People happen across my blog for various reasons and no matter how much I think I know about SEO, I am constantly surprised by which articles grab readers’ attention. My blogging has been sporadic at best since moving to Munich and beginning my Master’s Degree in Consumer Affairs (MCA) at the Technical University of Munich. Yet, despite my terrible blogging habits, Google knows how to crawl and people still find me. I received a lot of questions about the program via email, so in order to share my knowledge with anyone interested in applying to the TUM MCA program and not just one person, I’ve chosen to address the questions I received via email in a blog post.
First, I want to start off by explaining what the MCA program is in my own words. The Masters in Consumer Affairs is a four semester, full-time study program at the TUM School of Management. There are two specializations within the program, Sustainable Consumption and Consumer, Technology & Innovation. My experience with the program is that, since there are only four required modules, you can really shape the program into whatever you like by choicely selecting your other courses. This is probably my favorite aspect of the program, as you can write your master’s thesis in just about any department at TUM.
Qualifications and the Application Process
I am a Mechanical Engineer be eligible for MCA at TUM?
I do not know much about the admissions process, but I can say that pretty much any study background can apply for the Consumer Affairs program and your classmates represent an array of bachelor’s degrees. On the first day of class, Professor Belz asked us to introduce ourselves. There were all types of backgrounds, from Australian economics students to Turkish engineers and Russian Neuroscientists. If you are uncertain if you meet the formal requirements, ask Caroline Garbe (firstname.lastname@example.org). She will probably kill me for writing this, but I sent my transcript to her to make sure I had the correct number of socio-economic credits before applying (actually I contacted the person who held her position before she did, but Ms. Garbe is the new MCA contact person).
Otherwise, the application process is judged on a point basis and you can check during the review process to see how many points you received.
How competitive is the program? Did you take time between graduation and applying?
Again, I am a student not an admittance counselor. My intake has about 70-80 students, 40-50% of whom are international students, while the following intake only admitted about 40 students. Students on the border of meeting the minimum point criteria for admissions have to complete an interview.
Do you have any advice for the interview?
I did not have to do the interview, but I do know from my classmates that many were asked specifically about their essays, so be sure to review them. Also, think about issues in the consumer rights space.
My main question is about the essay. On the website, there is not much information about how we should write the essay. Therefore, I wanted to ask for your advice and your writing experience. Did you conduct/include your own research about the respective subject? Or, did you base the essay more on various finding gathering and comparison?
I searched for scientific and current sources for the basis of my essay. It is certainly not an essay I am proud of, but nevertheless you can see mine here. Here are some guidelines from the TUM Chair of Entrepreneurship that may help guide your writing. I would not worry so much about writing it how they want, but rather demonstrating that you can formulate an argument and support it with scientific evidence.
How good is the additional program you are in and how difficult it was to get admitted to it?
This article is about MCA, not CDTM, so I will not state too much about it here. I would browse the CDTM website for more information. In comparison with normal study programs, it is interdisciplinary and more hands-on, so you gan a more practical experience. It enhanced my education tremendously. It is a highly competitive program (5-10% acceptance) that I highly recommend. It is hands-down the best academic decision I’ve ever made.
Studying Consumer Affairs
How much does the program cost and in which month does it begin?
The program costs €114.50 per semester and begins in the so-called winter semester (early October).
I would like to know your overall evaluation of the program. Do you feel satisfied? Are them some parts/subjects which you would like to be updated or changed?
I was not satisfied during the first semester as the professors had a way of ruining subjects like Consumer Behavior that could be super interesting. The problem I’ve experienced throughout my education is that intelligence does not make you fit to teach. Many of the professors are likely great researchers and minds, but not necessarily engaging and personable instructors.
Fortunately, after first semester my experience has improved. I am not a student that requires any sort of hand-holding, so I adapted very easily to the German system and was often able to prioritize work and CDTM over the MCA program.
There are different course structures at the TUM School of Management. There are lectures, which are the big courses where the professor talks through slides and you quickly realize they are skippable, and then there are seminars. Seminars require an application process during the course registration period. Each seminar is structured differently – some require papers and presentations, while others may require case studies and class discussion. Even though they are usually more work, I always took 500% more out of seminars and recommend taking as many as possible.
Could you also share thoughts about MCA, what subjects are good, what are not?
There are four courses every MCA student takes during their first semester:
- Consumer Behavior
- Consumer Behavior Research Methods (CBRM)
- Qualitative & Quantitative Research
- Consumer Economics & Policy (Microeconomics)
All of these courses except CBRM take place in Freising, which is small town outside of Munich near the airport. The commute sucks and if you have a job alongside your studies like I do, you will likely skip them. Frankly, I found the first semester courses really crappy. The professors are not inspiring nor clear. However, if you choose your courses well you can be very happy with them after first semester. As with anything, you get out what you put in. The professors are surprisingly willing to help. The best part about first semester is getting to know your classmates, which is easy since you have every class together.
What other courses have you taken?
- Case Study Seminar: Strategic Management of Technology and Innovation**
- Technology and Innovation Management
- Adv. Technology and Innovation Management
- Sponsorship-Linked Marketing
- Consumer Needs Meet the Technical Market
- Organizational Psychology
- Consumer Affairs Issues
- International Environmental Policy & Conflict Resolution
- Negotiation Strategies**
- Applied Business Venturing**
** stars indicate favorite courses
I heard some mixed opinions about TUM School of Management. What do you think?
Studying in Germany is different than studying in the US, but I think the international reputation of TUM is superb and I believe that is what is important in the future. I have worked with both the Chair of Technology & Innovation and Chair of Strategy & Organization and I can say both of these chairs are well-respected and a lot to offer.
Have you tried TUM’s language courses?
I took one my first semester because I could receive credit towards my degree for one German course. Due to the time commitment required by my add-on study program and work, I am not currently enrolled in German class, although I would like to be. The quality depends heavily on the teacher, but I think TUM’s language course offerings are just as good as paid ones. You will need to be online the second they open for registration as the language courses fill up immediately.
Opportunities After Studying
What are the job prospects like after complete the MCA?
I believe with MCA the world is your oyster. There is not one set path MCA students take and it will depend heavily on how you frame yourself via your bachelor’s studies and prior work experience. Some examples of future careers are:
- human relations
How hard/easy was it to find a job not being a native German speaker?
I am not yet finished with the program, so I cannot speak for finding a job after graduation yet. For me as a native english speaker, I have not had any problem finding working student jobs alongside my studies. There are lots of jobs that require english, but speaking German is always a bonus. Not speaking German will limit your opportunities, but not being a native German speaker will only limit you in certain fields where perfect German is necessary. There are lots of companies in Munich that operate with English as their primary language.
I talked to some of the graduates and they mentioned that it took them a long time to find a full-time job.
Again, I have not graduated yet and I write my thesis next semester so I cannot say anything to this. I think it is a long process anywhere as it requires multiple interviews and then the actual HR hiring process. Building a strong network is essential.
What else do you want to know about the MCA program?
Update: 11 September 2016
I receive a TON of emails and messages about the MCA program. Please leave your questions below in the comments so the answers can help others, too.