Judith Hermann was born in West Berlin in the St. Joseph hospital. She grew up in the West Berlin neighborhood of Neukölln and remained there until the mid-nineties, when she moved to the district of Prenzlauer Berg in the former East Berlin.
She holds a Masters degree in German and Philosophy and attended the Berliner Journalistenschule, a highly selective professional academy for journalists. During this training she did an internship with the German language newspaper Aufbau in New York. While she was in America she worked on some of her first literary texts, and realized that short stories were "her" genre. In an interview she explained that her training as a journalist helped her to write concisely, although she knew that journalism was not suitable for her.