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    Germany is known for having amazing public universities, which is lending itself to becoming more and more popular for international students.  Though public universities in Germany have been and continue to be the biggest draw for international students, we are seeing more and more Private University options in Germany. With so many courses, cities, progam,s to choose from, the question we are now hearing often is, should I go for a public or private university and what are the pros and cons of each?

    In this blog post, we will compare and contrast the main features, advantages, and disadvantages of public and private universities in Germany, and provide some examples of the top institutions in each category.

    1) Tuition Fees

    Public Universities:

    • Tuition-Free Education: Public Universities in Germany epitomize the concept of accessible education. Most undergraduate and graduate programs are tuition-free for both domestic and international students.
    • Administrative Fees: While tuition is waived, students may need to pay nominal administrative fees (around €100 to €300 per semester) to cover services such as student unions, transportation, and recreational facilities.

    Please note: some public universites have been making the change to add semester fees for International students, read here about TUM’s changes in 2024.


    To search for public universities in Germany you can check out the following websites:



    MasterPortal (best for Master Students)

    Private Universities

    • Tuition Costs: Private universities operate independently and rely on tuition fees for sustenance. Expect to pay between €10,000 and €15,000 per year for Bachelor’s programs and between €10,000 and €20,000 per year for Master’s programs.
    • Financial Aid: Many private institutions offer scholarships, grants, and financial aid to eligible students, making education more accessible.

    To search for Private Universities, here are a few links to get you started:



    MasterPortal (best for Master Students)

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    2) Accreditations

    Both Public and Private Universities

    • Quality Assurance: Accreditation ensures that universities meet educational standards. Look for the terms “Universität” (university) or “Fachhochschule/Hochschule” (university of applied sciences) in their titles. These designations indicate accreditation by regional governments.
    • Unaccredited Institutions: Some institutions collaborate with accredited universities to award degrees. Always verify accreditation status before applying.
    • If you are unsure, ask!

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    3) Reputation and Services

    Public Universities

    • Size and Recognition: Public universities are often larger and more globally (and nationally) recognized. They consistently feature in international university rankings.
    • Services and Facilities: While services vary, public universities may have larger class sizes. However, their extensive research facilities, libraries, and diverse student communities compensate for this.
    • Language of Instruction: Most programs are taught in German, although English-taught programs are increasingly available for both Bachelor and Master students.

    Private Universities

    • Smaller Class Sizes: Private institutions maintain smaller class sizes, allowing for more individualized attention.
    • Quality of Services: Private universities often excel in providing student services, modern facilities, and a more individualized learning enviornment.
    • English-Taught Programs: Most private universities offer programs in English, catering to international students worldwide.

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    4) Job Prospects and Employability

    Public Universities:

    • Practical Experience: Many public programs include mandatory internships, cooperative education, or industry projects. Graduates benefit from practical skills and networking opportunities.
    • Employability: Public university graduates have strong employability prospects, especially in STEM fields.
    • Help with finding a Job: Public universities offer less help with finding a job than private universities, as they have fewer links and partnerships with external stakeholders and employers.

    Private Universities:

    • Focus on Practical Skills: Private universities have more career-oriented and market-driven programs, which prepare students for the current and future demands of the labor market.
    • Employability: Private university graduates have good employability prospects in the fields of business, management, and social sciences.
    • Help with finding Jobs: Private universities offer more help with finding a job than public universities, as they have more connections and collaborations with the industry, the government, and the non-profit sector.

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    5) Admission Process

    Public Universities:

    • Strict Admission Requirements: Popular programs at public universities have competitive with strict admission processes. Meeting academic requirements and demonstrating language proficiency (usually German or English) are essential.
    • Numerus Clausus (NC): Some programs have restricted admission based on NC scores (grade point averages).
    • Rate of Acceptance: Public universities usually have a lower rate of acceptance.

    Convert your grades to German standards here!

    Private Universities:

    • Varied Criteria: Private universities have more flexible admission requirements that look at the candidate more wholistically than public universities, especially for niche and innovative programs.
    • Rate of Acceptance: Private universities usually have a higher rate of acceptance. Don’t take this to mean that Private Universities are not competitive, the longer standing private universities are can also be very competitive especially depending on the program!

    smiling woman wearing academic dress and black academic hat

    6) Pursuing a PhD

    Public Universities

    • Research Opportunities: Public universities offer more options to pursue a PhD than private universities.
    • Research Focus: The focus of research at public universities is usually in the fields of Science, Engineering and Humanities.
    • Reputation: Public universities have more recognition for their research excellence and impact, which can facilitate admission and collaboration with other universities and organizations.

    Private Universities:

    • Research Opportunities: Private universities offer fewer options to pursue a PhD than public universities.
    • Research Focus: The focus of research at private universities is usually in the fields of Business, Management, and Social Sciences.
    • Reputation: Private universities have less recognition and reputation for their research quality and contribution, which can limit the admission and cooperation with other universities and entities.

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    7) Scholarships

    Public Universities

    • Limited Scholarships: Scholarships are available, but the absence of tuition fees limits their availability.
    • External Scholarships: Students can explore external scholarships from organizations and foundations.

    Private Universities

    • More Scholarships: Private universities offer scholarships to attract students. Tuition fees contribute to funding these scholarships.

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    8) Teaching style and Program Variety

    Public Universities

    • Teaching Styles: Lectures, seminars, and practical sessions are common.
    • Program Variety: Public universities offer a wide range of programs, from humanities to engineering, medicine, and social sciences.

    Private Universities

    • English-Taught Programs: Most private universities offer programs in English, catering to international students.
    • Specialized Programs: While fewer in number, private universities specialize in areas like business, arts, design, and technology.

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    9) List of Top Universities

    Top Public Universities:

    1. Technical University of Munich (TUM)
    2. Ludwig Maximilians University Munich (LMU)
    3. Heidelberg University
    4. Free University of Berlin
    5. RWTH Aachen University
    6. Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT)
    7. Humboldt University Berlin
    8. Technical University of Berlin(TUB)
    9. University of Freiburg
    10. Universität Hamburg

    Top Private Universities:

    1. Charité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin
    2. Katholische Universität Eichstätt-Ingolstadt
    3. Constructor University Bremen
    4. IU International University of Applied Sciences Berlin
    5. Universität Witten/Herdecke
    6. FOM Hochschule für Oekonomie und Management Essen
    7. Frankfurt School of Finance and Management
    8. ESMT Berlin
    9. WHU – Otto Beisheim School of Management
    10. Hochschule Fresenius

    We hope that this blog post has given you some insights and information about the differences and similarities between public and private universities in Germany, and helped you make an informed decision about your future studies. However, we also remind you that there are many other factors to consider when choosing a university, such as the location, the culture, the atmosphere, or the personal preference of the student, you can check out our blog on “How to find study programs in Germany?” for more information on this. Thank you for reading, and good luck with your studies!😊

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