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Medicine degree

Table of Contents

Why study medicine?

The medicine course is very popular in Germany. Every year, an average of 43,000 applicants apply for 9,000 study places. The motives for starting a medical degree are very different. For many, the desire to help others and to pursue a varied and demanding job is a decisive factor in their choice of study.

In addition, financial considerations often play an important role in the decision to study medicine. Because studying medicine promises you not only good career prospects, but also an attractive salary. Last but not least, the high reputation with which the profession of doctor is connected is an argument in favor of taking up a medical degree.

What study options do I have?

You can only complete a medical degree - in the sense of a medical training - at one university in Germany. The following table shows you popular medicine courses:

Universities of applied sciences do not offer medicine courses. Distance learning and a dual course of study in medicine are also not possible. In addition to the classical medicine course, a number of medical courses have emerged, such as molecular medicine, medical economics, medical management or biomedical engineering. Some of these are also offered by universities of applied sciences, as distance learning or dual studies. However, these courses do not qualify you to practice a medical profession, but to work in business or research. In addition, studying health management or studying to become a physiotherapist are good prerequisites for working in the health sector.


The training of doctors in Germany is reserved for universities. Every large and medium-sized university in Germany has a medical faculty and offers a corresponding course of study. In Germany, studying medicine is regulated by the license to practice medicine. Implementation of the Bologna reform is still pending in the area of ​​medical training. Instead of a bachelor's or master's degree, medical students complete their studies with the 2nd state examination.

Private universities

In addition to state universities, some private universities now also offer full-fledged medicine courses that qualify you for the medical profession. Access to the course is not primarily regulated by a numerus clausus (NC) but, depending on the educational institute, may include an entrance test and a personal interview. However, this opportunity is also associated with additional costs. You should plan to spend between € 55,000 and € 125,000 in costs for your medical studies.

Study abroad

Another possibility to avoid the high NC in Germany is to study medicine abroad. German and English-speaking countries such as Austria, Switzerland, Great Britain and the USA are particularly popular with budding medical professionals. However, the large influx of German students has also led to the establishment of high entry barriers here in recent years. In addition, you have to expect high tuition fees, especially in English-speaking countries.

Another alternative is studying medicine in Eastern Europe. Here you can even complete some of the relevant courses in English or German. After completing your studies abroad, you are only entitled to practice as a doctor in Germany if you have received a license to practice medicine from the responsible country. Therefore, find out about the chances of recognition before starting your studies abroad.

Am I suitable for studying medicine?

In Germany, a doctor is one of the absolute dream jobs for many young people. Every year more than 4 times as many people apply for a medical degree than there are places available. At the same time, studying medicine is considered very labor-intensive and demanding. Both circumstances are responsible for the fact that the formal admission requirements for studying medicine in Germany are quite high. In addition to the professional requirements for studying medicine, you should also have some personal qualities.

Formal and professional requirements

The medicine course in Germany is restricted to nationwide admission via a numerus clausus (NC). The allocation of study places via the NC is centrally regulated. This means: If you are interested in studying medicine, do not apply directly to the university of your choice, but to the University Admissions Foundation. This assigns 40% of the places itself, half according to the average Abitur grade and the other half after waiting semesters. The universities allocate the remaining 60% at their own discretion and special criteria. In addition to the Abitur grade, a study aptitude test or a selection interview can be decisive for your admission. You can apply for a medical degree online at

However, there are now numerous ways to bypass the NC. One possibility is to study medicine abroad. Austria, for example, assigns study places regardless of your high school graduation grade. You can find an overview of medical courses in Austria as well as experience reports from other students on the evaluation portal

personal requirements

To study medicine, you should have some personal requirements in addition to the technical ones. As a doctor, you work with sick people every day. Good communication skills, empathy and no fear of contact are mandatory. Even if you don't work in a hospital later, taking care of wounds is part of being a doctor. In addition, you are faced with a high workload as well as long working hours and weekend and night work. In addition, as a doctor, you often make decisions with far-reaching consequences for the health of your patients. You should therefore be decisive, stress-resistant and resilient.

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What can I expect from studying medicine?

The medicine course in Germany lasts 6 years and 3 months. In addition to the long duration of your studies, you can expect a high workload in medicine. In lectures and seminars, you first acquire theoretical knowledge in chemistry, biology, physics, biochemistry, physiology and various fields of medicine. You then apply these in laboratory internships and dissection courses. This also includes the dissection of corpses. Furthermore, a 3-month nursing internship and a 4-month internship (clinical internship) in a doctor's practice or a hospital are integrated into the medical course.

Course content

The content and the procedure of the medical degree are regulated nationwide by the medical licensing regulations. The actual medicine course is divided into two parts: the preclinical and the clinical part. The pre-clinical part (1st - 4th semester) teaches you the basics of medicine. You will learn how a healthy body is built and how it works. The main areas of study are:

  • anatomy
  • biochemistry
  • physiology
  • psychology
  • biology
  • physics
  • chemistry

A 3-month internship in the nursing area is also part of the preclinical part of your medical degree. The pre-clinical part ends with the first part of the medical examination (formerly Physikum). The exam consists of over 300 multiple-choice questions and three separate oral exams in anatomy, physiology and biochemistry, which you take within two days. In the clinical part (5th to 10th semester) of the medicine course, everything revolves around the areas of illness and healing. The curriculum includes the various fields of medicine such as:

  • General medicine
  • Ophthalmology
  • surgery
  • dermatology
  • Human genetics
  • Internal Medicine
  • neurology
  • Orthopedics
  • pathology

In addition, the clinical part also includes so-called cross-sectional areas such as:

  • Medical informatics
  • History / theory / ethics of medicine
  • Health economics / health system
  • Environmental medicine
  • Medicine of Aging and the Old Man
  • Emergency medicine
  • pharmacology
  • rehabilitation
  • Naturopathic treatment

In addition, a 4-month internship must be completed in the clinical part. You have to acquire certificates in all subjects of the clinical and pre-clinical part. You will usually receive this for passed exams as well as for successful participation in a laboratory internship. The clinical part is followed by the practical year in the 11th and 12th semesters. This is divided into three phases, each 16 weeks long. You will complete the first phase in internal medicine, the second in surgery and the third in a subject area of ​​your choice. After the practical year, you will complete your medical studies with the second part of the medical examination.

Specialization opportunities

As a rule, there are hardly any opportunities to specialize in medicine. Only during the clinical traineeship and the practical year as well as in the compulsory elective area of ​​the clinical part are there certain options for individually designing the medical degree. The actual specialization in a certain subject area only takes place after the studies during the specialist training course.

Which degrees can I get?

After a standard study period of 12 semesters, you will complete your medical studies with the second section of the medical examination, also known as the hammer exam. The hammer exam consists of an oral and a written part. In the written part you have to answer 320 questions. The written exam takes place on 3 days of 5 hours each. In the oral part of the exam, you will answer questions from the areas of internal medicine, surgery and your elective subject. You have to pass both parts of the exam. 50% of the grades from both parts of the exam are included in your final grade. After successfully passing it, you can apply for your license to practice medicine and are then entitled to work as a doctor.

The medicine course concludes throughout Germany with the 2nd state examination. There is currently no sign of a switch from medical studies to Bachelor's and Master's degrees in Germany. Around 80% of medical graduates do a doctorate. Unlike in other disciplines, you can start your medical doctorate before the end of your studies. Many medical students write their doctoral thesis while they are still studying. The scope of the medical doctoral thesis is more like the scope of a bachelor's or master's thesis. Accordingly, the duration of a doctorate in medicine is not several years, but often only several months.

After studying medicine

If you have passed the 2nd state examination, you can apply for your license to practice medicine. This entitles you to practice the medical profession. However, you can only call yourself a doctor if you have completed a doctorate. For admission as a contract doctor, you have to go through an average of 4 to 6 years of specialist training after completing your studies. You will complete this in a specific area such as surgery or general medicine. You usually do the advanced training as an assistant doctor in a hospital. Without further training as a specialist, you can neither practice as a doctor nor work as a senior or chief physician.

Which professional fields are suitable for me after graduation?

The medicine course primarily trains students to work as a doctor. After completing their specialist training, most doctors either work in a medical facility - for example a hospital or a medical and rescue service. Some settle down with their own practice. You can also work as a company doctor in a larger company or go into medical research. But even those who discover during their studies or further training as a specialist that the medical profession is not for them, have numerous options. For example, you can work as a specialist journalist for medicine, for pharmaceutical companies or for the health department. Management consultancies are also very happy to hire doctors - not only in the health sector.

How do you start your career?

If you want to work as a doctor in Germany, there is hardly a way around a specialist training course. As a rule, you can start your career by working as an assistant doctor in a further training facility recognized by the State Medical Association (e.g. a clinic or practice). Here you will train in a specialty of medicine. You will be looked after and trained by a senior doctor. After 4 to 6 years you will complete your specialist training with the specialist examination. This gives you the right to practice as a doctor or to work as a contract doctor in a medical facility.

What career prospects do I have?

After your medical degree, you have excellent career prospects. Doctors are in demand on the job market. There is already a lack of offspring among resident doctors as well as in clinics and hospitals. You have particularly good career prospects as a psychiatrist, surgeon or internist. In rural areas in particular, general practitioners are in short supply. Unemployment is hardly an issue for medical professionals at the moment. Instead, a varied and responsible job with good opportunities for advancement awaits you after your medical degree. On the other hand, there is a very high workload.

What salary do I earn?

In hardly any other occupational group are the salary prospects as attractive as those of doctors. On average, a doctor in Germany earns € 5,500 net per month. There are, however, major differences within the occupational group. In addition to your professional experience, your specialty and your position are decisive factors for your salary as a doctor. Head physicians are right at the top of the hierarchy and at the top of the pay chain. These earn an average of € 22,000 gross per month. Senior physicians can expect an average monthly salary of € 9,250 and specialists at least € 6,250. Radiologists (€ 19,000 gross monthly), ophthalmologists (€ 13,000 gross monthly) and orthopedic surgeons (€ 11,200 gross monthly) have the best salary prospects among general practitioners. In contrast, general practitioners in private practice receive "only" € 5,000 gross per month. Psychotherapists can expect about € 2,650 gross per month. Whether you are employed or self-employed also plays an important role in your earnings.

Salary based on work experience *Minimum ØMaximum Ø
Career entry3.900 €4.800 €
3 to 5 years4.400 €5.750 €
5 to 8 years5.350 €7.100 €
8 to 12 years6.700 €10.250 €

* Salary information in gross / monthly