When you are looking to study medicine in Germany, you might be wondering how you can obtain an MBBS in Germany. MBBS refers to Bachelor of Medicine/Bachelor of Surgery - or in Latin: Medicinae Baccalaureus Baccalaureus Chirurgiae. It is an undergraduate degree that in many countries marks the first step in the academic training of becoming a doctor.
The following article will teach you which degree formats you find in Germany to study medicine and health sciences.
When you are looking to study medicine in the German system, you may be surprised to learn that MBBS is not a degree format that is offered by German universities. Instead, students aim to graduate with the state examination (German: Staatsexamen).
Alternatively, there are study programs in the bachelor’s and master’s format in health sciences that do not lead to an approbation to work as a medical physician in Germany but train you to research various health-related topics. For students aiming at conducting doctoral research to earn an academic doctorate title, there are many international graduate schools that might be of interest as well.
Disclaimer: While MBBS is a degree format that is common in many countries, such as Australia, Bangladesh, Colombia, China, Egypt, Ghana, South Africa, the UK, and many more, this article focuses mainly on students from India and explains how the German degree formats translate to the Indian system.
Medical Degrees in Germany vs. India
|Staatsexamen/state examination (Germany)||MBBS (India)|
1-tier study program: Training of 6 years and 3 months, includes equivalents of undergraduate and graduate studies.
2 years of prae-clinical studies.
3 years of clinical studies.
1 year of practical placement.
A state examination graduate has the approbation to work as a physician in Germany and can start their residency in Germany.
|Curriculum||After 10+2, students must take an entrance test such as PMT, CBSE or AFMC, etc. A passing score allows admission into the MBBS program. An MBBS graduate can practice medicine independently or pursue an MD or MS postgraduate degree.|
||Fees||Depends on the university.|
|German.||Language of study||English.|
Students from India and most other non-EU countries have to visit a preparatory course (1 year) at a Studienkolleg and pass the “Feststellungsprüfung” before applying to the regular curriculum.
|Application requirements||Passing 10+2, or equivalent thereof.|
In general, no test of admission.
Only required by some unis for non-EU students: TestAS.
|Test of admission||NEET.|
|State examination.||Type of degree||
Undergraduate double degree;
General medical degree.
|6 years and 3 months.||Standard duration||4 and a half years.|
Source of the information related to India: https://medclerkships.com/difference-between-md-mbbs/.
Here is just a quick recap of medical training in India: Students who are looking to become physicians, start their training with an MBBS degree. Once they complete this training, they may be approved as licensed physicians in India. After completing the MBBS degree, they are also eligible for post-graduate training in the form of an MD degree. Here, students can specialize in certain medical fields. An MD course takes 3 years and is completed with a practical and theoretical examination.
State Examination - What It Is and What You Can Do With It
Study programs that finish with a state examination (German: Staatsexamen), indicate that the course of study is federally regulated and follows a defined structure, covers certain topics, and is examined in a uniform, state-administered way. Obtaining a state examination thus differs from getting a bachelor’s or a master’s degree. Most courses in Germany are integrated into the bachelor’s and master’s system. Becoming a doctor, however, is regulated through the state, which is why it ends with a state examination, not with a bachelor’s or a master’s degree.
No matter at which German university you decide to study medicine, including the private ones, for example in Brandenburg and Witten/Herdecke, if you want to obtain your approbation as a medical doctor your aim is to graduate with a state examination. Medical studies that train students to work as physicians in Germany are not integrated into the bachelor’s and master’s system.
Medical training in Germany is structured through the approbation regulations for medical doctors (German: Approbationsordnung für Ärzte, ÄAppO). Here, it is defined that the state examination consists of three parts. The first examination, the so-called Physikum is taken after the first two years of studies and covers foundations in medically relevant subjects, such as anatomy and natural sciences, for example, biochemistry. The second part of the examination is taken after another 3 years of study and examines the student’s knowledge of clinical subjects, such as neurology. The third part of the examination is taken at the end of the students’ practical year and is an oral examination that includes a practical examination of a patient.
Upon successful completion of all three parts of the medical physician’s examination, graduates are state examined physicians and receive their approbation. Read our article on studying medicine in Germany to learn more about the structure of medical training.
Further ReadingHow to study medicine in Germany: 10 things international students need to know (2021/22)
MD (Doctor of Medicine) and Medically Relevant Doctoral Research
Holding your approbation in your hand, which means finishing your medical studies in Germany with the state examination, entitles you to call yourself a physician (German: Arzt/Ärztin). In Germany, this is, strictly speaking, different from calling yourself a doctor (German: Doktor/Doktorin), which refers to the academic title that you obtain after doctoral studies at a university, for medical students this is a doctor of medicine, or in Latin, doctor medicinae. Over time, “doctor” has become somewhat synonymous with medical physician and many med students obtain a doctorate degree in Germany.
Obtaining a doctor of medicine is recommendable for medical students since it not only equips students with research skills that they can make use of throughout their career as physicians but also is an informal requirement to advance in your career to certain positions, for example, a leading role at universities or hospitals.
In comparison to other fields of studies, medical students can obtain their doctorate degree with relatively speaking smaller efforts: Their theses are on average amount to only 100 pages and they work on their research projects for about 2 - 6 semesters, i.e. 1-3 years. Often, they start their doctoral research during their regular studies or throughout their residency, so that it does not necessarily prolong their studies.
Because of these characteristics, many of the scholarship foundations do not fund doctoral projects of medical students. In many cases, the German title of doctor medicinae cannot be converted into the internationally renowned format of Ph.D., unless the student can prove that they undertook efforts comparable to those taken for doctoral studies in other fields. However, the German doctor of medicine still requires some individual efforts. Therefore, the doctor title that gets awarded to students after completing their medical studies, such as M.D. in the USA, cannot be converted to a German doctor medicinae title.
People who are interested in research, a career in academia, and producing new knowledge on medically relevant topics will also find their place in Germany and can engage in doctoral studies beyond the doctor medicinae. Germany sustains excellent and internationally renowned competency networks combining expertise on various topics, not only of medical students and physicians but also of scientists from related disciplines. Finding a doctoral position through this overview of competency networks can therefore be interesting to students from various subject-backgrounds.
Furthermore, medically relevant doctoral studies and research is offered in international research centers in Germany, and therefore, you may obtain your Ph.D. (which, again, is different from the doctor medicinae) in English in Germany. To find a fitting option, we recommend the Graduate Schools in Germany.
Eligibility for Studying for a Medical Degree in Germany
As we have established above, there is no MBBS degree in Germany. Instead, the state examination leads to a license to practice medicine in Germany. So you might be wondering: Which criteria do Indian students need to fulfill to study the equivalent to an MBBS, namely for a state examination in medicine, in Germany?
Students from India can start studying for an MBBS in Germany after passing their A-Levels in India (12th). Before enrolling at a university, Indian students need to study a preparatory foundation year (German: Studienkolleg) that prepares them for medical studies. To get entrance to a foundation year, students need to have some good German skills already (B1-B2), often need a good GPA, and pass an entrance examination. The foundation year ends with an examination (German: Feststellungsprüfung) which allows Indian students to apply to study medicine at a German university.
For international students from outside the EU, such as Indian students, admission to medical programs lies in the hands of each university. However, it is federally regulated that 5% of available study spots at each university needs to be reserved for international students. To get one of these spots is very competitive, and universities often allocate them to applicants with the best GPA. Often, only straight-A students have a shot. Additional requirements that might be considered by universities is the aptitude test TestAS or work experience.
Are the Medical Universities in Germany Approved by the MCI (Medical Council of India)?
Yes, all the public Medical Universities and their degrees (Staatsexamen, Dr., Facharzt) are approved by the Medical Council of India (MCI) according to their rules:
“THE INDIAN MEDICAL COUNCIL ACT, 1956, THE THIRD SCHEDULE
(See Section 13)
PART-I Recognised Medical Qualifications granted by Medical Institutions not included in the first Schedule”
After my MBBS from India - What Can I Do in Germany?
Another question is, of course, how your MBBS or other undergraduate degrees in medicine relates to the German study system. For students who have started their medical studies abroad and wish to transfer to a German university, they may face difficulties in getting their courses recognized. As is explained in our article, the German medical curriculum follows a set structure and may therefore be difficult to compare to other countries’ curricula, which is why you may experience difficulties in getting all your courses or practical internships recognized. But ultimately, this lies in the hands of each university.
To find out what applies to your case, it is important that you contact the universities you are interested in directly. Most likely, your previous study experience may be a way to waive the Studienkolleg requirement for applicants from outside the EU so that they may partake in the application process with the university directly without taking the detour via the Studienkolleg.
A finished MBBS degree from India does not fully translate to a German state examination. Students with finished MBBS degrees can apply for a temporary work permit enabling them to practice under the supervision of a doctor with approbation for up to two years. After that time, you may take the state examination and upon successful completion obtain your approbation to practice as a physician in Germany. After obtaining that license, you can do your residency in Germany and obtain your specialization. Keep in mind that excellent language skills are necessary to enter the German system. Further explanations are provided by the DAAD regional office in India.
If you are a practicing physician in your country already and would like to transfer to Germany, doctors from outside the EU will experience some hurdles: In many cases, doctors from abroad who were not trained within the EU need to get their qualifications recognized in order to start working in Germany as a medical physician. To get the process started, and to provide you with further information, there is a useful tool provided by the German government that gives you an overview of what exactly you need to do.
Bachelor’s and Master’s Degrees - Study Health Sciences in English
Some study programs in the health sciences in Germany are integrated into the bachelor’s and master’s degree system. They are not only offered in German but also provide many options to study in English. They can therefore be a great option for international students who are interested in medical fields and health sciences and are looking to study in Germany, for example between their medical studies and their residency in their home country. An MBBS, or another relevant undergraduate degree, qualifies applicants to enter many of these master’s degrees.
It is important to note that these degrees do not lead to the approbation to practice as a medical professional in Germany. Rather, they teach you an academic and research related approach to medically relevant subjects and cover topics such as public health, neurosciences, or pharmaceutical technologies. To get an overview of these diverse study programs and find the perfect option for yourself check out the results in our StudyFinder: