Criteria for choosing a university in Germany

Making the perfect choice for the right university is not easy. Especially because the number of degree programmes is very large and you have never visited Germany long enough to get a clear overall impression.

Studying is usually a good decision. A large number of possibilities, an almost infinite range of studies and motivating descriptions of major subjects provide a sound opportunity to make a good choice. However, there are other factors that determine what issues might be important in choosing your studies.

Facts about studying in Germany

  • A wide range of study programmes
  • Highly attractive fees at universities, colleges and academies
  • Good job prospects
Frequently asked: Can I study in Germany in English?

How many universities are there in Germany?

There are over 400 universities in Germany, including

  • more than 200 universities of applied sciences
  • more than 100 universities
  • approx. 50 art colleges
  • approx. 30 colleges of public administration
  • approx. 15 theological universities
  • and 6 universities of teaching and education

Well. Have fun with choosing the right one! 🙂

Surely you can already make some restrictions concerning your preferences. You will probably also have regional preferences, so that your choice can be reduced to a one to two-digit number of universities that you would prefer to choose from.

Criteria for choosing a university in Germany

Career-oriented decision criteria

Which factors play a role in choosing the right university?

Whoever is primarily concerned with career and job security when choosing a course of study often has an interest in studying with particularly high chances of getting a nice job.

1. Your interest in studying

The availability of an appealing study programme at the desired university is of great importance.

First of all, you should know which degree programme is to be pursued. Since a course of study is divided into many sections and often has an interdisciplinary focus, courses of study with the same name do not have to teach the same knowledge throughout all universities. These differences are also purposeful! However, this also means a high degree of security for the prospective students, as they are not in direct competition with each other and are well prepared for a variety of different topics.

To compare the study programmes between universities, it is desirable to have a plan of the courses offered. This allows you to study the topics more closely during your preparation and to study what you have in mind.

However, it shouldn’t be too difficult to choose. Many universities also require that a certain number of elective subjects to be taken in order to obtain a degree. This way, a student can set a focus accordingly to his or her own preferences.

2. The chance for a job

The good news first: Studying increases (almost) always your chances of getting a job, no matter where. By studying in Germany, you prove that you are able to cope with the high standards of scientific work. This fact makes German students particularly attractive for multinational and international companies.

The second good news: the study programme is all over Germany of very high quality. In Germany, innovations are generally driven by specialized institutes. However, this presupposes that students who want to do research at one of these institutes must achieve a high degree of academic achievement. In order to achieve this, universities must have a strong emphasis on high teaching standards. It is therefore in the interest of universities to assist in ensuring high quality and to prepare students for a successful future.

3. A strong link to research

Especially if you are pursuing a career in sciences, technology, engineering or mathematics (STEM), a high degree of integration of your studies with practical applications and applied areas is desirable. The cooperation between students, research institutions and industrial research projects can play an important role in the course of studies.

In the long term, such networks and partnerships increase the chance of a successful career start.

4. Availability of a strong link to practice

The choice of the right academic institution is greatly influenced by one’s own preference for a particular learning style. First of all, you have to know that there are different types of higher education institutions in Germany.

There is indeed a certain dispute between students in Germany, whether university students or students from universities of applied sciences have the smarter people at their respective universities. But this rivalry is more of a joke.

Many future students are very satisfied with choosing a university of applied sciences. Especially students from universities of applied sciences are very popular amongst employers. Students enjoy studying at a university of applied sciences very much due to the close link to applied sciences.

Universities usually have the objective of teaching very closely to research. This is often recognised by the fact that lessons are highly theoretical. A Master’s degree also gives you the opportunity to pursue a doctorate without any detours.

Small selection of higher education forms in Germany

    • Universities

      Universities give you the opportunity to study close to research. This means that you are particularly universally educated with a degree in your subject. You can pursue a career in both companies and research institutions.

    • Universities of applied sciences (Fachhochschule)

      Universities of applied (FH) sciences provide particularly practical training. You will see a lot of practical examples and know exactly how to use your knowledge to solve problems. The application of your skills will be particularly easy for you in companies. Nevertheless, there are also FH graduates in research institutions. However, the step into research may be more difficult to take

    • Art Colleges and Academies

      Art colleges and art academies focus on the fine arts. This includes musicology, art studies, film and theatre sciences as well as design. There seems to be a new trend especially for design (product design, film animation, games, etc.).


Your Personal Circumstances

Personal decision criteria

These decision criteria are, for example, reasons that make your studies easier or make a decision particularly attractive.

5. Availability and pricing of apartments near your university

Pragmatic thinking is also essential: Can I afford an apartment near my university?

It is helpful to apply for a student dormitory in advance. The Studentenwerk will be happy to help you with organizing a place in the dormitory. If a sufficiently large number of students apply for a place in a dormitory early on, the Studentenwerk of your university often has the possibility to rent vacant apartments and to offer them to incoming students or even to rent an empty building. Okay, the last one’s not very common. Anyway, places are limited!

It is therefore important to know whether you can afford a room near the university. Some university locations are also particularly inexpensive.

6. Partner universities of your university

Here it’s getting exciting! Is your chosen university also affiliated with your home country in some way? Being close to your home country can make it easier for you to find friends from your own culture. Then you know that you are not alone and it will be easier for you to remain yourself in stressful times. Friends can give you valuable support for your studies.

7. Private or public university?

Public universities

Public universities are always a good choice when it comes to maximum freedom of choice and a small budget. If you want to study cheaply, you are practically always right to study at a public university.

Probably by far the most important reason for attending a public university is surely the cost. While you often only have to pay 100 to 500 euros per semester, private universities are typically much more expensive.

Students often have to attend a course of their own choice during their studies. Public universities also offer a particularly high degree of flexibility for students. Because a very wide range of different disciplines is usually offered for study, students have a very broad spectrum of options here.

Private universities

Yes, they do exist! Private universities! If you want to study particularly quickly, you will find a very good environment to be able to complete your studies quickly due to the way private universities are organized.

Those who have already made their final career choice will usually strive to achieve a specific profession or goal and will be aware of the pros and cons of waiting for a long time or lacking prospects due to fewer study places. Then a private university can offer a reasonably priced alternative.

But even those who already have a job can achieve their individual goals at a private university. There are numerous part-time programmes of study which also allow students to study on weekends or evenings.

8. Economic situation near your university

Life in Germany is not very cheap. In particular, the prices for shared rooms and one-room apartments in Germany are often high. In addition, there are expenses for food, insurance and leisure. In order to cover the costs, many students are looking for part-time jobs. Sometimes researching the market for part-time jobs in advance can be worthwhile.

Guide: Application

Finding a Study Programme
Prepare your Application
Apply to your Studies

Arrival to your Studies

Visa Organization
Prepare your Arrival
Arrive Successfully

Begin your Studies!

Goal: Enrollment
Support: Important Steps
|| Last change: 26-05-2018