The ‘static’ Keyword in Java: Everything You Need to Know

In Java programming, the “static” keyword is used to define a class-level entity that can be accessed without the need to create an instance of the class. It is a powerful keyword that can be used to define static variables, methods, blocks, and classes.

Understanding the concept of “static” is important for any Java programmer because it can help improve code performance, reduce memory usage, and make code easier to maintain. In this tutorial, we will explore the various uses of the “static” keyword in Java and how to use it effectively in your code.

By the end of this tutorial, you should have a good understanding of the “static” keyword in Java and be able to use it appropriately in your programs.

Static Variables

In Java, static variables are also known as class variables because they belong to the class and not to any specific instance of the class. Here’s how you can declare a static variable:

public class MyClass {
    static int myStaticVar = 0;

Notice the static keyword before the variable declaration. This tells the compiler that the variable is a static variable.

One key difference between static and non-static variables is that you don’t need an instance of the class to access a static variable. You can access it directly through the class name:


Another difference is that static variables are initialized only once, when the class is loaded into memory. Non-static variables, on the other hand, are initialized every time a new instance of the class is created.

It’s worth noting that static variables can be both a blessing and a curse. On the one hand, they can be very useful for storing information that needs to be shared across all instances of a class. On the other hand, they can also introduce some complexity and make it harder to reason about the code.

It’s important to use static variables judiciously and only when they are truly needed.

Static Methods

Static methods are methods that belong to a class rather than to an instance of that class. They can be called using the class name, without the need to create an object of the class. Here are some important things to keep in mind about static methods:

  • Syntax: To declare a static method, use the keyword “static” before the return type of the method. For example:
public static int multiply(int x, int y) {
    return x * y;
  • Differences between static and non-static methods: Unlike non-static methods, static methods cannot access instance variables or methods of the class. They also cannot use the “this” keyword, since there is no instance of the class to refer to. If you’re not familiar with the difference between instance and static methods, you may want to check out this tutorial on our website: Mastering Java Instance and Static Methods. In that tutorial, we explain the differences between these two types of methods and provide examples of when to use each one.
  • Usage: Static methods are commonly used for utility methods that perform a specific task and do not need to interact with instance variables. They can also be used to initialize static variables or perform other one-time setup tasks for the class.

Here’s an example of how you could use a static method to calculate the factorial of a number:

public static int factorial(int n) {
    int result = 1;
    for (int i = 1; i <= n; i++) {
        result *= i;
    return result;

In this example, the “factorial” method is declared as static because it does not need to access any instance variables of the class. It simply performs a calculation and returns the result. By declaring it as static, we can call it using the class name, like this:

int result = MyClass.factorial(5);

This makes the code more concise and easier to read, since we don’t need to create an object of the class just to call a single method.

Static Blocks

In addition to static variables and methods, Java also allows for the creation of static blocks. These blocks are executed when the class is loaded into memory, and they can be used to initialize static variables or perform any other necessary setup tasks.

The syntax for a static block is similar to that of a constructor, but with the “static” keyword added before the block’s opening curly brace. For example:

public class MyClass {
    static {
        // code to be executed when class is loaded

Static blocks can be useful in situations where you need to perform some initialization tasks before any instances of a class are created. For example, you might use a static block to load configuration data from a file or set up a database connection pool.

One important thing to keep in mind when using static blocks is that they are executed in the order in which they appear in the code. If you have multiple static blocks in your class, they will be executed in the order in which they appear, from top to bottom.

It’s also worth noting that static blocks can throw exceptions, just like any other code. If an exception is thrown in a static block, the class will not be loaded and an error message will be displayed. Therefore, it’s important to make sure that any code in a static block is well-tested and doesn’t throw any unexpected exceptions.

Overall, static blocks can be a useful tool in a Java developer’s toolkit, particularly when it comes to initializing static variables or performing other setup tasks that need to happen before a class is used.

If you want to learn more about how to use static blocks effectively, check out the tutorial “Mastering Java’s Powerful Static Initializer Block“.This tutorial goes into greater detail about how to use static blocks and provides some real-world examples of their usage. However, as with any feature of Java, it’s important to use static blocks judiciously and with care, as they can potentially introduce unexpected behavior or errors if not used correctly.

Static Classes

In Java, it’s possible to create a static class using the “static” keyword. A static class is a nested class that has the “static” modifier applied to it.

Static classes have some key differences from non-static classes. For example, a static class can only access static members of its enclosing class. It cannot access instance variables or methods directly.

One common use case for static classes is to create utility classes that provide a set of static methods for a specific task. For example, you might create a static class called “MathUtils” that provides static methods for performing various math operations.

To create a static class in Java, you simply need to define a nested class with the “static” modifier. Here’s an example:

public class OuterClass {
   static class StaticNestedClass {
      // Static class members

In this example, “StaticNestedClass” is a static nested class. You can access its members using the “OuterClass.StaticNestedClass” syntax.

One thing to keep in mind is that a static nested class cannot be instantiated without an instance of its enclosing class. So, if you want to create an instance of a static nested class, you need to do it like this:

OuterClass.StaticNestedClass nestedObject =
   new OuterClass.StaticNestedClass();

Overall, static classes can be a powerful tool in Java programming. By using them appropriately, you can create more modular and reusable code.


In conclusion, understanding the “static” keyword in Java is an essential part of becoming a proficient Java programmer. Static variables, methods, blocks, and classes all have unique properties and use cases that can help you write more modular and efficient code. By following the examples and explanations provided in this tutorial, you should now have a solid foundation for working with static elements in Java.

If you’re interested in learning more about Java programming, be sure to check out the Java Tutorials for Beginners page. These resources provide step-by-step guides and examples that can help you build your skills and confidence as a Java programmer. Remember to use the “static” keyword appropriately and to keep practicing and experimenting with Java programming to continue improving your skills.

Frequently asked questions

  • What happens if I try to access a non-static member from a static method?
    If you try to access a non-static member from a static method in Java, you will get a compilation error. This is because non-static members are associated with a specific instance of a class, while static methods do not require an instance and are associated with the class itself. Therefore, you cannot access a non-static member directly from a static method. To access a non-static member from a static method, you will need to first create an instance of the class and then access the member using that instance.
  • Can I declare a class both static and final in Java?
    No, in Java, it’s not possible to declare a class both static and final. The “final” keyword can only be applied to variables, methods, and nested classes, not to the top-level class itself. The “static” keyword can be applied to both nested and top-level classes, but it cannot be used in conjunction with the “final” keyword.
  • Can I access a static method from an instance of the class?
    Yes, you can access a static method from an instance of the class, but it’s not recommended. When you call a static method on an instance of the class, it’s actually executed on the class itself, not on the instance. So, it’s generally better to call static methods using the class name directly, rather than through an instance. However, in some cases, accessing static methods through an instance might be necessary for compatibility with legacy code or for other reasons.
  • Can I extend a static class in Java?
    No, you cannot extend a static class in Java. The “static” keyword can only be applied to variables, methods, blocks, and nested classes, but not to outer classes. Since the class being extended is an outer class, it cannot be declared as static. Therefore, attempting to extend a static class will result in a compile-time error.
  • How can I make sure that a static block gets executed before anything else in the class?
    To make sure that a static block gets executed before anything else in the class, you can place the static block before any other static members or constructors in the class. This ensures that the static block is executed when the class is loaded into memory, before any other code in the class is executed. By doing this, you can guarantee that any necessary setup or initialization tasks are performed before any other code in the class tries to access or use those resources.

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