Study Destination Jena

Jena An Attractive Place to Study


With a population of around 105,000, Jena is a ‘small big city’ and the 73rd largest in Germany. Jena is a young city: with an average population age of 42.5, Jena is roughly two years below the national average. Around 12% of the population is younger than 18 years.

Furthermore, Jena is growing: in contrast to all other East German cities, Jena attracts more people than are leaving it – and there are more births than deaths!

Jena is international – around 10% of the inhabitants have a migrant background; 5.5% of the inhabitants have come to the Saale city from outside of Germany. This is the highest rate in Thuringia, for which the international outreach of the University is a strong contributing factor.

Jena – A City of Graduates

Nearly 30% of the population in Jena has a university degree – that is nationally the highest number of graduates. Apart from the almost 20,000 students of the FSU, 5,000 more are studying at universities of applied sciences. Therefore, nearly one quarter of the population is composed of students – the highest proportion in East Germany and in the top ten nationally. Because of this, average income in Jena is also the highest in the state of Thuringia: the average gross income of a full-time worker is around 2,500 Euros per month. This is a positive development, although, like most regions in East Germany, this figure lags behind those of the West German states. Besides, Jena’s population enjoys East Germany’s lowest unemployment rate of 7.1% (as of May 2015) and thereby promises excellent job opportunities. To compare: Jena is close behind the leading city in terms of unemployment, which is Munich with 5.1%. The neighbouring cities of Erfurt and Halle have unemployment rates of 10 and 12%, respectively.

Friedrich Schiller University – A University of tradition

Due to its over 20,000 students, Jena’s cityscape appears very “young”. However, the city and University maintain a long academic tradition that goes back almost 500 years. Some of the most brilliant minds of Europe attended or lectured at the Friedrich Schiller University. Along with Friedrich Schiller, who held his inaugural lecture in 1789, famous polymaths such as Goethe, Weigel and Hegel worked at the FSU. By this time, the University rose to become a prosperous centre for knowledge, research and classic German philosophy. Karl Marx, for example, wrote his doctoral thesis at the University in 1841 about “The Difference Between the Democritean and Epicurean Philosophy of Nature”. A few decades later, Abbe, Zeiß and Schott laid the foundation for the city’s economic prosperity. Today the FSU has become a University of international degree. page1image23648 page1image23808


The number of students has risen sharply since the turn of the millennium. In 2013, 3,746 students were able to complete their studies. In comparison, the number was only 982 in 1998. In the winter semester of 2014/2015, 2,885 freshmen matriculated at the Friedrich- Schiller-University Jena.

Some additional figures: The number of undergraduate students in their graduation year peaked in 2013 with 3,746. International students at the FSU amounted in the winter term 2014/15 to 10.3% of the student body. As to the country of origin of international students, 20% came from EU countries in the summer term 2015, around 20% from the rest of Europe, from America and Africa originated each around 5% and around 50% came from Asia (inter alia, the University has its own office in Beijing). As to the German students: 38% come from Thuringia, 35.8% from former West Germany including Berlin, the rest stems from the other former Eastern part of Germany. 

Families and Children

Jena is family friendly. There are almost 10,000 households with children and very good childcare and recreational opportunities. Jena is in first place when it comes to birth rates in the cities of Thuringia, and, with 10.1 births per 1000 inhabitants, it also clearly surpasses the national average of 8.4 births. A glance at the development of the numbers shows that, for Jena (as opposed to other cities in Thuringia), there is a notable population growth. The childcare rate of day-care is roughly 98% for children between 3 and 6 years. To compare: nationally the rate is 41%. 57.3% of all children in Jena under 3 years take advantage of childcare opportunities – that is the highest in the country.

Living Costs

The relatively low living costs in Jena also make the city one of the most attractive study destinations in Germany. With a monthly average of 690 Euros, Jena ranks far behind the costs of comparative places like Göttingen (€780/month) and Magdeburg (€730/month).

Career Prospects

Around 75% of residents work in the service sector. Jena is not only shaped by the strong research landscape and the optical and technological branches of industry – ever more innovative start-ups are settling in Jena and the region. Even politics is not far away – the state capital Erfurt, with government offices and legislature, can be reached quickly, as can be Berlin, around two hours away by train or car.


In its position as main centre for research in Thuringia, the city of Jena does not only attract young academics but several start-ups and companies. Subsidiaries of the leading institutes for scientific research such as the Fraunhofer-, Max-Planck- or Leibniz-Gesellschaft are located in Jena and enrich the thriving academic landscape. Moreover, Jena is well known for consolidating research with technology as well as industry. The Friedrich Schiller University maintains a long tradition of collaboration with international operating companies such as Carl Zeiss, Jenoptik, Cybio and Analytik that focus on biotechnology and optical industry.


With an average annual temperature of 9.3°C, Jena is one of the warmest areas of central Germany and, due to her location in a basin, is also one of the warmest big cities in Germany. Average rainfall is only 580mm. Jena enjoys the 12th place (out of 80) in the ranking ‘Where is the most comfortable climate?’ (besides temperature, hours of sunlight, amount of rain, and number of frosty days are accounted for). The cities occupying places 1-11 are all located south of Jena and not in East Germany.

Leisure, Culture and Sports

City life and cultural opportunities in Jena are shaped by the University and the students. Bars and student clubs invite students to spend their time; every summer the all-year ‘Kulturarena’ attracts international stars to Jena. The theatre and philharmonic orchestra offer a wide-ranging programme. And for those who can’t get enough, the renowned German national theatre in Weimar, featuring opera, orchestra and theatre, can be reached quickly and comfortably with the ‘thoska’, the student ID.

Sport is important in Jena: with the basketball players from Science City Jena and the women’s soccer team from the USV, Jena is right at home in the state-wide premier league. Beyond that, there are nearly 150 sports clubs in Jena. The most popular sports include soccer, gymnastics, and disabled and rehabilitation sport. 113 of Jena’s sports clubs (23,329 members) have an association with Thuringia’s sports union. The University’s sports club is one of the biggest in Thuringia. In terms of Jena’s university sports, around 80 types of sport are offered in more than 450 courses every week during the semester.

Short Routes in Jena and Connections

Jena is a city of short routes. The campus and many other university facilities can be found in the city centre and can therefore be reached easily on foot. Moreover, Jena is bicycle friendly – bicycles shape the cityscape. Almost 55% of students commute daily to university on foot; more than 30% use a bicycle. Jena’s public transport service is also well equipped – the tram runs the whole night. This means quarters of the city outside of the centre are also well connected.

Due to the freeway A4 (Aachen-Dresden) and proximity to the A9 (Berlin-Munich), Jena can be easily reached from all directions. With altogether five train stations, Jena is also excellently connected to the rail network.

Further links:

  • -  Portrait of the student city Jena in the newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung on 09.11.2014 (Link)

  • -  Six good reasons to study in Jena (Link / Englisch version)