As an American, I completed my entire Master’s Degree in Germany tuition free. Actually, if you count the fact that I was awarded an academic scholarship after my first semester, then I was literally paid to study in Germany. My classmates included international students from China, Costa Rica, Columbia, Mexico, Egypt, Ethiopia, Romania and Russia. Many of whom also were on scholarships which covered their living costs for the entire duration of their studies, plus airfare.
But I’m not European.
No problem! If admitted, a citizen from any country can study in Germany for the same cost that a German or European citizen would pay: Free!
But I don’t speak German.
No problem! There are hundreds of programs taught completely in English. Also many additional math, science and engineering courses require only an intermediate level of German, which can easily be obtained by taking a 6 month immersive language course prior to studying.
But how long must I stay and work in Germany after I graduate?
There is zero obligation for you to stay and work in Germany after completing your degree.
OK, you say for free, but what in all actually do I need to pay?
In addition to your rent and food, there is normally an administration fee of a couple hundred Euros per semester that must be paid. However, compared to tuition rates in England, Australia, and worst of all the United States, 200 Euro a semester is almost trivial. Plus, a student transportation ticket that allows for unlimited travel may also be included within this fee.
When I studied in Germany, I received a transportation ticket that was valid throughout the entire state of North-Rhine Westphalia. I could use the ticket on the regional trains that ran between cities, as well as the local transportation (buses, trams, and metro) within each of the cities. After two weekend trips to Cologne or Düsseldorf, the ticket easily paid for itself. Being a student also makes you eligible to receive an assortment of discounts, including subsidized meals in the university’s cafeteria which cost on average between $2 and $4.
You will also be required to buy German health insurance, which can cost between $30 and $100 a month. This insurance will cover pretty much everything, including all doctor check-ups, hospital fees, prescriptions, dental, and eyes. The most you will likely have to pay out of pocket for anything is a $10 co-pay.
Additionally, if you do not have a scholarship or employment, you may be required to prove that you have enough money to support yourself for the duration of your student visa. Each individual city’s foreigner’s office has different levels of stringency when it comes to what you must show.
Can you work on a student permit?
Yes, you can work a total of 120 full or 240 half days per year. If you work as a research assistant, there is no limit to the amount of hours that you can work. There are often jobs in universities that are reserved specifically for students searching for work to support themselves.
You also mentioned that some students had full scholarships?
Yes, there are scholarships available to help cover students’ living costs. Some are especially reserved for students coming from developing nations. However, the deadline for applying for the scholarships may be far in advance, so apply early. I received a scholarship based on my academic performance starting my second semester. All scholarships can be found by following the link I provide at the end of this article.
Does having a German degree affect me later being able to get a German work visa?
Yes, it makes it much easier. After completing a German degree, you can receive an 18-month job-searching visa, which entitles you to stay in the country and work any type of job while you search for a job within your profession. After working two/three years in your profession, you can qualify for permanent residence in Germany. But their may exist restrictions for companies trying to hire foreign employees over European citizens. However, many of these restrictions have been waived for those holding degrees in STEM or medicine.
What about other European countries? Can I study in other European countries for free too?
Yes and no. Other countries such and Finland and Norway are also tuition free for non-Europeans, but their cost of living is much higher than in Germany. Thus partially what you may save in tuition, you will lose when paying room and board. Most other countries either charge fees for non-European citizens and/or require you to speak their native language.
Great! How do I get started?
This website contains all the information that you need. Here you will find both a list of all available courses of study as well as available scholarships.