Girl doing dual Studies in germany

Dual Studies in Germany

Are you sure that you want to work as a designer on the next generation of Mercedes cars, or perfecting the financial software of Frankfurt's biggest banks? If so, dual study courses could be the ideal preparation. An alternative to Bachelor's courses, these programs are very popular with German students and employers. Let's look at what they offer in more detail, to help you make your next training decision.

Studying & Working - do both!

Most of us aren't fortunate enough to have the financial resources to fund a Bachelor's or Master's degree, and financial constraints can be a major factor in dissuading international students from studying in Germany.

However, that doesn't have to be the case. In fact, German universities tend to offer a range of "dual studies" options which let students mix work and education.

What is dual study in Germany?

By dual study, Germans mean courses that specifically include work and learning. Because of the way they are structured, students have plenty of time to carry out research, attend classes, and pass examinations. But they will also have the chance to take work placements to earn money and - in theory - to gain valuable work experience. So a work study program in Germany delivers two things: experience and financial assistance.

They tend to deliver a Bachelor's qualification, with the option of upgrading to Masters via summer study.

For whom are dual study programmes suitable?

Dual studies programs aren't designed to allow students to work mini-jobs for a couple of weeks before returning to college. Instead, these courses are suitable for students on courses that are funded by or connected to major companies. For example, Computer Science courses could be included, with semesters in bank IT departments, followed by a semester on campus.

Financial Assistance

The funds earned from work placements also help out international students with fewer financial resources. So if you can't afford full-time study prior to entering work, a dual study course could be ideal.

Dual Studies for International Students

Most dual studies courses weren't created for international students, but they have become a very popular option for a variety of reasons. Most of all, these courses provide both academic qualifications and routes into work. Those coming from outside Germany can build their resumes, get to know German culture, and forge relationships with major employers. It's a good stepping stone to success in later life.

What challenges do international students face?

International students will need to provide plenty of supporting documents to make their dual studies applications, and they may also need to work hard to persuade German companies to take them on.

Tip:It's a good idea to undertake work experience with a partner company before applying. Failing that, writing to companies to introduce yourself and describe your skills could work well.

Overseas students will need to brush up their German as well (depending on which workplace they are placed in). And managing finances when students aren't working can be challenging.

Different types of Programs

There are various forms of dual study programs:

Training integrated

These courses include two main parts - an academic component and a vocational qualification. The vocational component will be tightly focused on a specific occupation, providing an excellent chance of finding employment.

Practice integrated

These courses are less academic, and feature more time within commercial or industrial environments. They will tend to lead to employment with particular employers, and are more likely to be funded by private scholarships.

During Work (Career Integrated)

Some courses can be undertaken after students have started work. In these cases, they will take time off to study, while remaining in position. When the course is finished, they can expect a promotion due to their expanded skill set.

Where can I find more information about dual study programmes?

It's not always easy to know about every option, but students should always research all of the dual study courses in their fields. Thankfully, some excellent tools have emerged that put the information at your fingertips.

The Hochschulkompass English website is a great source of information about dual study in Germany. Use the search engine to zero in on institutions and courses, and to find out admissions information as well.

Advantages and Challenges

Dual study programs have plenty of advantages, but they aren't for everyone.

If you have a desire to work in a specific area of industry (such as car design, or network management), having the chance to work in relevant settings, and the opportunity to build contacts is absolutely invaluable.

Some people will thrive on the vocational nature of these courses. If individuals aren't academically minded, and struggle with research, they may do very well in work-based environments, and discover talents that wouldn't normally emerge in conventional universities.

On the other hand, admission is competitive, and international students will need to work on their German both before and during their studies. They also need to be sure about their career direction, which not all young people are. And even though students can earn money, the income received isn't always enough to live on. For some people saving for standard degrees, and working mini-jobs between semesters can be more convenient.

Dual study courses also lead to focused qualifications that aren't always applicable across the whole of society or abroad. General degrees may open more doors, or lead to further study. But there's no doubt that vocational dual study courses can deliver huge benefits. Just think carefully before applying.

If you are unsure about whether to opt for dual study or conventional degrees, feel free to ask academics or industry professionals. And think about asking wider communities on sites like Quora. The feedback from members can often be very helpful.