Germany has become one of the world’s top destinations for international students, with over 350,000 international students enrolled in the country, including over 50,000 graduate students. What draws students to Germany? Aside from having low tuition costs and quality universities, Germany has one of the world’s strongest economies. Students have the opportunity to apply for work in the European job market, potentially leading to permanent residency in Europe.
Even if you don’t speak German, that’s OK. While learning the language is a must if you hope to find work in the country, more and more German universities offer English-language courses. If you’re looking for an affordable MBA program in Europe, Germany is a great option.
Advantages of Seeking an MBA in Germany
Germany’s business schools aren’t as well known as those in France and the U.K., but they still rank very highly compared to other European schools. Germany has nearly 100 MBA programs to choose from, with 7 of its schools ranking among the top 95 in Europe.
Aside from that, there are plenty of other reasons to choose Germany for your MBA. Full-time students can work up to 120 full days per year on a student visa, and you’ll be eligible to stay in the country for 18 months after you graduate to look for work. This is less restrictive than many other countries where you might study for an MBA, including the U.S. and Canada.
You’ll also have the chance to explore Germany’s cultural heritage, including famous cities like Berlin, Hamburg, and Frankfurt — and of course, the chance to practice your German.
Cost of MBA Education in Germany
Germany is known for its low-cost, high-quality education. In 2014, the country made it free to get an undergraduate degree at any of its public universities — even for international students, and even if you don’t speak German! Unfortunately, that doesn’t extend to MBA degrees, but tuition is still much cheaper than many comparable programs in other countries.
For example, EMST Berlin charges €43,500 in tuition for its 1-year MBA program, compared to the €85,500 it costs to get an MBA at INSEAD in France. Of course, this doesn’t include living expenses, which EMST Berlin estimates will be around €1,000 to €1,500 per month.
Still, Berlin is known as Western Europe’s most affordable capital city, much cheaper than both London and Paris, with an average rent of around €400 per month for a single room. Other cities will be even cheaper, so do your research when deciding where in Germany to study. You’ll also have to pay for health insurance, which is mandatory for students, Internet and phone bills, and transportation costs, which aren’t included in your tuition.
If those numbers still sound high to you, don’t worry: you may be able to get help through one of Germany’s very generous scholarship programs. Visit the German Student Exchange Service (DAAD) website to see whether you qualify for any scholarships for international students. You may also be able to apply for scholarships offered directly by your MBA program.
Quality of Life
When it comes to quality of life, Germany regularly ranks as one of the top 10 countries in the world, according to the U.S. News & World Report. With over 82 million residents, it’s the most populous country in the region, and is the 4th largest economy in the world, after China, Japan, and the U.S. Its currency is the Euro, along with the rest of the European Union.
Five Germany cities — Hamburg, Berlin, Munich, Frankfurt, and Dusseldorf — made it onto the Economist’s list of the most livable cities in the world. Germany is known for having extensive public transportation options, including high-speed trains and plenty of bike lanes. It also has a temperate climate with mild summers and winters compared to other parts of Europe.
Germany’s strong economy and low unemployment rates make it a great option for students. Although applying for visas and residence permits can be a bureaucratic process, Germany is more welcoming to immigrants than many European countries and is actively seeking skilled workers to contribute to its economy.
In addition to all of these benefits, Germany has universal healthcare, a low crime rate, and an average work week of 35 hours, with 24 days of paid vacation. Your experience will depend on which city you choose to move to, but no matter where in the country you end up, you’ll find a vibrant mix of art, business, and culture from all over the world.
Best German Business Schools
If you’re considering going to Germany to get an MBA, then you’ll want to do some research to find out which program is right for you. Do you want to live in a major capital city like Berlin, or in a smaller city with a lower cost of living? Do you plan to learn German and look for work in the country when you graduate? Or do you want to return home or look for work elsewhere?
Whichever program you choose, make sure that it’s internationally accredited and is a good fit for your career goals. We’ve picked out some of the best German business schools from the QS Global MBA Rankings 2019 to give you a head start in your search.
The European School of Management and Technology (ESMT) is a triple-accredited business school based in Berlin. It offers a one-year MBA program and an Executive MBA, as well as pre- and post-MBA options, such as a coding bootcamp and a German language class.
In addition to the core curriculum, students choose from three specialized tracks: Managerial Analytics, Strategic Leadership, and Innovation & Entrepreneurship. You’ll also have the option to take part in international learning programs, including the Global Virtual Team and the Global Network Week, an exchange program at one of 13 international universities.
ESMT reports that 85% of graduates find work within 3 months of graduation. They also offer a Responsible Leaders Fellowship, which covers your travel and living costs for up to 6 months after graduation while you work pro bono in a developing country.
Mannheim Business School (MBS)
Mannheim Business School is another triple-accredited institution that offers several options for MBA students, including full- and part-time programs and an Executive MBA. MBS focuses on business research and hands-on learning, including “big data” analysis with SAP University Alliances. There are also several scholarships available for international students.
Students work in Multi-Competence Teams to draw skills from different educational and cultural backgrounds. In addition to a Social Class Project in the Mannheim region, you can extend your program by three months to take part in an international exchange program or an internship.
Applicants with 8 years of work experience can consider the Executive MBA programs, which include partnerships with ESSEC in Paris and Tongji University in Shanghai.
Otto Beisheim Graduate School of Management at WHU
The Otto Beisheim Graduate School of Management is located in Dusseldorf and offers a full- and part-time MBA program. Tuition for the full-time program is €39,000 and includes German lessons, accommodation for travel modules, and public transportation in the region. Several scholarships are available, and you can get up to a €5,000 discount by applying early.
The curriculum focuses on group learning and personal development, and you’ll also participate in three week-long international modules in the U.S., India, and China.
Frankfurt School of Finance and Management
The Frankfurt School of Finance and Management offers four MBA options: full-time, part-time, and executive, as well as a part-time MBA in International Healthcare Management. You’ll have the option to enroll in several pre-courses based on the case study method used by Harvard Business School, as well as a Leadership Camp to introduce you to your fellow students.
The full-time course also includes a weeklong study abroad program at SDA Bocconi in Milan, Italy, where you’ll learn about multicultural communication and visit the Ferrari factory.
The eligibility requirements for an MBA in Germany depend on which program you’re applying for. For example, most MBA programs require you to take the GMAT, but some may waive that requirement if you have sufficient work experience. You’ll typically need more work experience to apply for an Executive MBA program than for a standard MBA program.
Since many programs are taught in English, you may need to demonstrate English-language proficiency, but German skills are not usually required.
The basic requirements for the Frankfurt School of Finance and Management are as follows:
- A bachelor’s degree
- A TOEFL score of 90 or an IELTS score of 7.0
- 3 years of work experience
- A GMAT or GRE score (average 550)
In addition to the requirements for your MBA program, you’ll need to include the following when applying for a student visa in Germany:
- A valid passport
- Biometric photos
- A CV and transcript of prior education
- A letter of admission from your MBA program
- Proof of language proficiency (English or German)
- Proof of funds to support yourself (usually in the form of a blocked account)
- Student health insurance
As mentioned early, German processing centers can be bureaucratic, so make sure to start the process early so you don’t have any delays. You may need to visit a local consulate to apply.
How to Apply
Start by researching the programs that you’re interested in applying for and make a note of any special requirements. If you can, visit them in person or call up the admissions department with any questions. Each program will have its own application deadline, admissions requirements, and even scholarships, so be sure to research each one separately to find out.
Then, make a list of all of the paperwork you’ll need for your application. If you haven’t already, you’ll need to schedule a time to take (and study for) the GMAT and TOEFL exams. You’ll also need to write a Statement of Purpose and get a Letter of Recommendation from a supervisor.
Once you have all of your documents in order, you can submit your application online and pay the application fee. Be prepared to arrange for an interview with the admissions department in person or online before they make a decision on your application.
While you wait to hear back from the schools you’ve applied to, start gathering the material for your visa application. Remember, you’ll need to put enough funds to cover your living expenses into a blocked bank account and most likely visit a German consulate for an interview. You can apply for an applicant visa while waiting for the school to confirm your enrollment.
Business Opportunities After You Graduate
Getting an MBA degree in Germany can open up plenty of job opportunities, but you’ll need to be strategic about your career path. For example, if you plan to look for work in Germany after you graduate, take advantage of the German lessons that most MBA programs offer. You don’t need to speak German to get your degree, but you’ll find it hard to get a job in Germany if you don’t.
Also, take a close look at the employment statistics for each school that you’re interested in. Do graduates of that program find work in the industry or location you plan to work in? For example, 77% of MBA graduates from the Frankfurt School of Finance and Management end up working in Germany, while 10% find work in other European countries.
One of the benefits of getting a degree in Germany is that you can extend your residence permit after you graduate. So even if you don’t find a job right away, you’ll have 18 months to look for a job. Once you have an offer of employment, you may be eligible for a long-term visa and a Blue Card that allows you to work anywhere in the European Union.
There are plenty of options available to you once you get your MBA degree, and Germany is a popular choice for a reason. But no matter where you study, you’ll have the best results if you choose a program that closely matches your prior experience and career goals.