Study or Apprenticeship
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Study or Apprenticeship?

You've almost finished your schooling or even have it behind you? Now you're probably wondering what comes next. We explain the difference between an apprenticeship and a degree program. In addition, you can find out all the advantages and disadvantages of studying and apprenticeship, if you are wavering between the two.

Study or Apprenticeship: Every Second Counts

Whether you want to look for an apprenticeship or want to study - in any case, you have to take care of applications and the like early on. Because such positions are also awarded early.

Since apprenticeships usually start as early as August and many degree programs also start around the beginning of September, it's best to start looking for a place in both before you graduate from school. Even if you don't have your school-leaving certificate in your hand yet, you can still apply with your previous certificates or your expected average grade. You can then easily submit your high school diploma or similar later.

For all those who are still undecided which way is the right one for them, we have prepared useful tips in this text. We also list all the advantages and disadvantages of studying and apprenticeships.

Decision tips

Still need help deciding between a degree and an apprenticeship?  Here are our best tips:

2. Career Aspiration

In order to be able to decide between a course of study and an apprenticeship, you first have to ask yourself what profession you want to pursue or what area you would like to go into. Often, the desired profession already determines the career path. If, for example, you would like to pursue a trade such as carpentry, then an apprenticeship is a good choice. However, if you are interested in medicine and would like to become a doctor, then a degree program is the obvious choice. However, some fields offer both degree programs and apprenticeships. You can ask yourself whether you are more interested in the practical or theoretical side of the field. Both areas are not always so easily defined.

4. External Assistance

Trade fairs or advice centers can always be a good place to start in order to quickly get information material or even an external assessment of whether a particular study or career field suits you. At career fairs in particular, you get to know people who are already working in the career field and can provide valuable tips and insights. In addition, this gives you the opportunity to already make contacts for the future. Munich Business School also offers student advising via chat.

In summary, it is best to listen to your own needs and strengths before making a decision. The following advantages and disadvantages of apprenticeship and study can help.

Course of Apprenticeship vs Study as a Scheme

This diagram provides an overview of the course of an apprenticeship and the course of a degree program.


An apprenticeship usually lasts 3 years and includes both theoretical learning at a vocational school and practical work in a company. In the process, you already earn your own money, which becomes more each year on a staggered basis. This is called the dual apprenticeship, which is the most common, but not the only type of apprenticeship in Germany.


  • Low earnings: Although earnings are a major advantage of apprenticeships, it is important to remember that they tend to be small, especially at the beginning, and are often not enough to cover living expenses.
  • Later earnings: Often academics, i.e. graduates of a degree program, earn more later in their careers than trained workers. Depending on the field and further training, etc., it sometimes equalizes, but this often remains the exception.
  • Advancement opportunities: In addition, career opportunities are often more limited after an apprenticeship than after a degree. For many higher positions, degrees are required.
  • School-based apprenticeship: In addition to dual apprenticeships, school-based apprenticeships exist. Depending on the chosen field, this is sometimes the only way to enter a profession. The school apprenticeship has some serious disadvantages:
    • No salary: In contrast, you have to pay rather money in this form of training.
    • Limited practice: One often does not have a permanent position at a company during school-based apprenticeships. Therefore, the practical experience can vary greatly between trainees.
    • Limited number of positions: In addition, the number of the areas is usually severely limited, which is why it can be difficult to find a training position at all.
  • Constraints: An apprenticeship has a lot of specifications and timeframes that you have to adhere to. In terms of daily routines and deadlines for exams, it's not that different from school. In addition, you are also limited in terms of the potential knowledge you can learn. At the same time, your later career choices are limited.
  • Control: In terms of control, the apprenticeship is also similar to a school education. Attendance, for example, is also required and then checked. In addition, you have to regularly report to your supervisor in the company what you have learned and how you apply it, etc.


The word study refers to academic learning at a higher education institution. A university is a designation for all institutes that offer courses of study, i.e. universities, universities of applied sciences, etc. Depending on the course of study and the university, a course of study takes different lengths of time. However, since the bachelor and master system was introduced, as a rule, a bachelor's degree program is designed to last 3 years (6 semesters) and a master's degree program is designed to last 2 years (4 semesters).  After each degree, one has the choice to enter professional life or to continue studying. So you are not obliged to do a master's degree after your bachelor's degree.


  • Theory: Probably the biggest disadvantage of a degree program is the high level of theory. Especially after school, which is often considered too theory-heavy by students, a good deal of thirst for a little more practice. However, depending on the course of study and the university, the amount of practice can vary greatly.
  • Tuition fees: The second major disadvantage is the tuition fees. Not only do you not earn anything during your studies, but you also have to pay for them. Often you have to move to a foreign city to study and earn your own living for the first time. As a result, many students have to take advantage of offers such as BAföG and student loans. Some also have a mini-job or similar in addition to their studies.
  • Competition: Some courses of study are so popular that the competition among applicants for a place is relatively high. In addition, even after studying a popular subject, you can expect a high level of competition in the working world.
  • A fuzzy future: Although alumni can take jobs in a variety of fields, they usually face the same decision after graduation as they did after finishing school. You have to ask yourself again where you want to go and what career you want to pursue.
  • Degrees: Depending on the degree program and the profession you are aiming for, there can feel like there is never an end to your studies. Some professions can only be achieved with certain degrees, and sometimes with additional prerequisites. This can take a long time and become complicated.
  • Motivation: since there is rarely anything given or controlled in a degree program, one must practice discipline and self-motivation. You can never go to the lectures or seminars in many degree programs, but you should pass the exam at the end of the semester. And learning and preparing for it independently is not easy for everyone.

Apprenticeship vs Study –
Advantages and Disadvantages Overview

Apprenticeship Study
Duration Approx. 3 years Approx. 3 years for bachelor's degree, other degrees possible
Money Mostly small earnings, rarely fees No earnings, tuition fees
Knowledge Limited, practical knowledge Deeper, individual knowledge about the subject
Supervision Well supervised, but also controlled Supervision on request, relatively free and stand-alone
Independence Rather low Mostly high
Individuality Rather low, especially in the company Can vary from low to high
Practice At least half of the time practical work Variable practical part, mostly more theory
Occupation Concrete occupation, possibility of being taken over Broad occupational spectrum
Salary Mostly limited salary Higher salary possible
Career opportunities Limited career opportunities Good career opportunities

Apprenticeship or Study - Not a One-Way Street!

Both apprenticeship and study have their advantages and disadvantages, and are therefore not the optimal solution for everyone. But no matter which path you choose or whether you regret the choice, both paths are not a one-way street.

After graduating, you can always start an apprenticeship. And after an apprenticeship, the path to a degree program is just as open to you as before. Often the apprenticeship can even be helpful for later studies, especially if you are going to study a subject in a similar direction. In addition, vocational training counts as a waiting semester and can therefore even be helpful in improving one's NC. And even if your studies don't work out, you still have your apprenticeship to fall back on.

You can find out more about studying after an apprenticeship on our page "Studying without a high school diploma".

Combining Apprenticeship and Study - Dual Study Program

For the completely undecided or those who would like to study and do an apprenticeship, there is always the option of a dual study program.

The dual study program combines both types of training and also leads to two degrees. As with an apprenticeship, you usually have to apply to a company and receive a salary from it. In the meantime, however, you also study a suitable subject, the tuition fees for which are paid by the company. By doing both at the same time, you shorten the training time that you would have if you did both one after the other. In addition, you have a good chance of being taken on by the company.

However, a dual study program can also tend to be adapted to the individual requirements of the company and leave little freedom for individual focus as a normal study program can offer.

In summary, it can be said that a dual study program combines many advantages of both sides, but can not get rid of all the disadvantages. Here, too, you first have to think carefully about whether this form suits you.


Which is better Apprenticeship or Study?

It depends on the profession you want to pursue. Many professions have a set path that you must follow in order to enter. For example, you must do an apprenticeship to become a carpenter, but to become a judge, you must study law. In that sense, both can be better than the other if they lead you to your desired goal.

However, if you think you'd like to do something with Business Studies or similar, then an undergraduate degree may be a better choice for you. A degree offers a wide range of knowledge that will help you decide what exactly you want to do with Business Studies. It also offers you a wide range of careers that you can enter after graduation.

If you do an apprenticeship, then you need to be sure that it is exactly the profession you have chosen. An apprenticeship only trains you for one profession. But that doesn't mean that you can't develop yourself further with further education and the like.

Is a Dual Study Program an Apprenticeship or a Degree Program?

It is both. The dual study program is characterized by the fact that it combines the elements of an apprenticeship and a degree program. You work in a company and earn a salary. At the same time, you also study at the university. In the end, you graduate with two degrees. More information on dual studies can be found in the appropriate text above.

Is study an apprenticeship or further education?

A study is both at the same time, but actually something completely different.

The study is also called academic apprenticeship, which means that it is a measure to start a profession, but in this case mostly a theoretical one. The practical side of an apprenticeship often doesn't happen much in college, unless you take care of internships and such yourself.

In the study you get a much more extensive knowledge than in a classical apprenticeship, which is why it can also be compared with a further education. In the general use of the word, a study is also a further education after the school education. However, a professional training is something specific and therefore not comparable with a study.

Where do you have more free time apprenticeship or study?

That depends on how you plan your studies.

Generally, an apprenticeship is fixed and therefore dictates when working time, school time or free time begins and ends. The vocational school is usually laid out like the classic school. You have classes with breaks and then free time in the late afternoon. There are also vacations at the vocational school. At the same time, however, you are still working in the company, which can sometimes have completely different requirements. So it can be that you sometimes have to work after the vocational school. Mostly you work 2-3 days a week, the normal 8 hours. In the company you do not have vacations, but normal vacation days, which you can arrange as you wish and the company allows it. It is a good idea to schedule the vacation days during the vacation of the vocational school, so that you do not have to go to school during the vacation.

In the study program, one year is divided into 2 semesters (about half a year per semester). Each semester has a lecture period, which lasts about 4 months and during which you study actively. Depending on your schedule, lectures can start at 8am and end at 8pm. If you are able to create your own timetable, then you can often decide for yourself how much you put on a day within the framework of the study requirements. But if the schedule is predetermined, then care is taken that it resembles a normal working day.

This is followed by a lecture-free period of about 2 months. However, this is not the same as vacation or vacations, because it is for self-study. This means that you have to prepare for exams or research and write essays and papers. The lecture-free time is there to deepen and apply your learned knowledge independently. Depending on how fast you learn or how you structure the writing of your texts, you can allow yourself more or less free time.

So this question cannot be answered in a general way. In an apprenticeship, your free time is clearly regulated. However, you have more leeway in your studies.

Study opportunities at Munich Business School

At Munich Business School, we offer a variety of bachelor's and master's degree programs tailored to your individual interests and career goals. Discover our practice-oriented degree programs that enable you to gain in-depth knowledge and prepare for a successful career.

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