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While university fees continue to rise in many parts of the world, some of you might be thinking that getting a recognized degree qualification, either in your home country or abroad, is simply impossible without having a four- or five-figure budget at your disposal.

  You’ll be pleased to hear that this isn’t necessarily the case! There are many countries worldwide where students are able to study abroad for free or for a very affordable amount; you just need to know where to look.

  Below you’ll find a selection of countries that offer low-cost or free tuition, with details on eligibility and what current (low) university fees you can expect. To find internationally renowned universities in these countries, visit the QS World University Rankings® 2016-2017.




  Study in Germany for free

  Interest in studying abroad in Germany just seems to keep on growing. This is largely due to the fact that there are no undergraduate tuition fees at public universities in Germany, and this applies to both German students and internationals, regardless of nationality. Just a small nominal university fee is charged, of around 150-250 (~US$160-265) to cover administration costs.

  These low study costs, combined with Germany’s strong economy and excellent higher education system, makes the prospect of undertaking study in Germany for free extremely appealing for both students and their parents worldwide. Indeed, in a recent HSBC report on ‘The Value of Education’, Germany is among the top five countries in the world in terms of perceived quality of education among surveyed parents. More than 40 German universities are featured among the world’s leaders in the QS World University Rankings – again, beaten only by the US and UK – with the highest place taken by Technische Universität München.

  There are, however, signs that studying in Germany for free will not be possible for much longer. The state of Baden-Württemberg in south-west Germany recently announced plans to reintroduce tuition fees for non-EU students from autumn 2017, meaning non-EU students will be required to pay fees of around 1,500 (~US$1,600) per semester to study at universities in the state, such as Ruprecht-Karls-Universität Heidelberg.

  If you’re successful in finding a university at which to study in Germany for free, you will of course still need to budget for living costs. If you need a German student visa, you’ll need to prove you have around 8,700 (~US$9,230) per year for living expenses.

  Two of the top destinations for study in Germany, Munich and Berlin, are also ranked as two of the most affordable cities to study in the QS Best Student Cities 2016.




  但是,虽然有迹象显示在德国免费留学可能将无法持续更长的时间。德国西南部的巴登-符腾堡州最近宣布计划在2017年秋季开始向非欧盟国家的学生重新收取学费,这意味着非欧盟国家学生的将需要支付大约1500欧元(约合1,600美元) 每学期的费用才能在巴登-符腾堡州内的大学就读,例如海德堡大学。

  如果你顺利地找到了一所能够免费留学的德国大学,那么你当然还需要将生活费用的预算纳入考虑。如果你需要获得德国留学签证,那么你需要证明你有大约8,700欧元 (约合9,230美元) 每年的生活费。


  How Much Does it Cost to Study in Germany?

  Based on official figures from the DAAD (German Academic Exchange Service), the average cost of studying in Germany is just US$10,520 (9,170) per year, breaking down to US$540 (470) for school fees and US$9,980 (8,700) for 12 months of living – covering food, transport, accommodation, entertainment, course materials and other necessities.

  Bear in mind that these figures are averages, and the amount you pay will fluctuate depending on the length of your program, your level of study, the German state (Länder) you live in and whether your university is private or public. Read on for more precise figures about the costs of studying in Germany for international students.

  Undergraduate costs to study in Germany

  Although you can study in Germany for free at public institutions as an undergraduate, there is a charge per semester for enrolment, confirmation and administration – usually between 150 and 250 (US$170-280) depending on the university. There may be an additional charge of around 100 for a “Semesterticket”, which covers public transport expenses for six months. If you exceed the standard period of study by more than four semesters, you may also face a long-term fee charge, which could be as much as 800 (US$920) per semester.

  Most universities in Germany are public. Private institutions are usually primarily dependent on tuition fees for their funding (though some also receive support from foundations), and can charge up to 20,000 (US$22,850) per year. The University of Witten-Herdecke, for example, charges around 15,000 (US$17,150) for a degree, but offers flexible finance options, giving students the choice of whether to pay tuition fees from the start or pay a percentage based on income after graduation.

  The Federal Student Financial Aid Program (BAföG: Bundesausbildungsförderungsgesetz) is available for German nationals and EU students, and even for foreigners under select conditions. Generally this aid is for those under 30 years old, or under 35 for those studying for a master’s degree. But exceptions can be made depending on circumstance. BAföG offer grants to cover basic living and training costs and also provides an Education Loan program, giving students the opportunity to take out a low-interest loan.





  虽然你可以在德国的公立大学免收学费进行本科学习,但是你仍然需要支付一些费用用于每学期的注册、确认和管理,具体收费标准取决于你所就读的大学,这笔费用通常为150欧元到250欧元之间(约合170美元到280美元) 。除此之外,可能还会有大约100 欧元的“学期优惠乘车票”的额外费用,这个费用包括了你在六个月的时间内搭乘公共交通的费用。如果你在德国留学的时间超过了四个学期的标准时间,你也可能会需要支付“超期费”,这笔费用可能会高达800欧元(约合920美元) 每学期。

  在德国大多数的大学都是公立大学。私立大学通常靠从学生那里收取的学费来提供大学运作的资金,尽管有些私立大学也会得到基金会的支持,私立大学可能会收取高达20,000欧元(约合22,850美元) 每年的学费。举个例子来说,维藤黑尔德克大学,一个学位的学费大约是15,000欧元 (约合17,150美元) ,但是这所大学也提供灵活的缴费选项,让学生可以选择在一开始就一次性付清学费,或者是根据毕业之后的收入来按照百分比支付学费。


  Master’s and postgraduate costs to study in Germany

  Master’s degrees at German universities are usually free if they are classed as “consecutive” – i.e. following directly on from a related bachelor’s degree gained in Germany. Again, there is a small charge per semester for enrolment, confirmation and administration, plus a Semesterticket. However, a “non-consecutive” master’s degree, for those who have gained their bachelor’s degree elsewhere in the world, can cost more than 10,000 (US$11,450) per semester, and private German universities can charge up to 30,000 (US$34,300) per year for a master’s degree.

  For example, Germany’s top-ranked institution, the Ruprecht-Karls-Universität Heidelberg, lists fees for non-consecutive master’s degrees ranging from 2,050 (US$2,350) per semester for a Master of Science in Biomedical Engineering up to 6,000 (US$6,870) per semester for a Master of Science in Health Economics.

  At PhD level, tuition is once again free at all universities in Germany – for the first six semesters at least. As at all levels of study, PhD students are also required to make a semester contribution of between 150 (US$170) and 200 (US$230) for administration and other costs.

  Cost of living in Germany

  While many students are able to study in Germany for free, living expenses are unavoidable. The cost of living in Germany is more expensive in some areas than others (big cities such as Munich as well as cities across western Germany tend to be more expensive), with costs ranging from 350 to 1,000 (~US$482 to US$1,377) per month. Rent will be your largest monthly expense, but is cheaper if you live in a shared flat (average rent of 298/US$340 per month) or a student hall of residence (240/US$275 per month).

  Based on data from the DAAD, other average monthly costs are as follows: 165 (~US$190) for food; 52 (US$60) for clothes; 82 (US$95) for transport; 33 (US$38) for telephone, internet and TV license; 30 (US$35) for work/study materials, and 68 (US$80) for leisure activities.

  You won’t need a visa to study in Germany if you’re an EU national or a citizen of Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway or Switzerland. Otherwise expect to pay around 60 (US$70) for your student visa, but there are also fee reductions or waivers for Schengen visas. In order to fulfill the visa requirements, you will need to show proof that you have, or have access to, around 8,040 per year (US$9,230) or 670 (US$770) per month to cover your living costs.

  For more information on getting a German student visa, see this article.

  You will also need health insurance as a pre-condition of registering at a German university. If you’re a resident of a country within the EU or EEA, there should be a social security agreement between your country and Germany. This means that if you have public health insurance, you should be covered in Germany as well (full list here). If your health insurance is not valid in Germany, expect to pay between 80 (US$90) and 160 (US$180) per month to cover this.


  如果你属于“连续就读”的学生,即你的学士学位就是在德国大学获得的,并且你直接在德国大学就读跟你学士学位专业相关的硕士学位,那么你在德国大学就读硕士学位就是免收学费的。与在德国大学读本科一样,虽然免收学费,但是每学期还是有少量的注册费、确认费以及管理费,再加上学期优惠乘车票的少量费用。但是,如果你不是“连续就读”的学生,就是说你是在世界别的国家获得的学士学位,你在德国大学就读硕士学位就可能会被收取超过1万欧元 (约合11,450美元) 每学期的学费,德国的私立大学可能收取高达3万欧元 (约合34,300美元) 每年的学费。

  举个例子来说,在德国排名顶尖的大学,海德堡大学,非连续就读的硕士学位列出的费用是,生物医学工程硕士的学费为2,050欧元 (约合2,350美元) 每学期,卫生经济学硕士的学费为6千欧元 (约合6,870美元) 每学期。

  但是如果你是在德国就读博士学位,那么所有的德国大学都是免学费的,至少是最开始的六个学期免收学费。就像在德国大学就读其他等级一样,博士学生每学期也需要缴纳150欧元 (约合170美元) 到200 欧元 (约合230美元) 的管理费以及其他费用。


  虽然很多学生都能够免费在德国留学,但是德国留学期间的生活费也是不可避免的。在德国有些区域的生活成本要比另外的区域更高,比如在慕尼黑等大城市还有德国西部的城市就更昂贵,生活费为350欧元到1000欧元每月(约合482美元到1,377美元) 。房子租金会成为你每个月最大的一笔开支,但是如果你跟别人一起合租的话,租金会要便宜一些,平均租金为298欧元(约合340美元)每个月,或者你还可以选择住在学生宿舍,费用也会更便宜,只需要240欧元(约合275美元)每个月。

  根据德意志学术交流中心(DAAD)的数据显示,其他每个月的平均费用还有以下几个方面:165欧元(约合190美元) 的餐食费用,52欧元(约合60美元)的衣服购买费用,82欧元(约合95美元)的交通费用,33欧元(约合38美元)的电话、互联网和电视许可证费用,30 欧元(约合35美元) 的工作\学习材料费用,以及68欧元(约合80美元)的休闲活动开支。

  如果你是来自欧盟国家或者冰岛、列支敦士登、挪威或者瑞士这些国家的公民,那么你不需要留学签证就可以来德国留学。否则你就需要花费大约60欧元(约合70美金)的费用来申请你的留学签证,但是申根签证也可以享受费用降低或者免除的福利。为了满足德国留学签证申请的要求,你需要证明你自己拥有或者有权接触,大约8,040欧元(约合9,230美元) 每年或者670欧元(约合770美元)每个月的金额,用于支付你在德国留学期间的生活费用。

  如果你想要在德国大学注册,你还需要购买健康保险,这是在德国大学注册的前提条件。如果你是一个来自欧盟或者欧洲经济区国家的居民,那么你的国家和德国之间应该有社会保障协议。这就意味着,如果你已经购买了公共医疗保险,那么你在德国留学期间也可以同样享受这个保险。如果你不确定你是否能够享受,请在来德国留学之前就资讯清楚。如果你的健康保险在德国是无效的,那么你每个月需要支付大约80欧元(约合90美元) 到160欧元 (约合180美元)的健康保险费。

  Scholarships to Study in Germany

  The German Academic Exchange Service, otherwise known as the DAAD (Deutscher Akademischer Austausch Dienst), provides support for German and international students to gain funding to live and study in Germany for free or at a more affordable cost. DAAD scholarships to study in Germany are offered to German and international students of all levels, as well as academics and researchers. To find relevant scholarships to study in Germany, you can search based on keywords, study level, country of or, , igin and subject.

  Another useful resource comes from the Federal Ministry of Education and Research or BMBF (Bundesministerium für Bildung und Forschung), which hosts a site dedicated to providing information on scholarships to study in Germany.




  Study in Germany: Frequently Asked Questions

  1. Can I study in Germany free of charge?

  As of 2014, all public universities in Germany offer higher education free of charge,for both domestic and international students. This means anyone from around the world can now study in Germany at undergraduate level for free at a public university (with just a nominal administration fee per semester of about US$300).

  For postgraduate students, however, tuition fees still exist. These fees may be avoided (or cut dramatically) if you have already graduated from an undergraduate program in Germany in the last few years. If you studied in another country at undergraduate level, you are classed as a ‘non-consecutive’ student and should expect to pay around US$12,000 per semester to study on a reputed postgraduate program.

  2. What qualifications do universities in Germany offer?

  Under the Bologna reform, all universities in Germany offer internationally recognized degrees. A BA or a BSc (Bachelor of Arts / Bachelor of Science) will usually take 6 semesters (3 years) to complete, and these are the most common undergraduate degrees. For postgraduate studies, an MA or MSc (Master of Arts / Master of Science) will take 2-4 semesters (1-2 years) and a PhD (Doctor of Philosophy) will last 4-6 semesters (2-3 years).

  More specialized degrees are also available at certain German universities. If you’d like more information about gaining an MBA (Masters in Business Administration) in Germany, visit this guideon our sister site TopMBA.com.

  3. What are the entry requirements to study in Germany?

  To study abroad in Germany you need to hold a ‘higher education entrance qualification’ or ‘Hochschulzugangsberechtigung’ (HZB). This qualification can come in many formats, particularly for international students who have gained their school-leaving qualifications in a different country.

  For prospective undergraduate students, a high-school diploma, school-leaving certificate or university entrance exam result is usually sufficient. For postgraduate programs, students need to provide an undergraduate degree certificate. Usually, if your qualification would allow you entry into higher education in your home country, it will also be sufficient to allow you to apply to German universities. To check whether your current qualifications are recognized for study in Germany, use the form on this page.

  If you find that your qualification is not recognized, you are also able to take a preparatory course at a ‘Studienkolleg’ before taking a compulsory assessment test known as a ‘Feststellungprüfung’. This assessment will cover areas that are relevant to the program you wish to study on and will prepare you for university.

  If you wish to undertake a program being taught in German (the teaching language of most undergraduate programs in Germany), you will also need to prove your German proficiency (see Question 4 for more information).

  In addition to German-language proficiency and an entrance qualification, you may also need to meet the specific entry requirements of your chosen university program. These requirements depend on the reputation of the school and of the program, and can be found by looking at the program information in the university’s prospectus or online.

  4. Do I need do speak German?

  The language of instruction at most universities in Germany is German. All students undertaking a German-taught program will need to be able to demonstrate a firm knowledge of the language, either by means of a language test result or by taking a preparatory course. Accepted proficiency tests are the DSH (German Language University Entrance Examination for International Applicants),TestDaF (Test of German as a Foreign Language), GDS (Goethe Institut German Language Diploma) and the DSD (German Language Diploma of the Standing Conference of the Minister of Education and Cultural Affairs, Level II). If you are only studying in Germany for one or two semesters you may not need to provide this evidence.

  If you have a limited knowledge of German, you could consider taking an English-language program. There are a growing number of English-taught programs at universities in Germany, particularly at postgraduate level. If you are a non-native English speaker, you may be required to provide proof of your English-language proficiency with a TOEFL or IELTS result. If your chosen school requires this, they will list ‘proof of English-language proficiency’ as an entry requirement.

  5. How do I apply to universities in Germany?

  Admissions processes vary between institutions, so make sure to check the information given by your chosen university before submitting an application. If you are unable to find the entry requirements of a program you want to apply for or you aren’t sure howto apply, visit the university’s International Office (‘Akademisches Auslandsamt’) and either read the information provided online or contact the office directly. There should be staff members available to provide support and advice on any topic relating to international student applications.

  Generally, you’ll be asked to provide the following documentation with your application:

  A certified copy of your higher education entrance qualification (e.g. a high-school diploma) and any other relevant qualifications in the original language

  A translated overview of the subjects and grades of your qualifications

  A passport photo

  A copy of your passport (personal information and photo ID)

  Proof of language proficiency (a test certificate or online equivalent)

  For the majority of public German universities, the application period for the winter semester begins in early May and ends mid-July. For the summer intake, the application period is between early December and mid-January. You should expect to receive a formal acceptance or rejection approximately one to two months after the deadline has passed.

  To ensure the best chances of acceptance, take care to provide all the documentation asked for, make sure all your documentation is certified (copies of documents also need to be certified by the awarding school) and check that you’ve filled out all your information correctly before submitting your application.

  6. Do I need a German student visa to study in Germany?

  Whether or not you need a German student visa depends on your country of origin. If you are from a country within the EU or the EEA you do not need a student visa. If you are from Australia, New Zealand, the US, Canada, Japan, South Korea, Switzerland or Israel you still do not require a student visa, but you will need to register for a residence permit upon arrival in Germany. If you are from Andorra, Brazil, El Salvador, Honduras, Monaco, San Marino or Taiwan, you only need a visa if you plan on working in Germany before or after your studies. If your home country hasn’t been mentioned above, then you will need to apply for a German student visa at least three months before you are due to travel.

  7. Where can I study in Germany?

  Very good question! There are a total of 42 German universities featured in the latest edition of theQS World University Rankings®, meaning that you have a great selection of world-leading universities to choose from. If you want to study in a world-renowned student city, you might consider Munich or Berlin, both ranked among the world’s top 20 cities for students in the QS Best Student Cities index. But there are lots of regions of Germany with lots to offer students, including North Rhine-Westphalia (home of cities such as Dusseldorf and Cologne), Baden-Wurttemberg (home of Stuttgart), Bavaria (home of Munich), Hesse (home of Frankfurt am Main), Lower Saxony (home of Hannover), Saxony (home of Dresden) and Hamburg (a state which is also a city).

  8. What’s the difference between a university and a ‘Fachhochschulen’?

  While all degree programs in Germany lead to a recognized bachelor’s or master’s qualification (or the German equivalent), there are some institutions, named ‘Fachhochschulen’, which are more geared towards practical learning. ‘Fachhochschulen’ or University of Applied Sciences, typically offer degrees in fields such as engineering, natural science and business administration. Attending a University of Applied Science may give you a closer relationship with industry contacts and offer more opportunity for practical learning, including internships. If you wish to pursue an academic career, on the other hand, ‘Fachhochschulen’ may not be the best option, as there is less focus on theoretic work and they do not award PhDs.

  9. Are scholarships available to cover living costs?

  Although tuition fees in Germany are non-existent at public universities, you still need to consider how you’ll cover living costs. If you don’t have a sponsor or supporting family member, there are various opportunities to gain scholarships to cover these costs.

  Scholarships to study in Germany can be obtained in various ways. The German government offers some funding to international students through the DAAD or the European Commission’s Erasmus+ scheme, but many opportunities are offered independently by German universities or external funding bodies. Browse the funding options on your chosen university’s website to see if they offer any international scholarships –these are often awarded based on merit, subject of study and/or country of origin.

  10. Where will I live during my studies?

  Unfortunately, most German universities do not offer accommodation to enrolling students. This means that finding accommodation is up to you. With no tuition fees in Germany, rent is likely to be your biggest monthly expense, and this will vary depending on which part of the country you live in. In big cities within Western Germany (i.e. Dusseldorf, Cologne etc.) and smaller, student-oriented cities such as Heidelberg and Freiburg, you should expect to pay slightly more than if you were living in eastern Germany (i.e. Berlin).

  When looking for accommodation in Germany, you should consider student residences, shared accommodation or an apartment. An unshared apartment is the most expensive choice, and this will generally cost in the region of 350-400 (US$430-500) a month. Shared accommodation would be cheaper at around 250-300 (US$300-370) a month, while student residences are cheaper yet again at around 200-250 (US$250-310) a month.

  If you struggle with finding your accommodation, you can also look for temporary accommodation to cover your first few days or weeks in the country. In these instances, emergency housing may be provided by the university or you could try couch-surfing, staying in a hostel, B&B or hotel.

  For more information on finding accommodation visit this article on the DAAD website.

  11. Can I work in Germany during my studies?

  Yes, you can! If you are a full-time EU or EEA student (excluding students from Bulgaria and Romania) there are no restrictions on where or when you can work. If you are a full-time student from outside of the EU (or from Romania and Bulgaria), you will be limited to working up to 190 full days or 240 half days per year before you must apply for a work permit. Upon gaining paid work in Germany you should contact the German employment office to learn about the legal conditions.

  12. Can I stay in Germany when I complete my studies?

  After completing your studies in Germany as an international student you are able to stay in the country and seek work for an additional period of 18 months. If you gain work in Germany within this time you should make sure that you extend your visa, residence or work permit to ensure you are living in the country legally.


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