Top universities in Germany – Ultimate Guide for Study in Germany
As this decade comes to a close, the quest for international education is at an all-time high among students. The upshot of this trend is that there is an ever-increasing global need for highly skilled individuals, necessitating the pursuit of higher studies – usually in the form of a Master’s or PhD program. What’s interesting to note is how students no longer are flocking to a single country to chase their academic aspirations, but are increasingly exploring opportunities at universities around the world. Germany, in particular, has seen a phenomenal rise in the number of Indian students studying at its institutes going from 3516 to 17,570 between 2008 and 2018. That’s a 500% jump in just one decade! What are the factors powering this boom, and should you, too, opt for any top universities in Germany for your MS abroad? That’s exactly what we’re about to tell you!
Germany has been one of the frontrunners in setting benchmarks for technological advancements for the better part of the last century. Germany lays a key focus on research and education. The speed with which Germany has set itself up as a superpower on the world stage after the destruction of World War 2, is a testament to their unwavering resolve and technical prowess.
Germany has been able to build its knowledge base through the educational values it imparts to its people. Historically, Germany ranks 3rd on the list of countries with the most Nobel laureates, out of which, 56 are from the University of Heidelberg alone. Germany boasts of several renowned universities, many of which regularly feature in the Top 100 of world university ranking. Take for instance the Technical University of Munich (world university ranking – 25th in Technology and 20th in Natural Sciences) or the RWTH Aachen University (world university ranking – 31st in Technology and 36th in Natural Sciences), both of which come under the fold of the prestigious TU-9.
These universities have been able to reach such lofty heights, primarily through a wonderfully structured and publicly funded education program. The latter means that students, both domestic and international, can pursue their MS at public universities in Germany, for 0 or extremely nominal tuition fees. Also, most of the courses in high demand at top universities in Germany are taught in English, making Germany one of the most promising destinations for non-German speaking students both from the European Union as well as overseas students. After the completion of the Master’s program, students are allowed to stay back in the country for up to 18 months and search for jobs. It is quite easy for graduates to find employment, as the demand for skilled individuals is quite high in fields related to engineering, medicine, and Information Technology.
TOP GERMAN UNIVERSITIES FOR PURSUING MASTERS IN GERMANY
1) TU Munich
TU Munich is ranked 1st in Germany and 61st in the World. TU Munich is one of the most research-focused universities in Germany and Europe. In terms of research output, Germany ranks 4th in all of Europe as the most innovative university.
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2) LMU Munich
LMU Munich is the largest university in Germany. There are approximately 44,000 students engaged in various courses. Historically, LMU is one of the most successful universities in the world with 42 Nobel laureates affiliated to it, which includes stalwarts like Max Planck, William Rontgen and Werner Heisenberg. LMU ranks 2nd in Germany and 62nd in the world.
3) Heidelberg University
Located in Baden-Württemberg, Heidelberg University is the oldest surviving university in the world. It is also Germany’s second largest university by size, with 32,000 students enrolled here. It is home to a rich academic background and boasts 56 Nobel laureates affiliation, the most of any German educational institution. Heidelberg university ranks 3rd and 64th in Germany and the world, respectively.
4) Karlsruhe Institute of Technology
KIT is one of the largest universities in Germany formed from the merger of Karlsruhe University and Karlsruhe Research Center in 2009. It is ranked 6th in Europe in terms of citation impact of published research. It ranks at 116 in the world university ranking. It is home to many well-known inventors and entrepreneurs such as Heinrich Hertz and Karl Friedrich Benz.
5) RWTH Aachen
RWTH Aachen University is ranked 6th overall within Germany and 144th overall in the World. It ranks 31st among the best engineering colleges in the world (12th in Mechanical engineering). Apart from Mechanical, RWTH has one of the best faculties in Germany in chemical and electrical engineering. RWTH Aachen maintains very close links to industry, setting itself apart from other German universities through its strong alumni network. One in five board members of German companies such as Volkswagen, Daimler, Allianz, BMW, etc., are from RWTH Aachen.
Other notable institutions
The SRH University Heidelberg, located in the evergreen forests of Baden Württemberg, is another top university in Germany. A GRE score of around 300, an IELTS score of 7 and GPA above 8 (or 2.5 out of 4) would be enough to secure a seat here.
A similar score would be enough for other universities in Baden Württemberg like Deggendorf Institute of Technology, Technical University Ilmenau, University of Siegen. For the more management inclined students, an admit in MS in Technical Management in University of Applied Sciences Emden / Leer would require the candidate to have a GPA of 7 and IELTS score of 7. However, students should still strive to get a better score than the minimum mentioned here as the rejection rates are higher in Germany than in the USA.
WORKING WHILE STUDYING IN GERMANY
International, non-EU students, can work during their studies for 120 days or 240 days as half days as a way of supporting themselves. However, this does not include the work done as a teaching or research assistant. In such a case, the Alien Registration Office must be notified of such an arrangement. Students can earn as much as 450 euro per month, which is not tax deductible. Any amount over the limit will result in automatic tax deduction from the salary.
Internships, paid or unpaid, are counted as work and are deducted from the 120 days limit. Courses requiring mandatory internships are not counted as working days. Further, non-EU students are not allowed to work in a freelance capacity.
WORK AFTER STUDY PROGRAM IN GERMANY
The work after study program is unique and accommodating, and helps a student with the German student visa extension process so that students can continue their search for jobs. After graduating, students can seek an extension of 18 months to continue the search for jobs. The extension in the residence permit will be granted provided that the seeker has a passport, degree obtained from a German university, health insurance and proof of financial support. The 18 months period starts as soon as the course is complete. Thus, it is advisable to start searching for jobs from third semester onwards.
If the student has returned home after graduation, he/she can apply for a Jobseeker visa which allows the student to apply for work in the related field of graduation. The student can apply for this visa from the nearest German embassy.
The expense associated with completing an MS in Germany involves a lot of additional expenses, even when the tuition fees are waived. In the absence of funding, a student will have to shell out at least Rs. 14,00,000 for the entire duration of his stay in Germany. Financial support in the form of a monthly stipend or a research fellowship over a specified period of stay relieves a lot of stress from prospective students. The DAAD or Deutscher Akademischer Austauschdienst (German Academic Exchange Service) is one of the major contributors supporting research efforts of around 2 million scholars in Germany ever since its conception in 1925. DAAD is at the forefront of Germany’s effort of internationalization of universities in Germany. Just having good grades in academics is often not enough to secure funding from DAAD. Universities in Germany usually look for a well-rounded individual who has been civically engaged. Further, DAAD has certain target groups, e.g., grants may be awarded according to the person’s social and familial background. The fellowship involves covering the cost for a certain period of the applicants’ studies. Funding for the entire duration of the study is only awarded under exceptional circumstances. The rate of approval of scholarship is quite high. About a third of all applicants can secure some other form of funding from DAAD.
GERMANY VS THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
A cost comparison:
The biggest advantage of pursuing an MS in Germany over other popular destinations such as the USA would be the relatively less financial pressure on the prospective student. Being a publicly funded institution, the tuition fees at top universities in Germany are very low. Consider the case of two universities with similar worldwide rankings – RWTH Aachen in Germany (31st rank) and Cornell University in the USA (28th rank). For graduate research degrees, the average tuition at Cornell University would cost Rs. 42,00,000 ($29,500 ) while there are no tuition fees at RWTH Aachen, even for international students! Now, compare the cost of living in either of the two places. In Aachen, the total cost including accommodation, food, health insurance, university fees, books, etc. is Rs. 62,000 per month. In Ithaca, the living cost without accommodation is Rs. 52,000 per month . Thus, over the entire course of a Master’s degree, an average student at Cornell will have to spend a whopping Rs. 40 lakhs more (excluding accommodation) than what a student would have to spend at Aachen while studying at an institution of comparable metrics.
Alone in a foreign land:
The foremost thought that comes to our mind when it comes to education in Germany is the language barrier. However, on a closer look, the barrier seems like a mental block on our parts. A recent report from German government estimates that there are about 1.1 lakh people of Indian descent residing in Germany . Out of which about 70,000 hold the German passport. Since 2008, the number of students pursuing their higher education in German universities has increased almost five folds. Every major city in Germany now has a large diaspora of people of Indian descent. A special mention must be made of the Indian cuisine which is held in adoration almost throughout Europe, and Indian restaurants are quite easily found in most German cities.
The German foreign population has been steadily increasing and is at an all-time high. As a result, there is a huge cultural influence from around the world in major cities like Berlin, Munich, Frankfurt, Hamburg, etc. Further, there are many multinational companies in Germany meaning that the majority of work is done in English. Similarly, Universities in Germany have policies for internationalization for attracting bright people from around the world. And that means offering major courses in English. Of course, most of the legal work is done in German, e.g., rental agreements and legal documents. However, there are many experts to help students out with translation. So, knowing German is not a necessity for job applicants, but is still recommended.
MS in the USA vs. Germany – The Final Verdict
Germany offers a lot of social safety nets in the form of little to no tuition fee, relaxed work and academic environment, relatively easy visa procedure, and considerate work after study programs. However, the acceptance rates in Germany are quite low, as are the number of universities on offer. As things stand, the USA remains the better option. This is primarily because significant number of universities in top 100 of the world are from the USA, along with more job opportunities for graduates with it being the world’s largest economy.
Moreover, when it comes to language, even though English is understood widely in Germany, some universities and workplaces require applicants to have at least a working knowledge of German, whereas in the USA, English is all you need.
In any case, it is very important to be fully aware of one’s prospects and long-term aspirations before selecting a university and country for your MS abroad. Germany can indeed be a great place to study abroad on a budget, with high-quality education and post-study work opportunities, but then again, a master’s degree from one of the Top US universities is a lifetime asset, is recognized all over the world, and can really open up opportunities around the globe.
All the best!