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Top Ranked Universities in Germany - A Postgraduate Guide

Germany is a popular destination for postgraduate study abroad, but which of its universities are the best?

On this page we've compared the performance of German universities in different global rankings. This can give you a snapshot of how well German universities do in international league tables.

But rankings don't always reflect the details that matter to postgraduates. As a Masters student, it's helpful to 'zoom in' on more specific factors. That's why we've also compared German university performance in specific academic subject-areas.

Finally, we've also taken a look at domestic rankings of German universities - giving you a chance to see how individual institutions compare within Germany itself.

Top Ranked German Universities

The following table gives the 30 best universities in Germany, overall, based on global university rankings.

This information is based on the latest rankings tables, researched and published by Times Higher Education, QS and the Academic Ranking of World Universities.

Each ranking system uses its own methodology, with different factors having more or less influence on a university's result.

For more information on using international rankings as a postgraduate, see our guide.

University THE Ranking (2015-16) QS Ranking (2015-16) Shanghai Ranking (2015)
LMU Munich 29 75 52
University of Heidelberg 37 66 46
Humboldt University of Berlin 49 126 -
TU Munich 53 60 51
Free University of Berlin 72 119 -
University of Tubingen 78 173 -
University of Freiburg 84 133 101-150
University of Bonn 94 210 97
University of Gottingen 99 168 101-150
University of Mannheim 106 394 -
RWTH Aachen University 110 145 201-300
University of Erlangen-Nuremberg 123 292 201-300
University of Munster 125 256 201-300
Karlsruhe Institute of Technology 138 93 201-300
University of Cologne 156 331 -
TU Dresden 158 227 201-300
University of Konstanz 175 319 401-500
University of Wurzburg 185 401-410 -
Ulm University 185 401-410 -
Charité Universitätsmedizin Berlin 195 - -
University of Frankfurt 195 243 101-150
University of Duisberg-Essen 201-250 551-600 301-400
Johannes Gutenberg University of Mainz 201-250 375 201-300
University of Kiel 201-250 401-410 151-200
University of Stuttgart 201-250 251 201-300
Hamburg University - 219 151-200
TU Darmstadt - 246 401-500
University of Hannover - 366 401-500
University of Jena - 381 401-500
University of Leipzig - 384 201-300
Information in this table is based on the 2015-16 Times Higher Education World University Rankings, QS World University Rankings and Academic Ranking of World Universities. Visit their websites for more information.

So, how good are German universities for Masters study?

With nearly ten universities in the Times Higher Education top 100 (and four in each of the QS and ARWU rankings) Germany is a strong choice for study abroad in Europe.

This ranking performance indicates that German universities produce high quality research, are well-funded and are globally respected.

Of course, the best German university for your Masters degree won't necessarily be the one with the highest ranking. As a postgraduate the details of your specific degree programme will matter much more. You'll want to know that its course content covers your areas of interest and that you'll have access to subject-specific expertise.

One way to find this information is to look in our detailed course listings.

Do rankings matter for Masters degrees?

International rankings use all sorts of metrics to assess universities and they aren't all equally relevant to postgraduate study. That's why we've put together a guide to university rankings for Masters students.

German University Rankings by Subject

You can also compare German university rankings in specific subject areas. This is particularly helpful if you're considering postgraduate study.

Masters degrees are highly specialised and benefit much more from specific facilities and expertise. How a university performs in your subject area can therefore be just as important as its overall ranking (if not more so).

The following table lists the top German universities in six broad subject areas. It's based on the Times Higher Education World University Rankings by Subject. This lists the best 100 universities in different academic fields, around the world.

University Ranking by subject
Physical Sciences Engineering & Technology Life Sciences Social Sciences Arts & Humanities Medicine & Health
LMU Munich 25 - 29 45 23 25
TU Munich 31 27 37 - - 61
University of Heidelberg 32 27 25 58 24 28
Karlsruhe Institute of Technology 46 48 - - - -
University of Bonn 48 - 76 - - 100
RWTH Aachen University 48 30 76 - - -
Humboldt University of Berlin 61 - 58 25 21 -
University of Gottingen 85 - 71 - 91 78
TU Dresden 86 97 - - - -
University of Freiburg 94 89 68 91 56 -
University of Stuttgart - 88 - - - -
TU Darmstadt - 100 - - - -
University of Tubingen - - 90 78 48 57
Free University of Berlin - - - 41 18 57
University of Mannheim - - - 64 - -
University of Cologne - - - - 66 -
University of Frankfurt - - - - 78 -
University of Erlangen-Nuremberg - - - - 79 -
University of Konstanz - - - - 99 -
Information in this table is based on the 2015-16 Times Higher Education World University Rankings by Subject. This ranks the top 100 global universities in six core academic fields.

These subject-specific rankings reveal the strength and breadth of German university research. This makes them particularly useful for postgraduate study abroad.

The fact that six or more German universities feature in the global top 100 for each academic discipline is a good indicator of the overall quality of German higher education. It shows that German research and teaching is amongst the best in the world for various subjects.

Looking at each individual ranking can also be helpful. Identifying the best German universities in your subject area is obviously useful. But knowing that Germany is generally strong in a particular field is worthwhile even if you aren't studying at one of the highest-ranked universities.

It may be that the best German Masters degree for you is offered by an institution outside this top 100. But the performance of 'top' institutions can still reflect the country's overall expertise.

Search for a Masters in Germany

Our database includes plenty of German Masters degrees and our listings provide lots of helpful information about specific programs. Why not take a look?

Domestic rankings of German universities

International rankings are great if you want a broad evaluation of universities - or if you want to compare universities across countries. But many countries also have domestic rankings systems, focussing on their own universities. These feature lots more institutions than global rankings and often include more detailed information about them.

The main league table of German universities is the CHE Ranking

The CHE Ranking of German universities

The CHE Ranking has been produced since 1998 and is now published online by the German newspaper Die Zeit. It includes over 300 German universities, each of which has its own detailed entry.

How useful is the CHE Ranking for Masters students in Germany?

Rather than producing an overall list of the 'best' German universities, the CHE Ranking looks at performance in 30 different subject areas.

This actually makes it much more useful as a tool for postgraduates. Looking at how a university performs in your specific subject is often more valuable than knowing how it sits in a broad league table.

After all, you aren't going to be studying a Masters in every subject a German university offers - so it's probably best to base your decision on one or two!

Looking for more information about postgraduate study in Germany?

Knowing how well German universities do in global rankings is useful, but there's more to choosing a study abroad destination than league tables. Why not take a look at our full guide to Masters study in Germany? Or check out our overview of German Masters fees and funding?

Last updated - 15/03/2016

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