Study Abroad in Germany or Italy? Pick the Master's Degree that Matches You

When it comes to choosing the ultimate place to study abroad, you want to be 100% sure you make the right decision. To do that, you have to gather a lot of information, balance the advantages and disadvantages and give the final verdict. Most often, you would have to browse through several websites to collect all the details, which can take a lot of time.

To make your mission a little easier, below you can find all the important details about studying abroad in Germany and Italy – two of the most popular destinations among international students.

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1. Tuition fees in Germany vs. Italy

Most public universities in Germany don’t charge tuition. The only exception is the Federal State of Baden-Württemberg, where non-EU/EEA students pay tuition fees at public institutions. All international students have to pay an administration fee of 100 - 350 EUR/semester.

Average tuition fees at public universities in Italy range between 0 and 5,000 EUR/academic year. Therefore, if you really don't want to pay for tuition, Germany might be a better option.

You can also check out the Studyportals Scholarship to get some help on financing your studies abroad.

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2. Living costs in Germany vs. living costs in Italy

In large German cities, students usually spend around 800 – 1,200 EUR/month, while in smaller cities, you can survive with around 650 - 1,000 EUR/month. Check examples below:

When it comes to living costs in Italy:

  • Rome is the most expensive city, requiring average living costs between 850 and 1,400 EUR/month.
  • In other student cities like Florence and Bologna, the budget would fit between 800 and 1,200 EUR/month.

So, living in a smaller city can help you save more money, whether you choose Germany or Italy. Also keep in mind that these costs will vary a lot depending on your spending habits. If you don't go out every night, cook, and look for discounts in supermarkets, you can definitely reduce your living costs in these countries.

3. Accommodation costs in Germany vs. Italy

In Germany:

  • students who live alone should prepare an average budget of around 300 - 450 EUR/month.
  • students who live on campus would have to pay less, around 250 - 300 EUR/month.

In Italy:

  • students who choose to live alone in a small apartment pay between 400 - 700 EUR/month.
  • students who prefer halls of residence would spend between 250 - 500 EUR/month.

Accommodation rates are similar, but Italy may be a bit cheaper if you look closely for a good deal.

Find out more about tuition, living and accommodation costs in Germany and in Italy.

4. Number of universities and English-taught degrees in Germany vs. Italy


Germany has around 380 universities, all counting around 390,000 international students. When it comes to English-taught programmes, German universities offer over 1,400 Master's degrees and over 300 Bachelor's degrees on our portals.


Italy is home to around 90 universities and other higher educational institutions such as polytechnics and academies. When it comes to English-taught courses, Italian universities list around 650 Master's degrees and over 150 Bachelor's degrees on our portals.

At Master's level, Germany offers a lot more programmes from which you can choose. But Italian universities increase the number of English-taught courses every year. After all, it's not about which country offers more degrees, but which country offers the right degree for you.

Read more details on how to apply for a German university or for an Italian university.

5. Study options in Germany vs. Italy

Whether you choose Germany or Italy, you can study almost anything you could imagine in both countries. Germany has stronger connections in the fields of Engineering, Sciences, Business, Management, and Finance, while Italy is more focused in subject areas like Architecture, Design, Arts, and Humanities.

Both destinations are equally attractive, and the decision is only a matter of your preferences and future career goals.

Popular study programmes in Germany:

Popular study programmes in Italy:

Check scholarship opportunities in Germany and Italy.

More details about scholarships for Master's degrees in Germany.

6. Student life in Germany vs. Italy

Studying in Germany – don’t be late to class!

Most of the things you've heard about the German people are around 90% true. They are punctual, organised, live by the rules, and are incredibly straightforward. With this in mind, you should note that if you plan to study in Germany, you will be expected to conform to the German way of living.

The mentality and the cultural elements prevail in the German higher education system as well, so you should not be late for class, and expect rigorous courses and assessments.

The general conception is that German people are cold and unfriendly, but the correct term would be ‘reserved’. They are not the type who would say “Hello!” to any stranger on the street or engage in a conversation with anyone simply to make time go by faster.

You could say they are very careful with their choices; they accept only the best, even when it comes to friends. However, once you succeed to make a German friend, they’re your friend forever.

Studying in Italy – keep calm and grab a coffee!

The Italian people are very relaxed…well, at least in their inner spirit. Sure, they speak loudly and seem like they are constantly fighting with each other with their hand gestures.

Don’t worry though! It’s just the Italian way of talking and you could understand where they get all the energy from. They eat pasta every day, sometimes even twice a day, they drink espresso, which is a really strong coffee and most times they enjoy a lovely Mediterranean weather.

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Language barrier in Germany vs. Italy

How much will you have to deal with a language barrier in Germany and Italy outside university classes? Simply put, you’ll have to learn German or Italian, at least at beginner’s level.

In big German cities like Berlin or Munich, you'll find many people willing to speak English, and at a quite good level. Don’t take it as a general rule though; even if you’re in a big city, with many tourists, this doesn’t mean all German people will speak English. However, in small German cities, you’d have to speak German or a combination of bad German and sign language.

In Italy, regardless of the size of the city, people don’t normally speak anything other than Italian. Contrary to German people though, they are more willing to help you with any information and will speak English, as much as they know. You might be pleasantly surprised to find a few people who have pretty good English skills.

Find Masters in Germany and Italy

7. German student visa vs Italian student visa

If you're a national belonging to an EU/EEA country, you won't need a visa to study in Germany or Italy. Non-EU/EEA students will have to apply for visa and should get all the information they need before deciding to apply.

Student visa for Italy

  • Visa fee of 50 EUR
  • Minimum proof of funds per month: 900 EUR
  • You will need to prove you have accommodation arrangements for your visa
  • The application process can be rather different depending on the country from which you apply

More detailed information about the Italian student visa based on your nationality:

Student visa for Germany

  • Visa fee of 60 - 75 EUR
  • Medical insurance: 960 EUR
  • Minimum proof of funds per month: 853 EUR
  • Depending on your nationality, you will have to open a bank account in Germany

More detailed information about the German student visa based on your nationality:

8. How to decide between Germany and Italy?

Germany and Italy are both very popular study abroad destinations, but each one addresses to a different type of students. Although they do have a few things in common, both Germany and Italy have their own specific elements when it comes to higher education that set them apart from other study abroad destinations.

Be aware that due to Germany’s free-tuition policy in public schools, there is a bigger competition for some of the best and most popular degree programmes; so getting admitted into the best German universities won’t be an easy task.

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If it's still is hard to decide, here are some final tips:

  • If you see yourself as an organised person, are already adjusted or don’t mind cold weather, and your specific plan is to become an expert in Engineering or Technology, the obvious choice is Germany.
  • If you’re a fan of pizza and pasta, love fashion, would much rather enjoy a sunny weather and maybe you dream of specialising in Design or Arts, then Italy is the right place for you.

Check also the study match between Germany and Netherlands.

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