How to choose a university program that’s right for you
We’ll go through some vital steps in your journey of finding the course that best fits your career goals. Read on to find out more.
1. What subject is right for you?
When choosing a university course, the first thing you should consider is the topic you want to study. Answer these questions to help you narrow down a subject you'd like to pursue:
- What are your interests and passions?
- What subjects did you enjoy most in high school?
- Is this field worth your time and investments?
- What are the job prospects after completing this course?
2. Consider the course content
Once you've decided on a course subject, it's also essential to consider the contents of the chosen course. Ensure that the study program covers all of the topics you're interested in and that it is taught to suit your learning style. If you're not sure what to expect from a particular course, you can always contact the university and ask for a copy of the syllabus.
3. What type of degrees are there?
Next, you need to decide what type of degree you want to pursue in your higher education. There are three types of degrees available at universities or colleges – undergraduate (Bachelor's), graduate (Master's), and doctoral (Ph.D.).
The most common type of degree is the bachelor's degree, which takes three or four years to complete. If you want to pursue a career in research, you will need to study for a graduate or doctoral degree.
Master's degrees usually take one or two years to complete, and PhDs can take up to five years. There are also shorter courses available that last for less than a year, such as certificates and diplomas.
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4. How is the course taught?
Choosing a course that suits your learning style and lifestyle is essential. Some courses are taught in a traditional classroom setting, while others are offered online. If you're not a fan of attending lectures, then an online program might be the right choice. However, a traditional classroom setting would be better if you prefer face-to-face interaction.
Taught courses: University courses delivered by academics who lecture and tutor students. The teaching is usually done in a classroom setting, with some coursework or exams also completed in this setting.
Coursework-based courses: Involve completing most of your work away from the university, in your own time. You will have regular contact with your tutors, but the focus is on completing assignments rather than attending lectures.
Exam-based courses: As the name suggests, these courses are assessed primarily through exams. You will still have some contact hours with your tutors, but the emphasis is on revision and exam technique.
In Germany, universities are divided into three categories:
- University: You can study almost any subject in this category. Courses are research-oriented and highly theoretical.
- University of applied sciences: As the name suggests, the courses focus on practical knowledge to produce skilled and trained employees.
- Colleges of art, film, and music: Admission to these colleges can be difficult and limited to applicants with artistic talents.
5. Check the admission requirements
Different universities have different entry requirements. Generally, you will need to meet the following criteria to be accepted into an undergraduate (Bachelor’s) course:
- Complete high school or equivalent qualification
- Meet the required level of English language proficiency
- Achieve the minimum entry score for the course
You will need to have completed an undergraduate degree in a related field and achieved a certain GPA for graduate degree (Master’s) courses. You may also be required to take a Graduate Record Examination (GRE) or submit a research proposal.
Tip: Use Expatrio's Study Eligibility Checker to check whether you're eligible to study at a German university directly.
6. Consider the duration of the course
Another vital factor to consider when choosing a university course is the duration. Undergraduate courses typically take three or four years to complete, while postgraduate courses can take one to five years. If you're unsure how long you want to study for, consider a shorter course such as a certificate or diploma.
7. Part-time or full-time?
Do you want to study part-time or full-time? This is an important decision to make, affecting your lifestyle and finances. Part-time students typically take longer to complete their courses, but they don't have to give up their job or other commitments. Full-time students can focus all their time and energy on their studies, but they may have to take out a loan to cover their living expenses.
8. Take note of the application deadlines
Once you've decided on a course, it's essential to check the application deadlines. Universities in Germany typically have two semesters per year: winter and summer semesters. The application deadline for each semester varies from university to university, but generally, it's July 15th for the winter semester and January 15th for the summer semester.