you can see below:

  • Law
  • Business Administration
  • Economics and Social Sciences
  • Medicinal Sciences
  • Education, Psychology and Human Movement
  • Humanities
  • Mathematics, Computer Science and Natural Sciences
  • Engineering

Technical University of Munich

The Technical University of Munich ranked on position 43 in the international ranking, which is very well compared to others. Maybe it’s not fair to mention it as the last university.

TU Munich has over 5,000 international students with a total number of 41,000. This university is especially suitable for people with technical or engineering interests.

Founded in 1868, the TUM is a state university dedicated to science and technology. It is the largest and most reputable among other TU in Germany. It’s also a member of TU9, an incorporated society of the largest and most notable German institutes of technology.

In 2001, the TUM founded a subsidiary university, TUM Asia, in Singapore, providing an international education to students in Asia. Thus, the main departments of the university located in Munich, areas nearby, and two of them are abroad, particularly in Singapore and England.

The university originally was focusing on engineering but has expanded over the years to include natural sciences, social sciences, agriculture, brewing and food technology, and even medicine.

In terms of language, the bachelor’s program “Management and Technology” is offered in English when the rest undergraduate is in German. Fortunately, over 60 Master’s programs are taught in English.

Because of the university’s strength in research and engineering, it has partnerships with several prestigious institutions, including American schools such as MIT, Stanford, Cornell, and Georgia Tech.

The university also has strong partnerships across Europe and Asia. Therefore, students can complete their semester abroad across the world and also at highly ranked universities.

Studying engineering in Munich gives you the opportunity to work and succeed in the biggest production and manufacturing companies in the country/world.

The promising mission statement of the TU Munich “We invest in talent. Knowledge is our gain.” leaves me without a doubt in its quality of teaching.

Speaking again about Munich is one of my favorite cities in Germany, and I can only recommend you to study and work in the future. The city has a very convenient location, so you can reach the Czech Republic, Austria, Italy, Switzerland in 2-3 hours or less.

Munich also offers a lot of outdoor opportunities within the city such as an extensive English Garden or the Alps with a short car ride. The region Bavaria and particularly Munich has the highest salaries in the entire country, at the same time living costs are highest than anywhere else.

TU Munich has 15 faculties with majors you can see below:

  • Architecture
  • Chemistry
  • Computer Science
  • Construction Geo Environment
  • Aviation, Space Travel and Geodesy
  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Electrical and Computer Engineering
  • Mathematics
  • Physics
  • Sports and Health Sciences
  • Economics
  • Medicine

Hope after this summary you were able to choose a perfect public university for you in Germany.

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