Thinking of studying in Germany? The best German universities according to the Times Higher Education’s World University Rankings 2018 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 38 other cities in Germany.
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In total, 44 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.
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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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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 RWTH Aachen University is located in the westernmost German city of Aachen near the borders with Belgium and the Netherlands. The university is the largest technical university in Germany with approximately 42,000 students enrolled in 144 programmes.
It was founded in 1870 after Prince William of Prussia decided to use a donation presented to him from an insurance company to set up an institute of technology within the Rhine Province. Many cities were considered for the location of the institution and Aachen was eventually agreed on based on a financing concept backed by the insurance company and local banks.
Although the university is still the most famous for its natural sciences and engineering programmes, it does also offer teaching in the arts and humanities and medicine.
Five Nobel laureates have been affiliated with the university, all of them winning the prestigious award for work in the fields of physics or chemistry.
The university maintains strong ties with industry creating a European equivalent of Silicon Valley around it, and attracting exceptional levels of external funding for its researchers.
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