Dual study programmes

Last update: September 2017

A dual study programme combines academic studies with experience in a company and vocational training. Dual study programmes are very popular in Germany due to their practical orientation.

In addition to traditional Bachelor's, Master's and state examination degree programmes, it is also possible to combine a degree programme in Germany with vocational training. On dual study programmes, practical experience is a component of the degree programme. If you choose a dual study programme, you also have to sign a contract with a company. The training then usually takes place at two separate locations: on the company's premises and at the higher education institution.

What types of degree programmes are there?

Dual study programmes can be training-integrated, career-integrated or practice-integrated.

Training-integrated: The degree programme is combined with training in a recognised occupation requiring formal training. Study phases and vocational training are linked in terms of time and content.

Practice-integrated: Study phases alternate with practical phases in a company. The content of the courses at the higher education institution and the content of the practical training are related. Students gain a first degree that qualifies them to practice a profession, but not a qualification in a recognised occupation requiring vocational training.

Career-integrated: Here academic studies are combined with vocational further training. The learning content of the two forms of training is also connected in this model. Alongside full-time employment, students learn largely through self-study in a manner similar to a distance learning course.

What are the advantages of a dual study programme?

You gain two qualifications (an academic degree and a vocational qualification) in a relatively short time, along with valuable experience and many professional skills. In most cases, companies pay students on dual study programmes for their work and cover their tuition fees. The corporate contacts you establish during your degree programme will help you gain a foothold in interesting fields and improve your chances on the labour market later on. Many of the companies that offer dual study programmes retain their former students as employees once they graduate.

For whom are dual study programmes suitable?

If you want to complete a dual study programme, you should be highly motivated. Working at a company while completing a degree programme requires a lot of stamina and resilience. The phases working at the company have to be carefully planned and coordinated with the higher education institution's curricula. You also have to persuade a business of your qualities at the beginning of your degree programme.

What challenges do international students face?

For international students, a dual study programme not least provides an opportunity to enter the German labour market. Specialists are in demand in Germany. At the same time, this form of study involves some challenges: As there are currently only a small number of English-language programmes, good proficiency in German is an important prerequisite for applying for a study place. Depending on your country of origin, the legal requirements surrounding work permits may also be a significant issue. Preparing for a dual study programme is therefore especially time-consuming.

Where can I find more information about dual study programmes?

The AusbildungPlus database contains 56,000 training opportunities in companies, including dual study programmes and additional qualifications. These courses are offered mainly by universities of applied sciences, but also by universities of cooperative education and private and state higher education institutions. More information and a list of degree programmes can be found on the website of the German Rectors' Conference.