Study Chemistry in Germany

The development of the European Community as a very strong economic and scientific area is steadily gaining momentum. Major companies are operating Europe-wide if not on a global scale. Therefore, the mobility of students and scientists between the individual European countries and also between countries all over the world is becoming more and more important.

Study Chemistry in Germany
Studying Chemistry Abroad
Europe is heading for a major change in its higher education system with the goal of an increased harmonization of the various national systems. In 1999 the Bologna Declaration signed by 29 ministers of education of European countries was a very important signal for a concerted action to create a European Higher Education Area. The idea is to encourage students at both undergraduate and graduate levels to spend some time at universities outside their home country. The European Credit Transfer System (ECTS) forms the “backbone” of the new education system and ensures that periods of study abroad are being recognized by the home university. According to the Bologna process Bachelor qualifications will carry between 180 and 240 credits and Master courses anywhere between 60 and 120.

The Gesellschaft Deutscher Chemiker (German Chemical Society) sees an increasing number of foreign chemistry students, graduates and postdocs coming for some part of their education to German universities. And the German universities are well prepared to welcome international students: Many of them offer chemistry courses in English and Master or PhD theses can usually be submitted also in English. In addition, there are no or only very low tuition fees at Germany's universities and also the living costs are reasonable. Students who do not have the necessary financial means to pay for subsistence and studies can apply for a scholarship, e.g., from the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD). DAAD is offering several programs for scholarships for students from abroad studying at a German university. (http://www.daad.de/en/index.html)

More than 50 chemistry departments at German universities and 25 departments for chemical engineering at universities of applied science (called "Fachhochschule" in German) are offering a broad range of chemistry related courses. About 26,000 chemistry students – undergraduates, graduates and PhD students - are enrolled at universities and about 5,000 are studying at a university of applied science in Germany, about 14% of these are foreigners. The German Rector’s Conference database with information on all German higher education institutions, their degree programs, international cooperation agreements and more can be found at www.higher-education-compass.de. In addition, the Higher Education Compass contains direct links to the institutions’ own websites.

For graduates in chemistry the chemical industry is the main employer offering interesting career opportunities. The German chemical industry is the largest within the European Union and accounts for 25% of the total turnover of the chemistry sector in Europe. At a global scale it is the third largest chemical industry after the U.S. and Japan and employs close to 450,000 people in Germany. But also other industries are offering interesting positions for chemists. However, for a research position in industry or a publicly funded research center the candidate usually is expected to have a PhD degree and hence more than 90% of the current chemistry graduates in Germany leave university with a doctoral degree. Typical starting salaries for PhD chemists in industry are in the order of 50,000 Euro.

During their education chemistry students should become prepared to cope with the international situation of our industries, and this is probably done best by having spent some time abroad.

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