Law, Economics and Social Sciences

A cosmopolitan outlook and international experience will make it much easier for you to begin your career as a graduate of an economics or social science degree. On the other hand, studying law in Germany is particularly useful if you want in-depth knowledge of the German legal system. This makes you attractive for the German job market, and your expertise here increases your chances of working for international law firms in other countries.

Short & Sweet

Business administration, known as BWL (short for Betriebswirtschaftslehre) in Germany, deals with companies, while economics, abbreviated in German as VWL (for Volkswirschaftslehre), deals with the production, consumption and transfer of wealth that affects society as a whole.

The social sciences are dedicated to all the factors that affect us as people and society.

And if you choose law, you can work in the private sector in addition to the courtroom.


Training at German institutes of higher education is broadly based in these traditional studies. Business administration deals with the conditions, changes and processes in companies. Economics, in turn, deals with issues covering the entire social spectrum and tries to understand the relevant processes and relationships. The basic studies for both majors are often very similar. You can also choose one of the many English-language courses. But if you wish to work in a German company at some point in the future, it is important that you also learn the German language.

There is great demand for economists

From the health industry to cultural management, there are few industries today that can do without economic expertise. The professional opportunities for economists are very diverse as a result. You can find openings nearly everywhere, in managerial positions in public companies as well as in the human resources departments of large companies, in controlling, sales, in advisory and consulting, and on the board of directors of corporations and medium-sized companies. Degree programs such as sports economics, transport management, or management in the health and social sector, combine economic know-how with sector-specific classes. They prepare you specifically for a career in the specialty areas.

Global players like carmaker BMW or engineering giant Siemens are world-famous. In Germany, however, there are also many medium-sized companies that are global leaders with their markets. Last but not least, small and medium-sized companies are looking for well-trained economists with international experience. The great demand is reflected in colleges and universities. Some ten percent of students in Germany now opt for the subject of international business administration/management. That’s twice as many as for traditional economics.

Banking and finance courses are also very popular. Here you will learn how global markets, the banking business and fluctuating financial markets work. It is important that you like to deal with mathematical and statistical analysis, because they are an essential part of the course.

Social sciences

What influences people and the societies they live in? The economy, for one, but also culture and politics. In social science majors such as sociology and political science, you will deal with many different disciplines at once. There are interfaces with psychology and education as well as with economics, ethnology and history.


Set priorities: Get your bearings as early as possible

Empirical research is an important part of social science studies. Surveys, observations or measurements are used to collect testimonials or opinions that are then evaluated. You need a good foundation in mathematics, because statistics are one of the basic subjects. In this major, you will learn to obtain information, structure it, and present it. This is one of the essential skills that is sought after by employers.

In contrast to other subjects, such as medicine or natural sciences, the job description for a sociologist is seldom clearly defined. Still, there are many job opportunities. Social scientists work in market and opinion research, for political parties, associations, foundations and clubs. Human resources, corporate planning and marketing departments also hire social scientists. You should inform yourself as early as possible about the job market, and adjust your studies to reflect your career interests in the choice of internships and additional coursework.


Legal studies

Civil law, criminal law and public law are the three main areas of the German legal system, and you will mostly study them in the first semesters of your studies. Later you choose another subject, like business law. The standard period of study for a law degree in Germany is eight to ten semesters, but it makes sense to plan to take a little more time. You have to read a lot of complicated texts and formulate them very precisely in writing, and it may be a bigger challenge than you think.

Between the first and second state legal examinations, you will complete a two-year legal traineeship. This is a practical phase with five or six different jobs, for example at a court, with civil authorities or in a lawyers‘ office. Only those who have passed both state examinations can work as a lawyer, as a judge or as a public prosecutor in Germany. However, there are also many other career options. More than 40 percent of all law degree holders in Germany take a job in the private and semi-private sector as legal advisors, as in-house counsels in a company, as actuaries in the insurance industry, or even in politics.


Combining legal and business courses

Technical colleges, but also some universities, offer law courses that lead to a bachelor’s or master’s degree. Most of them combine legal and business course material. Business lawyers are in great demand in Germany, in professional associations, public administrations or in management consultancies.

Have you already completed a law degree but are interested in the intricacies of German law? Then a postgraduate course might be what you are looking for. Some universities in Germany offer master’s courses that teach the basics and specialist knowledge of the German legal system in two semesters. They can help prepare you for careers in your native country with an international law firm.

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