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Humanities: Specialise and gain practical experience

If you wish to study a subject in the humanities, you need to be well-organised because German universities don’t “coddle” students as much as they do in other countries. Good German skills are a prerequisite. During your degree programme, it’s very important to start specialising in an area which interests you and gain your first practical experience.

by the Editors

At the library © Brüggemann/DAAD
At the library . © Brüggemann/DAAD

General information about humanities programmes

From African Philology to Contemporary History – German universities offer more than 6,000 degree programme in the humanities. At first glance, it might appear somewhat overwhelming and difficult to understand. The name of the degree programme generally indicates its specific professional orientation or emphasis. However, programmes sometimes have different names, but offer similar courses.

You can find degree programmes in the humanities in our degree programme database.

If you wish to pursue a bachelor’s degree in the humanities, you have the choice of studying a single subject (mono-bachelor) or a combination of several subjects (combination or dual-subject bachelor). In a dual-subject bachelor’s programme, for example, you could major in English Philology and choose an additional minor or second major. This could be another language and cultural studies subject, or an unrelated subject from another area of the humanities, such as Economics or Sociology. The possible subject combinations vary from university to university.

Requirements

If you would like to study the humanities in Germany, you should meet the following requirements:

  • Good German language skills
  • Interest in the German language, culture and literature
  • Proficiency in writing and speaking
  • Enjoy reading
  • Good sense and understanding of language
  • Knowledge of Latin and Ancient Greek  (for Classical Studies programmes)

German universities don’t “coddle” students as much as they do in other countries. In other words, students are responsible for organising their studies in the humanities themselves. At the beginning of the semester, you will have to draw up your own course timetable from an extensive range of courses and ensure they meet the requirements put forth in your programme’s study and examination regulations. Beyond attending classes, you are also responsible for forming learning groups, preparing oral presentations and obtaining the required reading from various libraries.

Starting a career

Seldom do employers explicitly mention the need for humanities scholars in their job advertisements. And most humanities programmes do not prepare students for any clearly defined professional field. That’s why it’s very important to choose an area of specialisation during your studies and gather your first practical experience in the field. Self-initiative and enthusiasm for your line of work are also very important. Employers like to see a common theme or a clear line which runs through your academic and professional career.

Almost all degree programmes contain integrated modules which provide students with key qualifications and practical skills. These include orientation modules, professionally related events, foreign language instruction and business management know-how. Many degree programmes also require students to complete a study semester abroad at a partner university, a field research project or a foreign internship.

“Diverse business sectors are increasingly looking to hire humanities scholars. In a knowledge-based working world, their cross-disciplinary competence is enormously important for companies,” explains the labour market expert at the Federal Employment Agency, Judith Wüllerich, in an interview with the “Süddeutsche Zeitung”.

As a humanities graduate, you will enjoy a high degree of professional flexibility thanks to the thematically broad spectrum of the programmes and the problem-solving orientation they offer. Graduates frequently find employment in non-typical branches and professional fields. Among editors and PR staff, you will find graduates in jobs with titles like Assistant Director of Human Resources and E-Learning Consultant. Potential employers can be found in the fields of commerce, banking, and legal and economic consulting. The typical business sectors are art and culture, media and publishing, and education and research institutes.