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Education in Germany


Germany is one of the most popular countries for international students. About 11% of the country’s students are foreign citizens, particularly from China, Russia, Austria and India.

Primary and secondary education

Kindergartens (Kindergärten) accept children from three to six years old. There are also pre-classes (Vorklassen) and school kindergartens (Schulkindergärten). In the majority of German federal states kindergartens are not free and due to high demand it is recommended to sign up early and get on the waiting list. It can sometimes take several months and even years to get a child accepted.

Germany has about 50,000 schools that are attended by more than 12.5 million pupils. Education is free and compulsory until the ninth grade (twelve or thirteen years of learning).

Primary school (Grundschule) starts at six and lasts four years. Children entering secondary education are organised by academic ability. Low-achieving pupils go to general school (Hauptschule) for five years. After graduating from it they can start work or continue their education in the vocational training system. Average pupils go to a real school (Realschule) it for six years before entering the job market. Top students go to gymnasium (Grades 11–12). Grade 13 gymnasium students are considered high school graduates and prepare for university studies.

School City Federal state
Gymnasium Wilhelmsdorf Wilhelmsdorf Baden-Württemberg
Helmholtz-Gymnasium Karlsruhe Baden-Württemberg
Don Bosco Berufsschule
zur sonderpädagogischen
Würzburg Bavaria
Augsburg Bavaria
Friedensburg-Oberschule Berlin Berlin
Meusebach-Grundschule Schwielowsee Brandenburg
am Buntentorsteinweg
Bremen Bremen
GanztagsGymnasium Klosterschule Hamburg Hamburg
Stadtteilschule Bergedorf Hamburg Hamburg
Friedrich-Wöhler-Schule Kassel Hessen
BBS Osterholz-Scharmbeck Osterholz-Scharmbeck Lower Saxony
Ernst-Moritz-Arndt-Gymnasium Osnabrück Lower Saxony
IGS Schaumburg Stadthagen Lower Saxony
Jenaplanschule Rostock Rostock Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania
Erich Kästner-Realschule Gladbeck North Rhine-Westphalia
Janusz Korczak-Gesamtschule Gütersloh North Rhine-Westphalia
Gesamtschule Barmen Wuppertal North Rhine-Westphalia
Jeetzeschule in Salzwedel Salzwedel Saxony-Anhalt
Gorch-Fock-Schule/Grundschule Kiel Schleswig-Holstein
Waldschule Flensburg Flensburg Schleswig-Holstein


Germany has a lot of universities. There are 379 accredited, 240 public and 99 private universities along with the 40 under the jurisdiction of the Church in Germany. Students have 14,000 academic programmes to choose from.

Technical universities are highly respected in the country. Among the top universities are Heidelberg University, Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich and the Technical University of Munich.

In Germany Worldwide Universities
1 49 Ruprecht-Karls-Universität Heidelberg
2 52 Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München
3 54 Technische Universität München
4 121 Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg
5 127 Karlsruhe Institute of Technology, KIT
6 134 Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin
7 141 Eberhard Karls Universität Tübingen
8 146 Georg-August-Universität Göttingen
9 147 RWTH Aachen University
10 150 Freie Universität Berlin

Before applying prospective students should learn about the requirements on the university website or contact the International Office (Akademisches Auslandsamt or Dezernat Internationales) where they can consult the information on academic programmes and learning environment. Applications for the winter semester application close on July 15 and for the summer semester on January 15. Decisions are made within four to six weeks.

Required documents

  • completed application
  • secondary education certificate (German translation)
  • German language proficiency certificate
  • academic transcripts for post-graduate applications (German translation)

Education equivalency issues

Students must find out if their education is recognised by the German system. More information about this can be found in Anabin.De. Some secondary and university diplomas are not enough to gain access to a German university, in which case they have to gain a “university entrance qualification” (Hochschulzugangsberechtigung). This can be a general higher education entrance qualification (allgemeine Hochschulreife or Abitur) or an entrance qualification for universities of applied sciences (Fachhochschulreife). To do so, the student can apply to a university in their country that offers this programme or enroll on a preparatory course in Germany (Studienkolleg). Many German universities accept applications via uni-assist (Application Services for International Students) that works in about 160 German universities.

The majority of German universities do not have entrance exams but international students must prove their knowledge of German. Exceptions to this rule are the Universities of Performing Arts that hold competitions based on creative skill and certain Medical Universities.

Studies are free in almost every university but the students have to pay a €50–250 semester fee (Semesterbeitrag) to access cafeterias, dormitories and travel cards. In some federal states of Germany public universities charge tuition fees (Studiengebühren, Studienbeiträge) of up to €500 per semester.

Students can live in dormitories (Wohnheim), shared flats (Wohngemeinschaft or WG) or separate accommodation. Renting property costs at least €300 per month, with average monthly living expenses of €550–740.

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