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Studying Economics in Germany

Economists deal with large economic matters
An article by Maria Retter

Studying Economics in Germany
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That is what it’s about

Is development aid always good or can it also be harmful? How can a government fight unemployment? Such questions are dealt with by economics (VWL). It concerns large economic interrelationships in individual states and beyond in transnational economic areas such as the Eurozone. Students analyse economic relationships and explain them. It is also used to provide forecasts for the future, so economists can find jobs in both the private sector and the political arena. How individual players make decisions is considered in the context of microeconomics, macroeconomic processes topics such as unemployment and macroeconomic growth. These two aspects are the pillars of economics studies. Economics (VWL) is much more theoretical and abstract compared to other economic disciplines. While business administration students worry about whether employees have to be dismissed in times of economic downturn, economists are thinking more fundamentally about why the economy is doing badly and what the consequences are. "Economics is a way of thinking," says Ivo Bischoff, professor of economics at the University of Kassel and vice chairman of the Faculty of Economics and Social Sciences. "In recent years, the focus of the economic policy debate has shifted away from tax and pension policy and towards international issues such as migration and globalization," says Bischoff.

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This is how the course runs

You start with the basics: Micro- and macroeconomics, economic policy, statistics, mathematics and econometrics, the study of the application of statistics to economic issues. In the higher semesters, the students deepen their knowledge, for example of finance or industrial economics. Then, for example, it's about state revenue and expenditure, monopoly control and social policy.

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Typical questions raised within the subject

  • Can the economy continue to grow?
  • Why do we pay taxes?
  • How is the labour market developing due to digitisation?
  • Does protectionism bring back industrial jobs?
  • How can the pension system be maintained in the long term?
  • Is Hartz IV fair?
  • Why are the rich getting richer?
  • Why is competition important?
  • How are supply and demand for economic goods determined?
  • How do you calculate social wealth?

The subject suits you,...

...if you are interested in macroeconomic and social issues, says Bischoff. Whether it be the financial bubble, debt crisis, bankruptcy, euro misery or unemployment: The economic section in the newspaper should not be overlooked by economy students. New students are introduced early to a mathematically-abstract model world. It takes a while to actually get to the applications of the material. Students need discipline to master the wealth of basic material. Important to know before choosing the subject: Economics is not just about fiscal policy. For example, philosophy plays a major role in behavioural economics. It is always about people making decisions - that is where sociological content comes in.

Is there a numerus clausus?

At around 60 percent of the universities there is a numerus clausus. Often it is in the higher grades range.

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