01. Public Vs Private Universities

Public VS Private Universities In Germany

A large number of accredited universities exist everywhere in Germany. Public and private universities have, of course, huge differences, but they also share similarities.
This article briefly explains the major differences between the two.

Table of Contents

Tuition Fees

It is true that higher education in Germany is “free”, however this only applies to Public institutes. Students pay a semester contribution of around 300-350 euros, which includes free transportation in the federal state you are in.

On the other hand, private institutes charge a tuition fee ranging from 2000€ up to around 20,000€ per academic year. The tuition fees for private universities depend on the study program, the location of the university, and the university’s reputation.

Admission Criteria & Application Deadlines

All universities, whether public or private have their own admissions requirements for accepting students. However, public universities typically have stricter requirements and are slightly harder to get into due to their popularity, their exceptionally high standards and the overwhelming number of applications they receive. Students from all over the world compete for a study place in German public universities.

Some private universities will be willing to consider your application even if you do not meet their requirements immediately, this largely due to the fact that they rely on the tuition fees paid by international students.

As previously mentioned, each university has its own requirements, however, generally your application must include an official copy of your transcript which has all of your grades as well as proof of German knowledge by presenting an original certificate from a certified language centre.

Most Public universities have application deadlines around the same time. Private Universities have different application deadlines, you must always check the university’s official website.

The application deadline for Public universities are:

  • Mid July for the upcoming Winter Semester
  • Mid January for the upcoming Summer Semester

Numerus Clausus

Numerus Clausus (NC) study programs are very popular among international students, these include programs such as civil engineering, Architecture, Medicine, and Law. Essentially, Numerus Clausus means that there is a limited number of study places available for that program, which also means the university can only accept a small number of applicants, as you can imagine, competition is rather high for such programs.

Private universities in Germany are subject to different admissions restrictions, therefore it is quite rare that any of their programs are restricted by Numerus Clausus. This means their acceptance and admissions rates are significantly higher but you should expect subject-specific tests and/or admissions interviews.

Study Progams

Private universities have fewer study programs in comparison to public universities. However, private universities are more specialised in certain fields depending on their budget and what the current market is lacking.

The most popular degrees in most private universities are:

  • Business & Management
  • Economics
  • Psychology & Humanities
  • Art

Study Groups

How does you feel about being with 300 person in one big hall?

This is mostly how all your lectures will look like in public universities, especially in large metropolitan cities such as Berlin or München. You will always able to ask question, and you can go to your professor during his office hours, but you have to learn how to get the information you need by yourself. The groups during practical applications on the subject has a fewer number of students, typically between 20 to 40 students per class.

A great advantage for private universities is their students to professor ratio. You can have more interaction and communicate easily with your professor and ask as many questions as you want.

Global Ranking

German universities are well-known globally and are highly ranked in multiple filed. Usually private universities are ranked higher than private ones, which means a degree from a public university is a more precious and highly regarded document than from a private one.

You can check university ranking on different platforms based on various factors.


Does it make a difference if you have a degree from a public university or a private university in Germany?

No, it does not. The most important thing is that you have obtained a degree from an accredited university in Germany, this will definitely brighten up your C.V. and set it apart from other competitors.

However, getting a degree from a public university is looked more favourably upon, since it is much harder to graduate from a public university than a private one, but you need to keep in mind that your education is only one side of the coin, the other side which is equally important are your personal skills.

More about Employee Personal Skills in this article.

The right decision

Which to choose? Private or public universities? It all depends on your aspirations and your individual situation.
Public Universities have amazing reputations, longer academic history, and offer multiple study programs.
Privates Universities have the advantages of offering unique study programs, better communication and a clearer learning process with your professors.

ECG is here for you! Our team will help you make the best decision for your individual case. Fill in the application here and you will be contacted by one of our experienced representatives.

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