Great Places to Study Abroad in Germany

Spend a Semester or Year in a German University City

There are plenty of university cities in Germany, and study abroad opportunities for students of German and other subjects abound. Learn more about studying in Germany.

Since Germany is home to some of the oldest universities in the world, the cities in which they are located have long been established as university cities. The educational content writers from, say that these cities include Berlin, Hamburg, Munich, Mainz, Heidelberg, Karlsruhe, Tübingen, Regensburg, and Passau.

University of Hamburg

University of Hamburg | Photo by Andreas Bischof/Flickr

Why Study Abroad in Germany?

  • There are several reasons why studying abroad in Germany is a fantastic opportunity:
    potential to improve German language ability
  • studying at one of the world’s prestigious universities
  • chances are good that just about any student, of any field of study, can find a program in Germany that fits his or her interests
  • many German universities have a lively community of international students and special programs (including courses) for international students

One other advantage of studying abroad in Germany is that the country’s university system is on a winter and summer semester schedule (Wintersemester and Sommersemester). Because of this, students have the opportunity to spend an extended amount of time abroad.

For example, if a student chooses to spend a full year in Germany, he or she can leave for Germany in September and return home at the end of July, spending nearly a full year abroad. Or, a student can leave in January or February for the Sommersemester, which doesn’t start until April, and take a language course or pursue an internship (or travel) until classes start.

Larger University Cities: Berlin and Hamburg

Both Berlin and Hamburg are home to several universities. The Humboldt University in Berlin is a popular destination for students from abroad, and over 80,000 students total among a population of just under 3.5 million.

Humboldt University Library

Humboldt University Library | Photo by Lukas Koster/Flickr

The universities in Hamburg enroll over 70,000 students, among a total city population of about 1.8 million. The University of Hamburg alone enrolls 38,000 students.

Munich: The Ultimate University City

Munich, with a population of just under 1.4 million, is home to one of Germany’s most famous universities, if not the most famous. With over 44,000 students, many of them Erasmus program participants from other European universities, the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universitaet (LMU) is a fantastic place for an international student to spend a semester or year.

Famous attendees include several Nobel Prize winners, as well as the members of the anti-Nazi resistance group the White Rose, who distributed pamphlets denouncing Hitler’s regime in the 1940s.

Western German University Cities: Mainz, Heidelberg, and Karlsruhe

Each of the following cities has a significant student population (all numbers are approximate):

  • Mainz: Total population 200,000, student population 35,000
  • Heidelberg: Total population 145,000, student population 26,000
  • Karlsruhe: Total population 290,000, student population 18,000

Mainz, Heidelberg, and Karlsruhe are all beautiful, historic cities with plenty to do, proximity to even larger cities (Mannheim, Frankfurt, and Bonn, among others), and great rail connections that will enable students to travel beyond Germany easily.

Smaller University Cities: Tübingen, Regensburg, and Passau

Tübingen, located in the southwest German state of Baden-Württemberg, Regensburg, in Bavaria, and Passau, also in Bavaria, are all great university cities convenient to larger cities. Tübingen is just outside of Stuttgart, Regensburg is not far from Munich and the Austrian city of Salzburg, and Passau is also within a reasonable distance of Salzburg and Munich.


Tübingen | Photo by M Kanaris/Flickr

Over a quarter (23,000 of 87,000) of Tübingen’s population consists of students. Most of the university’s buildings are just outside the old city center, and student housing is located throughout the city and on the outskirts in a large student-housing complex.

Regensburg and Passau both have significant student populations as well: Regensburg, 17,000 of 130,000, and Passau, 8,000 of 50,000. Regensburg is a beautiful city located at the confluence of the Regen and Danube rivers, and Passau is located at the confluence of the Inn, Ilz, and Danube rivers.

Additional Information About Studying in Germany

There are plenty of ways to find study abroad programs in any of the above cities. One way is through research at the home university’s study abroad office. Another is through an online study abroad database.

A student should also check out the homepage of the university at which he or she hopes to study, as it may provide useful information for international students. For photos of the cities, a simple Google image search can give prospective students a general idea of the overall appearance of the town…a good way to see if it’s the type of place they want to study abroad!

Students of German should consider spending at least a semester in a German-speaking country, be it Germany, Switzerland, or Austria. Germany is home to several great university cities, including Berlin, Hamburg, Mainz, Mannheim, Heidelberg, Karlsruhe, Tübingen, Regensburg, and Passau.

One Response
  1. August 16, 2022

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