Degree course or vocational training? Theory or practice? Why not both?

Young woman with glasses and yellow shirt in an office

School students

Cooperative education programme

Article: Degree course or vocational training? Theory or practice? Why not both?

Do you want to help design the digital mobility of the future? Great! That means DB Systel is the perfect place for you. With a cooperative education programme at DB Systel, you can combine the benefits of both options and look forward to a promising future.

We offer the flexibility you need in the modern working atmosphere of a startup. This could be the perfect springboard for your career. We can offer you just what you're looking for: you'll be part of the DB family and enjoy all the benefits that a major corporation provides, but at DB Systel, you can expect a modern working environment with flat hierarchies and agile, self-organising ways of doing things. At Skydeck, our innovation lab with a startup vibe, we're always working on new ideas that help drive digitalisation forward at Deutsche Bahn. Sound exciting? Then take your first steps on a promising career by signing up for a cooperative training programme with us – one of the leading names in ICT solutions and Deutsche Bahn's partner for digital solutions.

Four paths to one destination

On a cooperative degree course, you quickly gain practical experience in a specific field and obtain an internationally recognised bachelor's qualification. DB Systel currently offers you a choice of four degree courses:

  • Business Informatics
  • Computer Science
  • Digital Media
  • Digitalisation Management

Each course starts on 1 October and takes three years to complete. In October, we host a "Welcome Days" onboarding event for our new cooperative education students.

"The practical phases are always a highlight for me. I really value the daily interaction with colleagues, the opportunity to learn from their many years of experience and the diverse insights into what everyday working life is like."

Pia Höfers, student on the Business Informatics cooperative education programme at DB Systel

Profile picture Pia Höfers

Students can pick one of our three main bases as the location for their course – Frankfurt, Berlin or Erfurt (see overview). We tailor our training and degree offerings to respond to company requirements, so the range of courses can vary from year to year. We therefore recommend that you have a look at DB’s careers page (german only) to see what positions are currently on offer. It will show you where places are still available, and you can submit an application without further ado.

Degree courses

Business Informatics     (B.Sc.)

  Computer Science     (B.Sc.)

Digital Media   (B. A.)


BA Rhein-Main

BA Rhein-Main

DHBW Mannheim

DHBW Mannheim


HWR Berlin

HWR Berlin



BA Rhein-Main

DHBW Mannheim


Your questions? Our answers

What do the courses entail? 

Students alternate approximately every three months between their academic courses at university and work at our offices, creating a balance between theory and practice. The practical phases of each course focus on applying, implementing and consolidating theoretical knowledge in the workplace.  Working in our different departments, students learn about our different units’ processes and activities. We believe that it is important for you to gain not only technical expertise and practical skills, but also social and methodological competencies. For this reason, we offer students made-to-measure seminars that complement their university courses and work experience.  The level of responsibility increases for each student as their course progresses, and we see to it that their involvement in our projects increases. A specialist in your field will provide you with guidance and support during your work.  Students receive feedback from their supervisors on a regular basis, particularly after the end of each practical phase.

What do business IT specialists do?

Business IT specialists function as "translators" between IT teams (especially IT development) and Group partners or requesters. For example, they take IT processes and produce information about them so customers can understand what is happening. Their activities cover a wide spectrum: planning and conceptual design, programming and implementation, and support and maintenance for new software and systems. They study work processes and analyse IT systems in terms of effectiveness, security and economic viability. At DB Systel, for example, business IT specialists design concepts for automated shunting and make sure that intelligent passenger wagons provide advance notification if repairs are necessary. In addition, they see to it that the IT environments of DB AG employees operate in line with the latest security standards.

What do IT specialists do?

IT specialists help develop, analyse and configure complex software systems and perform software engineering tasks. They can work in application consulting, quality assurance, IT security, system administration, software development, testing and project management. At DB Systel, our IT specialists work on new features for apps such as DB Navigator. They also analyse large quantities of data from DB's infrastructure operations to identify how the company can optimise service frequencies for passenger trains.

What career paths are open to people with a degree in digital media?

Focusing on media publishing and design, the digital media course equips media designers to become our experts on digital information resources. Graduates can work in a host of fields: IT architecture and programming special software solutions, project management, customer consulting and support, the planning, designing and manufacturing of non-print materials, marketing, profitability analyses, as well as legal and contract-related issues. Looking at the aspect of user experience enables us to study the user-friendliness of websites and apps, such as Call a Bike, and optimise them for clients. Digital media experts also work to make and our mobile apps barrier-free and they ensure that visually impaired customers can make full use of our digital offerings.

What do we look for in candidates?

First and foremost, you need to be interested in the activities we have described, and you should have an affinity for cutting-edge technology, computer science and programming. You know how to learn in a way that helps you make progress. Teamwork is tremendously important to us, and it should be for you as well. You have a good grasp of technical and detail-heavy topics, and you can transfer what you know to other situations quickly and apply it accordingly. In addition to your school (or vocational school) leaving certificate, you have an affinity for maths, computer science, physics or business studies, as these will help you with your university courses and tasks at DB Systel. Good knowledge of German and English are also essential. If you are more interested in vocational training at DB Systel, further information is available here.

What do we offer our cooperative education students?

In addition to a stimulating, future-focused bachelor's degree course, we also offer a host of fantastic perks such as a NetzCard travel pass, free travel, rent support and career development options in the form of seminars and workshops. Once students complete their courses, they have an excellent chance of a permanent position at DB Systel as well as various opportunities for professional development, such as a master's grant specifically for our graduates.

Does this sound interesting? If so, then send us an application. We’re looking forward to hearing from you.

DB’s careers page (german only) contains a list of current openings and other information about cooperative education courses. Would you like to learn more about DB Systel and Deutsche Bahn? Trade fairs and other events are the perfect opportunity to meet us in person. All the dates are listed on DB’s event page (german only).