Public Vs Private Universities in Germany

Looking to study in Germany? Our comprehensive guide for international students compares public and private universities, covering everything from tuition fees to facilities. Learn about the history of higher education in Germany, and discover the benefits of choosing a public university. Whether you're drawn to the research opportunities of technical universities or the personalized academic journey of private institutions, MS in Germany is here to help you make an informed decision.

Public Vs Private Universities in Germany
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With its rich history, diverse culture, and excellent higher education system, Germany has long been a beacon for international students. Whether you're drawn by the allure of world-renowned universities or the country's vibrant student life, choosing the right university cannot be understated. This blog will guide you through the intricacies of the German higher education system, focusing on public Vs private universities.
Both public and private universities offer high-quality education in Germany, but each has unique advantages and characteristics. Understanding these differences can significantly impact your study experience and future career. This guide aims to provide a clear, in-depth understanding to help you make an informed decision.

The History of Higher Education in Germany

Universities in Germany trace their roots back to the Middle Ages, with the University of Heidelberg being the oldest, established in 1386. Public universities were the norm, with private universities only starting to gain popularity in recent years.
The German university landscape has evolved significantly over centuries, adapting to societal needs and global education trends. Introducing private universities has diversified the system, providing more choices for students.

Public Universities in Germany

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Public universities in Germany form the backbone of the country's higher education system. Funded significantly by the federal states and the national government, these institutions are celebrated for their rigorous academic programs, extensive research opportunities, and commitment to providing accessible education.

Tuition Fees and Funding at Public Universities

The tuition fees at public universities are a significant draw for students worldwide. These fees are noticeably lower than those at private institutions, making quality education more accessible to a larger audience.
Take Baden-Württemberg, a southwestern state in Germany, for example. The average tuition fee for international students hovers around €1,500 per semester. Interestingly, this fee could be significantly reduced or even waived entirely for students from within the European Union. Public universities in the other regions of Germany do not charge any tuition fee. There is only a semester fee of €350. This is a testament to the German government's dedication to making education accessible to all.

Benefits of Choosing a Public University in Germany

Opting for a public university in Germany comes with its unique benefits:
  • Low Tuition Fee: Public universities charge low or no tuition fee for their programs. This makes world-class education accessible to deserving students from across the world.
  • Rich Academic Environment: Public universities host a vibrant and intellectual student community, contributing to a culturally enriching experience.
  • Research Opportunities: Being a part of groundbreaking research is expected at these universities.
  • Eminent Scholars: Students get to study under, and interact with, scholars of international repute.
  • Diverse and Inclusive Learning Environment: Public universities have specific policies and programs to promote diversity, equality and inclusivity. Studying in such an ecosystem will make for a rich and wholesome learning experience.

Decoding the Categories of Public Universities: Technical Universities and Fachhochschulen

Public universities in Germany aren't a homogenous group; they can be classified into two categories - Technical Universities (Technische Universitäten, TUs) and Universities of Applied Sciences (Fachhochschulen, FHs). Each has its unique strengths and offerings.
Technical Universities (TUs)
Technical Universities are research powerhouses. They offer a wide range of science, engineering, and humanities subjects. Known for their theoretical approach, these universities are recognized globally for producing research that impacts various fields and industries.
Universities of Applied Sciences (FHs)
Universities of Applied Sciences, on the other hand, are rooted in practical learning. These institutions offer engineering, business, social sciences, and design courses. The curriculum at FHs is intertwined with professional practice, often incorporating internships and practical semesters to give students real-world exposure.
Choosing Between TUs and FHs
Choosing between TUs and FHs should be aligned with your academic interests and career objectives. Here's a brief comparison to help you understand better:
Technical Universities (TUs)
Universities of Applied Sciences (FHs)
Wide range of subjects
Specialized courses
Theoretical approach
Professional and practical approach
For a more in-depth comparison between TUs and FHs, please refer to our comprehensive guide: "Technical Universities vs Fachhochschulen: A Comprehensive Guide".

Private Universities in Germany

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Although relatively recent entrants into the country's higher education landscape, private universities in Germany have rapidly solidified their standing, most of their funding comes from tuition fees and private donations, setting them apart from their public counterparts.

Tuition Fees and Funding at Private Universities

As a rule of thumb, tuition fees at private universities in Germany outpace those at public universities. The annual fees can scale up to €20,000, primarily dictated by the nature of the program and the institution's stature. However, the higher prices often translate to a more personalized academic experience.

Classroom Experience at Private Universities

Private universities stand out for their smaller class sizes, allowing for more individualized attention from the faculty. This can lead to a more engaging learning environment, personalized feedback and direct access to professors.

The Benefits of Choosing a Private University in Germany

While the higher tuition fees might seem daunting, private universities offer unique advantages that often justify the cost:
  • Innovative Curriculum: Private universities are known for their dynamic, industry-aligned curriculum.
  • Practical-oriented Teaching: The teaching methodology at these universities emphasizes practical learning, enabling students to gain real-world skills.
  • Strong Industry Links: Private universities often boast robust connections with the industry, setting the stage for promising internships and job opportunities.
  • Higher Admission Rate: Private universities have easier admission requirements. Students with lower CGPA stand a better chance of admission to a private university.
  • Better Services and facilities: The service levels and facilities are superior in private universities providing students with a good value for their money.

Public Vs Private Universities in Germany

When comparing public and private universities, one must consider various factors, from funding and tuition fees to quality education and opportunities for international students.
Public Universities
Private Universities
Tuition and Donations
Tuition Fees
Low or no tuition fee
Quality of Education
Opportunities for International Students
Both types of institutions offer high-quality education and numerous opportunities for international students. Your choice between a public and private university in Germany should be based on your personal, academic, and financial circumstances.

Public Universities: Our Preferred Choice for International Education

At MS in Germany, our mission is to democratize international education, making it accessible to all, regardless of socio-economic background. In line with this, we lean towards public universities in Germany. Public universities are predominantly funded by the state and generally have much lower tuition fees than private universities. This lower financial barrier opens doors for talented students from middle-class backgrounds or those who may find the high tuition fees of private institutions unaffordable. By advocating for public universities, we strive to level the playing field, ensuring that every deserving student can gain a top-notch education, irrespective of their financial capabilities. After all, talent and ambition are not exclusive to those with deep pockets. Everyone deserves a shot at studying in the world's best universities, and at MS in Germany, we're committed to making this a reality.

Top public and private universities in Germany

Top Public Universities
Top Private Universities
Technical University of Munich
SRH Heidelberg
Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich
Fresenius University of Applied Sciences
Heidelberg University
Cologne Business School
Humboldt University of Berlin
Frankfurt School of Finance & Management
University of Tübingen
Munich Business School
Karlsruhe Institute of Technology
FH Mittelstands
Free University of Berlin
International School of Management (ISM)
RWTH Aachen University
University of Freiburg
Berlin School of Science and Innovation
University of Bonn
IU International University


The landscape of higher education in Germany is filled with unique opportunities and choices giving rise to public vs private universities in Germany comparison . With their traditional academic environment and lower tuition fees, public universities in Germany often present a more accessible option for international students. On the other hand, private universities can offer a more personalized academic journey, emphasizing practical skills and industry connections.
While both types of institutions have their strengths, at MS in Germany, we generally recommend public universities. Their blend of academic rigour, lower costs, and diverse community aligns well with our mission to democratize international education.
Choosing the right university is not merely about the public or private dichotomy; it's about finding an institution that nurtures your ambitions and unlocks your potential. As you delve into your research, remember that we at MS in Germany are here to assist you. If you need help navigating the admission process for a public university in Germany, don't hesitate to reach out to us.
Happy studying, and auf Wiedersehen in Deutschland!


Q: What are the differences between public and private universities in Germany?
A: Public universities are predominantly funded by the government and offer lower tuition fees than private universities. Private universities, on the other hand, depend on tuition fees and private donations to fund their operations. Private universities may offer more personalized academic experiences and industry connections.
Q: Are public universities in Germany of high quality?
A: Yes, public universities in Germany are known for their rigorous academic programs and extensive research opportunities. They have a reputation for providing accessible education and are celebrated for their commitment to academic excellence.
Q: How much do tuition fees cost at public universities in Germany?
A: Tuition fees at public universities in Germany are much lower compared to private universities. Most of the public universities charge no tuition fee. There is only a semester fee of € 350. Public universities in the Baden-Württemberg region have a tuition fee of around €1,500 per semester. Additionally, tuition fees may be waived or reduced entirely for students from within the European Union.
Q: What is the difference between Technical Universities (TUs) and Universities of Applied Sciences (FHs)?
A: Technical universities are research-oriented and offer various science, engineering, and humanities subjects. Universities of Applied Sciences are practice-oriented and offer specialized courses in multiple fields, such as business, social sciences, and design.
Q: Which universities does MS in Germany recommend?
A: MS in Germany generally recommends public universities for international students due to their lower tuition fees and diverse student community. However, the ultimate choice between public and private universities should be based on personal, educational goals, career aspirations, and financial capabilities.
Q: How can MS in Germany assist with admission to a public university in Germany?
A: MS in Germany is committed to helping international students navigate the admission process for public universities in Germany. They can provide end-to-end support for securing admission to a public university - starting from profile evaluation, university shortlisting, document preparation and application submission to post admission assistance.

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MS in Germany
MS in Germany

Your trusted consultancy for pursuing higher education in top German Public Universities.