Law, Economics and Social Sciences: The value of internationalisation

Cosmopolitan, international experience makes it easier for graduates from economics or social sciences to enter the job market. Studying law in Germany, on the other hand, is especially interesting if you want to become thoroughly familiar with the German legal system. This means you will not only be interesting to German employers: But your expertise will also increase your chances with international law firms in other countries.

by the Editors

Law students in front of the building of the Higher Regional Court © Hagenguth/DAAD
Law students in front of the building of the Higher Regional Court . © Hagenguth/DAAD

Education in traditional degree courses at German universities is wide-ranging: business studies (BWL) deal with the conditions, changes and processes within companies. Economics (VWL), on the other hand, deals with economic issues across the entire social spectrum and attempts to understand the relevant processes and connections. Stage I studies for both subjects are often very similar at German universities.  You can also choose one of the many English-language courses on offer. One disadvantage could be that you will not learn such good German if you study in English. This is important if you want to work for a Germany company later on.

Economic expertise is in great demand

Today, nearly every sector from healthcare to cultural management requires economic expertise. There are a corresponding number of professional opportunities for economists. They can be found everywhere – as operations managers in municipal enterprises or human resources departments in large companies, in controlling or sales and marketing, as freelance consultants and as departmental managers or executives in medium-sized companies. Courses of study such as sports economics, transport management or management in healthcare and social management combine economic expertise with specific industry knowledge and prepare you to work in relevant areas in a targeted manner.

Everyone around the world is familiar with global players such as BMW or Siemens. In Germany, however, there are many middle-sized companies that are world leaders in their specialist fields. Last but not least, small and medium-sized companies are looking for well-trained economists with international experience. The extent of the need is reflected at the universities: around ten percent of students in Germany now choose international business administration/management – twice as many as choose economics.

Courses in banking and finance are also very popular. Here, you will learn how internationally networked markets, banking and the constantly changing financial markets operate. Very important: you should be happy using mathematical and statistical methods, because they are an integral part of the course.

Social sciences

What influences people and societies? Economics of course, but also culture and politics. Degree programmes in social sciences such as sociology and politics enable you to conduct multidisciplinary study across many different disciplines. There are points of contact with psychology and educational theory as well as with economics, anthropology and history.

Find a focus as soon as possible

Empirical research is an important component of social science studies. Survey interviews, observations or measurements are used to collect statements which are then evaluated. Here, too, a grasp of mathematics is important, because statistics is one of the core subjects. In this discipline, you learn how to gather, structure and present information. This is one of the essential qualifications sought by employers.

This is important, because the employment outlook for sociologists is not as clear cut as for subjects such as medicine or the natural sciences. There are, however, plenty of job opportunities: social scientists work in market and opinion research, for political parties, associations and foundations, as well as in personnel management, corporate planning and marketing. You should therefore find a focus as early as possible and specialise (via work placements or subsidiary subjects) during the course.


In the first semesters, you will primarily address the three main aspects of the German legal system: civil law, criminal law and public law. Later, you choose another subject, such as business law. Although the standard period of study for a law degree course in Germany is eight to ten semesters, you should always plan for somewhat longer. You will have to read many complicated texts and express yourself in writing in a very precise manner, which can be a major challenge.

Between the Erste and Zweite Juristische Staatsprüfungen (First and Second State Law Examinations), you complete a two-year Referendariat (judicial service training) at a court, public prosecutor’s office or public authority. Only those who pass both state examinations can work as a lawyer, judge or public prosecutor in Germany. However, there are other options, too: More than forty percent of lawyers in Germany take up employment in private enterprises. As a legal advisor or in-house lawyer within a company, for example, or as an actuary in the insurance industry or a political lobbyist.

German law for international students

Primarily universities of applied sciences, but also some traditional universities, offer law degree courses that end with a Bachelor (LL.B) or Master (LL.M). Most combine content from the fields of both law and business administration. Commercial law students are very much in demand in Germany by associations, administration and management consultancy firms.

Have you already completed a law degree and are interested in the intricacies of the German legal system? Then a postgraduate course might be the right choice for you. Some universities in Germany offer master's courses that teach basic and specialist knowledge of the German legal system in two semesters. They prepare you for employment with an international law firm in your home country.