Five Reasons to Study Abroad in Germany

by Henry van Wagenberg

In 2012, Germany was the 11th most popular nation for Americans studying abroad. So what is so great about study abroad in Germany? And why should you consider it over other more popular European locations?

Below are five reasons to consider studying in das land der dichter und denker (the country of poets and thinkers).

The baroque Old Town in Heidelberg, Germany.
The baroque Old Town in Heidelberg, Germany. Photo by Troy Peden

Business Is Booming

If you're selecting a place to study international business, you might want to consider the following: Germany is the largest economy in Europe and the 3rd largest exporter in the world, after China and the United States. The German economy is closely integrated into global trade, with important world brands like Mercedes-Benz, Siemens, Bayer, and BMW. Germany’s capital city Berlin, previously known for being “sexy and poor,” has emerged as a hub for internet start-ups, and in recent months European magazines have christened it the Silicon Valley of Europe.

Germany’s economic importance extends beyond Europe to fast-growing Asia. With a record 240,000 sales in January 2013, Volkswagen is the best-selling car maker in China. Plus, many of the sophisticated machine tools used in factories in Asia are designed and made in Germany. 

“When I was looking at international internships, Germany seemed to be the hub of where big businesses were hiring international students,” says Tonya Tooley, an undergraduate business student at Colorado State University. “I noticed that American companies like Nike and Apple had their European headquarters in German cities like Berlin.” 

Studying abroad in Germany will build your knowledge of German culture and language, and relationships in German professional networks. This will benefit you greatly if you’re thinking about a career in business. 

The Brandenburg Gate, Berlin Germany

The Brandenburg Gate

A Cultural Cornucopia

Germany is famous for its 19th-century achievements in philosophy, literature, science and music — by illuminati such as Beethoven, Goethe, Heisenberg, and Kant. If you are interested in Western culture, Germany is at the heart of European intellectual history. Students majoring in Classics, or fields related to antiquity, would benefit from studying abroad in Germany, as many of the most important modern scholars of the ancient Greek and Roman world wrote in German. It is still considered an important language for those fields. As Ludwig van Beethoven, one of Germany’s greatest cultural figures, once said: “I have never written for reputation or honor. What I have in my heart must come out, that is the reason I compose.”

Prime Real Estate In Europe

If part of your interest in studying abroad includes backpacking around Europe, Germany is a great country to pick for your home base. It is at the geographic heart of the European continent. If you study there, you'll be well-positioned to travel. France, the Czech Republic, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Belgium, Poland and Austria all border Germany. Its excellent rail network also makes it easy to visit Germany’s European neighbors.

Strengthening Your STEM Skills

Students earning degrees in the STEM fields (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) often find it difficult to study abroad because of the challenge of fulfilling their credit requirements. The American Chemical Society (ASA), the world’s largest scientific society, recommends studying abroad in Germany for a number of STEM degrees and study abroad can be extremely important for STEM majors

Thanks to its advanced, world-class scientific community and education programs, Germany is one of the few countries where you might have the opportunity to study abroad as a STEM student and earn credits that will apply to your major. Boston University’s engineering program in Dresden is a great example of a program that enables American STEM students to earn credit while studying abroad.

Heidelberg, Germany

The view of Heidelberg

Germany Loves Study Abroad

Unlike countries that take their foreign students for granted, Germany is known for actively reaching out to international students to entice them to study abroad in Germany. Reflecting the emphasis that Germany places on international exchanges, 33 percent of German students go abroad for a semester or year — one of the highest student percentages in the world. 

Partly because of its place in the world economy, German educational institutions have long understood the importance of this kind of cultural outreach. The DAAD (Deutscher Akademischer Austauschdienst, otherwise known as the German Academic Exchange Service) is a German organization that reaches out to students around the world. It offers competitive, generous scholarships to international students planning to study abroad in Germany.

Want even more resources on how to become an international student in Germany? Check out or the DAAD.