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What do veterinarians, agricultural scientists, silvologists and nutritional scientists have in common? They all need a strong background in the basic sciences. Physics, biology and chemistry play a large role in all of the above mentioned degree courses.
Veterinary medicine is among the most popular courses of study in Germany. As in human medicine, it is not easy to be admitted to a university. You need a very good grade point average, because there is an admission restriction (called the numerus clausus, or NC) for the subject nationwide. Veterinarian programmes are limited because there are more applications than university places. Some of the admissions in NC subjects are allocated through the Stiftung für Hochschulzulassung or Foundation for University Admissions, and some individual institutions.
If you decide to study out of love for animals, you should know that working in a veterinary clinic or a large animal practice can be physically demanding and strenuous. Weekend and night shifts are the rule. An internship can help you get a realistic picture of the profession. Many veterinarians are needed, especially in livestock husbandry. So you should be prepared to work in a rural community.
The study of veterinary medicine in Germany takes almost six years. It begins with a theoretical phase of eight semesters at a university. In this phase you will begin to gain practical experience, including in the treatment of live animals. Practical experience is also compulsory in food inspection, in abattoirs, and in the public veterinary sector. After an internship in a practice or clinic, you finish your studies in veterinary medicine with the state examination.
Many graduates then open their own practice. Every other veterinarian in Germany is self-employed. Others work as employees in practices and veterinary clinics, in health control, in pharmaceutical companies, or in management and supervision of the livestock trade and meat production.
The future of agriculture and questions about nutrition are vital for people around the world. Using valuable resources responsibly is one of the world’s greatest challenges. This is reflected in the wide range of courses at German universities and colleges. The spectrum ranges from agro ecology to resource economics. Suppose that you are particularly interested in renewable raw materials and biological sources of energy. In relevant degree programs, you investigate the entire production chain, from the farmer to the consumer. You will learn to evaluate this process and develop sustainable strategies for the production and conversion of raw material and energy crops into the respective products.
Over 200 agricultural and forest science courses at German universities and colleges deal with the design, use and development of rural regions.
There are more than 60 degree programmes in nutrition science in Germany. The spectrum ranges from nutrition in developing countries, to the nutritional and physiological evaluation of food, to nutritional and counselling consumers. A distinction is made between nutritional sciences, trophology and ecotrophology, which is a branch of natural science nearly unique to Germany that deals with everyday household management, nutrition and economic practices.
Findings from many different fields flow into the nutritional sciences, including biomedicine as well as public health and food science. That’s why these sciences are becoming more and more important for healthcare. Nutritionists deal with the question of how foods influence and control human metabolism. They research diseases such as diabetes or cancer, and are in demand when it comes to addressing health policy challenges with nutritional research.
The job opportunities are diverse. After studying nutrition sciences, you can work in diet therapy and nutritional counselling, for example, or in product development, in the chemical industry or in market research. Programmes in the English language also prepare you specifically for a job in the international food industry. Graduates are also in demand in agricultural management, in market and consumer research, development aid work or in environmental policy.
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