Europe - Country Commercial Guide
Germany Education and Training Services Sector Snapshot
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Capital:  Berlin

Population:  84.3 million (2022 est.).

GDP (Purchasing Power Parity): $4.239 trillion (2020 est., in 2017 dollars)

Currency:  Euros (EUR)

Language:  German


UNESCO Student Mobility Number

Germany has 123,512 students studying abroad according to UNESCO.


CIA World Factbook

22.7% of the German population is under 25 years of age.



Germany has the largest economy in the European Union (EU). Germans are well-educated and experience abroad is seen as a key advantage when competing for employment and additional educational opportunities. Over 90% of Germans study English, which is the first foreign language learned in school. English language courses are mandatory for almost every German student, with the degree of difficulty depending on the school level. English is taught in primary school starting in the third grade at the latest.


Higher Education

There were 8,550 international students from Germany at U.S. higher education institutions in 2021/22. This is up 59.4% from the previous year, as the effects of the Coronavirus pandemic have begun to lessen, and students globally once again begin to partake in exchanges abroad.

Undergraduate: During the 2021/2022 academic year, 2,839 German students studying in the United States are enrolled in undergraduate courses, which is an increase of 18.1% compared to the 2020/2021 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. This option is also attractive because it is possible for Germans to register at a community college without an “Abitur” (a required qualification exam for German university).

Graduate Education: During the 2021/2022 academic year, 2,563 German students studying in the United States were enrolled in graduate courses, an increase of 26.8% compared to 2020/2021.

Secondary Education: In the academic year of 2021/2022, 5,100 German high school students participated in an exchange program from Germany.

Non-degree: 2,464 Germans studying in the United States in 2021/2022 attended non-degree programs such as English language or short-term studies, which represents a 743.8% increase compared to the previous year (2020/2021).

Online Programs: Due to its flexibility, a possibility to work full-time, and the “virtual presence” factor, online education is very popular in Germany, and this trend is expected to continue. For the most part, online offerings complement traditional face-to-face instruction. Accordingly, for example, students prepare for seminars with videos, complete self-study programs during a classroom session, or produce group presentations with the aid of digital media.

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”) seeks to stabilize and increase funding 5% annually for the main non-university research organizations (Fraunhofer-Society, Helmholtz-Association, Max-Planck-Society, Leibniz-Association, German Research Foundation). These funding increases are tied to research policy objectives set forth in the Pact. Federal and Laender (state) governments have agreed to continue the Pact for Research and Innovation until 2030, with a first-ever 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 provide 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.

Undergraduate Recruitment

Recruiting full-time German undergraduate students poses challenges for U.S. institutions which must compete with a high quality and tuition free education system which is also one year shorter.

Four-year U.S. programs could be attractive to students and parents for their versatility, smaller class sizes, and individual attention to student success. Internships during a program, optional practical training after, and career services are all very important to German students. When opting to invest in a fee-based education, Germans are quite brand-conscious. To increase recognition, U.S. institutions should use their international alumni, and sister city connections where possible.

Community College: German students with no “Abitur” 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, though the Associate Degree is, unfortunately, not recognized in Germany.

Graduate Recruitment

The United States is a particularly popular choice for graduate students, especially for those with aspirations in the science world. The most popular field of study for international students in the United States is math and computer science, with 21% of students choosing that specialty. Other popular fields for international students are engineering with 20% and business and management with 16% of all students choosing to pursue a degree in this field. Among German students, approximately 26% are enrolled in business and management programs and another 14% in miscellaneous social sciences. An MBA from a U.S. university is one of the most attractive diplomas for business students anywhere in the world, and sure to catch the attention of employers seeking young employees with management potential. Traditional MBA programs are two academic years in length for full-time students. However, there are a variety of one-year and part-time MBA programs as well as on-line and distance learning MBA programs. Despite strong support for German non-degree students through institutions like the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) and the German American Fulbright Commission, there is a lack of funding options for students seeking degrees in the United States. Additionally, there has been increased competition from graduate programs from other countries.

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. Additionally, 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 DAAD ( and the Fulbright Commission (https:/ as well as private sector recruiters and advisors and through the 10 U.S. State Department EducationUSA centers in Germany ( There are also several events focused on student recruitment, listed at the end of the report, which take place in Germany.

Secondary Education

It is very common for German students to study abroad at the high school level, and Germany remains one of the most prolific sending countries of high school exchange students to the United States. Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the number of German High School students staying in the United States for at least three months were 5,100 in 2021/2022. High school exchanges to the United States can be facilitated through an organization (non-profit or commercial) or can be self-initiated. Many cities in Germany offer youth exchange fairs, which allow students to compare and choose from different organizations. A self-initiated exchange is possible, albeit more complicated. According to EducationUSA, the costs for a high school exchange range from $11,800–$16,500 depending on a variety of factors including the state, the high school, and visa status. Certain German organizations provide scholarships or financial aid; however, these are only applicable if the exchange is facilitated through an organization, not if organized privately. EducationUSA advisors in Germany can provide additional information on high school exchange programs.


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


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




Ulrike Riegeler, Commercial Specialist

U.S. Commercial Service – Frankfurt, Germany   

Phone:  +49-(0) 69-7535-3157Good Links: 13