Types of higher education institutions in Germany

Germany has state and state-accredited institutions of higher education, which are mainly divided, into research universities, universities of applied sciences, and colleges of art and music. The majority of higher education institutions are financed by the state and therefore fall under its regulatory control. However, there are also higher education institutions run by the Protestant and Catholic Churches, and by private institutions that are officially recognised by the state. Most private higher education institutions are universities of applied sciences.

Universities in Germany

One of the principal characteristics of universities, and other institutions of equivalent status to universities, is that they are the only higher education institutions in Germany with the right to confer doctorates. This means only universities can award doctoral degrees. Universities are also usually strongly research-oriented and typically offer a wide range of subjects. Some universities specialise in particular fields (e.g. technology, art, or medicine). Universities in Germany also include a number of religious and philosophical-theological institutions, as well as colleges of education in Baden-Württemberg that provide teacher-training programmes for the region.


Universities of applied sciences / HAW in Germany

A strong emphasis on practical work and application is the distinguishing feature of universities of applied sciences. Universities of applied sciences normally offer a narrower range of subjects than universities and are often focused on the fields of engineering, business and social sciences. In Germany, there are also around 30 universities of applied sciences for national and regional public authorities. These institutions provide training for careers in senior levels of the civil service and can only be attended by officials working in the public services.

Universities of applied sciences / HAW

Universities of the arts

Universities of the arts are higher education institutions of equivalent status to universities. They provide an education in the visual arts, creative arts, performing arts, and musical subjects. In some cases, programmes in these subjects are also offered by the corresponding departments or faculties of universities.

Universities of the arts