Best universities in Germany 2020

Find the best universities in Germany through Times Higher Education’s World University Rankings data

September 11 2019
Humboldt University of Berlin

Thinking of studying in Germany? The best German universities according to the Times Higher Education’s World University Rankings 2020 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 40 other cities.

In total, 48 universities in Germany are counted among the very best in the world.

LMU Munich is the top university in Germany, followed by the Technical University of Munich. The top university in Berlin is Humboldt University of Berlin.

More than 500 degrees (bachelor’s and master’s programmes) are taught in English at top German universities. Whatever subject you are interested in, you can study that degree in English in Germany.

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Top 5 universities in Germany

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 was founded in 1472, making it one of the oldest universities in the country. It is affiliated with 42 Nobel laureates, including renowned scientists such as Otto Hahn, Max Planck and Werner Heisenberg.

Since the end of the 18th century the university has had a strong focus on natural sciences, and since the middle of the 19th century it has produced world-leading research, discoveries and innovations.

The German Universities Excellence Initiative, launched in 2005, has poured funding into LMU Munich, as well as other leading universities in the country.  

2. Technical University of Munich

Founded in the 19th century, the TUM 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. Many specialisms within engineering and information technology are offered across three departments.

An overarching philosophy of “the entrepreneurial university” guides the development of the institution, which now has 15 departments across three campuses in and around Munich.

Since 1927, 17 Nobel prizes have been awarded in physics, chemistry and medicine to academics affiliated to the university.

In 2001, the TUM founded a subsidiary university, TUM Asia, in Singapore, providing an international education to students in Asia.

3. Heidelberg  University

Heidelberg  University, founded in 1386, is the oldest university in Germany.

The university offers undergraduate and postgraduate degrees in 160 study programmes. Academics at Heidelberg have been responsible for founding sub-disciplines including psychiatric genetics, modern sociology and environmental physics.

Close to 20 per cent of the student body is international, representing 130 countries. 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. Some 27 Nobel laureates have been associated with Heidelberg University, nine of whom won the prize while tenured there.

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.

Heidelberg is known as the home of German romanticism and the Old Town and castle are some of the most visited tourist destinations in Germany.

4. Humboldt University of Berlin

Humboldt University of Berlin is the birthplace of an 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 Karl Marx, Friedrich Engels, Walter Benjamin, Albert Einstein and Max Planck.

In total, 55 Nobel prizewinners are associated with Humboldt University, the majority for physics, chemistry or medicine.

Although well-known and respected across all subject areas, the university particularly excels in arts and humanities.

The university library, opened in 1874, is one of the most extensive in the country. It contains around 6.5 million books and thousands of magazines and journals.

Of almost 33,000 students, about 16 per cent are international.

5. Charité - Universitätsmedizin Berlin

Charité - Universitätsmedizin Berlin is one of the largest university hospitals in Europe. 

It can trace its roots back to 1710 when the hospital was built in response to the plague in Eastern Prussia. It was then rebuilt and renamed until 2003, when it merged with other medical institutes in Germany and took on its current name.

Many famous scientists and physicians have worked or studied at the university including neurologist Carl Wernicke, psychiatrist Karl Leonhard and Rahel Hirsch, the first female medical professor in Prussia. 

More than half of the German Nobel prizewinners in medicine and physiology have studied or worked at the university. 

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Best universities in Germany 2020

Click each institution to view its full World University Rankings 2020 results

Germany Rank 2020  World University Rank 2020  University City/Town
1  =32  LMU Munich Munich
2  43  Technical University of Munich Munich
3  44  Heidelberg  University Heidelberg
4  74  Humboldt University of Berlin Berlin
5  =80  Charité - Universitätsmedizin Berlin Berlin
6  86  University of Freiburg Freiburg
7  =91  University of Tübingen Tübingen
8  =99  RWTH Aachen University Aachen
9  =105  University of Bonn Bonn
10  =117  Free University of Berlin Berlin
11  125  University of Göttingen Göttingen
12  =141  Ulm University Ulm
=13  =149  University of Hamburg Hamburg
=13  =149  Technical University of Berlin Berlin
=15  =157  University of Cologne Cologne
=15  =157  University of Mannheim Mannheim
=15  =157  TU Dresden Dresden
18  163  University of Würzburg Würzburg
19  =166  Bielefeld University Bielefield
20  =175  Karlsruhe Institute of Technology Karlsruhe
21  183  University of Erlangen-Nuremberg Erlangen and Nuremburg
22  =189  University of Münster Münster
23  =194  University of Duisburg-Essen Duiseberg and Essen
=24  201–250  University of Hohenheim Hohenheim
=24  201–250  University of Konstanz Kostanz
=26  251–300  University of Kiel Kiel
=26  251–300  University of Passau Passau
=26  251–300  University of Potsdam Potsdam
=26  251–300  Ruhr University Bochum Bochum
=26  251–300  University of Stuttgart Stuttgart
=26  251–300  Technical University of Darmstadt Darmstadt
=32  301–350  Goethe University Frankfurt Frankfurt
=32  301–350  Jacobs University Bremen
=32  301–350  Johannes Gutenberg University of Mainz Mainz
=32  301–350  University of Marburg Marburg
=36  351–400  University of Bayreuth Bayreuth
=36  351–400  University of Bremen Bremen
=36  351–400  Justus Liebig University Giessen Giessen
=36  351–400  TU Dortmund University Dortmund
40  401–500  Leibniz University Hanover Hanover
=41  501–600  University of Greifswald Greifswald
=41  501–600  Hamburg University of Technology Hamburg
=41  501–600  University of Siegen Siegen
=41  501–600  University of Wuppertal Wuppertal
=45  601–800  Chemnitz University of Technology Chemnitz
=45  601–800  University of Kaiserslautern Kaiserslautern
=45  601–800  TU Braunschweig Braunschweig
48  801–1000  Ilmenau University of Technology Ilmenau

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Reader's comments (1)

"Whatever subject you are interested in, you can study that degree in Germany in English." -Actually, does this apply to general medicine?! As far as I know, it doesn´t. You´ve got patients in the clinical stage of your medical training, and, generally, you´ve got to talk to patients in their native language, don´t you? Please, correct me, if I´m wrong.

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