Students Celebrating their graduation

So you’ve decided to study in Germany – an excellent choice! Now comes the tricky part, choosing between a public or private university. This is a big decision with lots to consider. Public universities in Germany are primarily funded by the government and charge little to no tuition fees, even for international students. Private universities are independent and charge tuition, though often still lower than in other countries.

As you weigh the options, consider what’s most important. Do you want prestigious, smaller classes and more academic support? Both categories have great options, so take your time exploring the different universities and find the one that feels like the perfect fit for you. This choice will shape your experience studying abroad, so go with what feels right! Germany awaits.

Range of Programs

Public universities offer many more subjects and specializations. There are hundreds of bachelor’s and master’s degrees to choose from, as well as teacher training and Ph.D. programs. Private schools typically focus on a few key areas of study related to their mission or values.

Admission Requirements

Getting into a German university is challenging, but public universities typically have lower admission standards than private ones.

The government funds public universities in Germany, so tuition is free for both domestic and international students. However, that also means they receive many more applications and have higher acceptance thresholds. Public university admission is based primarily on your high school grades and scores on final exams. They look for very high marks, especially in your area of study.

Private universities are funded by student tuition and private donors, so they can afford to be more selective. While grades still matter, private schools consider other factors like extracurriculars, work experience, entrance exams, and personal statements. If your grades alone don’t make you a shoe-in for a top public university, applying to private schools may increase your chances.

Cost and Funding

Public university is free, but private schools charge tuition. Fees at private universities average $10,000-$15,000 per year for international students. Private schools sometimes offer scholarships and financial aid, especially for high-achieving students. Public university is probably your most affordable option if cost is a concern.

Ultimately, weigh the pros and cons of public vs. private universities in Germany based on your priorities and situation. With the right preparation and persistence, you can get into a top school, whether public or private.

Study Programs and Courses

Public universities in Germany offer a more comprehensive range of study programs and courses compared to private universities. With over 400 public universities across Germany, there are countless programs and subjects to choose from. Whether you want to study engineering, humanities, sciences, or arts, public universities likely offer many options for your field of interest.

More Degree Options

Public universities provide undergraduate (Bachelor’s) and postgraduate (Master’s and Ph.D.) degrees in nearly every subject. They also commonly offer teaching degrees, medical degrees, and other specialized programs. Some public universities are considered leaders in research for certain subjects, providing high-quality education and internships or work experience opportunities.

Broader Course Selection

Public universities’ large size and scope mean they can provide a more comprehensive selection of courses within each degree program. You’ll have the flexibility to explore various topics that match your interests. You may also have opportunities to study abroad or take courses at partner universities to expand your experience. The diversity of courses at public universities gives students a well-rounded education with both breadth and depth of learning.

Lower Tuition Fees

Lastly, public universities in Germany charge little to no tuition fees for undergraduate and many Master’s degree programs. Fees for a Bachelor’s degree are typically under €2,000 per year. While postgraduate degrees may charge slightly higher fees, especially for non-EU students, public university education is still relatively affordable compared to other countries. Lower

Location and Campus Facilities

When choosing between public and private universities in Germany, an essential factor to consider is the location and campus facilities. Private universities typically have an advantage here.


Private universities are often located in desirable, centrally located areas of cities with good transportation connections. Public universities tend to have larger campuses on the outskirts of cities that can be more difficult to access. The location and accessibility of a university campus play an essential role in student life and experience.

Living in a fun, vibrant neighborhood with lots of cafes, culture, and nightlife has appeal for many students. Shorter travel times also mean less commuting and more time for studying or socializing. If location is a priority, you may find the offerings of a private university more appealing.

Campus Facilities

In addition to location, private universities usually provide higher-quality facilities and resources for students. You can expect modern classrooms with the latest technology, smaller class sizes, and amenities like cafeterias, gyms, and student lounges.

Dorms and housing at private schools also tend to provide students with more comfort and convenience. Accommodation is often located right on campus or in nearby student apartments.

Public universities struggle with budget constraints and large student populations, so facilities and resources are more basic. Classrooms and lecture halls tend to be larger and more sparse. On-campus housing is limited, so students frequently have to find their off-campus accommodation, which may be far from the university.

While public universities in Germany are very reputable and affordable, private schools offer particular advantages in location, facilities, and the overall student experience. If those factors are important to you, the additional private university tuition costs may well be worth the investment.

Reputation vs. Ranking

When choosing between public and private universities in Germany, an essential factor to consider is reputation and ranking. In general, private universities tend to rank higher and have a better reputation.

Higher Rankings

Private universities in Germany are often ranked higher in significant university ranking systems like the Times Higher Education World University Rankings and the QS World University Rankings.

Public universities like LMU Munich, Heidelberg University, and Humboldt University of Berlin tend to be ranked highest, but private schools follow closely behind. Private schools’ higher tuition fees are often reinvested into the university to improve facilities, resources, and the overall student experience.

Better Connections

The alum networks and connections at private universities are often more robust. Upon graduating, you’ll have access to a network of successful individuals in your field. This can lead to mentorship opportunities, job offers, collaborations, and more. The tight-knit community feeling at many private schools also means that professors and administration get to know students personally. They can then provide strong letters of recommendation and help connect you with relevant opportunities.

While public universities in Germany still provide quality education and valuable degrees, private institutions have advantages in reputation, ranking, and connections that are worth considering if tuition fees are not a concern. The environment and opportunities at a top private university can impact your career and success.


So there you have the significant pros and cons of public versus private universities in Germany to consider as you make this big decision. You need to go with what will set you up for success and align with your priorities and values.

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