The German higher education system

In addition to the choice of a degree programme, you have to make another decision: What kind of higher education institution do you want to study at?


Due to their scientific orientation, universities are the perfect choice for students with a research-oriented approach. Some degree programmes such as medicine and law can only be studied at universities.

Additionally, universities are the only higher education institutions in Germany which have the right to confer doctorates. Thus it is advisable to go for a university if you consider an academic career.

Some universities have specialised on certain disciplines. Technical universities, for instance, offer a wide array of scientific, engineering-oriented and technical degree programmes while schools of art and music provide degree programmes in fine arts, design, performing arts and music.

Many young people from all over the world choose to study in Germany. 12% of all students come from abroad.

Learn more about the German higher education system, the different types of universities and the degrees they offer in the video.

Universities of Applied Sciences

Universities of Applied Sciences are the best choice for students looking for a rather application-oriented degree programme based on a scientific foundation.

Usually, one or two work placement semesters in a company are an integral part of the curriculum. Some Universities of Applied Sciences offer dual degree programmes.

Universities of Cooperative Education

For those of you who want to both study and gain professional experience, a dual degree programme at a state or state-approved university of cooperative education might be best.

A dual degree programme, offered as well by some Universities of Applied Sciences and universities, combines the university of cooperative education’s theoretical training with the practical training in a company. The students sign a three year training contract with a company where half of the training takes place.

Private universities

Private universities—as their name already indicates—are privately-owned and not or only partly supported by the state. Therefore, student fees can be quite high.

But: If you want to enrol at a private university, make sure that it is “state-approved”. Usually, only state-approved private university degrees are recognised on the international job market.