As of winter semester 2017/18, there were a total of 429 universities in Germany, more than half of which are universities of applied sciences with a number of 218. The remaining half includes 106 universities, 53 art colleges, 30 administrative colleges, 16 theological colleges, and 6 colleges of education. Those institutions are classified into three main categories:

  • Universität: universities
  • Fachhochschulen: universities of applied sciences
  • Kunst-, Musik- und Filmhochschulen: colleges of art, movies, and music

To choose the one that fits you best depends on different criteria such as your field of study, your future orientation, etc. No matter what category your desired institution fits into, there’s one thing that we can assure you, which is their equally high quality.

Policy on higher education

In Germany, education is decentralized. Each of the 16 federal states has their own acts and rules on higher education. Moreover, Germany's universities are very autonomous, which means it depends on each specific university for both admission and application deadlines. So you should always ask your selected university which rules they apply.


In Germany, there are three types of higher education institutions. The sort of institution that's correct for you will rely on your career plans and interests.

  • Universities
  • Universities of Applied Sciences
  • Colleges of Art, Movies, and Music

Universities - Universität

Keywords: academical, theory-oriented, research-oriented

If you are interested in studying in an academic and strongly research-oriented environment, then university is the right choice for you. Universities offer a very wide range of subjects for you to pursue your academic career. In Germany, universities refer much more to comprehensive universities. However, there are also some others specializing in specific fields such as technical colleges (Technische Universität or Technische Hochschule), medical colleges (Medizinische Hochschule) or pedagogical colleges (pädagogsiche Hochschule).

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Universities of Applied Sciences - Fachhochschule

Keywords: practice-oriented academic courses, professional application

If you prefer a very practice-oriented study, then universities of applied sciences, also known as Fachhochschule in German would be more of an interest for you. During your study, you will not only attend academic seminars but also go into practical places like companies and have a try on your own. In universities of applied sciences, students will have the opportunity to apply theoretical knowledge into real-life problem-solving in companies and in different fabrics.

Colleges of Art, Film, and Music

Keywords: music, architecture, visual arts, drama, dance, design

You should opt for art, film and music colleges if artistic-design is where your heart goes to. These colleges offer subjects such as fine arts, industrial and fashion design, graphics, instrumental music or singing. Modern media colleges train directors, cinematographers, scriptwriters, and other film and TV professionals. The prerequisite for such a study is a special artistic talent, which you have to prove in an aptitude test. For the art, film and music colleges, special conditions of admission apply.

What is Ausbildung?

You may also have heard of Ausbildung as a type of education in Germany which comes after high school and before work. Though Ausbildung also focuses on practical exercises, it is quite different from Fachhochschule. For further information about Ausbildung, we would like to suggest you read our article about


How different are public and private universities in Germany?

One of the most important differences between public and private universities in Germany can be the financial sources, just like in other countries. Most universities in Germany are state-funded. A few colleges are run by the Protestant or Catholic Church. In addition, there are now more than 100 private universities whose degrees are recognized by the state. However, the vast majority of students in Germany are enrolled at state universities, since the tuition fees for private universities are very high.

Another difference is that in private universities, the class mode is more flexible. For example, one class is limited to a certain number of students with whom professors can get to know in detail and deliver better learning outcomes. But in general, both public and private universities have a good quality of teaching.

After reading this article, do you still have questions about the different types of German higher education institutions? If so, you are always welcome to contact EDUBAO and ask!