Academic institutions in Germany

Types of universities in Germany and how they differ

Are you struggling with recruitment of young talents in Germany? Competition for highly skilled professionals in Germany has increased over the last years. Especially international companies often struggle with understanding the job market and how to gain access to young talents. Germany offers many excellent academic institutions where your potential next hire is probably studying right now. However, the education system has it’s peculiarities and it is crucial to understand the academic landscape in order to identify recruitment channels and stay ahead of competitors in terms of recruitment.

In today’s article, we will help you understand the basic landscape and differences between academic institutions in Germany. There are three different types of academic institutions which provide higher education:

(Technical) University
((Technische) Universität)

Universities in Germany focus on methodical and theoretical scientific knowledge and are the only institutions which can award PhDs. Universities usually offer a large variety of subjects. Some universities have specific subject areas they focus on, for instance technical universities (“Technische Universität”).  In order to complete a degree at a university, students must write a research-based final thesis.

University of applied sciences

Universities of applied sciences are one of the specialties of the German academic landscape. University of applied sciences offer praxis-oriented study programs and are often closely connected with the industry. The subjects offered have industrial relevance and comprise topics like engineering, computer sciences and design. The study programs often include a mandatory internship of up to 6 months. Students must write a praxis-oriented final thesis to obtain their degree.

Colleges of art and music
(Kunst- und Musikhochschule)

Colleges of art and music have an equivalent status to universities and can award Bachelor and Master degrees or other diplomas. The subjects comprise music, architecture, visual arts, drama, dance and design. Admission for these courses often includes an entry exam.

Most higher education institutions in Germany are public institutions subsidised by the state of Germany. Public institutions charge no or very little tuition fees. There are also higher education institutions in Germany which are run by private organisations and are officially recognised by the state. These private institutions can award Bachelor and Master degrees and other diplomas such as an MBA. Private institutions are mainly business schools or universities of applied sciences which charge tuition fees and offer various specialisations such as management or commerce. 

Do you need more information?

Official institutions in Germany provide a lot of helpful information and a good overview of universities and research institutions in Germany. These websites could be a good starting point to identify universities or research institutions which offer the subjects relevant for you:

Federal Ministry of Education and Research Germany (2020). Higher education institutions – Facts and figures.
Deutscher Akademischer Austauschdienst e.V. (DAAD) (2019). Types of universities – Study in Germany.
Stiftung zur Förderung der Hochschulkonferenz (2019). Higher education compass – Higher education institutions in Germany.