Is Studying Master’s or Bachelor’s degree in Germany hard?
On one hand passing exams in Master’s (MSc./MBA) or Bachelor’s degree subjects in Germany is not so hard, but on the other hand, getting a good grade can be difficult. Unlike in some countries where you can get a good score on an exam by just remembering the textbook, in Germany, one needs to understand the course material in depth to score well. If you are okay working hard and spending time understanding each course in depth (which will cut into your time for partying, enjoying summer, etc. and/or make you study duration longer than expected), then you can get top grades in Germany. So is what are the other factors that make studying in Germany hard:
If your course is in German, then passing an exam may depend more on your German proficiency than the actual difficulty of the exam. The language barrier may also make it difficult to interact with and get help from non-English speaking batch mates.
Despite the education is free, the cost of living is high in Germany. If you don’t come from a wealthy family or have no scholarship, you will have to find a part-time job to support your education. This will cost time and energy that can otherwise be dedicated to studying. However, many employers are very flexible with students and they often have no problem if you take a week or two off during your exam time. Allowing you to give more time to study.
Most courses (with exception of Thesis, guided research, and seminars) are solely graded on basis exams. There is no project work, exercises, presentation, etc contributing towards your grade. Oral Exams (esp. in the German language): Many exams, esp. in Master’s courses, are oral. For international students, especially those which have recently arrived in the country, and are not used to oral exams back home, may struggle much more than if they were doing a written exam.
The lack of standardization of questions can lead to situations which may be perceived as unfair.
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Students have to organize their own studies. There is no one to hold your hand and lead you through the study course. The burden of learning is on students and not the university. Also, the number of Professors/lecturers to students is very low.
Bureaucracy and Exam-office (pruefungsamt)
Be it registering for an exam or canceling an exam, everything has to be handed to the exam-office in the paper following strict deadlines. No emails or online portals (But this is slowly improving. Some universities already have online portals).
If you miss a deadline or don’t have the proper paperwork you may fail an exam without even writing it or may be disallowed from writing the exam.
Also, living in Germany requires doing a lot of paper…. Contracts (and remembering to cancel/renew them on time) for internet, apartment, phone, etc., insurance paperwork, city registration, etc. They take time valuable time and energy (and money in case if something goes wrong), that could have been dedicated to studying.
Many university libraries are closed on Sunday and public holidays and close by 22:00 on other days (slightly longer in larger universities). But this is also slowly improving. During exam times they now have longer opening hours.
For those who find studying at home difficult, this can be a major issue.
In case of bachelor’s or MSc., it takes a semester or two longer for many students to finish their coursework then advertised by the university. This can be an issue if you have restricted funding.
By stating these issues I don’t mean to say that the universities in Germany are bad. Germany has very high standard universities (and professors), which offer high-quality education. The above are only some things I feel one should be aware of before deciding to study in Germany.
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