For students with a clear idea of what they want to do after graduation, universities of applied science may be the right fit. These practical universities focus on preparing students for specific career tracks.
Universities of applied science
The first of Germany's more than 160 universities of applied science (German: "Fachhochschule" or FH) were founded around 30 years ago. Like the classical universities, they generally offer Bachelor's or Master's degrees.
These schools differ from universities by focusing more heavily on teaching rather than research and by offering degrees tailored to specific jobs and industries. Universities of applied science may offer degrees in anything from pharmaceutical chemistry to art restoration and conservation. They're also a good place to check when looking for degrees offered in English.
The professors at these institutions have generally accumulated years of professional experience in their fields. They know the conditions in their respective industries well, and their students profit from this knowledge when seeking jobs after graduation. One degree most universities of applied science don't offer, however, is the doctorate. Students interested in doing a PhD must generally enroll at a classical university.
There are also universities of applied science associated with Germany's Evangelical and Catholic churches. These institutions serve the churches' needs by training future priests and pastors, but many also offer other degrees in fields like social work or health care. Some church-based universities attract so many more applicants than they can accommodate that they've introduced their own application process involving interviews or other extra steps.
Integrating study with work
For those interested in an even more practically oriented approach to studying, a "Berufsakademie" (career academy) could be the answer. Such state-accredited academies exist in the states of Berlin, Baden-Wuerttemberg, Saxony and Thuringia, while a few private institutions offer similar programs elsewhere in Germany.
At these schools, students earn a Bachelor's degree in three years while working with a partner company for the duration of their studies. The theoretical and practical aspects of their education alternate in regular intervals, and students earn a small salary from their company throughout the degree.
Author: Claudia Unseld, Gaby Reucher (gsw)
Editor: Kate Bowen