Written by Molly Ellison. Photo courtesy of Matthias Ripp via Flickr.
Looking for the best full-time MBA programs in Germany? Here’s your ultimate guide! Read on to compare the country’s best MBA programs head-to-head. Want more personalized advice? Get the inside scoop from Admissions Directors and alumni of Germany’s best programs.
- 5 REASONS TO GET YOUR MBA IN GERMANY
- WORKING IN GERMANY AND POST-MBA CAREER OPPORTUNITIES
- TOP FULL-TIME MBA PROGRAMS IN GERMANY
- APPLICATION TIPS FROM GERMAN MBA ADMISSIONS DIRECTORS
- WHAT’S IT REALLY LIKE AT TOP GERMAN MBA PROGRAMS? (STUDENT OPINIONS)
- HEAD TO HEAD – ESMT MBA vs. WHU MBA vs. MANNHEIM MBA
5 Reasons to Get Your MBA in Germany
1. German b-schools are affordable, offer 1-year MBA programs, and have impressive ROI, especially among global rankings. The average tuition for the three programs surveyed in this guide is €39,000, while the average starting salary is around €90,000. Many top programs also hold impressive international accreditations and have entrepreneurial spirits. German MBA programs are young but have already broken into international rankings and are beginning to gain recognition in the global marketplace.
2. Earning your MBA in Germany gives you a high probability of ending up in the country post-graduation, even if you’re an international student. The majority of MBA graduates stay and work in the country post-graduation. Recent graduates are also eligible to apply for a residence permit, which allows them to stay in the country for 18 months to look for a job.
3. Germany boasts a high standard of living with a low cost, especially in comparison to other Western European nations. The Federal Ministry of Education and Research estimates that students spend an average of about €800 per month on living expenses.
4. Despite other European economies being in a state of flux, Germany’s has been thriving in recent months. In March 2017, its unemployment rate was only 5.8 percent. Germany’s export numbers have been on the rise in the past few years and it’s responsible for 9 percent of the world’s exports. It’s also known for its strong engineering, technology and manufacturing industries.
5. Situated in the heart of Western Europe, Germany is well connected to the rest of the continent through buses, trains, planes, and highways. It has many international airports, including Frankfurt Airport, which is one of the largest and busiest in the world.
Working in Germany and Post-MBA Career Opportunities
- Visa – Germany is one of the best countries in the world for international students and student visas are fairly simple to arrange once admitted to a program. Upon graduation, students can apply for a residence permit and are allowed to stay in the country for up to 18 months to look for a job. Graduates of German universities are also able to stay in the country as either self-employed or to set up a business, particularly if their venture is related to their studies. If your business is successful, this can lead to permanent residency in the country.
- Taxes – Income tax rates in Germany are adjusted according to one’s income and range from 14 to 42 percent.
- School reputations
- European School of Management and Technology Berlin (ESMT) – In 2017, Financial Times ranked ESMT, which was founded in 2002 by a cohort of 25 major German companies, #2 globally for value for money. It’s an entrepreneurially minded program with many graduates pursuing careers in the tech industry.
- WHU – Otto Beisheim School of Management (WHU) – Located in Dusseldorf, a major startup and tech hub in Germany, WHU places a heavy focus on fostering students’ leadership skills. In 2016, The Economist ranked the program #5 for education experience and #8 for faculty quality globally.
- Mannheim Business School (MBS) – The MBS MBA is the #1 ranked program in Germany by The Economist, and places a strong emphasis on social responsibility through its projects and instruction.
- Geography – Situated in the heart of Western Europe, Germany is an ideal location for traveling around the continent and beyond. Domestic and international transportation systems – ranging from buses, to trains, to planes, to cars, to bicycles – are abundant and efficient. Germany is also in the Schengen Zone, allowing for ease of travel between many neighboring countries.
- Industry – Germany boasts the largest economy in Europe and the fourth largest in the world. It’s well-known for its manufacturing industry, particularly related to cars and mechanical engineering. BMW, Mercedes-Benz and Volkswagen were all founded in the country. In 2013, industry made up 28 percent of Germany’s GDP. 70 percent of its workforce was employed by “Mittlestand” – small (<500 employees), family-owned companies. For those with a more entrepreneurial mindset, Expert Market ranked Berlin as the best city on the planet to work in tech.
- Return on Investment – In 2017, Financial Times ranked top German MBA programs as follows for value for money: ESMT, #2; MBS, #15.
Top Full-Time MBA Programs in Germany
European School of Management and Technology Berlin (ESMT)
- ESMT was founded in 2002 by a conglomerate of 25 German companies to provide practical, quality management education to the country’s future business leaders. These founding companies represent diverse industries and include KPMG, BMW, and Lufthansa.
- The school calls Berlin, Germany’s most populous city and its capital, home. The city is a business and cultural hub for Europe, too, as well as being much more affordable than other major cities on the continent.
- Students can choose to focus on Managing Innovation and Technology, or Global Sustainable Business, in addition to core coursework.
- The school’s entrepreneurial spirit is evident in graduates’ career paths – 25 percent of the Class of 2015 works in technology and 7 percent founded their own companies.
- The program’s Responsible Leaders Fellowship (RLF) gives students the opportunity to extend their studies by up to six months to complete a social impact project in a developing country.
WHU – Otto Beisheim School of Management (WHU)
- WHU is located in Dusseldorf, a creative center and start-up hub in Germany. More than 400 advertising agencies call the city home, as well as hundreds more startups. The tech industry has a heavy presence in the city.
- WHU’s program is comprised of three modules, including one that focuses on personal leadership, and culminates in a thesis project. The thesis can either be research-based and developed while taking concentration courses, or can be centered around an internship.
- The program’s leadership module offers intensive training – both in and out of the classroom – aimed at helping students develop critical soft skills necessary to be effective managers.
- MBA candidates are required to participate in short-term study periods in the U.S., India and China. During the trips, students take courses at partner universities, visit local companies and nonprofit organizations, and analyze the cross-cultural business challenges they observe. Partner universities in the U.S. include the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University and Columbia Business School.
- The program offers two potential start dates – either March or September – and an intensive, four-week German language course that candidates can choose to participate in before starting the MBA program.
Mannheim Business School (MBS)
- Students at MBS have impressive access to major companies, while enjoying the lifestyle and cost-of-living of a mid-sized city. The school is located in Mannheim, Germany’s eighth-largest metro area and a major business hub. Many multinationals, including Unilever, Siemens, and IBM, all have offices in the city.
- The program is designed around five geographic “tracks,” allowing students to study in multiple countries during the year-long program. These include the German, Eurasian, Transatlantic, European, and Global tracks. MBS has partnerships with a range of schools, including Queen’s School of Business in Canada, ESSEC Business School in France, and the Chinese University of Hong Kong.
- In addition to taking 10 core courses, students participate in a Social Sustainability Project and Business Master Project. The Social Sustainability Project challenges candidates to use a business mindset to tackle a societal issue. Students often partner with local organizations and help raise funds for a cause – some have raised more than €100,000 during just one initiative.
- More than one third of graduates work in manufacturing and more than 80 percent work in Germany. MBS students take advantage of the country’s strong industrial sector and the several major companies that neighbor the school.
Application Tips from Germany B-School Admissions Directors
“We look for people who have taken some risks, whether they’ve been successful or not. People who haven’t been comfortable with being comfortable. The more you’ve actually put yourself out there and said you’re going to try something, whether it works or not, I think that shows a willingness to take some risks, which we really, really appreciate. And we’re not judgmental about whether it’s been successful or not… We really want people to use the application process as a way for them to establish whether this is the right school for them. We don’t want it to be seen as a hurdle for people to get through. If there is a fit, if we’re the right school for people and people are being honest with us, then we’ll come to that conclusion together. And, if we decide, okay, this is not a good fit, nobody should see this as a negative.” -Nick Barniville, Associate Dean for Degree Programs, European School of Management and Technology Berlin (ESMT)
“[About admissions interviews] Somebody who comes across as confident, and doesn’t hold back too much – that would be a good person in the classroom… That’s what we’re looking for; not somebody who sits in a classroom and just takes it all in.” -Gabriele Silver, Admissions Manager, Mannheim Business School (MBS)
What’s it Really Like at Top German MBA Programs?
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“As a person from the Asia Pacific region, gaining an international exposure in Europe’s most dynamic economy was one of my key goals in pursuing an MBA… Germany’s dynamism and intensive focus on innovation by its companies, many of whom are world market leaders, was what attracted me. Along with the strong network of companies partnered with Mannheim Business School, the frequency of close contact with industry professionals in the market and the openness in career opportunities for non-EU nationals proved another strong point.” -Yongkang Ng, Class of 2013, Mannheim Business School (MBS)
“One of the reasons that made me choose the full-time MBA at ESMT is the international exposure options that the program offers. As part of the curriculum, I had the chance to go to Seoul and Tokyo for the International Field Seminar and to IE Business School in Madrid for the one-week exchange within the Global Network for Advanced Management. And upon graduation, combining my passion for travelling with my desire of making a positive impact, I enrolled in the ESMT Responsible Leaders Fellowship and joined the panda family at WWF in Myanmar… In a nutshell, I am building a roadmap for local banks to integrate environmental and social matters into their activities and I am conceiving innovative financing mechanisms to catalyze green investments and restrain brown investments. It is both a very interesting and challenging task to find ways to connect with other stakeholders, explain how our proposal is also beneficial to them, and convince them to take actions.” -Jonathan Plamondon-Ratté, Class of 2016, European School of Management and Technology Berlin (ESMT)
“One thing that stands out for me in Germany is the land connectivity vis a vis the transportation system. With U-Bahn, Straßebahn, Bus and Cabs (mostly Mercs! No Kidding!), one typically has at least three to four alternatives to reach any destination at any time in the city. Furthermore, all major stops have a Blue-Spot i.e. free WI-FI… Being in the NRW (North-Rhine Westphalia) region has its own perks. The city of Düsseldorf has a genial mix of both urban and bucolic facets! On one hand you would find the Rheinturm, a 240 meter long grand communications tower overseeing the dazzling river Rhine and on the other hand of the city you might find a spectacularly green terrain on the backdrop of a quaint but exquisite chapel.” -Rushabh Gandhi, Class of 2016, WHU – Otto Beisheim School of Management (WHU)
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Want a comprehensive picture of Germany’s leading MBA programs? Read below for a head-to-head comparison of schools with detailed info on admissions, curricula, job placements and more.
Head to Head
ESMT MBA vs. WHU MBA vs. MANNHEIM MBA
Last updated June 2017
|ESMT MBA||WHU MBA||MBS MBA|
|Work Exp (avg)||6.5||5||5|
|Start Date||January||March, September||September|
|Length||12 months||12 months||12 months|
|Financial Times 2017 (2016, 2015)||70 (64, 63)||N/A||54 (49, 55)|
|The Economist 2016 (2015)||53 (49)||78 (99)||41 (38)|
|Bloomberg Businessweek 2016 (2015)||13 (15)||N/A||20 (17)|
|Notable Rankings||#2 globally for value for money by Financial Times in 2017.|
#5 by employers among international MBAs by Bloomberg Businessweek.
|#5 globally for education experience by The Economist in 2016.|
#8 globally for faculty quality by The Economist in 2016.
|#20 for employability among European b-schools by QS Global.
#1 for job placement among international MBAs by Bloomberg Businessweek.
#15 globally for value for money by Financial Times in 2017.
|Requirements||Undergraduate degree or equivalent professional qualification|
3+ years of work experience
English language fluency
2+ years of work experience
English language fluency (TOEFL >100 IBT, IELTS >7)
|Undergraduate degree or equivalent professional qualification
3+ years of work experience
English language fluency
Early decision - April 2
Deadline for pre-MBA program - July 2
Competitive scholarships - October 1
Non-EU applicants - November 3
EU applicants - December 3
|Rolling admissions: |
For non-EU applicants:
March intake - November 30
September intake - May 31
For applicants to be eligible for pre-MBA intensive German language course:
March intake - October 31
September intake - April 30
|Stage 1 - November 30
Stage 2 - March 31
Stage 3 - May 31
|Est Annual Living Costs||€12,000-€18,000||€9,600||€9,000|
|Application Materials||Online application|
TOEFL score (if non-native English speaker)
Official transcripts from past degrees/studies
Interview (if selected)
TOEFL >100 IBT or IELTS >7 score (if non-native English speaker)
GMAT or GRE score (>600 recommended)
Short answer questions
One letter of recommendation
Official undergraduate degrees and transcripts
Interview (if selected)
|Online application form
TOEFL or IELTS score (if non-native English speaker)
GMAT or GRE score (>600 recommended)
Three short answer questions
Official undergraduate degrees and transcripts
Interview (if selected)
Evidence of payment of application fee
APS for applicants from China
|International Opportunities||Global Network for Advanced Management - Students can study at one of 25 other business schools globally for one week.|
International Field Seminar - an optional two-week seminar during elective time.
Consulting project - Students can choose an international partner.
Responsible Leaders Fellowship - a fully-funded social impact project for up to six months post-MBA in a developing country.
Exchange semester in China - For six months post-MBA, students can study at Guanghua School of Management, Peking University.
|Mandatory study periods in the U.S., China and India.||The program has five geographic 'tracks' that allow students to study internationally:
Eurasian (Mannheim + China/India)
Transatlantic (Mannheim + Canada)
European (Mannheim + Europe)
Global (Mannheim + Europe + North America/Asia)
|Scholarships||About 60% of students receive scholarship accounting for 25-30% off tuition.|
The school's 25 corporate founders offer partial scholarships to top candidates. Through the Kofi Annan Business Schools' Foundation and the Allianz Scholarship Fund, the school offers a few scholarships covering the full tuition costs.
|Candidates who apply by September 30 (for March intake) or March 31 (for September intake) receive €3,000 off tuition.|
Applicants with excellent GMAT scores may receive scholarships covering up to 50% of tuition.
|The school offers early bird tuition discounts to those who apply in the first two stages.|
Though it's both the capital and the largest city in Germany, nearly half of Berlin is made up of greenspace, which includes parks, rivers, and forests.
Dusseldorf is a creative, startup hub in Germany, and has been ranked as one of the most livable cities in the world.
In addition to being a German business hub - IBM, Siemens, Unilever and other major multinationals have offices in the city - it's been dubbed an "UNESCO City of Music."
|Core Curriculum||18 core courses broken up into three modules, followed by an international field semester, capstone simulation, consulting project, final report, and startup challenge.|
General Management in Context:
Introduction to General Management
Managerial Analysis and Decision Making
Sustainable Business: The Triple Bottom Line
Develop Functional Expertise - The Manager's Toolbox:
Introduction to Finance
Operations Management and Supply Chain
Integrated Business Thinking:
Managing and Developing People
Business and Corporate Strategy
|Four modules that culminate in a thesis.|
1. Core Modules:
Understanding Financial Performance
Exploiting Market Opportunities
Managing the Organization
2. Concentration Modules:
Sharpening Financial Acumen
3. Personal Leadership Module:
Team Building and Coaching
360 Peer Feedback
Development of Personal Leadership
Study periods in the U.S., China and/or India
|Ten core courses, as well as a Social Sustainability Project and Business Master Project:
Organizational Behavior & Change Management
Ethics & CSR
|Electives||Focus on technology, sustainability and general management, such as:|
Capturing Value from Innovation
Organizing for Innovation
Bringing Technology to Market
Strategic Leadership: Innovation & Execution
Sustainable Supply Chain Management
Fighting Poverty with Business
Corporate Environmental Strategy
The Economics of Climate Change
Brands of the Future
|Optional pre-MBA intensive German language course||Options include:
Applied Corporate Finance
From Data to Insights
Innovation & Creativity Management
Corporate Mergers & Restructuring
Global Corporate Strategy
Business & Corporate Taxation
Global Information Management
Responsible Business Negotiation
Supply Chain Management
Strategic HR Management
|Concentrations||Managing Innovation and Technology|
Global Sustainable Business
|Marketing & Sales|
Advanced Finance & Accounting
Operations, Innovation & Entrepreneurship
Strategy & Organization
|CAREERS||Class of 2015||Class of 2015||Class of 2015|
|Placement w/in 3 months||83%||78%||92%|
|Average Salary (Sign-On Bonus)||€91,797*|
*Includes sign-on bonus
|Salary Increase (Financial Times)||32%||89%||84%|
|Top Geographies||76% Germany|
3% Europe (Not Germany)
10% Europe (Not Germany)
2% Latin America
|Top Industries||25% Technology|
12% Financial Services
|34% Manufacturing (including chemicals)
19% Consumer products/professional services
|Top Functions||N/A||45% Industries|
17% General management
10% Project/process management
(How many Top 10 Most Desired MBA Employers Recruit from School - McKinsey, Bain, BCG, Google, Facebook, Amazon, Goldman Sachs, Nike, Deloitte, Disney)
(How many Top 50 Most Desired Employers for Business Grads Recruit from School)
|Alumni||400+ full-time MBA alumni and 8,000 school alumni worldwide in more than 40 countries.||More than 3,500 worldwide.||N/A|
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