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Best Public Universities in Germany for International Students in 2023

Best Public Universities in Germany for International Students titlecard

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 learn for international students, primarily because of the high-quality education, low tuition fees (their absence), and affordable cost of living. The best public universities in Germany for international students in 2023 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 in studying in one of the best public and free German universities but don’t know which one to choose? International students can select between the 380 universities. So, it might be a hard decision to make. This article provides detailed information about the top German public universities and the cities they are located in.

1. Ludwig Maximilian University, Munich

Front facade of Ludwig Maximilian University in Munich

In 2020 Ludwig Maximilian University ranked 32 globally and first in Germany. Founded in 1472, it’s one of Germany’s oldest and most 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. The university offers many courses in over 100 subjects; you can study almost all the popular majors there!

Bachelor’s degrees are taught mainly in German, with some exceptions for American studies. Master’s programs are divided into German and English; overall, you can easily find a course of your choice in English. Business, management, psychology, and physics fields are particularly popular.

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

The university has close corporations with several 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.

Aerial shot of buildings in Munich, Germany

Moreover, the city of Munich is 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 annually. Why not study where people celebrate the biggest beer festival in the world?

Home of the biggest car manufacturer in Germany, BMW, and headquarters for other large companies like Siemens, Allianz, and Amazon – Munich surely will be a perfect place for employment after graduation.

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

Here are the best majors to study at 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 Literature
  • Social Sciences
  • Physics
  • Biology
  • Chemistry and Pharmacy
  • Geosciences

2. University of Heidelberg

Front of University of Heidelberg in Germany

The University of Heidelberg is located in the small city of Heidelberg in southwest Germany and ranks 44 globally.

The university is officially the oldest and most prestigious in Western Europe. The specialty of Heidelberg’s university is science and medicine, in particular. Founded in 1386, it’s also one of the oldest universities in the world. This is the perfect place to study and be surrounded by German history.

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

It is not surprising that more than 20% of the students are international students from around 130 countries. Also, more than one-third of doctoral students come from abroad. Although most of the courses are taught in German, primarily undergraduate, 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.
People walking on a bridge

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

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

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

Here are some of the fields you can study at the 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

3. University of Freiburg

Entrace to University of Freiburg in Germany

The University of Freiburg is ranked 86 among the world’s best universities.

City Freiburg is somewhat similar to Heidelberg, and so is the university. Founded in 1457 and located a few hundred kilometers south of Heidelberg’s university. 16% of the total students (20,000) come from 120 countries.

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

It might be difficult to find certain information on the university’s website. Please write an email to the administration with all the questions you have.

Aerial shot of a town in Germany

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 within a short train ride.

Freiburg is also a hot tourist spot for people who love German architecture (the city is well preserved after the Second War), vine, active natural vacation, and much more.

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

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

The best-ranked majors are mostly in natural science, including:
  • Immunology
  • Microbiology
  • Biology and Biochemistry
  • Environment/Ecology
  • Plant and Animal Science
  • Cardiac and Cardiovascular Systems
  • Surgery

4. Humboldt University, Berlin

Front facade of the Humboldt University in Berlin, Germany

Humboldt University ranked 74 among other universities worldwide. The Humboldt University of Berlin was founded in 1810 and is a relatively young institution compared to the one 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 levels.

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

The university is well known and respected across all subject areas, but it mainly specializes in arts and humanities.

It’s worth mentioning its library, which was opened in 1874 and is 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, 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 abroad, meaning students enjoy quality teaching from an international perspective.

Person crossing on an empty street

Berlin is the German capital and the largest city. That said, it’s a huge hub for international students, workers, researchers, entrepreneurs, 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. Berlin is flourishing with tech start-ups, which open a creative and innovative environment for young people.

Graduate students are skilled enough to enter Berlin’s excellent 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)

5. RWTH Aachen University, Aachen

Outside RWTH Aachen University in Aachen, Germany

RWTH Aachen University is ranked 99 in the world. Moreover, Aachen University is ranked among the top 10 universities in Germany; this is where innovative solutions are developed.

Moreover, RWTH Aachen is a founding member of the IDEA League, a strategic alliance of five leading European technical universities.

Besides, RWTH Aachen University works closely with businesses and industries, giving its students 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%!) are international students from all over the world. This is the most international university on our list so far!

The location is another highlight of Aachen. The city lies just 5 min from the Netherlands and Belgium. France is also not that far away. You will have a great time traveling around and living between 3 countries.

This also means the city has an international atmosphere, and many businesses work with neighboring countries. Aachen University is perfect for someone willing to study engineering majors.

Here are the primary 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

6. Free University, Berlin

Entrace to Free University in Berlin, Germany

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

The university is known primarily for its research in the humanities and social sciences and the natural and life sciences. These areas also recommended studying for international students.

With 31,500 students, 13% of international students are enrolled in its Bachelor programs, and 27% of non-german citizens are in Master’s 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 worldwide.

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.

Aerial view of buildings in Germany

Don’t forget all the benefits of living and studying in Berlin we mentioned before. Furthermore, Berlin is reasonably inexpensive compared to the south of Germany.

Also, read The best cities to spend a weekend in Germany. Here you will find more information about Berlin and the best things about it.

The Free University of Berlin has 12 main departments and three 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

7. Technical University of Berlin

Inside the Technical University of Berlin

The Technical University of Berlin is currently ranked at 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, pay attention to the TU (Technical Universities) in Germany.

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

There are 35,000 students currently studying at TU Berlin. Unfortunately, we couldn’t find an exact number of international students. However 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

Altogether, you will find 40 Bachelor’s and 60 Master’s programs. Undergraduates are taught in German, requiring you to speak the language, but postgraduates can be found in English, too.

8. University of Hamburg

Lawn of the University of Hamburg in Germany

The University of Hamburg ranked in the same position as TU Berlin – 149 among 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.

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; as usual, Master’s are offered in English.

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

Canal in Germany

Hamburg is the second biggest city in Germany and the largest city in the country’s north. It owns the third busiest port in Europe and is a significant 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, historic buildings, and the famous Hamburg nightlife. Interestingly enough, Hamburg has a red-light district similar to the one in Amsterdam.

Like Munich and Berlin, Hamburg is home to many big companies, particularly for logistics, thanks to its strategic location. Studying in Hamburg is highly recommended if you want to work in logistics.

Like with all prominent public universities in Germany, you can study almost every major that comes to 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

9. Technical University of Munich

Inside the Technical University of Munich

The Technical University of Munich ranked 43 in the international score, which is pretty high compared to others.

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 are located in Munich and areas nearby. Besides, two of them are abroad – in Singapore and England.

The university initially focused 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, while 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 worldwide and at highly ranked universities.

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

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

Arc in Germany

Munich also offers many 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 higher 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
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