Erudera's Complete Guide to Studying Law in Germany
Pursuing a degree in law in Germany is a lengthy but worthwhile process. Germany is known for its affordable education (and costs of living), and its law schools are some of the highest-ranked in the world. Germany is also relatively popular when it comes to pursuing LLM (Master of Laws) programs. Some of these programs are also taught in English, which is an excellent option for students from abroad who cannot speak German. Generally, however, most law programs are taught in German, and students must prove their German language proficiency as part of the admission requirements.
Here’s everything you need to know about studying law in Germany:
Top Law Study Programs in Germany
Law School Structure in Germany
Students who wish to obtain a law degree in Germany should initially go through a four-year undergraduate program, after which they must pass the First State Examination. After passing the First Exam, students must undertake a two-year internship (Referendarzeit) at a court, public authority, or public prosecutor’s office to gain practical experience in the major aspects of legal practice. After the two-year internship, students must enter the Second State Examination. Upon passing this Second Exam, a lawyer is deemed “fully qualified” and entitled to appear in court, either as a judge, attorney, prosecutor, or government agent.
During the two-year internship, students get paid by the German government. Students have
two opportunities to enter each of the state examinations.
The general academic requirements to study law in Germany include the following:
- Secondary school leaving certificate (equivalent to the German certificate).
- German language proficiency, depending on the medium of instruction (TestDaF or the DSH).
- English language proficiency, depending on the medium of instruction (TOEFL or IELTS).
- University degree in law or equivalent (for LLM programs).
- Other academic transcripts (such as grade transcripts, etc.)
Prospective law students in Germany, who come from countries outside of the EU/EEA, will have to apply for a student visa to be able to study in Germany.
The German student visa requirements generally include:
- Visa application documents (e.g., filled application form, valid passport, photographs).
- Proof of financial resources (e.g., €11,208 deposit on a German blocked bank account, scholarship confirmation, etc.).
- Letter of university admission.
- Evidence of earlier education (certificates, diplomas, or degrees).
- Proof of health insurance.
- Proof of English or German language proficiency.
The application process at German law schools is fairly comprehensive, for as long as you meet the requirements, as listed by respective universities.
Prospective law students can apply to German universities through:
- Their chosen university.
- University Application Service for International Students (Uni-Assist)
- Foundation for University Admission (Stiftung für Hochschulzulassung - SfH)
International students who have an international university entrance qualification usually have their documents reviewed in advance by Uni-Assist, before sending their application directly to the university of their choice.
Degree Duration: How Long Does It Take to Study Law in Germany?
It takes approximately 7-11 years to complete a law degree and get admitted to the German Bar Association. After a four-year period of undergraduate study, which ends with the First State Examination, law students go through a two-year internship/training program in the field of law before being eligible to sit for the German bar exam.
Tuition Fees: How Much Does It Cost to Study Law in Germany?
Public universities in Germany have tuition-free education at the undergraduate level. These universities only require students to pay around €250 in administrative fees per semester. Students pursuing law at public universities in the state of Baden-Württemberg pay approximately €3,000 per year in tuition fees (as the only exception to the tuition-free regulation across Germany). In contrast, private universities can charge up to €20,000 in tuition fees per year.
Legal Jobs in Germany
The job market for legal professionals in Germany is somewhat competitive, but career opportunities are also plentiful. Careers as solicitors or barristers are pretty popular in Germany. However, there are plenty of other career options available, such as paralegal, legal secretary, judge, usher, patent attorney, licensed conveyancer, etc. Studying law in Germany provides plenty of chances to advance career-wise, especially for those who plan on practicing law in Germany. Legal professions typically pay well in Germany. For example, the average salary for a lawyer in Germany is somewhere between €71,000 and €130,000 per year.
Reasons to Study Law in Germany
The Cost of Law School is Affordable
One of the main reasons to study law in Germany is affordability. Undergraduate study in Germany is free at public universities ever since the introduction of a new law in 2014. Although public universities in the state of Baden-Württemberg reintroduced tuition fees in 2017, most public universities across Germany have tuition-free education. As a law student in Germany, you will be able to obtain your law degree for as little as approximately €250 (~$305) in administrative fees per semester. On the other hand, the study of law at private universities in Germany can cost up to €20,000 ($24,425) per year.
Germany has one of the lowest unemployment rates in the European Union, which means employment opportunities are plentiful for legal professionals. Germany is one of Europe’s largest economies, with significant influence among European countries. In addition to employment opportunities, legal salaries in Germany are rather lucrative. After completing a law degree in Germany, graduates can find various jobs, including careers as lawyers, legal specialists, legal consultants, barristers, administrative law employees, etc.
Top Quality Education
German universities offer top-quality education and research. At least eight of Germany’s universities rank among the top worldwide universities for the study of law. Prospective law students in Germany can choose from a wide range of challenging and efficient programs taught in an ideal environment by highly qualified professors. Germany is a top-rated destination for LLM courses, some of which are even taught in English. Generally, however, most university programs in Germany are taught in German.
Excellent Living and Working Conditions
Germany is known for its work/life balance, healthcare system, and excellent quality of life. Apart from having one of the largest economies and the lowest unemployment rate in the EU, Germany also offers high salaries, a low cost of living, and a safe environment to start a new life. If you plan on finding employment in Germany after finishing your law education, Germany has a robust job market. One of the main reasons to study law in Germany is that you become part of a world-class education system, which provides efficient career skills.