Germany’s dual education system

More than an apprenticeship

Germany’s dual education system

Among internationals, it seems to be more or less unknown that in Germany there is the opportunity to combine working and studying at the same time. Their dual education system is not the same as the internationally more common apprenticeship programs and provides an attractive alternative to the traditional academic path.

Most people think about more practical vocations, like mechanics for example, when they hear dual education. But in Germany the programs offer a bigger variety than you are probably used to from your home country. Trainees or students receive an academic or theoretical education on top of practical work experience.

Let’s have a look at the three different options.

Dual Vocational Training

Dual Vocational education and training (short VET) has a long standing tradition in Germany and the gained certificate is nationally recognized both by the economy and society. This form of education is positioned between general education and the labour market and gives (usually) young people an alternative to university studies.

As a trainee, your education will be divided between classes at a vocational school (Berufsschule) and the respective company (the Ausbildungsbetrieb). The VET duration depends on the individual profession, but is usually between 2 and 3,5 years, after which around two thirds of the graduates continue to work for their Ausbildungsbetrieb.

If you are considering VET in Germany, have a look at this video  to find out more info.

Dual Studies

Just like VET, dual studies combine theoretical training with practical work experience at a company of choice. The difference is that the theoretical training takes place at a university, academy or university of applied science (Fachhochschule) and you will receive a university degree upon graduation.

The employment and/or training element is an integral part of the course, preparing the student perfectly for a position in the chosen partner company and allowing a smooth transition into working life.

Like a Bachelor degree, the dual study programme usually takes three years and the student changes every 12 weeks between the university and training company.

Dual studies are mostly offered for economic subjects and can be a great alternative to the traditional academic education, both for your curriculum and bank account:

  • Upon graduation, dual students will already have gained valuable work experience, making them attractive candidates in the job market
  • Many companies pay either part of the tuition fee, some even the full amount
  • In some cases even the full tuition fee, plus salary will be covered
  • 90% of the graduates will be offered a position at the respective company

If dual studies seem appealing and you are wondering where in Germany to go, read this article.

Part-time Studies

Although part-time studies are not actually part of the traditional dual education system, they are important to mention. Part-time study programs are designed to accompany a full time work schedule and can be a good option for young professionals who would either like to change career paths or continue their education without having to quit their current job.

If you are considering doing a part-time masters for example, bear in mind that this option requires a lot of self discipline, since you will have to study after working hours and on weekends.

Further reading

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