The German education system covers the following levels:
- Early Childhood Education
- Primary Education
- Secondary Education
- Tertiary Education
- Continuing Education
These five levels are primarily governed by The Federal Ministries of Education, Cultural Affairs, and Science and the education providers are closely monitored by the Ministry. The responsibilities are shared between the Länders (states) and the Federation, and the rules for the education system are collectively called the Grundgesetz (The Basic Law) which should be adhered to by all educational institutions.
The higher education is also governed by the Basic Law but the institutions enjoy autonomy in the way they teach, research, take in students, and award scholarships. The higher education system in Germany is quite intricate and this can be seen not in the number of universities but in the number of types of universities. All of the higher education institutions come under at least one of these categories
Here’s a snapshot of the types of institutions, what they are all about, and the types of programmes they specialise in:
|Type of institutions
|What they are all about
|Types of programmes they specialise in
|Courses in Engineering Sciences, Mathematics, Medicine, Natural Sciences, Languages, Humanities, Agronomy, Forestry, Nutritional Science, Sports, Law, Economics, Social Sciences, and Management
|Universities that specialise in a particular area
|Wide range of courses in Engineering and Technology
|Courses related to teaching methods and pedagogy
|Universities of Applied Sciences
Faculty have robust industry experience in addition to a strong academic background.
Most institutions are self-financed but a few are public-funded
|A wide range of courses in the following areas:
Agricultural Economy, Design, Technology, Business
|College of Public Administration
|Specialised programs designed for training civil servants
|College of Arts and Music
|Offer specialised courses in:
Visual, Design and Performing Arts,
Film, Television and Media, Fine Arts
Art History and Art Pedagogy, History and Teaching of Music,
Media and Communication, Digital Media
|Offer a variety of courses in the fields of
Technology, Economics, Social Affairs, Agricultural Economy, Design
TYPES OF QUALIFICATIONS AND THEIR DURATIONS
|Bachelor’s Degree (First level of higher education in Germany)
|Magister Degree (Master’s Degree) – Second level of higher education in Germany
|Type of institution
|3 academic years (6 semesters)
|1 to 2 years (2 to 4 semesters)
|University of Applied Sciences
|6 to 7 semesters including the practical work
|3 to 4 semesters
|German Colleges of Art and Music
|4 academic years (8 semesters)
|2 years (4 semesters)
|3 academic years (6 semesters)
German PhDs can be earned from German universities and equivalent institutions. The studies involve independent research and a Rigorosum (oral examination) or a Disputation (defence of the thesis).
The types of PhDs in Germany are:
- Individual and Supervised Doctorate
- Structural Doctorate
- Cooperative Doctorate (combination between universities and universities of applied sciences)
- International Doctorate
- Special Doctorate
Other types of qualifications
- Diplom Examination
- Magister Examination
- Staatsprüfung(State Examination)
- Church and Academic Examination
- Postgraduate Study Courses – Supplementary and Follow-Up Study Courses
- Examination of Colleges of Art and Music
This is quite a unique concept included in the German education system. It aims at helping students upskill to match the dynamically evolving industries and their potent job market. Academic institutions as well as non-academic organisations provide need-based trainings to this effect.
Basic qualifiers for the types of programmes in Germany
The entry requirements vary depending on the type of institution and the programmes that you are applying to. Generally, most German institutions of higher education require The Allgemeine Hochschulreife (Abitur) or the Fachgebundene Hochschulreife or a certificate equivalent to one of these two. To know the specific details about the entry requirements to the programme of your choice, please check with our study abroad consultants.
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