Europe - Country Commercial Guide
Germany Education and Training

This is a best prospect industry sector for this country. Includes a market overview and trade data

Last published date: 2021-01-15



Capital:  Berlin
Population:  80,159,662 (July 2020 est.)
GDP:  $4,024,396,000,000 (2019 est., Purchasing Power Parity)
Currency:  Euro (EUR)
Language:  German (official)

 UNESCO Student Mobility Number:
Germany has 122,538 students studying abroad according to UNESCO.

CIA World Factbook:
22.70% of the population in Germany is under 24 years old. 


Germany, with a population of 82.7 million, boasts the largest economy in the European Union (EU).  Germans are well-educated, and students see experience abroad as a key advantage when competing for employment and additional educational opportunities.

Over 90% of Germans study English, which is the first foreign language Germans learn in school.  English language courses are mandatory for almost every German student, the degree of difficulty depending on the school level.  English is taught in primary school starting in the third grade or earlier.  Employers generally prefer job applicants with international experience.


Higher Education

According to the Open Doors 2020 report, COVID-19 had an overall negative effect on foreign enrollment in the U.S., with 1.8% decline in higher education compared to 2018/2019.  Nevertheless, the number of German students enrolled (9,242 students) in U.S. higher education reflect a 0.6% increase compared to the previous academic year.  This increase does not consider that COVID-19 impact on the western world started in March 2020, which is near the end of the academic school year.  All students who had to return earlier were not counted.  Thus, the 2020/2021 academic year will reflect a much larger decline in enrollment.


33.7% of Germans studying in the United States are enrolled in undergraduate courses (3,094 students), which is an increase of 0.8% compared to the 2018/2019 academic year.  

Community College

Community colleges have become more popular during the last few years for Germans due to the financial advantage, as well as the simplified application process.  The fact that it is possible for Germans to register at a community college without the “Abitur” requirement (an examination required to be eligible to attend a German university) also renders community colleges as an attractive option.  

Graduate Education

27.3% of Germans studying in the United States are enrolled in graduate courses, an increase of 1.7% compared to 2019.

Secondary Education

In the academic year of 2019/2020, 4,913 German high schoolers participated on exchange from Germany.

Professional Training Services

During the 2019/2020 academic year, 8.3% of German students in the United States pursued an optional practical training, which is a decrease of 5.2% compared to 2019/2020. 


30.7% of Germans studying in the United States in 2019/2020 attended non-degree programs such as English language or short-term studies, which represents a 16.8% decrease compared to the previous year (2018/2019).


Undergraduate and Graduate

Studying in the United States is particularly attractive to German engineering, business and management, as well as math and social science students.

One of the most effective ways for U.S. universities to attract German exchange students is to form a partnership with a German university.  These partnership agreements facilitate the exchange of students and the recognition of course credits between the partner institutions.

As European universities implement the Bologna Process, which is meant to ensure more comparable, compatible, and coherent systems of higher education in Europe and shift to a three-tier bachelor/master/doctorate system of education, European credits and degrees are becoming easier to compare with those of U.S. universities.  However, a couple of obstacles for German students planning to study in the United States remain.  Cost is the most frequently quoted barrier, especially because education in Germany is free.  Also, German students who have been accepted to study in the United States are required to obtain a student visa before departure. 

U.S. educational institutions should consider working with exchange organizations in Germany such as the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) and the Fulbright Commission, as well as private sector recruiters and advisors. There are also several events focused on student recruitment, listed at the end of the report, which take place in Germany.

Community College

German students with no “Abitur” (an examination required to be eligible to attend a university in Germany) are qualified to apply to a community college in the United States.  Transfer Degree Programs are a possible option for those students since the costs are lower than those of a four-year college, as an Associate Degree is unfortunately not recognized in Germany. 


Germany offers strong recruitment opportunities for short-term programs thanks to Germany’s English language proficiency, high per capita income, strong business ties between the two countries, and a well-established secondary exchange program.  The average time for Germans attending intensive English Programs in the United States is 12.1 weeks.

Secondary Education

Most German high school students prefer to study in an English-speaking country, with the United States and Canada being the most popular study abroad destinations.  87.7% of German high school exchange students stay in the United States for the whole academic year.

Online Programs

Due to the flexibility, possibility to work full-time, and the “virtual presence” factor, online education is very popular in Germany, and this trend is expected to continue.  According to the DAAD, almost half of German universities switched exclusively to virtual learning in the 2020 summer semester (47%), and almost as many to a mixed model of presence and virtual learning (45%).

Research and Development

Education and research are major priorities for the German Federal Government.  The Pact for Research and Innovation’s (‘Pakt für Forschung und Innovation’) objective is to stabilize and increase funding for the main non-university research organizations (Fraunhofer-Society, Helmholtz-Association, Max-Planck-Society, Leibniz-Association, German Research Foundation) with 5% annual funding increases.  The increases in funding are tied to research policy objectives that are also included in the Pact.  Federal and Laender (state) governments have agreed to continue the Pact for Research and Innovation until 2030, for the first time with a ten-year extension.  Funding will continue by 3% annually initially until 2025.

Professional Training Services  

German companies tend to use private trainers to train employees rather than providing in-house training.  The German Association for Coaching and Training (, with more than 1,600 members, evaluates and certifies training courses to ensure quality.  A significant difference between the American and German training services market is that German contracts usually stipulate a fixed base fee rather than working on commission.  The best strategy for a U.S. company interested in entering the German training services market is to find a German partner with whom to collaborate.

Digital Marketing Strategies

  1. The most popular online platforms that German students use are mostly social media platforms like Google and LinkedIn.
  2. The most popular social media sites include Instagram, WhatsApp, and Snapchat.
  3. Students often research information on any given topic through Google and other search engines.
  4. The platforms that students use for job opportunities include Indeed, LinkedIn, Stellenwerk, university platforms, and university bulletin boards
  5. The most popular streaming services in Germany include YouTube, Netflix, and Amazon Prime.
  6. In-country schools and competitor countries use information events at universities or schools, websites, emails, and social medial channels to reach German students.
  7. Parents and students mainly receive information about educational opportunities through the internet and email.
  8. It is recommended for U.S. study state consortia and/or educational institutions to use social media platforms like LinkedIn in their digital outreach strategies.




Ulrike Riegeler, Commercial Specialist
U.S. Commercial Service – Frankfurt


Phone: +49 69 7535 3157