First student graduates from international dual master’s program

Matthias Hermann finishes program between Queen’s and the University of Stuttgart in Germany

Matthias Hermann at Niagara Falls.

Mandated in 2014, the partnership between Queen’s University and the University of Stuttgart in Germany has seen its first graduate from its dual master’s program.

Matthias Hermann wrapped up his thesis defense last month, marking the end of his two-year dual degree experience. While at Queen’s, Hermann studied with chemistry professor Richard Oleschuk’s research group. During his year on campus, Hermann said he focused on micro-fluidics. 

Hermann did the first year of his masters at Stuttgart and the second at Queen’s, yielding two master’s degrees in Chemistry. “I was working on a device to detect cadmium, that’s a toxic metal you can find in drinking water,” Hermann told The Journal.

“We were trying to find a really easy, cheap and straightforward device to detect cadmium, so that you basically get a result within half an hour on a small device you can carry around.”

With no shortage of international schooling experience, Hermann spent six weeks in Chengdu, China during his undergrad for a research position and a summer in Australia as well. 

“I wanted to stay for longer somewhere else and not just for half a year. So it was the perfect opportunity for me,” Hermann said.

As the first student to come through the new partnership, Hermann described himself as a guinea pig for the project. Hermann said future students have “nothing to worry about,” though he said the program had some administrative bumps to work out initially. 

“It was a little bit tricky because, how it works in Germany is you usually work on your master’s thesis only half a year, just the final half year of your masters, while here in Canada you work on it [for] the full two years,” Hermann remarked.

Hermann also indicated the difference between a master’s programs in Canada and Germany is that “you are treated [in Canada] during your master’s more like a PhD student.”

Hermann said that because tuition in Germany is free, “master’s are still a little bit comparable to your undergrad,” adding, “you start TA-ing and earning money within your studies usually with the PhD, not during your master’s.” 

Originally, Hermann said his plan was to head back to Europe for his PhD, but recently decided otherwise. 

“I actually really like it here in Canada, so I applied for a PhD position in the same group and decided to stay.”

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