In Germany, public universities are tuition-free, not just for German or EU citizens but for all students regardless of nationality. What’s even better, the tuition-free rule applies to all programs, including those taught in foreign languages.
The only exceptions to this rule are universities located in Baden-Württemberg, a region in Southwest Germany. Public universities in this region can charge a tuition fee of up to 1,500 euros per semester. Also, some programs are allowed to set some tuition fees. These are usually professional or executive courses such as Master of Law or Master of Business, or specialized courses that require laboratory work or use of highly-specialized technology or courses conducted in collaboration with other universities.
There are 240 public universities in Germany, and an increasing number of universities are offering courses in English. The following are some of the public universities in Germany with free tuition.
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Tuition-Free Universities in Germany
1. University of Göttingen – Georg-August-Universität Göttingen
The city of Göttingen is located in Lower Saxony, central Germany, and it’s famous for being home to its old university informally called Georgia Augusta. The University of Göttingen is one of the most visited universities in Europe. It comprises 13 faculties and 36 additional centers and institutes that are spread out through the city.
Its current student body stands at around 31,600. The enrolled students follow in the footsteps of some notable alumni, including 45 Nobel laureates, German Chancellors Otto von Bismark and Gerhard Schröder, the Brothers Grimm, and Wilhelm Eduard Weber.
This free German university does not charge tuition, but students pay a semestral fee composed of an administration fee of 75 euros, a student body fee of 9 euros, and a Studentenwerk fee of 97 euros. Moreover, to cover the cost of rent, health insurance, food, and daily expenses, an average student living in Göttingen would need around 500-600 Euros per month.
2. RWTH Aachen University – Rheinisch-Westfälische Technische Hochschule Aachen
RWTH Aachen University is considered to be one of the 11 Universities of Excellence. It is the largest technical university in Germany, with 47,000 students and 144 courses to enroll. In addition, there are over 12,477 international students enrolled at the RWTH Aachen in all levels of study. RWTH has nine faculties and 260 institutes.
RWTH collects a social contribution fee of 300.19 euros per semester and suggests that students need approximately 1100 euros per month to cover accommodation and living expenses.
3. University of Hamburg
With a student body of over 43,000, the University of Hamburg is a free public university in Germany. It has eight faculties that offer more than 170 different degree programs.
Hamburg is known for excellence in four core research areas: Advanced Imaging of Matter, Climate Research, Manuscript/Written Artifact Research, and Quantum Universe. It is also active in interdisciplinary projects and has an extensive partner network, including affiliate institutions like the Hamburg Observatory, German Climate Computing Center, and Max Planck Institute for Meteorology.
The semester fee at the University of Hamburg is 285 euros, which covers the student body fee, semester ticket, a contribution to the hardship fund, and Studierendenwerk fee. In addition, students of Hamburg pay an administrative fee of 50 euros.
4. University of Cologne
The University of Cologne does not charge tuition fees, but students pay a social contribution fee of around 500 euros per year. This fee includes a public transportation pass in North-Rhine – Westphalia.
The university has six faculties – Management, Economics and Social Sciences, Law, Medicine, Arts, Mathematics and Natural Sciences, and Human Sciences. The university offers 200 courses in these fields, but 30% of its entire student body enrolls in their education studies to become teacher trainers.
All undergraduate courses and courses that require state examination are taught in German. The university requires at least DSH-2 or equivalent German-language proficiency.
5. Free University of Berlin
The Free University of Berlin also belongs to the 11 elite German research universities. It is a top-ranked university known for its programs in the arts and humanities, and social sciences. Most of its facilities are located in the Dahlem Campus in southwestern Berlin, but it also has campuses in Lankwitz and Düppel. The university maintains 12 departments and three interdisciplinary institutes to cater to ist more than 30,000 students.
Even though German is the language of instruction, some undergraduate programs, and master’s degrees are taught entirely in English. These are offered jointly with other universities.
The Freie Universität Berlin does not charge tuition fees but collects a semester fee of 312.89 euros to cover registration fees, student support service, a contribution to the student government, and the transportation ticket.
6. Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München
Studying at the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität (LMU) is an opportunity to be a part of the alma mater of Nobel laureates such as Wilhelm Rontgen, Max Planck, and Thomas Hann. International applicants also have a chance to be part of a diverse and vibrant student population – it is the second-largest university in Germany, with a student population of 52,000.
This free German university consists of 18 faculties and operates several research centers that conduct interdisciplinary projects. LMU has continuously increased the number of courses taught in English, and some of the English programs are philosophy, psychology, physics, and business.
7. University of Bonn – Germany
The University of Bonn is located in Bonn, a former capital city of West Germany, situated on the Rhine River. Uni Bonn is a medium-sized university with over 35,000 students and about 4,500 teaching staff, which gives it a staggering instructor-to-student ratio. In fact, Uni Bonn is one of the world’s leading research institutions.
This free university in Germany has over 200 majors to enroll in and 32-degree programs offered in English. This means that the prospective students would need to submit their IELTS test results and their certificate in German proficiency.
International students interested in becoming University of Bonn’s freshmen or graduate students should note that there is a 300 EUR administration fee requirement for every semester even though the tuition is free.