Study Medicine in Germany: 6 Things to Know

Germany is one of the best places to study Medicine. Apart from having world-renowned universities and sophisticated facilities, its public institutions are free of charge. In some cases, an international student may only need to pay a few thousand Euros to study.

As with other countries, studying medicine in Germany can be difficult. We will be going to go over the steps so that you can be successful.

1. What are the requirements to study medicine in Germany?

Foreigners who wish to study in medicine in Germany need to submit the following requirements:

Secondary school leaving certificate comparable to German A-levels
Excellent GPA (preferably 1.0 to 1.1), including good grades in biology, chemistry, and math
Students who have obtained their A-levels in the EU, Liechtenstein, Norway, Iceland and German schools abroad need to course their applications through Hochschulstart. This facilitates the application to admission-restricted courses such as Medicine.

Non-EU students, on the other hand, may place their applications through Uni-Assist.

While grade plays a big role in one’s admission (20% of applicants with the highest GPAs are admitted), universities are now considering other things. These include the applicant’s CV, personal commitment, and motivation.

Such metrics are used in the Standard Assessment Test for Students of Medicine, which is similar to the American Medical College Admission Test. The University of Heidelberg, considered the ‘Harvard’ of Germany, is just one of the universities that adopt this exam.

2. In what language do you study medicine in Germany?

Several schools, such as the University Targu Mures Medical Campus Hamburg (UMCH), offer a Medicine program in English. However, it is important to learn German as it is the primary language used for bedside teaching. It’s also the language used in the Staatsexamen or the state exam after graduation. As such, foreigners should have C1 German proficiency to study medicine in Germany, although some universities are good with a B2 level.

3. Can you study medicine in Germany as an international student?

Yes. Some schools accept foreign applicants, who have the option to study Medicine in either German or English.

4. What are the components of the medical curriculum in Germany?

The German Human Medicine program is a 6-year, 3-month course that can be applied right out of high school.

International students whose certifications are not recognized in Germany will need to undergo a prep year of Studienkolleg prior. This 2-semester course ends with the Feststellungsprüfung exam that allows the student to enter German higher education.

Pre-Clinical Phase
The first two years constitute the pre-clinical phase (Vorklinik). At UMCH for example, the focus is on basic and complementary subjects. This term covers three modules every 2 weeks, with subjects ranging from the biophysical, biochemical, biological, and molecular bases of Medicine. The second focus is the anatomical and physiological human structures.

Add to that, subjects in medical sociology and psychology and doctor-patient communication are given as well.

Lessons are taught through lectures, seminars, and practical courses, to name a few. Students need to undergo a 3-month nursing internship as well.

After meeting the requirements, the student can apply for the first state exam during the pre-clinical phase. This is called the “Physikum” Abschnitt der ärztlichen Prüfung. This 2-day test consists of 360 multiple choice questions, plus a 1-day oral test in anatomy, physiology, and organic chemistry.

Clinical Phase
The last four years are collectively called the clinical phase (Klinik). Apart from theoretical teaching, students spend much of their time interning in German clinics. Here, they get to immerse themselves in the fields of gynecology, pathology, neurology, ophthalmology, to name a few.

Apart from core clerkships, students have to undergo an additional 4 months of rotation. This should include 2 months of in-patient care training, 1 month of outpatient training, and another month of rotation under a board-certified Family Physician.

After meeting these requirements, the student can take the second written examination (2. Abschnitt der ärztlichen Prüfung) during his/her 5th year of schooling.

For the final year of studying medicine in Germany, the student has to complete 3 rotations (Surgery, Internal Medicine, and another discipline) lasting 16 weeks each. After this, the student can proceed with the third oral-practical exam (3. Abschnitt der ärztlichen Prüfung), which can last for as much as 4 hours.

Apart from these requirements, a student needs to pass a thesis as well.

5. How difficult is it to study medicine in Germany?

As Germany observes a limit (numerus clausus) for Medicine, getting into a school can be quite hard. Most schools rely on GPA, meaning those with the highest grades have the best chances of getting in.

Although this is the case, German universities allot 4 to 6% of their study spots to foreign (non-EU) applicants for studying medicine in Germany. As such, you have a high chance of getting in if you have good grades in high school and the Studienkolleg.

Medical education is as tough as that of other countries, with Germany dealing with a dropout rate of 11%.

That being said, the final exam before graduating is said to be harder. True to its’ name Hammerexame (Hammer exam), this test is said to hit you ‘hard’ like a hammer.

6. What do you need to become a doctor after you study medicine in Germany?

After graduating, a student needs to take the Staatsexamen. After passing this state exam, the doctor is given a license to practice (approbation). He/she can bear the title Arzt/Ärztin (physician) as long as he/she has 1) a good physical exam result and 2) a spotless criminal background.

Afterward, new doctors have to join practical training units, which could last for about 6 years. This is known in English as residency (Facharztausbildung) and concludes with a specialist examination. With this, a doctor can finally open his/her practice and work as a medical specialist.

Physicians also have the option to take up doctoral studies, which lasts anywhere from 1 to 3 years. After passing a dissertation (100 pages on average), the student will be awarded the illustrious title Dr. Med. (doctor of medicine).


I hope that this article on how to study medicine in Germany was helpful.

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