Education System in Germany

Education system in Germany

Germany is the most popular study destination after UK and USA among students all over the world. Also studying in Germany is highly beneficial as education is almost free for everyone. Moreover, the quality of education is high: according to different rankings, there are plenty of top German universities. If you are going to study in Germany, you should know main specificity of higher education in that country.

Studying in Germany requires the graduate degree, named “Abitur”, which children get after finishing a German school and passing finals. International students have to hold a similar degree certificate, for example, English equivalent of Abitur is A-level. There is no central organization for application and award of university places, that’s why you should send applications directly to the chosen university.

In Germany there are currently 387 universities and they are divided into three major groups:

  • Universities or similar institutions (110)
  • Universities of applied sciences (221)
  • Colleges of art and music (56)

The admission requirements change according to the type of university chosen.  Universities or similar institutions do offer different kinds of subjects and academic disciplines. Due to the German tradition, universities focus on theoretical aspects and scientific research.

Universities of applied sciences in Germany focus on practical skills and also cover scientific and social subjects. Mainly, universities from that group concentrate their study programs in engineering, social work, business and design areas.

Colleges of art, films and music offer different art study programs, that are considered to be more practical, than theoretical. You can choose between different branches of art: performing arts, fine arts, music, filming, literature, architecture. Only two per cent of all students attend that type of university.

In addition, you should know that there could be another university differentiation: any university could be public or private. Public universities do not charge tuition fees as the government finances them, whereas private universities are financed by student’s fees. However, in Germany there are much more public than private universities, because that is the government politics. German law says that education should be available and accessible to all throughout the country. Moreover, there are numerous possibilities to get financial help: grants, scholarships etc., for example Bafög-money.

For each step, there are several basic requirements: to complete the previous step of education, to pass final exams successfully and to hold a language certificate at list at a level B2 for a foundation year program or C1 for the first year of university studies.

In total, there are approximately 9,500 different undergraduate programs and 6,800 postgraduate degree programs on offer. Germany is a participant of Bologna Process, that’s why higher educational system is divided into three main steps: bachelor’s degree (3-4 years), master’s degree (2 years) and doctor’s degree (differs from the course chosen). Each degree require passing final exams and writing a specific graduate thesis. In addition, some courses lead to Staatsexamen (state examinations) for the list of subjects like medicine, dentistry, law, pharmaceutics and teaching.

The last thing that anyone who want to study in Germany should know is that German grading system is not like grading systems in other countries.  We can call it system with grades “in inverse proportion”, so that the highest mark is ‘1’ and the lowest is ‘6’. There is also another system, which is less popular, with the highest mark ‘15’ and the lowest ‘0’. You should write to the university administration in order to know which grading system do they use, and then carefully translate your certificate’s grades according to the system required. Also thanks to the Bologna-reform for every lecture or exam at university students get so called ECTS-points.
Julia Linnik

04/30/16

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