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Medical studies: The State Examination in six years

Medical training programmes in Germany take six years to complete and conclude with the State Examination. The training is not divided into bachelor’s and master’s degree programmes. To succeed you should have excellent German language skills and be able to manage stress because studying Medicine is very time-consuming.

by the Editors

Young doctors in the operating room © Wenzel/DAAD
Young doctors in the operating room . © Wenzel/DAAD

Structure

Medical training in Human Medicine takes at least six years and three months in Germany. It concludes with the State Examination. Medical training is not divided into bachelor’s and master’s programmes (although alternative programmes in the medical field do exist as bachelor’s and master’s programmes). Consequently, medical training programmes in Germany differ from those offered in other European countries. Their structure is standardised in accordance with the German medical licensure law (ÄAppO).

Find medical training programmes in Human Medicine in our degree programme database.

The first stage of training (“pre-clinical phase”) is four semesters long and introduces students to the fundamentals of natural scientific and medical study. This stage concludes with the first medical licensing examination.

This is followed by the main phase of study (six semesters) comprised of the core subjects, taught in lectures, practical courses, block internships and seminars.

The main phase of study is followed by a “practical year” (PY), a one-year clinical training phase in which students are introduced to the practical aspects of surgery, internal medicine and an elective subject. This phase provides on-the-job experience to prepare you for your future profession.

Your medical training concludes with the “State Examination”, a nationally standardised second medical licensing examination. After taking and passing the examination, you can apply for your medical license, called the “Approbation” in German, and begin working as a certified MD.

Later on, you might decide to continue your education to become a “medical specialist”, which, depending on the subject of specialisation, can take another five to six years. The advanced training programme concludes with the “specialist examination”.

Requirements

Good German skills are essential. Otherwise you would have difficulty following the lectures in German or conversing with German patients during the practical phase. You will have to pass a language examination to demonstrate that you have achieved the required level of German language proficiency.

You will also need to know English as much of the specialist literature is written in English. Some background in Latin is helpful, but not required. Medicine is a very popular course of study in Germany. That's why good grades are an important prerequisite for admission. Medical training programmes are extremely time-consuming and examination-intensive. This means that you will sometimes find yourself pushed to your personal limits.

If you are interested in studying Medicine, you should have extensive secondary-school knowledge of Biology, Chemistry and Physics. An understanding of medical-scientific fundamentals, good spatial perception, and a penchant for observation and communication are additional qualities which can be very important as well.

Admission

Medical school admissions are centrally coordinated in Germany. There is a centrally restricted admissions policy (called a national “Numerus clausus” or “central NC”), because Medicine is one of those subjects for which there are more applicants than study places available. The admissions process is conducted by the Stiftung für Hochschulzulassung (Foundation for University Admissions).

More information on application procedures

We recommend contacting the university of your choice well in advance (if possible, a year before you hope to begin your studies in Germany). This lead-up time will allow you to gather all the necessary information about admission requirements, the admission procedures and submission deadlines. When you contact a university, your first address should also be the International Office.

Career prospects

Doctors are in high demand on the labour market. Rural areas, in particular, are in dire need of general practitioners. You can read more about the career opportunities for doctors on the website studienwahl.de.

Starting salaries for doctors are very good. There are, however, large discrepancies within the profession.