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Ways to Make Postgraduate Study in Germany More Affordable : Jobs Caffe

Credit Goes To Sarah Hastings-Woodhouse

Ways to Make Postgraduate Study in Germany More Affordable
Ways to Make Postgraduate Study in Germany More Affordable

Germany is an excellent choice of study destination for the budget-conscious, with reasonable living costs and no tuition fees for most postgraduate courses!

But though Germany is a cheaper option for Masters and PhD students than many other European countries, any degree abroad is still a serious investment. To help you save as many pennies as possible, we’ve picked out six ways to make German postgraduate study more affordable.

#1 Check your course is definitely tuition-free
Their lack of fees is a big selling point for German universities, and it is true that the vast majority do not charge tuition to any students, regardless of nationality.

That said, you may be required to pay fees in a few cases:

Private universities usually charge fees (the vast majority of German universities are public, however).
Universities in the state of Baden-W├╝rttemberg charge €1,500 per semester for Masters courses. There are no charges for PhD programmes.
You may have to pay fees for a highly specialised non-consecutive Masters degree.
If avoiding extra charges is high on your priority list, it’s important to be aware of these exceptions!

If you want to know more about the cost of a Masters or PhD in Germany, we delved deeper into whether postgraduate study in Germany is really free.

#2 Finish your course within the required period
Free tuition in Germany is usually conditional on you completing your course within a certain period. PhD students are entitled to three years (or six semesters) of free study. After this, you’ll probably need to pay fees.

The rules for Masters students are less clear cut and vary between states, but it’s possible that if you find yourself having to repeat a year – or are delayed in graduating for any other reason – you’ll incur some extra costs.

Of course, there may be extenuating circumstances which mean you take longer than expected to complete your programme, and such scenarios aren’t always possible to plan for! But it’s a good idea to check your university’s policy on study periods before you apply.

#3 Start your search for accommodation early
Rent will account for a big chunk of your budget while in Germany, so it’s important to secure affordable accommodation.

University-owned accommodation is generally cheaper than private housing, costing an average of €246 per month. Unlike in many other countries, students are not automatically allocated a room in a university dormitory, and spaces are limited. So if you want to take advantage of this more economical option, you should start your search as soon as you can! A good place to start is the German government’s ‘Find A Student Hall’ search tool.

If you’d rather live in private accommodation, there are still ways to do this without breaking the bank. Shared flats (Wohngemeinschaft) are a popular option and are much cheaper than renting an entire apartment on your own. Again, you should start searching for a flat share long before you pack your bags to make sure you get the best deal possible.

#4 Choose a cheaper city
The German government estimates that students in Germany will need around €867 per month for living costs – but this will obviously vary depending on the city you choose to study in.

Cities with above-average living costs include Cologne, Munich, Hamburg and Frankfurt. Eastern cities such as Leipzig, Dresden and Jena are considerably cheaper.

Of course, finding a university with a degree you really want to study should be your first consideration when it comes to picking a German study location! But if you’re on a tight budget, money will inevitably be a factor. Crowdsourced cost-of-living calculator Numbeo is a useful tool for comparing living costs between cities.

#5 Work while you study
A part-time job alongside your Masters or PhD can help bring in some extra income while you study. Most universities and students’ unions will have portals where you can browse casual job opportunities.

There are some restrictions on working as a student that you should be aware of! EU and EEA students can work up to 20 hours per week (as can German students). Other international students can work either 120 full days or 240 half days per year.

The Federal Employment Agency has more information on finding work as an international student.

#6 Apply for extra funding
Not only does Germany boast tuition-free higher education, but it also offers a wide range of financial support for international students!

The German Academic Exchange Service (Deutscher Akademischer Austauschdienst or DAAD) is one of the largest international study agencies in the world. It has almost 70 regional offices and information centres around the world and provides scholarships and grants to students from most countries. You can browse funding opportunities and filter by country using the DAAD scholarship database.

Our guide has more information about DAAD funding, as well as other financial support for international students in Germany.