Study MBA in Germany | TopMBA

Germany is a relative latecomer to the MBA game, with the PhD the degree of choice for executives here until relatively recently. However, the credence of the MBA has increased in recent years; consequently, so has Germany’s prominence as a study destination.

Europe’s largest economy offers a diverse raft of employment opportunities for MBAs, from finance in Frankfurt, to pharmaceuticals and biotech in Bavaria, and tech start-ups in Berlin.

The MBA in Germany

The increased prominence of the MBA in Germany is reflected in the options open to the prospective students, in a nation more famed for its leading STEM institutions. Predominantly English-language provision tends to be on the more affordable side, and with courses tending to last a single year, an MBA in Germany can be a great way to lower your opportunity cost.

You’ll also be studying in the heart of Europe, with ample opportunity to go south, west, east or north. In the QS Applications & Aspirations 2018 report, Germany ranks as the fifth most popular study destination in the world.

Learn more about studying an MBA or master's degree in Germany by attending a webinar. Click here for more information.

There are currently six business schools in Germany are represented in the QS Global MBA Rankings. In total, one makes the top 50, a further two the top 100, and the remaining schools the top 120. It’s not all about the rankings though, here’s a quick look at what makes each one special.

Manheim Business School

Mannheim Business School offers the consistently highest-ranked MBA in Germany, offering a return on investment that is matched by few other schools in the world. Based in a baroque castle in the city of Mannheim, about halfway between financial center Frankfurt and business hub Stuttgart, Mannheim Business School offers a range of programs including two highly-ranked joint EMBAs (with ESSEC and Tongji) alongside its full-time offering.

The research-focused school seeks to achieve its mission of becoming a prominent institution on the international stage through: “academic excellence as well as rigor and relevance in research”; “thought leadership and innovation”; “critical thinking, diversity, and integrity”; and “accountability, responsibility, and transparency”.

WHU – Otto Beisheim School of Management

WHU – Otto Beisheim School of Management is located in both Vallander, to the northwest of Frankfurt, and Dusseldorf, in northwest Germany – part of the Rhine-Ruhr metropolitan region, Germany’s most-populous area.

The mostly privately-financed school was founded in 1984 by a local chamber of commerce and offers a range of master’s programs as well as its full-time MBA. Alongside the Kellogg School of Management, the WHU Otto Beisheim School of Management also offers one of the world’s most-prestigious EMBA programs. It’s the only private business school to be part of the German Research Association.

Frankfurt School of Finance & Management

The Frankfurt School – not to be confused with the interwar neo-Marxist movement of Theodor Adorno and Walter Benjamin – is a private, non-profit business school, founded in 1957. The school is located in the Ostend district of Frankfurt – directly opposite the headquarters of the European Central Bank (ECB).

Frankfurt is one of Europe’s preeminent financial centers; as well as the ECB it’s home to the German Federal Bank, Frankfurt Stock Exchange, Deutsche Bank, Commerzbank, DZ Bank, and KfW. Indeed, the Frankfurt School was founded initially as a training center for bank employees. The Frankfurt School is the highest-scoring German institution in terms of employability.

ESMT Berlin

The European School of Management and Technology based in the German capital Berlin is, as the name suggests, an institution focused on technology and entrepreneurship. Founded in the early years of this century by 25 global companies, including BMW, Bosch and Siemens, the school offers a MSc in Management, a full-time MBA, and an executive MNA. It lists its core competences as leadership and social responsibility, European competitiveness, and management of technology.

European Business School

Founded in 1971, EBS is a school of business and law, making up part of a family of now-independent business schools in London, Paris, Madrid and Milan. The school has a total of five locations in Germany, with the base for business education situated in a castle at Oestrich-Winkel – towards the west of Germany, not too far from Frankfurt.

In the QS Global MBA rankings, EBS performs particularly strongly when it comes to return on investment. A 16-month MBA or a 20-month MBA plus, allowing for specialization, are offered.

HHL Leipzig Graduate School of Management

HHL Leipzig may be a small private institution, with a mere 650 students split over an MBA, an MSc in Management, an EMBA, an online MBA and doctoral program. Its alumni network, however, have launched 150 startups, creating 3,000 jobs, between them.

It’s also storied: HHL Leipzig is one of the oldest business schools in the world, having been initially founded in the late 19th century. Indeed, it declares itself as the birthplace of modern management education. It operated as part of the prestigious Leipzig University between 1946 and 1992, when it was re-founded under private management.

On a whole, Western Europe has fared well in recent years, according to QS data, with an increase in MBA employment of 10 percent over 2017, with a predicted 7 percent to follow over the course of 2018.

Germany is the largest national economy in Europe, and the fourth-largest in the world. It reports the highest trade surplus in the world, worth US$287 billion, making it the biggest capital exporter globally. While this may be a complex issue in macroeconomic terms, it also means there are opportunities for those seeking MBA jobs in Germany.  

Big names and SMEs in Germany

Look to a list of German manufacturing companies, and perhaps you might begin to understand the context of this figure, with a wealth of household names among them. The German automotive industry is perhaps the world’s most celebrated – with such names as Volkswagen, Daimler, BMW, Mercedes and Porsche based in the European nation. Siemens and Bosch lead the way for German engineering (not just mobile phones and washing machines), while Bayer and Merck fly the flag for German pharmaceuticals.

The German economy, however, is not just about these big names. It is, indeed, the Mittelstand (medium-sized companies) which are considered to be the powerhouse of the German economy. That’s the collective name for SMEs in Germany, of which there are 3.7 million across the country, providing 60 percent of total employment and around 51 percent of GDP.

The success of these companies, often in the tech and engineering space, has been driven by governmental investment and close collaboration with Germany’s leading STEM universities – and in recent years, of course, with business schools. Naturally, MBA provision will allow for candidates to gain some familiarity with this large set of German businesses.

MBA jobs in Germany: Diverse opportunities

Germany is a large federal nation, and the types of opportunities you’re likely to encounter will depend to an extent on which region you’re targeting. It’s certainly prudent when choosing a school to take into consideration the school’s links to local employers.

Frankfurt is Germany’s financial capital – indeed, as the home of the European Central Bank, you might even say it’s the financial capital of Europe. A whole host of German banks are headquartered in the city also. Accordingly, you’ll regularly find Frankfurt within the top 10 of global city competitiveness indices. Even if you end up working elsewhere, the value of this level of exposure should not be underplayed if you’re targeting a job in the finance industry.

If you’re more interested in an entrepreneurial environment, then Berlin should be high up on your list. Ever trendy, Germany’s capital was hardly going to be left behind when it came to the au courant passion for all things entrepreneurial and tech. Though of course, in true hipster fashion, Berlin was there first, known for being a pioneering city in terms of electrical goods in the early 20th century. Today, Berlin receives more venture capital funding than London, with a new start-up taking root every 20 minutes on average.

That’s barely scratching the surface however, as Germany is a land rich in diverse opportunities. Those with an interest in the German automotive industry, or in working in one of the world’s leading hubs of engineering, electronics, and energy might look to Bavaria in the south.

The urban sprawl of the Rhine-Ruhr metropolitan area in the north offers a raft of diverse opportunities, and the port of Hamburg – the third-largest in Europe and in close proximity to the biggest two – is a logistics channel to the rest of the world.

MBA salaries in Germany

Those who succeed in finding employment will also be handsomely remunerated. Germany currently ranks as the world’s tenth best country in terms of the MBA salary levels on offer, with employers reporting average salary levels of US$77,200, supplemented with a bonus of US$16,900.

MBA tuition fees in Germany

Germany, as with many options in continental Europe, can be a great option for those looking to reduce their opportunity cost. With one-year programs prevalent, in conjunction with low fees, and costs of living extremely reasonable by Western European standards, you could do your bank account a big favor by choosing to study in Germany.

Of the six ranking schools you can find in our top schools tab, total tuition ranges from €23,500 at EBS to €43,500 at ESMT (around US$28,900 to US$53,400 – one could do a lot worse elsewhere), with a range of options in between.

MBA student visas in Germany

Whether or not you need a German student visa depends on your country of origin. If you come from the EU, you don’t require a visa to live and study in Germany – this extends to nations in the EEA and Switzerland. There are certain requirements, however, which one must fulfil to live in Germany – chiefly having health insurance.

Thereafter there is a tiered system: those from the US, Canada and selected other nations do not need a visa, simply a residence permit from the local authorities.

The next tier, which includes Brazil and Taiwan, only require a residence permit unless they’re planning to work before or after the degree, in which case an additional visa will be required, with the usual requirements: language proficiency in the language of tuition (internationally-inclined German schools offer English language provision), proof of acceptance onto a course, proof of finances, and so on.

For detailed information – including information on visas for dependents – you’re advised to contact the German consulate in your home nation.

Post-study work visas in Germany 

Once again, EU, EEA, and Swiss citizens don’t have any restrictions placed on their ability to live and work in Germany. For other MBA graduates, it’s possible to get an 18-month extension while you look for relevant work – during which time you’re allowed to take on other work to support yourself.

When you find the correct sort of employment, you have two options. You can either now apply for the relevant work permit, which will allow you to work in Germany, or apply for an EU Blue Card for highly-skilled workers, which will allow you to work anywhere within the EU, with the exception of the UK, Ireland and Denmark. After two years, you may apply for a permanent residence permit.

It’s worth pointing out that while you can certainly study in English in Germany, you will most likely require German to work for a German company.

Financing an MBA in Germany

DAAD, the German academic exchange service, offers a range of scholarships for students who meet certain criteria, some of which will be suitable for MBA students – you can have a look at their scholarship database here.

Thereafter, your best port of call for MBA scholarships in Germany is your institution, with a range of scholarships available to those from different backgrounds, with exceptional academic performance, or with different goals to make a difference. Check web resources before speaking to a school at an MBA event – time that would be better spent assessing your personal profile. 

A range of student loans are available for MBA students, with eligibility dependent on your country of origin. Your home nation may also offer MBA loans in cooperation with German institutions to study in Germany, and many schools works with Prodigy Finance to offer funding for international students.

You’re permitted a certain amount of part-time work while you study in Germany, but don’t let this get in the way of your studies or time in Germany.

Life in Germany

Germany is known for being a welcoming and friendly nation, in which you’re likely to enjoy a high quality of life. Its location is ideal for exploring Europe, with a diverse range of European nations to all sides – Alpine nations to the south, eastern Europe to the east, France and the Netherlands to the West and the Nordic countries to the north.

Within the country itself, you’ll find a huge amount of things to explore. From trendy Berlin, historic Cologne and well-heeled Munich, to business-driven Frankfurt and vibrant Hamburg, you won’t be lacking in things to do or see if you choose an MBA in Germany.

Football (soccer) fans will find one of the world’s most exciting leagues, while foodies will find a huge range of unique things to eat (and drink – need we mention Oktoberfest?), and outdoor enthusiasts will be spoiled for choice between the Alps, the Black Forest, the Rhine Valley, and much, much more.