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Language and Cultural Studies

Study Oriental Studies in Germany

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The field of study oriental studies examines the religion, culture, language, and history of North Africa and the Near and Middle East in both the past and the present. The focus of this field is particularly on the Islamic cultural area. You can choose from various specialisations, such as Iranian studies or Turkology, for example, that allow you to concentrate on specific language families or regions.


28 Higher Education Institutions

Bachelor, Master

German, English

2-8 Semesters

What content can I expect?

A degree programme in oriental studies provides insight into the regions of North Africa and the Near and Middle East. You will acquire linguistic and general scientific knowledge and examine religious, cultural, and political science issues with historical or contemporary relevance inside and outside the region. The field of study oriental studies also includes the following areas:

  • Modern Egyptology, which deals with the modern Egyptian language as well as the literature, religion, and history of Egypt.
  • Arabic studies, which examines the Arabic language, literature, and culture.
  • Indology, which deals with the languages, cultures, and history of the Indian subcontinent („South Asia“).
  • Iranian studies, Persian, which focuses on the Persian-speaking region.
  • Islamic studies, which deals with the religion, history, culture, literatures, and languages of the Islamic world.
  • Jewish studies, which examines Jewish religious history and culture in the past and present.
  • Semitic studies, which is devoted to the history, grammar, and vocabulary of about 70 languages and countless dialects of the Semitic language family.
  • Turkology, Turkish, which deals with the Turkic languages as well as Turkic literature, history, culture, and peoples.

At many higher education institutions, learning a language is an important focus of the courses of study in this field: you are often asked to choose a regional and linguistic focus at the beginning (or in the course of your studies). By learning your chosen language(s), you can deepen your understanding of the culture and history of the region. Therefore, you should have a certain curiosity for other cultures and their languages as well as an interest in philological, historical and theological issues. By the way, endurance for text editing is also very helpful for this degree programme!

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What are the application requirements and how long does a course in Oriental studies take?

Oriental Studies is a classic university subject and is therefore usually offered at universities. At most universities, the standard period of study is six semesters for the Bachelor’s degree and four semesters for the Master’s degree. Many degree programmes are open-admission programmes, which means that a general university entrance qualification or equivalent is often sufficient for admission to the degree programme.

To be eligible for a Master’s programme, you should have successfully completed a relevant Bachelor’s programme. Of course, there are also universities that have additional requirements for the Bachelor’s or Master’s programmes; these could be letters of motivation, for example. Language skills are mostly – at least for Bachelor’s programmes – not required, as these are taught from the ground up during the degree programme.

In this subject area, many higher education institutions offer courses of study with the name „Oriental Studies“. But sometimes you will also come across names like „Egyptology“, „Arabic Studies“ or „Ancient Oriental Studies“. These programmes often offer similar content with different focal points. Therefore, find out in advance at the higher education institution of your choice about the possible specialisations and the respective course content.

At some higher education institutions, you can study parts of the subject as a minor or the entire programme as a major. Sometimes a two-subject Bachelor’s degree is also possible, in which you can combine the Oriental Studies degree programme with a second degree programme. Furthermore, there are often practical semesters or internships during your studies, where you can deepen your language skills, for example. Many higher education institutions maintain partnerships with institutions in North Africa and the Near and Middle East, which makes it easier to study abroad.

What are the costs of studying and living in Germany?

Programmes in Oriental Studies are usually offered at state universities; that’s why tuition fees are rare. However, semester contributions are normally charged every six months for the student union or administration, for example, and these range between 100 and 400 euros depending on the higher education institution. Sometimes your semester contribution covers a ticket for local public transport or you can purchase a discounted ticket. Depending on where you study, this may be valid for the city, the region or even for all of Germany. Ask your higher education institution whether such an offer is currently available.

Depending on where you study, you should expect significant differences in the cost of living: Popular student cities or large cities in general, for example, have significantly higher rents than smaller cities or cities in eastern Germany. However, if you decide to live in a student hall of residence or in a shared flat, you can still save money. As soon as you have decided on where you want to study, you should start looking, as halls of residence can fill up quickly. Here, you can find information on local halls of residence and the respective application process for most cities. Your other living costs depend entirely on your personal lifestyle.

To finance your studies in Germany, you should also find out about scholarships. There are many different scholarship programmes and excellent grades are not the only deciding factor. You can learn more about scholarships here and find suitable programmes directly on My GUIDE.

What career options do I have with a degree in Oriental studies?

Usually, you will graduate with a Bachelor’s or Master of Arts degree. After completing your studies, you can pursue a career, for example, in foreign language mediation, in the tourism industry, in public relations, in research institutes, or in educational institutions. But you can also take up an advisory position in business enterprises, for example in contract negotiations or in company branch offices. Thanks to your expertise in a specific region, jobs are also open to you in the diplomatic service, political consulting and integration policy. You can position yourself as an intermediator between Europe and North Africa or the Middle/Near East in various professional fields.

Since the degree programme does not train you for a specific profession, your salary depends heavily on your experience, the location and the company. Additional qualifications, such as stays abroad or project work, can certainly help you find a satisfying career.

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Check your eligibility to study at German higher education institutions (non-binding)

Run a quick and non-binding check to determine whether your certificates make you eligible to study at German higher education institutions. Depending on which educational certificates you provide, you may qualify for all degree programmes or only for certain subjects or types of higher education institutions. It is possible that you do not currently meet the requirements to be eligible to apply to a German higher education institution. In such a case, you may be able to attend a Studienkolleg. Please note that the eligibility check results apply exclusively to undergraduate programmes and are not legally binding.

Once you have completed the non-binding check, degree programmes that match your eligibility will be marked with a corresponding icon.