Best universities in Germany 2018

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

September 5 2017
Humboldt University of Berlin

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.

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.

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.  

2. Technical University of Munich

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.

3. Heidelberg University

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.

4. Humboldt University of Berlin

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.

5. RWTH Aachen University

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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Top universities in Germany 2018

Click each institution to view its full World University Rankings 2018 results

Germany Rank 2018  World University Rank 2018 University City
1 =34 LMU Munich Munich
2 41 Technical University of Munich Munich
3 45 Heidelberg University Heidelberg
4 62 Humboldt University of Berlin Berlin
5 79 RWTH Aachen University Aachen
6 82 University of Freiburg Freiburg im Breisgau
7 88 Free University of Berlin Berlin
8 92 Technical University of Berlin Berlin
9 94 University of Tübingen Tübingen
10 =100 University of Bonn Bonn
11 =113 University of Göttingen Göttingen
12 125 University of Mannheim Mannheim
13 =126 Charité - Universitätsmedizin Berlin Berlin
14 133 Karlsruhe Institute of Technology Karlsruhe
15 145 University of Cologne Cologne
=16 =155 TU Dresden Dresden
=16 =155 Ulm University Ulm
18 =162 University of Erlangen-Nuremberg Elangen and Nuremburg
19 =165 University of Würzburg Würzburg
20 =173 University of Münster Münster
=21 201–250 University of Duisburg-Essen Duisburg and Essen
=21 201–250 University of Hamburg Hamburg
=21 201–250 University of Kiel Kiel
=21 201–250 University of Konstanz Konstanz
=21 201–250 University of Passau Passau
=21 201–250 University of Potsdam Potsdam
=21 201–250 Ruhr University Bochum Bochum
=21 201–250 University of Stuttgart Stuttgart
=21 201–250 Technical University of Darmstadt Darmstadt
=30 251–300 University of Bayreuth Bayreuth
=30 251–300 Bielefeld University Bielefield
=30 251–300 University of Bremen Bremen
=30 251–300 Goethe University Frankfurt Frankfurt
=30 251–300 University of Hohenheim Stuttgart
=30 251–300 Johannes Gutenberg University of Mainz Mainz
=30 251–300 University of Marburg Marburg
=37 301–350 Technical University of Dortmund Dortmund
=37 351–400 Justus Liebig University Giessen Giessen
=37 351–400 Leibniz University of Hanover Hanover
=40 401–500 University of Greifswald Greifswald
=40 401–500 Hamburg University of Technology Hamburg
=40 401–500 University of Kaiserslautern Kaiserslautern
=40 401–500 University of Siegen Siegen
=44 601–800 Otto von Guericke University of Magdeburg Magdeburg

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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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