Many young people are looking for opportunities to study locally or abroad. Having a connection to a network with professionals to mentor and give the career guidance is very vital as well.

This is the aim of our network: to reach out to professionals in their areas of expertise who can share out their experience and how they made it in Germany. We believe this is one of the best ways to source for information, share this information and mentor young students and professionals interested in opportunities in Germany.

Effy Ogutu originally from, Kenya studied Pharmacy and recently graduated at the Ludwig Maximillian University in Munich. She shared with us her career path and what motivated her to study Pharmacy in Germany. She also shares about opportunities to access the job market in Germany.

What motivated you to study Pharmacy?

As a result of globalisation, movement of people and goods across the boundaries and the flow of information, the infectious diseases have also rapidly spread around the world. Providing the right medication is one of the ways to fight this challenge.

Pharmacy is playing an important role in the society identifying the science and techniques needed to prepare safe and efficient drugs. It is a profession that connects the health sciences with pharmaceutical sciences to ensure there are safe, effective and affordable drugs.

My dream has been to be part of these revolutionaries and to bring in change and see how I can be able to contribute to the health sector especially in Kenya. I have a special interest in chemistry and generally natural sciences and I enjoy doing experiments. These are some of the reasons that motivated me to pursue the career in Pharmacy.

Why Germany?

German is known to be one of the best academic destinations to study pharmacy worldwide. Our neighbour’s daughters had managed to move to Germany for studies, and that is how I came to know about the process of pursuing studies in Germany. I joined the Goethe Institute in Kenya for the language courses and moved to Germany in 2008.

I came to Germany as an Au-pair where I stayed with a very kind family for one year in Munich. During my Au-pair year, I had the opportunity to learn the German culture and language intensively as I prepared to join the preparatory course (Studienkolleg) to prepare for my studies. I attained the German ‘C’ Level which helped a lot in order to pass the German entrance exam (Aufnahmeprüfung) to join Studienkolleg.

Your Au-pair story is a success story. Why?

Personally, doing Au-pair in Germany helped me in understanding a lot of elements in Germany that later helped me during my studies. Apart from the culture and the language aspects, the programme gives young people time to explore available opportunities after the Au-pair programme is over. If you are planning to do your Au-pair in Germany, inform yourself on time and identify what you need to do before your Au-pair year is over.

What is a Studienkolleg and why is it necessary for students looking for Bachelor Degree Programmes in Germany to attend the preparatory course?

Studienkolleg is the preparation for foreign students to obtain entrance qualification (Abitur) to study in Germany. There are a number of secondary school certificates awarded in other countries which qualify students to study at a university in their respective countries, but which do not qualify them to study at German Universities.

This case applies to many Kenyan students who attained a minimum of C+ in their KCSE and are looking for Bachelor Degree Programmes in Germany. Depending on the qualifications attained beyond the KCSE certificate, the Kenyan students can be exempted from joining the Studienkolleg. But according to my experience and of many other Kenyan students who managed to join the Studienkolleg, the preparation achieved at the Studienkolleg is very helpful and it prepares students to understand the systems, get exposure to master the language especially the language used by professors during studies.

The content covered at the Studienkolleg is what you partially cover at the University for the first 2-3 semesters. The courses offered at the University would be familiar since they were partially covered at the Studienkolleg. Statistics have also proven that Studienkolleg Alumnis study better and have higher chances of finishing their degree programmes within the given time.

The course preparation takes two semesters with a final exam (Festellungsprüfung) from different subjects. There are public and private Studienkollegs in Germany. Please also note that there are Studienkollegs for students willing to study at the University and others for studies at the University of Applied Sciences. However, students who attended the Studienkolleg at the University for Applied Sciences cannot study at the Universities but only at the University of Applied Sciences. Please also note that some universities do not recognise the private Studienkolleg certificate.

Studying Pharmacy in Germany: What is the structure of the pharmacy degree with the state examination in Germany?

Pharmacy is the link between life sciences and chemistry that deals with the development and production of pharmaceutical drugs and ensuring the safety of patients and efficient usage. This field of study can bring you a career in pharmacy and innovation in human health. Students pursuing Bachelor and Master Degree courses will spend a lot of time in laboratories, researching and learning about the chemistry used to make the medication. There are no specializations in pharmacy like in medicine and dental degree programmes.

Structure of the Course

The degree pharmacy in Germany usually takes eight semesters plus the practical year where students have to do a final state exam (Staatsexamen) which qualifies them to practice as pharmacists. The language course is in German throughout the course. Students can enroll for either the summer or winter semester intake depending on the university chosen. The programme has numerus clausus, meaning there are course restrictions to join the course. But with the qualification from the Studienkolleg, one is entitled to get an admission in the whole of Germany.

The course programme is divided into three sections:

I. Basic studies (Grundstudium) – 4 Semesters

During the basic studies which take 4 semesters, students get to learn about the inorganic and organic chemistry with qualitative, quantitative and instrumental analytics, physics and physical chemistry, biology, especially systematic, morphology and anatomy of plants as well as microbiology and fundamentals of pharmaceutical biology; mathematics, history of science and terminology. The basic study is completed at the earliest after the 4th semester with the first section of the pharmaceutical examination (first state exam). The exam is conducted in writing using a multiple-choice system and covers four subjects.

II. Main course (Hauptstudium) – 4 Semesters

The main course provides in-depth knowledge and skills in the following areas: pharmaceutical chemistry, pharmaceutical biology, biochemistry, pharmaceutical theory, special fields of law; medical subjects include anatomy, physiology, clinical chemistry, nutrition, pharmacology and toxicology.

After at least eight semesters, the university degree can be completed with the second section of the Pharmaceutical Examination (second state exam). This must be taken as an oral exam in five subjects.

III. Practical year – 1 year internship

The third part of the training is followed by a one-year internship in a public pharmacy (six months of which can also be completed in a related institution). Here the knowledge from the university study is extended and applied practically. Accompanying lessons are offered for this practical training. The interns receive a training allowance during the internship since they are no longer students. After the practical year, there is the final third state exam. After the third state examination, graduates can apply for authorization to be a pharmacist. For more information about the study curriculum studying pharmacy at the Ludwig Maximillian University in Munich, please click here. Details are only in German.

Pharmacy is one of the most demanding degree programmes to study in Germany. Is it possible for students to work as they study? Are there scholarships for pharmacy students in Germany?

I agree. The course is very demanding whereby students spend nearly the whole day attending lectures and laboratory sessions having less time to work during their studies. There are options to finance your studies by either working during the semester break or in securing a scholarship.

How is the job market and especially with a pharmacy degree (state examination) from Germany? Can one access the international job market with this particular degree?

The job market is very stable and open to all. I could also work in Kenya as a well paid pharmacist. There are many options one can take. You can either work as a community pharmacist, hospital pharmacist or as a research scientist. Apart from that, you can also work as a pharmacologist, a science writer or a lecturer. The job opportunities are many and very diverse.

Tips for students willing to study pharmacy in Germany.

  • Learn as much German as possible since the course language is in German
  • Pharmacy is a very demanding course where students spend a lot of time in the labs/lectures
  • Secure financing options if possible before joining the course since students hardly get time to work during the semester
  • Be independent, self-disciplined and learn to plan your time properly
  • Network especially with pharmacy students in higher semesters

Helpful links

LMU university in München has prepared helpful information about applying for the following courses: pharmacy, medicine, dentistry or veterinary medicine. Click here for more details: guide for applying

Information for international students about the German state examination in medicine, denstry, pharmacy.

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