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I recently completed my MSc. degree in Germany. When I started there was not much real information about the pros and cons of studying here. Generic higher studies websites posted generic higher studies terms , and I did not know anyone personally who had moved to Germany.

I hope my blog post would help out other people with deciding.

About Me : I am from Asia and attended one of the elite engineering colleges in my country for Bachelors. For Masters, I was interested in a course which allowed me to study computer science but was also interdisciplinary. Since Europe seemed to have such courses available, I decided to apply here.

My results : I got into 2 courses. One was MSc. Computational Science in University of Amsterdam (https://www.uva.nl/en/programmes/masters/computational-science/computational-science.html) and the other was MSc. Simulation Sciences at RWTH Aachen University (https://www.rwth-aachen.de/go/id/bnzu/lidx/1) . I finally decided to join RWTH.

I would like to give my opinion about this decision, in retrospect, and also some comments.

The good :

1. Education is free in Germany, even for foreigners. In some states some amount of fees has been introduced for non EU students (around 1500 EUR) which is still considerably less than in other European countries for non EU/EEA students. In my state (NRW) while I was a student, there was no fees for foreigners yet.

2. The cost of living was much much cheaper than Amsterdam.

3. Pretty good and pretty cheap alcohol :D

4. You get a semester ticket which lets you travel in public transport for free, typically in your state and maybe also in other nearby countries. eg my semester ticket allowed me to travel in NRW as well as till Maastricht in Netherlands.

5. The specific course I took had too many non useful mandatory courses. But as far as electives are concerned, we had a lot of flexibility. This also meant lot of flexibility in choosing your thesis topic and department.


The bad :

1. Language issues. While my course was completely in English, there were many courses available in German I would have taken if they were available in English, specially from the Math department.

2. In day to day life, living without German knowledge is difficult in Aachen, and NRW in general. It would be much more convenient maybe in Munich, Berlin or Frankfurt.

3. Courses seem too theoretical. It seemed that emphasis was on preparing students for future as PhD scholars, and not preparing for job market. Recently a MSc. in Data Science course has been started and even their courses seem to be too theoretical.

4. Job market is not as good in Aachen as in other bigger German cities as well as compared to Netherlands. Too many jobs, including Software Engineer roles, seem to ask for German knowledge. It gets even more limited if you want to join banks, consultancies etc.

5. Social life : most college events, poetry / quizzes etc are completely in German. This is not the case in Netherlands.

6. Aachen is definitely not as lively as Amsterdam.


Few more comments :

1. You should know about the Dutch 30% ruling for expats, if you plan to later take up jobs in Netherlands.

2. It is possible to find industry funded research in both these countries, if that is what you may prefer.

3. Unlike other countries, Germany does not seem to have concept of semester breaks (like a month or 2 break between semesters). I think this is also true for European countries in general. Which means if you would like to do an internship in a different city than yours, you may have to take a semester break and complete the internship.

4. It is normal for MSc. degrees to stretch beyond 2 years. Do not fret to drop a semester and do an industrial internship.


Final comments :

In retrospect, maybe taking up the MSc. course in Amsterdam would have been a better choice from study and job perspective, but it also depends on your personal situation. If you do not want to spend too much money on grad school, Germany is definitely a better choice, but try to go for bigger cities, like Munich or Berlin.

Trying to get in touch with older students from your course over LinkedIn may be helpful.



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  • 1 year later...

Thank you for the informative post! This was really useful to read!

I am planning to do a masters degree in something similar, and RWTH Aachen is one of the universities I'm really interested in.

However, they have a requirement in most of the masters courses that the applicant's bachelors should have been in something related. Do you have any idea how stringent this requirement is? Did you fulfill this requirement when you were accepted?

I'm really concerned about this because I am trying to do a pretty drastic career shift. My bachelors degree was in petroleum engineering, and contained nearly zero courses in programming or computer sciences. (I've made up the difference through self-study during the pandemic, but I have no formal proof of my skills). Does that kill my chances at RWTH Aachen?


+ One more question: How are the career prospects after studying Simulation Sciences? Do you have any ideas about Data Science?

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