A trend towards internationalisation
von Allwörden / DAAD
Last update: September 2017
The global economy needs specialists with an international perspective. Cosmopolitan, practical experiences make it easier for graduates from economics and social sciences to enter the job market. A law degree course is interesting for international students who wish to work with the German legal system. They are in demand in their home countries in positions such as experts at international law firms.
Today, nearly every sector from healthcare to cultural management requires economic expertise. There are a corresponding number of professional opportunities for economists. They can be found everywhere – as operations managers in municipal enterprises or human resources departments in large companies, in controlling or sales and marketing, as freelance consultants and as departmental managers or executives in medium-sized companies. Interdisciplinary degree courses such as sports economics, transport management or healthcare and social management prepare students for employment in the corresponding sectors.
Degree courses in the field of banking and finance focus on the framework conditions for global markets and financial market structures. Students acquire knowledge in both the financial and banking sectors. Quantitative methods such as mathematical and statistical processes represent a significant proportion of the course and prepare students for the internationally networked world of business.
International expertise for world market leaders is sought after
Education in traditional degree courses at German universities is wide-ranging: business administration focuses on conditions, changes and processes within companies, while economics attempts to understand processes within the economy and the laws that govern them. Stage I studies for the two subjects are often identical at German universities. Although many English-language courses are offered, students should not neglect their German language skills if they are to make the most of their opportunities with German companies.
It is not just global players such as BMW and Siemens who have been globally networked for many years; SMEs (Small and Medium-sized Enterprises) are also looking for employees with relevant international experience. Many German middle-sized companies are world leaders in their specialist fields. This development is also reflected in German economics faculties: around ten percent of students now choose international business administration/management – twice as many as choose economics.
People and society are influenced by the economy just as they are influenced by politics and culture. Degree courses in the social sciences, such as sociology and political sciences, therefore have an interdisciplinary structure. They also regularly touch on aspects of psychology, education science, economics, cultural/social anthropology and history.
Find a focus as soon as possible
Students should have a good understanding of mathematics as statistics is an important basic subject for empirical research in social science degree courses. Methodological skills are among the most important abilities in this field.
The outlook in terms of employment is not as clear as for subjects such as medicine or natural sciences. Social scientists are, however, employed in a number of different positions: they work in market and opinion research, for political parties, associations and foundations, as well as in personnel management, corporate planning and marketing. Students should therefore find a focus as soon as possible and specialise (via work placements or subsidiary subjects) during the course.
In the first semesters, students primarily address the three main aspects of the German legal system: civil law, criminal law and public law. They later select an additional subject. Although the standard period of study for a law degree course in Germany is eight to ten semesters, many students plan to take longer. There are many complicated texts to read, and written work must be formulated precisely.
Between the Erste und Zweite Juristische Staatsprüfungen [First and Second State Law Examinations], prospective lawyers complete a two-year Referendariat (judicial service training) at a court, a public prosecutor’s office or a public authority. Only those who pass both state examinations can work as a lawyer, judge or public prosecutor in Germany. More than forty percent of lawyers in Germany take up employment in private enterprises. They work as legal advisors or in-house lawyers, providing permanent legal assistance for a company; they may also work as actuaries, looking at the legal environment in the insurance sector, or as political lobbyists.
German law for international students
Primarily universities of applied sciences, but also some traditional universities, offer law degree courses that end with a Bachelor (LL.B) or Master (LL.M). Most combine content from the fields of both law and business administration. Commercial law students are very much in demand in Germany by associations, administration and management consultancy firms.
Some universities in Germany offer postgraduate courses that teach basic and specialist knowledge of German law in two semesters. They are particularly interesting for international students who have already completed a law degree course. Master's courses can prepare students for employment with an international law firm in their home country.