Thinking of studying in Germany? The best German universities according to the Times Higher Education’s World University Rankings 2016-17 include prestigious old institutions alongside younger technical universities.
The top universities in Germany are scattered throughout the country, with options to study in Munich, Berlin and 37 other cities in Germany.
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In total, 41 universities in Germany are counted among the very best universities in the world.
There are more than 500 degrees (bachelor's and master's programmes) taught in English at top German universities. Whatever subject you are interested in, you can study that degree in Germany in English.
Resources: International university rankings
- Best universities under 50 years old
- Best universities chosen by international employers
- Top universities for the Arts & Humanities
- German universities competing in the THE World University Rankings 2016
- Best Canadian universities in the world
Top 5 universities in Germany
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1. LMU Munich
With the second-largest student population of any university in Germany, Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich – to use its full name – attracts a huge number of international students, about 13 per cent of the total student body.
LMU Munich dates back to 1472, making it one of the oldest universities in the country. It has 34 Nobel laureates affiliated to the university, including renowned scientists such as Otto Hahn, Max Planck and Werner Heisenberg.
In fact, since the end of the 18th century, the university has had a strong focus on natural sciences and has produced world-leading research, discoveries and innovations since the middle of the 19th century.
The German Universities Excellence Initiative, launched in 2005, has poured funding into LMU Munich, as well as other leading universities in the country.
Heidelberg University, founded in 1386, is the oldest university in present-day Germany.
Now, the university offers undergraduate and postgraduate degrees across 100 different subjects. Academics at Heidelberg have been responsible for founding subdisciplines including psychiatric genetics, modern sociology and environmental physics.
Close to 20 per cent of the student body is international, representing 130 countries around the world. More than a third of doctoral students are international.
The university particularly excels for its innovative research and intellectual contributions across a range of subjects. Fifty-six Nobel laureates have been associated with Heidelberg University, nine of whom won while tenured at the university.
Many influential politicians, philosophers and scientists are alumni or affiliates of the university, including Max Weber – the founder of modern sociology – and philosopher Hannah Arendt.
The Old Town and castle are some of the most visited tourist destinations in Germany, known as the home of German romanticism.
Also founded in the 19th century, the Technical University of Munich is the only state university dedicated to science and technology.
The university originally focused on engineering, but has expanded over the years to include natural sciences, social sciences, agriculture, brewing and food technology, and medicine. There are many different specialisms within engineering and information technology; three different departments cover these specialisms.
An overarching philosophy of "the entrepreneurial university" guides the development of the university, which now has 12 faculties across three campuses in or around Munich.
Between 1927 and today, 13 Nobel Prizes have been awarded in physics, chemistry and medicine to academics affiliated to the university.
In 2001, the Technical University of Munich founded a subsidiary university – the German Institute of Science and Technology (GIST) - TUM Asia – in Singapore, providing an international education to students in Asia.
Humboldt University of Berlin is known not only for its own prestige but also for the educational ethos and university model that has been adopted by other European and Western universities since the 19th century.
The principle of the university is a union between teaching and research, both done by prominent scholars. Some of Germany’s most influential figures attended or worked at the university, including Marx and Engels, Walter Benjamin, Albert Einstein and Max Planck.
In total, 40 Nobel prizewinners are associated with Humboldt University, the majority for physics, chemistry or medicine.
Although well-known and respected across all subjects, the university particularly excels in arts and humanities, ranking 21st in the world for humanities subjects.
The university library, opened in 1874, is one of the most extensive in the country. It contains about 6.5 million books, and thousands of magazines and journals.
Out of almost 30,000 students, about 16 per cent are international.
The Free University of Berlin was founded as a result of concerns about Communist control of Humboldt University during the early Cold War period.
From its founding, students had much more impact on the university system and decisions than in other universities in Germany, although their input has been gradually scaled back.
Over the past 15 years, the university has dramatically reduced the size of the student body from more than 60,000 students to just over 30,000 students. About 20 per cent of the students are international.
In 2007, the Free University of Berlin secured the most funding applications for research through the German Universities Excellence Initiative and is one of nine elite universities to receive special funding for development.
The main campus in in the Dahlem district in Berlin, and there are three other campuses for earth sciences, veterinary medicine and the medical centre.
A student village – Studentendorf Schlachtensee – was built between 1959 and 1964 to provide housing options for students, financed by the US government. The 27 buildings made up the first academic residential complex built in postwar Berlin, and are regarded as historically and architecturally significant.
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Best universities in Germany 2017
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