Pursuing Higher Education in Germany: Best Scholarships to Look Out For

higher education in germany

Wait! Wait! Wait! Are you here by accident?

I mean, I would assume you are reading this article because you want to join the bandwagon on the major discussions surrounding the hike in the number of expat students in Germany. 

To be very honest, Germany has slowly emerged as a beacon for students worldwide, offering unparalleled opportunities in higher education. Renowned for its high academic standards, innovative research facilities, and a rich cultural landscape, Germany stands out as a premier destination for pursuing university degrees. 

What sets Germany apart in the global educational arena is not just the quality of its institutions but also the accessibility it offers to international students. This accessibility is largely facilitated by a wide array of scholarships and financial support opportunities, making higher education in Germany an attainable dream for many. 

From government-funded programs to university-specific scholarships, the prospects for financial aid are vast and varied, catering to diverse academic interests and backgrounds. 

So, why exactly is there a sudden push towards pursuing a higher education in Germany? What’s the appeal about? What scholarships are available? 

The questions are far and wide, so are my answers. 

The Appeal of Pursuing Higher Education in Germany

Germany, with its blend of world-class education and rich cultural heritage, presents a compelling case for students around the globe. 

But if you are thinking about the appeal of studying in Germany, here are all of the reasons why you should be looking at Germany as a step in your educational journey. 

higher education in germany

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World-Class Universities

  • Home to some of the world’s most prestigious universities, such as the Technical University of Munich and the University of Heidelberg.
  • Known for excellence in engineering, natural sciences, and humanities.
  • Offers state-of-the-art research facilities and a strong emphasis on innovation.

Diverse Study Programs

  • A wide range of courses in both English and German, catering to international students.
  • Unique interdisciplinary programs combining different fields of study.
  • Opportunities for hands-on experience through internships and industry partnerships.

Cultural Richness

  • A vibrant blend of historical and modern influences, from medieval castles to contemporary art.
  • A multicultural environment, welcoming students from all over the world.
  • Numerous cultural events, festivals, and museums, offering a rich student life beyond academics.


  • Germany is consistently ranked as one of the safest countries in the world.
  • Safe public transportation and a high standard of living.
  • Supportive university communities and public services ensuring student well-being.

Global Recognition of German Degrees

  • German degrees are highly respected globally, opening doors to international career opportunities.
  • Strong emphasis on research and practical skills, making graduates highly employable.
  • Alumni networks and partnerships between universities and global companies enhance job prospects.
higher education in germany

Understanding the Higher German Education System

Germany’s education system, renowned for its rigor and quality, offers a structured pathway through various levels of higher education. Like most other educational institutions, there are several levels of educational hierarchies you might have to surpass. 

It’s pretty simple to understand, but hey, I know you are here for some quick information, so this is as easy as it gets. 

Undergraduate Studies

Typically lasting 3-4 years, undergraduate (Bachelor’s) programs provide foundational knowledge in a chosen field. These programs often combine theoretical learning with practical projects, preparing students for either further education or entry into the professional world.

Graduate Studies

Graduate (Master’s) programs, usually 1-2 years long, allow for specialization in a specific area of study. These programs are more research-oriented, with an emphasis on developing advanced skills and knowledge.

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PhD Programs

German universities are known for their strong research focus, making them ideal for pursuing a PhD. These programs involve extensive research under the guidance of experienced professors and can take anywhere from 3 to 5 years.

Fachhochschulen (Universities of Applied Sciences)

These institutions offer more practice-oriented education, focusing on applied sciences and professions. Programs here are designed to provide students with hands-on experience and skills directly relevant to specific careers, making them a popular choice for students seeking a more pragmatic educational approach.

higher education in germany

International Focus and Language of Instruction

  • Many programs, especially at the graduate level, are offered in English, attracting international students.
  • Universities emphasize global perspectives, often incorporating international case studies and fostering cross-cultural understanding.
  • The mix of German and international students creates a dynamic, multicultural learning environment.

Scholarship Opportunities for Higher Education Germany

Germany offers a wealth of scholarship opportunities for international students, making quality education accessible and affordable. Now, now, I am pretty sure most of what you have heard about the German educational system has to do with scholarships and funding it comes with. 

Government-Funded Scholarships

  • DAAD Scholarships: The German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) is one of the largest scholarship organizations in the world. It offers a wide range of scholarships for all academic levels and disciplines, covering tuition, living expenses, and health insurance.
  • Erasmus: Funded by the European Union, Erasmus+ provides grants for international students to study in Germany, especially for exchange programs or joint master’s courses.

University-Specific Scholarships

Many German universities offer scholarships to attract talented international students. These can be merit-based or need-based and may cover tuition fees, living costs, or both. Examples include the Heidelberg University Excellence Scholarship and the Technical University of Munich International Scholar Program.

Private Foundations

  • Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung: Scholarships for international students at the master’s and PhD levels, focusing on those committed to socio-political goals.
  • Friedrich Ebert Stiftung: Supports young professionals from Africa, Asia, Latin America, and Eastern Europe who demonstrate academic excellence and social commitment.
  • Alexander von Humboldt Foundation: Offers research fellowships and scholarships, primarily for postdoctoral scholars and researchers.
higher education in germany

Corporate Scholarships

Several German and international corporations offer scholarships, often linked to internships or future employment opportunities. These are usually field-specific, targeting areas like engineering, business, or IT. Examples include the Bosch Foundation Fellowship and Siemens Masters Scholarships.

Application Process and Requirements for Higher Education in Germany

The application process for anything is always a marathon of the middle. There are papers to fill, recommendations to be requested, submissions to be considered and decisions to be made. 

This involves a strong and clear understanding of the application process and requirements. Here is our simplified guide to all the steps involved in applying to a university in Germany: 

University Application Process

  • Research and Select Universities: Identify universities and programs that align with your academic interests and career goals.
  • Check Requirements: Each university and program may have specific requirements, such as academic qualifications, language proficiency, and entrance exams.
  • Prepare Documents: Commonly required documents include academic transcripts, letters of recommendation, a statement of purpose, and a CV.
  • Language Proficiency: For programs in German, proof of proficiency (like TestDaF or DSH) is required. For English-taught programs, TOEFL or IELTS scores are usually needed.
  • Submit Application: Apply directly to the university or through platforms like UniAssist.

Also read: Tried and Tested Tips For Students to Find Part-Time Jobs in Germany

Scholarship Application Process

  • Identify Suitable Scholarships: Research scholarships for which you are eligible.
  • Understand Deadlines and Requirements: Each scholarship has its own application deadline and set of requirements.
  • Prepare Application Materials: These often include academic records, motivation letters, and sometimes a separate scholarship application form.
  • Apply as Early as Possible: To increase your chances, apply well before the deadline.

Tips for a Strong Application

  • Tailor Your Application: Customize your application materials for each university or scholarship.
  • Highlight Unique Qualities: Emphasize what makes you a standout candidate – be it academic achievements, extracurricular activities, or work experience.
  • Proofread and Review: Ensure your application is error-free and well-structured.
  • Seek Feedback: Have mentors or peers review your application before submission.
  • Prepare for Interviews: Some scholarships or programs might require interviews, so practice and be prepared to discuss your application and motivations.
higher education in germany

Cost of Living and Student Support Services in Germany

Studying in Germany is not only academically rewarding but also financially manageable, thanks to the relatively low cost of living and comprehensive student support services. 

Now, this doesn’t necessarily mean it’s cheap. You might be living off ramen and noodles for a while, but comparatively, Germany is student-friendly and affordable (I mean, the brokenness of college students, is afterall a universal experience, is it not?). 

Living Costs

  • On average, a student in Germany may need around €850 to €1,200 per month to cover living expenses.
  • This includes rent, food, transportation, health insurance, telephone/internet, study materials, and leisure activities.
  • Cities like Munich or Frankfurt can be more expensive, while smaller cities or towns may be more affordable.

Student Accommodation Options

  • University Dormitories: Often the most affordable option, costing between €200 and €400 per month.
  • Private Shared Flats (WGs or Wohngemeinschaften): Popular among students, offering a chance to live with peers at a reasonable cost.
  • Private Rentals: More expensive, but provides privacy and independence.

Student Support Services

  • Academic Advising: Guidance on course selection, study plans, and academic challenges.
  • Career Services: Help with internships, job placements, and career advice.
  • Counseling Services: Support for mental health, stress management, and personal issues.
  • Language Support: German language courses are often available for international students.
  • International Offices: Dedicated support for international students, including help with visas, residence permits, and integration into the university community.

Consider reading: Freelancing in Germany: What All Should You Know to Start Off

These student-focused services, combined with affordable living costs, make Germany an attractive destination for international students, ensuring a comfortable and enriching study experience.

Wrapping Up My Analysis of the Higher Education System in Germany

Germany stands out as a stellar destination for higher education, offering a combination of world-class universities, diverse study programs, and a rich cultural tapestry. The German education system, with its varied levels from undergraduate to PhD, is structured to provide deep academic rigor and practical experience. 

International students have access to a plethora of scholarships, from government-funded options like DAAD to university-specific and private foundation scholarships. The application process, while thorough, is straightforward, and students are supported every step of the way with numerous student services.

For those considering pursuing their academic journey in Germany, the opportunities are vast and promising. With affordable living costs, a safe environment, and globally recognized degrees, Germany is not just a place to study, but a destination to grow academically and personally. 

I encourage you to delve deeper into these opportunities, research the scholarships available, and take the first step towards an enriching educational experience in Germany.

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