When you think in studying a postgraduate program in Germany, several are the topics that come to your mind, starting with the difference in language. We believe that studying in Germany implies learning German, without knowing that Germany offers a wide range of international programs taught completely in English.
The second topic is the type of study; we have the idea that Germany is a country where people mainly study engineering and sciences’ programs, but Germany offers almost 14,000 postgraduate programs in all fields of study. Finally, we think that living and studying in Germany can be expensive, when this is one of the countries that have the cheapest tuitions and fees as well as one of the best scholarships’ programs for international students.
In this article you will find:
· Types of Universities
· Masters’ and Doctorate Programs
Now…¿would you like to learn more about studying a postgraduate program in Germany?
What type of University should I choose? The German Education System
In Germany, there are two types of higher education institutions. Selecting the proper university and program for you, will depend on the objectives you have for pursuing a postgraduate program abroad as well as the expectations you have from it.
Universität: Known as the traditional German universities, are those institutions where learning is highly linked to research. In case of deciding to study in a German Universität, you have to consider that you will receive mainly theoretical and methodological knowledge about the subject of your interest. It is also important for you to know that, even though in the Universität you could find a wide variety of high quality programs, the main fields of study are Humanities, Social Sciences, Medicine, Law and Economics.
Technische Universität: Which translates Technical University to English, also belongs to the group of traditional universities. But do not confuse them with the technical and technological institutes we have in Latin America, as the Technical Universities in Germany can offer both undergraduate and postgraduate programs. The main difference between a Universität and a Technische Universität is that the latter is focused in the fields of engineering and sciences.
Both the Universität and the Technische Universität offer masters’ and doctorate programs.
Hochschulen: Also known as Fachhochschulen, their name translates University of Applied Sciences. In contrast with the Universität, the Hochschulen are institutions where teaching is more focused in practice instead of in theory. Offering programs with an emphasis mainly in the fields of engineering and business, these institutions have designed their courses based on the requirements of the German labor market and industry. The Hochschulen keep constant contact with the German businessmen, as in many cases, they are the ones that teach the courses and give seminars and lectures to students. Generally, the Hochschulen also offer professional internships to their students.
Therefore, undertaking a postgraduate program in a Hochschulen will be perfect for you if your goal is to continue with a professional career, or why not, starting your own company. However, if the main motive for you to pursue a postgraduate abroad is to be part of the faculty of a university, have a career in research, or continue with a Doctorate, the program you choose should be taught by Universität.
What type of postgraduate can you find in Germany?
The course offer in Germany is very wide. During your search, you will find more than 13,500 courses offered by 355 universities. We have to highlight that there’s plenty of availability of programs that are taught completely in English, so you will not have to learn German to apply to them. Nevertheless, if you are admitted to a German University, it will be very useful for you to take a German course before traveling to this country, as you will need it for your daily life. Postgraduate programs in Germany are divided into Masters ‘and Doctorate programs:
Masters: In Germany, masters’ programs last between two and four semesters, and are divided in modules made up of credits. Although students are informed about the modules they have to complete in order to finish the Masters’ program,(due that in Germany self-discipline and dedication are fundamental, each student has the possibility of deciding which courses, seminars and lectures to take as part of the different modules. Each module requires between 6-10 hours of study per week, and can be completed in maximum two semesters. At the end of each semester, each course is evaluated with one final exam.
Once a student has approved the number of modules that give between 60-120 credits (depending on the program), the student will have finished the Masters’ program.
Doctorate: If you are interested in pursuing a Doctorate program in Germany, you must know that there are two types of Doctorate program in this country: The Traditional Approach and the Structured Doctoral Programs.
Traditional Approach Doctorate: In Germany, the traditional doctorate in the one in which the student works directly with a “Professor” supervisor. These Professors are very respectful people in the German academy due that they have pursued a postdoctoral program and have plenty of expertise in their field of research. Being the most popular type of doctorate program among Germans, in order to be admitted to a Traditional Approach Doctorate, the candidate must contact directly the possible Professor who should decide if he is interested in supervising the candidate’s doctoral thesis. If so, the student will start immediately researching about the thesis subject. Although this program is more flexible as the student does not have to attend any courses, it requires a high degree of responsibility and discipline of the student to finish it.
· Structured Doctoral Program: Germany has approximately 700 Structured Doctoral Programs. In contrast with the Traditional Approach, in this type of doctorate, a group of supervisors is in charge of guiding a determined number of doctoral students that are researching on a similar subject. During the doctoral program, the student has to take courses, seminars and lectures that are usually taught in English. Normally, it takes three years for a student to finish a Structured Doctoral Program.
How much does it cost to study a postgraduate program in Germany?
Sum to the high academic level, Germany is a very attractive country to study a postgraduate due that tuition and fees costs, including the ones of programs taught in English are cheaper that the tuitions of programs offered in English speaking countries.
In Germany, most universities are public, and as they receive funds from the federal government, the amounts to pay for tuition are very low. Each University has the power to decide how much to charge for tuition, but this amount is usually no more than 500 euros per semester for Masters’ Programs, while Doctorate Programs are offered for free. Additionally to the amount paid for tuition, students will have to pay an administrative charge which is between 100-200 euros per semester.
During your search, you may find approximately 100 private universities. These institutions, which normally are the Universities of Applied Sciences, charge higher tuitions than public universities. In this moment, only 3% of German students attend a program in a private university.
Although having to pay a modest sum of money for tuition will definitely reduce the budget you will need to study a postgraduate in Germany, it’s important for you to keep in mind that you will need between 600-1000 euros per month to live in this country. This amount will depend in the city where you choose to study as well as in your level of expenditure.
In order to help you with some expenses, in Germany as a student you will be able to work maximum 120 full time days per year or 240 part time days per year. Though the minimum amount paid per hour is not established, usually a student can earn between 6-10 euros per hour worked.
Where can I find information about scholarships and financial aid?
Although Germany offers very cheap tuitions, even for international students, it is also one of the countries that has the highest number of scholarships for foreigners. In Germany, postgraduate study financial aids are offered by political parties, enterprises’ foundations, the federal government, the research institutions and the students’ organizations.
All the scholarships and financial aid programs are channeled through the DAAD (German Academic Exchange Service), which is a governmental organization that aims to promote the education exchanges between Germans and international students.
The DAAD has more than 200 scholarships programs of their owned, whose calls vary depending on each country. Also, the DAAD divulges the information of the other financial aids available to study a postgraduate in Germany. All the information can be find in the DAAD scholarships data base which is located in the web site: