Change of subject

Do you actually enjoy studying, but the subject isn’t right?

You are not alone in doubting your type of degree programme, as 12 per cent of all graduates and even 26 per cent of all early leavers would actually have preferred to have studied a different subject (Fig. 1).

Early leavers


  • Preferred subject
  • No preferred subject
  • Different preferred subject



  • Preferred subject
  • No preferred subject
  • Different preferred subject

Source: DZHW Student Early Leaver Study 2016

Fig. 1: Compliance with the preferred studies of early university leavers and graduates

Which way do you want it to go?

Are you still sure that you want to study, but you haven’t yet found the direction you want to go in? Even if it is possible that there are deadlines for enrolment and you are under time pressure, it is still important to devote enough time and space to reorientation. The choice of the new subject should be carefully considered and based on your personal interests and strengths.

Typical questions you can ask yourself when choosing your type of degree programme are:

  • What are my interests?
  • What do I like to do in my spare time?
  • What are my hobbies?
  • Which topics do I read in magazines/newspapers or watch on YouTube?
  • If I take a step back and look at my answers with a little impartiality, what do they stand for? (For example: Ballet -> discipline, structure, working on subtleties; planning parties -> organisation, time management, imagination)

The answers to these questions can help you identify your own interests. A subsequent look at the job market can then also be helpful. You may find out about a number of (new) professional careers which you didn’t know about before. It is also helpful to reflect on the framework conditions of a profession: Do I want to be employed or work as a freelancer? Would I rather work in the office or in production/laboratory/shop etc.? Which working time models are typical in the industry and which of them suit me?

If placed side by side, personal interests and a look at potential occupations often provide good search criteria for suitable degree programmes. With the right subject you can resume your studies, this time with renewed motivation and enthusiasm.

NEXT STEP niederrhein also offers neutral coaching at all four university campuses which can help you. With targeted questions and methods we help you identify your wishes and possibilities, to specify them in more detail and, in the best case, to make a decision. We can establish contacts to specialist offices and contact persons as required.

How can I find the right degree programme?

The Central Student Advice Service (ZSB) of your university will provide you with detailed information about its degree programmes and will also offer advice on how to make a decision.

Even if you have already decided which subject you want to switch to, you should still contact the ZSB to find out about the new degree programme. You often have to reapply if you switch to a new subject. The application deadlines must be observed. If your own university or a nearby university offers the new subject, it is often possible to attend a lecture as a guest to see what it’s like. Please contact the faculty and/or the lecturer if you are interested in taking a look at what lectures entail.

If you start a new degree programme, it usually means that you have to reapply!

As an alternative and/or in addition to the ZSB, you can also search online for the new degree programme:

  • At University Compass, the information portal of the German Rectors’ Conference (HRK), the universities provide up-to-date information on their degree programmes.
  • The Federal Employment Agency, the Agentur für Arbeit, has an overview website which leads you step by step to the right course of study.
  • The website provides detailed information on a number of degree programmes. The site is operated by the Agentur für Arbeit and the Stiftung für Hochschulzulassung (University Admissions Foundation).