Want to Study Business in Germany? This Innovative Programme is the Future | Student Reviews & University Rankings EDUopinions

Want to Study Business in Germany? This Innovative Programme is the Future

14/05/2024

Today, it’s not enough for a business degree to teach students about the fundamentals of traditional business. Instead, business programmes must prepare students to work in companies of the future, whatever they look like. And if you’re looking to study business in Germany, the new business degrees at CBS International Business School could be a great choice for students who want to be prepared for the future.

CBS has just launched their Next Generation bachelor’s business degrees (NXT GEN). These programmes have been developed with the future in mind – students follow a tailored English-language course that focuses on practical learning and developing business skills that will be vital for the future.

There are three bachelor’s degrees available in the NXT GEN family of programmes: International Business, Business Psychology, and Finance & Management. During every programme, students participate in an internship at a company of their choosing, as well as a semester abroad at a partner university to expand their skills.

We spoke with Dr. Ulrich Anders, Professor of Strategic Management at CBS and key developer of the NXT GEN programmes. He explained the origins behind the programmes, what students can expect from their NXT GEN degree, and why this could be the future of business education.

Prof Dr Ulrich Anders

 

We’ll also look at some student reviews of CBS, so you can discover what it’s really like to study business in Germany.

Interview with Dr. Ulrich Anders, Professor of Strategic Management

What prompted the development of the NXT GEN programmes at CBS?

We always thrive to stay modern and relevant. As a result, we are constantly reviewing our offers and are trying to have the most innovative and sensible programs. Our guideline is to generate win-win-win-win situations:

  • Win for the student: they acquire modern and relevant competences and skill sets that they can apply immediately.
  • Win for companies: they need to have the feeling that the competences and skill sets of CBS students are immediately useful to them and that students do not need a long internal training period before they are ready to work.
  • Win for professors and lecturers: they can transfer their research findings, experience and academic knowledge into practice and know it is useful.
  • Win for CBS: all of the above contribute to the reputation of CBS, thereby raising the attractiveness of cooperation opportunities for everyone.

What specific problems did you see with how traditional undergraduate business studies courses were structured/their curriculum?

The world is constantly changing. It is becoming more technical, more complex, and now more AI-based. Companies today face completely different challenges than they did 10, 20 or 30 years ago.

Like in medical education, application is also crucial in business education. When a business student graduates, they should ideally be capable of doing a number of things from day one in a company: analyse a business, read a balance sheet, set up a project, launch a marketing campaign, measure everything with the relevant KPIs, understand technology, master commonly used spreadsheet and software tools.

When looking at degree programs offered in the market, we weren’t sure if all the degree programs we looked at had that kind of vision in mind.

We looked at a really large number of business degree courses and found that a surprisingly large number of these have content that does not meet modern business requirements in terms of content selection.

We also had the impression that some content has survived for too long. Some courses were certainly necessary 10, 20 or 30 years ago, but today they fill space in some undergraduate business programs that could be better utilised.

In what ways do the NXT GEN programmes differ from traditional business studies courses?

First, we took a very intense look at the design of business degree programs. We asked which courses should really be integrated into a business degree program and why.

Today, everybody is talking about Business Models. A business model is an abstraction of how a company intends to generate value. Even though the business models of companies are all different, the beauty is that they can all be compared with a common underlying business model concept.

If the business model of a company is such a fundamental aspect and everybody is using it, why should we not base a whole business program on it and derive what should be in the program based on the needs of a business? And that’s exactly what we did.

For each relevant component in a business model, we wanted to offer our students a basic course. To complement this, we added courses for the most important skills a student should have, by our conviction. On this broad and fundamental basis, we then offer students a choice of industry classes they might be interested in.

Also, we offer students to build their profiles (quantitative profiles, soft skills profiles, digital skills profiles, project skills profiles, language skills profiles or a combination of all of these.)

NXT GEN Business Model CBS International
Credit: CBS International Business School

Base Courses

Many undergraduate programs offer something like “Introduction into Business Administration”. We consider “Introduction into…” courses as not sufficiently output oriented and rather wanted to enable our students to produce results.

Instead of giving them an “Introduction into Business Administration”, we plan to familiarise them with the business world by analysing the Business Models of real companies.

Product

The product is at the core of any company. We all know about the product life cycle and how relevant products are to the life or death of a company. As a result, we put Product Management at the core of the NXT GEN programs.

Oddly, we found only a few other universities which offer Product Management in the foundation courses of their program. We were particularly surprised when some universities put product management into their marketing modules (as if marketing was developing and managing company products) or when others pushed product management into a voluntary specialisation.

Sales

20-30 years ago, the value of a company originated to a larger degree from the ability to produce. In today’s world, which is a digital network economy with crowded international markets, the value of a company arises more from the ability to sell. As a result, Sales & Customer Relationship Management (CRM) is of utmost importance to every company.

So, Sales & Customer Relationship Management (CRM) is of course a core course in the NXT GEN programs. Astonishingly enough, and again, we are amongst the very few that always put such an important course into the core.

Excel

Spreadsheets such as Excel play a significant, if not to say dominant, role in today’s business lives. Logically, we put a skills class in place that teaches students to become proficient in the use of Excel.

Students should learn this in their education and not in practice. Instead of teaching students mathematics based on formulas and presentations, we want them to put formulas and mathematics into Excel and apply it. If students are asked to make an NPV calculation for a project investment, they should be able to do it straight away.

Financial analysis

It makes perfect sense to first read a book (or many) before you write one. Similarly, it makes sense to first read (and analyse) financial reportings (Balance Sheets, Income Statements, Cash Flow Statements), before you produce them.

This logic is in stark contrast to how undergrad programs are typically taught. In the first semester, students have to make bookings into the income statement or balance sheet without ever having read plenty of financial reports. We found this very counterintuitive and changed it.

In the NXT GEN programs students first have to do the Financial Analysis and then build their accounting competences on top of it.

How do students get to apply their skills practically during the programme?

We all know that doing something is much harder than just knowing something. Based on this recognition, we made a bold move when we designed our NXT GEN-platform.

All our foundational courses are now taught as 6 ECTS modules. In every module we have an applied perspective. The objective of every module is not the acquisition of knowledge, but the ability to apply this knowledge.

For example, the objective of marketing is not only to know about the possible marketing tools and techniques, but to also learn how to put marketing activities into practice, determine their costs, and measure their success with KPIs.

How can students personalise the NXT GEN programme to their career goals/interests?

When we designed the NXT GEN platform, we wanted to start by giving students the broadest foundation, so that they really understand all aspects of modern companies.

Instead of then giving students more courses on the same subjects, we felt we wanted to offer students a different perspective, which would be an industry or market specific specialisation, resulting in relevant additional competences which would deepen their practice orientation.

The topics of specialisation that we have decided to focus on currently are consulting, banking and financial markets, e-commerce, trade, business psychology, entrepreneurship, and corporate finance.

In addition, students can build their own profiles based on their talent, their interest, their career outlook, or based on what they plan to further pursue in their education. Students can pick profile courses such that they develop more quantitative skills, soft skills, technical skills, project skills, or language skills. Of course, combinations are possible.

How does the course prepare students to work in cutting-edge sectors/industries?

The NXT GEN platform hosts business programmes which have new industries and technologies in mind. For that reason – and in addition to a digital technology and AI course – all students on the NXT GEN platform also have a digital literacy course. Later, they can focus on entrepreneurship and intrapreneurship and/or pick an innovation course.

How is digital technology integrated into the programme?

Study AI In Germany at CBS

There are two answers to this question: Firstly, from the business model analysis, we recognised that we needed a course for one of the most central resources for every business today: digital technology and AI. So, every student will be taught this subject.

Secondly, we added a headline named “Software” to every module description. That means, whenever we devise a module, we are forced to immediately consider with which software the content is applied in today’s world.

For instance, we do not only teach students about agile methods, but we also show them the relevant tools, such as Jira or Trello or GitHub or Slack and ask them to use and apply them.

In what ways can students on the course learn from real businesses during the NXT GEN programme?

We are a business school and business applications are embedded in our DNA. CBS International Business School cooperates with more than 800 companies and business partners. Many of them are renowned and well-known listed companies.

In every program we have something that is called a Business Project. In this, a partner company assigns a real case, based on a real challenge the company currently has, to our students. Students then have to answer the asks of the companies like real consultants.

Professors coach the students to not only come up with a well-researched and best-possible answer, but to also present the answer in the most professional manner. Students consider the Business Project a very rewarding course; they have to take over full responsibility for the results and their delivery.

For many students, it is a “reality check”. It helps them to better understand their strengths and further train and develop their skill areas.

Additionally, students will run their own companies in a business simulation game. They must build their own business plans for a startup based on an internally developed business planning tool.

Even in their theses, we encourage students to work on research questions based on a real business problem (e.g. in co-operation with a company) with real data using applied empirical analysis.

What career services do students have access to enhance their graduate journey?

At CBS, we have our own Career Service department. Through this gateway, students are continuously offered networking events, company presentations, excursions, internships, or job fairs. Also, in the Career Service department, we have dedicated employees for Talent Development, who accompany students over their whole course of studies.

But for NXT GEN, we wanted even more. We have built-in guest lectures which are compulsory for every student. Over the course of the study program, students will have to attend at least 20 guest lectures (more is possible) across all branches and industries.

They must look at the business models of companies and summarise the content of the guest lectures with Sketch Notes. The objective is to not only broadly expose them to a variety of companies and business speakers but also give them the opportunity to build their own networks.

What kinds of students would you say are ideal candidates To Study business in Germany on the NXT GEN programmes?

We are an international business school and have students from all around the world and from all cultures. We love students who are open-minded, who are eager to learn, to try things out, who accept challenges and difficulties, who take us up on our offers, who want to work in teams, and who like to build their personal and leadership skills.

In summary, we want students to exploit their potential and thrive on their abilities. For this, the professors and all the other staff members are giving students the support they need. We like to think of CBS as a large CBS-family.

Student Reviews of Studying in Germany

Conclusion

The NXT GEN Bachelor’s degrees at CBS International Business School are a reinvention of the traditional business studies degree. With a focus on innovative technology and a reimagining of the skills required for business today, these programmes prepare students to work in a future world – not the world of the past.

Want to study business in Germany? Find out more about why you should choose a programme in this influential European country.

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Written by
Abigail
Abigail is a freelance writer specialising in higher education. She has lived in London and the Netherlands, and has a Masters degree in American Studies.

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