Millions of prospective students around the world have a common challenge every year: which subject to study and what is the best study destination? If the second question has already been solved and you have chosen Germany as the place for your future education, then you still have the challenge of choosing a study programme and university that best suits your individual needs and skills.
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As Germany is one of the top study destinations in the world, German universities have a variety of study programmes to offer, ranging from African studies to Zahnmedizin (dentistry). We know how hard it is to choose one programme or another, so we suggest you answer the following questions to find out what you really need!
Quick guide on how to choose the right study programme
Step 1. Answer the following questions
What do I enjoy doing the most?
This is all about your interests, hobbies and passions. Are you fascinated by how established companies work, are you good with numbers or would you like to found a company yourself someday? Then you should opt for a business degree.
Or are you rather someone who likes playing around with TikTok or maybe sharing your thoughts on Instagram? Then you should definitely choose Theatre, Film and Media Studies or even Digital Journalism. If you like to read a lot of books, German universities offer the degree programme Cultural and Literary Studies. Do you especially like English literature? – Then the English Studies programme is the right choice for you! The most important thing is that you enjoy your time at university and don’t force yourself to study! Finding enjoyment in what you do holds true not only for your studies but also for your work-life afterwards.
What are my best skills that I would love to develop more?
Find out what you are best at. Maybe you are better at drawing than maths? Write down all the best skills you have and the things you like to do or see. In the end, you will have a clear idea of what suits you best.
What will make me happy in the future?
Is it only money? What about the work you will enjoy doing every day? Think about your future career goals, where do you see yourself in 5 years and if you like it, choose the programme that will help you reach your goal the fastest.
After you built the small portrait of your future self, you can start with research.
Step 2. Do research on universities, degree programmes and the job market
Use your portrait you created beforehand and use it as a cornerstone for your following research for degree programmes.
- If you already know the degree programme, look for the best university offering the degree programme of your choice.
- Observe the job market. Find out which jobs are most popular on the job market so that you can easily find a job after graduation.
- You realised quickly that the degree programme you chose is not the right for you? That is not too much of an issue. You still have the possibility to apply for another study programme, you just must go through the whole application process again.
To give you a clear overview of the different fields of study in Germany, we will briefly present them to you below.
Engineering is one of the most popular degree programmes among international students. The reason for this is the well-known high quality and advanced educational methods of German universities. Regardless of the engineering programme you want to study (mechanical, aeronautical, chemical, civil, electrical engineering, etc.), you will have plenty of room for practice because the aim of the university is to make a qualified engineer out of every student.
Almost every public university in Germany offers engineering studies. However, the universities, which considered to be the best for such programmes are Technical Universities. So, if you are going to apply for an engineering programme, you better choose a Technical University.
For a better search, you can use one of the following websites that will help you find the most suitable university for you. On the DAAD website or Hochschulkompass, for example, you can search by various categories, such as the programme itself, the federal state, the degree you want, or if you only know the field of your interests, you can enter it in the keyword section and the system will show you all the matching results.
Another useful website for keeping track of university rankings is the QS Ranking website. There you can compare specific universities according to their rankings in general and according to the degree programme you are interested in. In our article about the top German private and public universities, you can also find more information.
Medicine & Health
Healthcare in Germany means the highest level of medical technology, the professionalism of specialists, significant funding for research and development and a large number of public and private clinics. Many people go to Germany for both treatment and studies.
Medical education in Germany is the most popular field of study not only among German students but also among international students. The number of available places at universities is limited and the high demand of students for this course of study leads to the highest competition rate.
To be admitted to study medicine at a German university, you should have excellent grades, a German language certificate with at least C1 level and, of course, the best results in the Studienkolleg Feststellungsprüfung. You can read more about the application process here.
The study programme lasts on average 12 semesters (i.e. 6 years), but not everyone manages this deadline and therefore many students extend their studies by a few semesters more.
If you have a great passion for reading, writing, and discussing, it is quite likely that one of the programmes associated with the humanities, such as political science, philosophy, linguistics, etc. is the right one for you. In most cases, undergraduate programmes offer major and minor subjects. This makes the degree even more interesting, as students can choose which minor programme they want to study and further diversify their expertise in their field of studies.
Programmes in the field of humanities include work-related activities, semesters abroad, research projects or internships, which gives students the opportunity to gain experience for their future careers.
The general requirements for taking up a humanities degree programme at German universities are basically language skills (both German and English) at an advanced level and the university entrance qualification certificate.
Business and Economics
According to the Times Higher Education Ranking 2021, nine German universities are in the top 200 business universities in the world. Top 3 are Uni Mannheim, LMU Munich and University of Bonn. In general, there are 20 German universities included in the list of the best in preparing students in the field of “Business and Economics”.
In order to be admitted to the Bachelor’s programme, you must have the language certificates for German and English, your grades should be on par with the university requirements and, of course, uni-assist will check you for admission eligibility. Some universities also conduct a short interview to decide whether you can be admitted to the degree programme. We, therefore, recommend that you always check the universities’ current admission requirements.
Important! Uni-Assist is the organization, that checks your school certificates and approves your eligibility to study in Germany.
Every student, who wants to study in Germany needs to submit the documents to uni-assist first and then they send the documents to the university. Read more here.
As mentioned above, German public universities offer a variety of programmes from which you can choose. If you plan to study Political Science, Sociology or International Studies, you will need to look for these programmes in the Department of Social Sciences. As always, you need to have good school/ Studienkolleg results and German language skills at C1 level. English is a plus, but not mandatory for every programme. Whether it is required or not should be checked separately in the requirements for each programme.
Natural Sciences & Mathematics
The Natural Sciences include Physics, Chemistry, Geology and Astronomy as well as biology, genetics. Mathematics is an important sub-discipline of the natural sciences, dealing with problems that can be represented in terms of numbers and geometric shapes, as well as with derived formula structures and systems. Since the courses of study are among the more difficult ones, some of the German universities offer preparatory courses in chemistry, mathematics, computer science or physics to help students understand how the studies will proceed and possibly fill gaps in their knowledge.
In general, all German universities have two admission periods: admission for the winter semester (semester starts in October) and admission for the summer semester (semester starts in April). However, you should keep in mind that some programmes offer winter intake only. Therefore, before applying, check whether the university of your choice offers the degree programme for both semesters or only starts in the winter semester.
The Study Finder by our partner MyGermanUniversity has made it incredibly simple to find your ideal study program. With over 2500 Bachelor’s and Master’s Degree Programs, this database of English-taught Study Programs is the largest in Germany.
Modes of Study
In most cases, German universities offer full-time study courses. This means that you have to attend all the courses you have chosen for the semester and give presentations, write essays and have final exams at the end of each semester. Unlike exempt semesters due to Covid-19, students must attend all courses. It is not compulsory for some of the German universities, but it is recommended so that you can understand the subject and pass the final exams, which must be passed to successfully graduate.
The standard period of study for the Bachelor’s programme is 6 semesters (or more, depending on the programme)and the standard period of study for the Master’s programmes is 4 semesters.
In part-time study programmes, you can study and still work full-time. In many cases, you can find companies that are willing to take over the full or parts of the study fees (if applicable, especially relevant for programmes at private universities). These programmes will likely be more demanding than normal full-time study programmes since you have to work and study at the same time and will have to invest lots of your evenings and Saturdays into lectures and studying in general. The benefit, of course, is, that you can earn money during your studies, gather work experience, and still get a degree at roughly the same time as other students (this also depends on the pace you choose for your studies).
The standard period of study for the Bachelor’s degree in this setup is up to 10 semesters, while the standard period of study for the Master’s degrees is up to 8 semesters.
Duales Studium (Dual System/Studies) allows you to work and study at the same time. For this to work, you need to find a company that offers such a programme. The companies also often take over the full or at least parts of the study fees, which especially comes in handy if you study at a private university. The setup of those programmes is usually that you have “blocks” of university and work. This means that you go to university for e.g. 10 weeks full-time and then go back to working for 12 weeks full-time. One block of 10 weeks then represents one semester. This setup allows you to gather work experience, work in the field you would like to work in and earn some money. However, it is worth to mention that these programmes are quite popular and that you should apply in due time in order to find a company.
The standard period of study for a Bachelor’s degree is 6 semesters and can be extended to up to 9 semesters, while the standard period of study for a Master’s degree is 4 semesters and can be extended to up to 6 semesters
In today’s rapidly developing world, distance learning is becoming more and more important. Germany also offers this option. If you do not have time to come to Germany and study as a full-time student, you can apply for distance learning. On the Hochschulkompass website, you are able to see various degree programmes offered on distance learning by German universities. Admission to distance learning is not fundamentally different from the usual in terms of the list of required documents. All learning materials and assignments are usually sent to students by email or accessible via the university’s online platform, and students can send the assignments back to the professors along with any questions one may have during the self-study. Exams are usually written at the university, but there may be exceptions. Therefore, you should always double-check with your university.
Summary of the most important points:
Lastly, you can find below the key things to remember, when looking for the right study programme for you:
- Deciding about the study mode will narrow down the possible offers
- Use the helpful websites for programmes search such as DAAD, Hochschulkompass
- Here, you can find the best universities in Germany
- Keep the application deadlines in mind: in Germany, the standard deadlines are 15.07. for the Winter Semester and 15.01. for the Summer Semester. They can vary depending on the study programme. Read more about this topic here
- Check if you need to attend the Studienkolleg
Remember that, no matter which programme or study mode you choose, your journey will be exciting and you will grow a lot as a person!
Everything you need for a smooth start to your studies
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Last update: March 10, 2023