Second study medicine: a comprehensive guide

There may be good reasons for a second degree in the medical field. For example, if you are not happy in your current job and would like to make a fresh start. Or as an additional qualification to an already existing degree.

However, one should also be aware of the risks before making such a decision. First of all, it is important to keep in mind that studying medicine will take a few years and requires intensive study. You should plan on at least six years until you have the state examination in your pocket (the degree "diplomomediziner" no longer exists), and if you are aiming for a doctorate, it can take even longer.

Medical studies require a high degree of discipline. Those who already have a degree in their pocket, however, will be more aware of the effort involved than a first-year student. Therefore, it can be assumed that people who decide to take this step will do so consciously and will not take the study requirements lightly. It should be noted that the medical training with the degree or doctorate is far from being at its end.

The studies are followed by a period of residency with specialist training, for which a further 5 years must be planned. Of course, you earn good money during this time, but you cannot set up your own practice as a doctor. Rather, one must take over the hectic daily tasks in a clinic, also night and weekend duties are part of the duties of the assistant doctor.

Patience pays off in the end

The good news is that the opportunities for doctors on the job market look very good at the moment. Residents are wanted in many places, usually not much time passes between graduation and the first job. There has also been a demand for years among physicians in private practice, especially in rural regions. However, it should not be forgotten that someone who starts studying medicine at the age of 30 will not be able to earn money before the end of his 30s and will not be able to start his own practice until he is in his mid-40s.

Application for the second study of medicine

Central allocation of study places

Until a few years ago, admissions to medical degree programs were coordinated by the central allocation office for study places (ZVS) in dortmund, but this has since been transformed into the foundation for university admission (sfh). However, this changes little in terms of its scope. There is still a nationwide numerus clausus for medical studies in germany. The study places are allocated twice a year by the sfh.

Interested parties can apply via the website hochschulstart.Enroll. Initially, it does not matter whether one comes directly from the abitur, has already completed another study or wants to change from a not completed study.

Applicants for a second degree are disadvantaged

However, enrollment is not quite that simple, because a closer look at the regulations reveals that the sfh makes it extremely difficult for second degree applicants to study. Only three percent of german medical school places (i.E. Ca. 270) can be reserved for applicants in the second study, accordingly the places are hard fought for.

In addition, the final grade of the first degree and a letter of motivation in which the applicant must give good reasons for the second degree are also crucial. Urgent attention must also be paid to the six-month deadlines for applications.

Unconventional approaches as a further option

On the other hand, those who combine their medical studies with a completed vocational training in the medical field are in luck. This is sometimes even credited positively.

Incidentally, a high school diploma is no longer mandatory for the study of medicine today. Some universities already award study places to outstanding applicants with a subject-related higher education entrance qualification.

By the way, an often overlooked option to circumvent the restriction by the sfh is to study medicine with the german armed forces. With the abolition of military service, the personnel requirements of the armed forces have increased immensely and the age limits for recruitment have now been raised significantly. Under certain circumstances, the german armed forces may also be interested in people who want to train as a doctor via a second course of study. Therefore, it does not hurt to inquire at the nearest military service counseling center. Information on studying medicine with the german armed forces can be found here.

Study medicine abroad?

Recognition of the studies in germany

Even outside the german-speaking countries, the search for a place to study medicine can be profitable. Today, due to the internationalization of study programs and the harmonization of standards within the european union, this is much easier than ever before. Theoretically, it is also possible to study outside of europe, but then you may have to take another exam in germany to make sure that your studies really meet the german requirements.

However, anyone who has completed medical studies in the EU or switzerland can obtain a license to practice medicine in germany without any problems. Those who decide to take such a step should, however, assume that they will also complete their entire studies abroad. The wish to change to germany after a few semesters and thus avoid the admission restrictions is quite illusory, even if this strategy can lead to success with a lot of luck.

Medical studies in austria

Due to the lack of a language barrier, austria is the first choice for many prospective medical students from germany when considering studying abroad. In addition, the study contents are very similar to those in germany. In vienna, graz, innsbruck and salzburg there are corresponding universities. In addition, one does not pay tuition fees there (with the exception of salzburg, which is a private university). Second degree applicants are equal to first degree applicants, both have the same chances.

Let's move on to the disadvantages: austrians reserve 75% of their medical school places for their own countrymen. Another 20 % are reserved for EU citizens, 5 % for students from non-EU countries. The abitur grade (or previous graduation grade) is irrelevant in austria, but you have to pass a demanding entrance test. All in all, austria puts fewer hurdles in the way of second degree applicants, but the general admission requirements are tough (EU quota and admission test).

By the way, the paracelsus university in salzburg has also been offering medical studies according to austrian law in a branch office in nuremberg for some years now. However, the entrance test of this private university is particularly difficult and the fees are high at 71.000 euros very high.

Further possibilities within the EU

You can also consider studying medicine in the czech republic, hungary, bulgaria, romania, poland, france, spain, the netherlands, great britain and other EU countries if you have the appropriate language skills. Universities in eastern europe sometimes offer courses in english, and one hungarian university even offers courses in german.

The rationale for a second degree in medicine should be well considered

Justify the study application correctly

Professional reasons are decisive

As already described above, applicants for a second degree must present credible reasons for their desire to study for a second degree in a letter of motivation. There are various possibilities here.

For example, there may be so-called compelling professional reasons. This is the case if the applicant wishes to pursue a profession for which two completed courses of study are indispensable.

If this is not the case, there may be special professional reasons. This means that the second degree in combination with the already existing qualification is not indispensable for the desired occupation, but would significantly improve the applicant's career opportunities and income prospects.

Finally, other professional reasons can also be claimed, for example in the course of a disadvantage compensation or to expand the field of activity. These arguments are, of course, the weakest, while the compelling professional reasons are the strongest.

In addition, there may also be academic reasons. If the applicant aspires to (or, in the best case, is already pursuing) a scientific career, he or she may need the study of medicine as an urgent or useful additional qualification to his or her existing education. In such a case, already completed research projects, internships, publications on specialist topics, lecturing activities, etc. Should also be taken into account. To be indicated with. An overview of the different categories can be found here.

Correct argumentation often decisive

In any case, it is important to argue that the medical studies in connection (!) with the first degree will give the applicant a significant competitive advantage. Merely stating that one is unhappy in one's current profession or that the job market opportunities currently look bad are rather weak arguments, because the sole desire for a change of profession is neither a compelling nor a special reason. Who can guarantee that the applicant will not drop out of medical school as soon as the job market for his or her first degree improves?? Of course, this does not mean that one should categorically exclude purely personal reasons in the argumentation. Taken on their own, however, they do not seem very convincing.

You should also refrain from using hackneyed phrases, such as that you like to help other people, want to show responsibility, and so on. With such formulations one does not stand out from the competitors, because each beginning medicine student leads these in its repertoire.

Second study of medicine after other subjects

With which existing degrees is now a subsequent study of medicine especially promising?
On the one hand, there is the study of pharmacy. In terms of content, it harmonizes very well with the study of medicine.

Second study in medicine after a study in pharmacy

This means that it may even be possible to have credits already taken during the pharmaceutical studies credited for the study of medicine. The following subjects can be taken into account: biology, chemistry, physics, biochemistry and, of course, pharmacology. In the best case, the prospective medical student can save two semesters in this way. However, the crediting requires some effort and also luck. First of all, you should ask the contact person at your previous university to issue you with certificates. This is then submitted to the relevant state examination office before applying via the sfh. In this way, it is sometimes possible to enter the 2. Or even 3. Subject semesters take place.

But even if this should not happen, one can be happy about one or two saved seminars. After all, what does one do with such a double degree?? A simultaneous license to practice medicine and pharmacy is not possible in germany. Therefore, the decision will tend more in the direction of a doctor. A good career choice would be, for example, the specialist in pharmacology, for which one is wonderfully predestined with these two degrees.

Study medicine after a psychology degree

Another conceivable combination of degrees are the subjects medicine and psychology. Where are the reasons and advantages here? In principle, there are all kinds of fields of activity for psychologists after graduation: as school psychological advisors, in personnel departments, in university teaching, as study advisors, etc., there are many possibilities. However, if you are not comfortable with this and would like to work in the medical field or in research, you will not be able to avoid further qualification. The cardinal path for psychology graduates is usually a subsequent training to become a psychotherapist, which takes 3-5 years. In this case, it does not really matter if one does not take up another medical study instead, which takes only insignificantly longer.

In addition, the training to become a psychotherapist is not cheap either, in the end usually more than 10.000 euro in fees are due, the study of medicine is not more expensive, but rather cheaper. After medical school, one can then specialize as a resident in psychosomatics, later as a specialist in psychosomatics and psychotherapy.

The catch in the whole thing: the first degree in psychology is not at all mandatory for this career path! However, it should not be dismissed as wasted time either. Finally one enters already with a large vorwissen, which one does not have to acquire only during the medicine study (which already contains enough learning pressure) laboriously. In addition, one goes with a clear perspective into the medical studies. Even with a first degree in psychology, you can get credit for a couple of seminars on psychological topics, although it usually won't be enough to skip entire semesters.

Second study medicine after a BWL study

There are also good reasons for pursuing a second degree in medicine after completing a business degree, although this may not be so obvious at first glance. Most second degree students with a background in business administration are simply people who were not satisfied with their previous career choice. In this case, of course, one has bad cards in the motivation letter, but should still try his luck as always in life. On the other hand, those who explicitly aim for a career with an economic-medical orientation are in a better position. This is indicated by the fact that hospitals have been forced to operate more efficiently in recent years due to financial restrictions imposed by health insurance companies, while at the same time the influx of patients has continued unabated. It would also be nice if people did not get sick in the first place.

The fields of healthcare management and medical controlling have therefore recently gained in importance and offer rewarding fields of activity. However, the same applies here: business studies are not required as a prerequisite. Rather, the necessary qualifications can be gained in postgraduate courses to an existing medical degree. However, it is also true that a degree in business administration, once it has been acquired, can by no means be detrimental as a basis and certainly facilitates access to business management learning content.

Second degree in medicine after first degree in law

The situation is similar for medical studies after law studies. To become a forensic physician, you do not need a law degree, rather it is sufficient to specialize in this field as an assistant and specialist during and after medical school. However, this combination of subjects can have one advantage. Sound knowledge of law as well as medicine predestines the carrier to represent as a lawyer patients who have suffered from a treatment error and its consequences.

If you want to work in this niche, this highly specialized combination of subjects is certainly the best way to go.

By the way, this is exactly how you should argue in your letter of motivation, otherwise there is usually not much of a chance for lawyers to be admitted to a second degree program in medicine.

Claiming a place at university

Since the chances for an admission to the second study of medicine, as already described above, tend to be low, a study place lawsuit can also be considered. However, one should not disregard the costs here. Since also the complaint usually does not mean a success warranty, it is not sufficient also to submit only with a university complaint, but it should be immediately a few in the eye to be considered. The cost of this can quickly reach 10.000 euros, about 1500 per university. Legal protection insurance does not usually cover these costs.

The legal basis is as follows: the plaintiff insinuates that the university in question is not making full use of its study place capacities. Sometimes one is lucky and this is indeed the case. Some universities are more likely to succeed here than others, information is provided by annually updated rankings on the internet. Finally, however, it should be noted that the study place lawsuit especially in medicine is recently used by more and more applicants. In the meantime, there are several thousand such lawsuits every year.

For a second study with the accordingly small contingent at places are also with a study place complaint the chances of success therefore particularly gloomy.


Bafog is rarely available

However, if you have made it and started the longed-for second degree despite all adversities, the first question that arises is how to finance it.
Bafog is almost completely ruled out as an option. There are a few exceptions, however, such as when the second degree is in addition to the first degree (!) for the admission of the aimed occupation legally (!) is necessary. Admittedly, this is rarely the case even with the above-mentioned career examples, and not at all after a complete reorientation. In rare cases, however, a so-called case of hardship may exist. This takes effect when, due to personal circumstances (often a chronic illness or disability), it is no longer possible to pursue the previously chosen career path and retraining is therefore unavoidable.

Hardship cases can also apply to homeless persons, persons entitled to asylum and (late) repatriates who cannot work in germany with the qualification they have acquired in their home country and therefore have to reorientate themselves, and so under certain circumstances one can still receive bafog even in a second course of study.

Student loans should be carefully considered

Therefore, a student loan, such as from the kfw or the sparkasse, is often taken advantage of. Since these loans must be repaid in full and not infrequently also with interest, a borrowing should be well considered. Only those who are sure to complete their studies quickly and successfully should take this step. Otherwise one ends later in the private insolvency.

Other possibilities

By the way, as already mentioned, one way to get to medical school without financial constraints is to study medicine with the german armed forces.
In some federal states, there is also a subsidy of approx. 500 euro monthly, if one commits oneself in return to work later for at least 3-5 years as a general practitioner in the respective federal state.
Remains still the possibility of jobbing. For those who already have a first degree in their pocket, this option is quite lucrative. One does not have to beat oneself with badly paid mini-jobs about the rounds, but can earn with some luck even sufficiently, in order to secure beside the study still an appropriate standard of living. This should not be a problem for lawyers and business students.


The path to becoming a physician via a second degree is long and rocky. The first hurdle is already formed by the hard admission regulations. Until one can finally hold the admission to the specialist in hands, besides, a plentiful life decade goes by. Nevertheless there are here interesting occupation perspectives and also pronounced niches. The second study of medicine should therefore be well thought out and approached with a clear perspective.

In the medical field, distance learning also always represents a flexible and part-time path for a second degree: