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View of industrial buildings in Essen and autumnal trees

Studying in Essen

Essen offers you 15 degree programmes in English at 5 higher education institutions.

Although Essen might not be your typical student city, it offers the best shopping opportunities in the Ruhr region, lots of culture and entertainment, industrial-era historical sites as well as excellent public traffic connections in all directions. Not only is it fun to live in the city, it’s also affordable. You’ll surely find out why Essen was voted European Green Capital in 2017. Happy discovering!

For a city that was once one of the world's most important centres of the coal and steel industry, earning that title of a green capital was hard work. Today, there are many parks and green spaces, including the famous Grugapark, which is a bit of a one-stop-shop of a park. It is a common destination for the warmer days, with a botanical garden, tropical house, sculpture garden, music pavilion and a spa. If you like farm animals, you’ll be happy to know that there is a petting zoo here too. You are also able to make reservations for designated plots in the park, so make sure you book in the birthday barbeques ahead of time! This seems to be a city favourite in the summer months.

Essen is home to at least 100,000 students across its higher education institutions. This is quite a large student population, when compared to some of the other student cities. In true reflection of Essen’s versatility, the higher education institutions offer a wide spectrum of courses across different disciplines. Choose between the Folkwang University of the Arts, FOM International University, University of Fine Arts Essen and the University of Duisburg-Essen.

Life in Essen

585,000 residents

  • High-speed train connections

    In close vicinity

  • International airport

    Düsseldorf airport in 26 km distance

  • Coast

    North Sea in 195 km distance

  • Mountain range

    Siebengebirge in 70 km distance

  • Other countries

    The Netherlands in 55 km distance

  • Attractions within 100 km

    • Zeche Zollverein in 5 km distance

    • Ruhr Museum in 4 km distance

5 higher education institutions in Essen

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Subject groups of degree programmes in Essen

There is a wide range of degree programmes in Essen. Here you can see the main subject groups. Currently, degree programmes in Essen are mainly offered in the subject group Teaching Degrees, followed by Economic Sciences, Law and Language and Cultural Studies. Find out more information here about the subject groups and degree programmes offered in Germany.
  • 1

    Agricultural and Forest Sciences

  • 29

    Humanities and Social Sciences

  • 39

    Mathematics, Natural Sciences

  • 48

    Art, Music, Design

  • 51

    Language and Cultural Studies

  • 23

    Medicine, Health Sciences

  • 60

    Economic Sciences, Law

  • 17

    Engineering Sciences

  • 153

    Teaching Degrees

People in the swimming pool at the former industrial site Zeche Zollverein
©Jochen Tack / Stiftung Zollverein

Cool off for free at the Zollverein pool showcasing the city's industrial heritage.

Essen’s Zollverein is a major city landmark and event venue! Learn about the coal production processes, take a look at contemporary art, do workshops or try parkour.

Students say they enjoy the central location of the city, because other significant German cities such as Duisburg, Köln and Düsseldorf are mostly just a regional train journey away from Essen’s main railway station. Most students either live in the northern or southern districts of Essen, so keep this in mind if you find it important to live in a big community of other students. It is affordable to live here and the student’s union, “Studierendenwerk”, offers varied student accommodation across 19 different residences in, and around the Essen area.

Because the city is so versatile, you will find a variety of entertainment here. On Saturdays, the streets are often filled with many people who are in town to shop, catch a movie at a listed cinema in the city centre, or visit museums. You should join in! The museum Folkwang, for example, offers a great arrangement of art by prominent artists such as Henri Matisse, in both permanent and temporary instalments. Dip your toes into industrial culture at the UNESCO World Heritage Zollverein, find high culture at the Philharmonie, Villa Hügel or the Aalto Theatre. There’s so much to do! If you’re sporty or simply love a physical challenge, the 27-kilometre-long Baldeneysteig is a great location for hiking. You can follow the designated routes, enjoy the beautiful view over the Baldeneysee reservoir and make stops at the numerous restaurants throughout. You can even trade climbing the steeper leg of the route for a ride on public transportation whenever you get tired, or happen to have eaten too much “Currywurst”.

You’ll find a more laid-back activity, suitable for a weekday, in a visit to the Margarethenhöhe garden city. It’s a picturesque and modern settlement inspired by the utopian ideals of the early 1900s, for the working class to relax and live in airier, more spacious conditions. You can take a tour of the garden city, to visit the most striking points, as well as the bakery, ice cream parlour and bi-weekly farmer’s market. A special “Feierabend” market was recently introduced too. As its German name suggests, the market is catered towards after-hours; perfect after an evening library session!

A young woman walks through the city
A young woman walks through the cityJan von Allwörden / DAAD

You can find more information at

For more information on living and studying in Essen, visit the city portraits at