German automotive engineering has a worldwide reputation for excellence. It should be no surprise that Germany has many outstanding schools for automotive design--almost too many to list and describe in one place. However, four schools with representative automotive design programs are Hochschule Esslingen and Hochschule Pforzheim, both near Stuttgart; Westsächsiche Hochschule Zwickau, near Leipzig; and RWTH-Aachen University, near Cologne. They are commonly referred to as Esslingen, Pforzheim, Zwickau and Aachen.


All four universities offer a master of science (MS) program that includes automotive design. The curricula can also include transportation design, mechanical engineering and computer software design. The name of the particular program in Aachen is MS in Automotive Systems Engineering; in Pforzheim, MS in Product Design; in Zwickau, MS in Automotive Engineering; and in Esslingen, MS in Design and Manufacturing.


Aachen's program can be completed in four semesters, or two calendar years. Pforzheim, Zwickau and Esslingen each offer their curricula in three semesters, or one and a half calendar years. All four programs begin in the fall, which is typical of the German university system.


Pforzheim charges €7,400 (approximately $6,563) for its two-year program. Zwickau, Esslingen and Aachen each charge €500 per semester, or €1,500 for the entire program (approximately $1,330). None of these amounts include living expenses or other administrative fees. The tuition may seem very low, but since the schools are state-supported, the German state in which the school is located determines fees for all schools in their districts. However, the quality of education is very high, and applicants must pass strict entrance exams. Scholarships are available for each school.


The language of instruction at Esslingen and Aachen is English. Zwickau and Pforzheim hold some classes in English and some in German. Applicants are tested for acceptable levels of these languages before admission.

Other Schools

Among the other German institutions of higher learning that offer automotive design courses are the University of Siegen; the University Ravensburg-Weingarten; the University of Ingolstadt; Bochum University of Applied Sciences; Brandenburg Technical University; Offenburg University of Applied Sciences; Technical University of Munich; and the University of Duisburg-Essen, which offers a summer course each year.