The basics
Germany: Applying to University - Must read

The German higher education system...simplified

Learn everything about higher education in Germany, including how the system is structured, the academic culture and more...

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Nestled in the heart of Europe and one of the most technologically advanced nations in the world, Germany offers an excellent and affordable education. We’ve broken down the basics so you can understand the structure and culture of the German higher education system before you start planning your studies in this exciting country. 


Quick facts about higher education in Germany

  • There are over 2 million students enrolled at German universities
  • There are over 380 universities in 175 cities throughout the country
  • There are over 15,000 degree programmes available to study in Germany
  • A Bachelors programme is 6-8 semesters (3-4 years)
  • A Masters programme is 2 to 4 semesters (1-2 yeas)
  • PhD programmes are 6 to 10 semesters (minimum of 3 years) and usually include a doctoral thesis

Types of institutions

There are three different types of universities:

  1. Universities (Universitäten)
  2. Universities of Applied Sciences (Fachhochschulen)
  3. Universities of Art, Music and Film (Kunst- und Musikhochschulen)


1. Universities

Universities in Germany offer a wide range of courses in most subject areas and focus on research and teaching. They offer a more traditional style of learning and specialist subjects can also be studied here.


2. Universities of applied sciences

Universities of applied sciences concentrate on a more practical and applied style of learning that involves supervised work and assignments in placements and enterprises or specific departments. These universities focus around IT, engineering, technology, business-related studies, social work, design, education, nursing and applied and natural sciences.


3. Universities of Art, Music and Film

Universities of Art, Music and Film offer the most independent style of learning that embrace creative methods of learning and study. You may need to take an aptitude test to prove your artistic talent in your chosen area. Subjects include all the arts from fine art, fashion design, film, instrumental music to graphic design.


Now that you know more about the higher education system in Germany why not start browsing for your perfect course below?

About Author

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Katie Duncan is Editor of Hotcourses Abroad and is an NCTJ-qualified journalist and University of Exeter graduate. Having worked at an English language school in the UK, as an educational consultant in Spain and as a reporter in the international education sector, she is well placed to guide you through your study abroad journey. Katie grew up in Australia, which perhaps explains her unusual reptile collection, comprising of a bearded dragon (Bill) and tortoise (Matilda).