Germany ranks among the top most popular destinations for international students and is only outraced by the US and UK. Statistics say around 400,000 people from abroad were studying here in 2020. The best part is that both domestic and international students can study for free in Germany.
Types of Universities in Germany
There are four types of higher education institutions in Germany:
- Universities (Universitäten) emphasize academic work and research. You can obtain a bachelor's, master's, or PhD degree there.
- Technical Universities (Technische Universitäten, or TU) focus on STEM-based research, with STEM standing for science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.
- Universities of applied sciences (Fachhochschulen, Hochschulen für Angewandte Wissenschaften) provide practice-oriented courses. Among the most popular jobs are those related to engineering, business, and social sciences.
- Colleges of art, film, and music (Kunst- / Musikhochschulen) offer practical artistic training.
German universities offer bachelor's and master's programs in the following technical fields:
- Computer Science Engineering;
- Natural Sciences;
- Data and Analytics;
- Information Technology;
Best Technical Universities in Germany
According to QS Ranking and U.S. News, among the top five technical universities in Germany in 2021 are:
- Technical University of Munich (TUM);
- RWTH Aachen University;
- Karlsruhe Institute of Technology;
- Technical University of Berlin;
- Technical University of Braunschweig.
These universities are members of the TU9 Alliance, an association of nine leading tech universities in Germany. They cooperate with the top industry partners in the country and abroad. This means that, apart from quality education, students here are provided the best opportunities for internships, research scholarships, and networking.
Programs To Check Out
The Technical University of Munich (TUM) is one of Germany's best universities and Europe's leading research institutes. 17 TUM graduates and professors have been awarded the Nobel Prize since 1927. The university has an academic branch of TUM Asia with a campus in Singapore.
34% of all TUM students are international ones. Those who complete a PhD program can join the two-year TUM Global Postdoc Fellowship research program. The university’s graduates are in the top ten of the Global University Employability Ranking.
The university offers over 60 technical undergraduate, graduate, and PhD programs taught in English. Bachelor’s programs include Electronic and Data Engineering, Aerospace, Sustainable Management and Technology. As for master’s degrees, we would recommend you to consider Software Engineering, Biomedical Engineering and Medical Physics, and Informatics: Games Engineering.
RWTH Aachen University is the largest technical university in Germany with more than 45,000 students and over 160 programs. It is a member of the IDEA League, an association of the leading European universities of science and technology.
The university conducts research in 260 scientific institutes and seven international research centers. Global corporations like Microsoft and Ford have set up offices on campus to facilitate cooperation, thus making the university the largest employer in the region.
RWTH Aachen University offers over 40 technical programs in English. Among them are many worthwhile master's programs such as Mathematics, Textile Engineering, Media Informatics, or Construction and Robotics.
The Technical University of Berlin is one of the four universities in the German capital and the only one in the region offering engineering degrees. The university is involved in 120 major international projects, and its professors and other staff members are engaged in 1,500 studies. Between 2009 and 2014, external funding for its research projects increased from 125 to 179 million euros.
There are over 30,000 students at the Technical University of Berlin. 6,000 of them are international students which are almost 20%. The university offers more than 20 technical master's programs in English which include Civil System Engineering, Geodesy and Geoinformation Science, Information Technology for Energy, and others.
Milena Serbinova, attending a Studienkolleg and applying to study in Media Informatics
Why did I choose a tech major? I attended a school with an in-depth study of individual subjects. In our eighth year, we were supposed to pick a major. Following my dad’s advice, I decided on maths and physics. These subjects teach you logical thinking and problem solving which can come in handy in any job. A year later, I started to study programming. I used to help adjust the equipment at school and go to the rescue when my friends would have trouble installing programs or applications. That’s how my path in IT started.
Why did I decide to study in Germany? I always traveled a lot with my parents, and they supported my decision to get a degree abroad. I was into IT and would consider programs in the US. However, I couldn’t afford a semester in a bachelor’s program there.
Meanwhile, Germany is the economic and cultural center of Europe. Besides, it boasts one of the most comprehensive welfare systems in the world, as well as high standards of living, healthcare, and education. The latter is available free of charge both for local and international students.
What are Studienkollegs in Germany? In the CIS countries, school education lasts 11 years. In Germany, it is 12-13. To enroll in German universities, our graduates have to catch up by doing an extra year. Some complete an additional course at home, and some, like me, take a year-long course at a Studienkolleg, an education institution for international students in Germany.
Studienkollegs are either private or public. The latter are free of charge. They are usually a part of the largest universities in the federal states where they are located. This means that those attending Studienkollegs can use the university library and cafeteria, live on the campus, so feel like students even before they are even enrolled. After completing a course at a public Studienkolleg, you can apply to any university in Germany. Besides, you can enjoy the benefits and privileges offered by universities of the federal state where you studied.
In Studienkollegs, one has to pick a specialty depending on what program the applicant is pursuing. There are four basic courses: medicine, economics, technology, and the humanities. I was in Technology at a Studienkolleg in Nordhausen where I studied mathematics, German, physics, chemistry, English, and media sciences.
What are my plans? At the end of June, I took the final exams at my Studienkolleg. Now I’m going to apply to a university. I’m considering the Technical University of Munich, Technical University of Dresden, Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich, and the University of Stuttgart.
Getting a degree in Media Informatics in Germany will open up numerous career options for me, including in animation, graphics, web design, computer software development, programming, games, and information security. This is an interdisciplinary technical field, so I can pick a major already after I get my bachelor's degree.
What are the benefits of obtaining a technical degree in Germany? There are at least two: affordability and great career opportunities. Germany is an industrial center that is home to major automotive manufacturers and the headquarters of many IT giants. Here, even students can easily find a part-time job or join a project with a large company. It doesn’t matter what lectures you did or did not attend if you put what you’ve learned into practice when dealing with real work cases.
Another thing I really like is that educational programs here are constantly reviewed and new teaching approaches are tried. Unlike in the CIS, where programs remain the same for years, in Germany, they try new methods and provide new information as soon as they become available. This is crucial for IT which is a rapidly changing field.