Higher education system in Germany
The German higher education system is supervised and under the responsibility of the German federal government, through the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (Bundesministerium für Bildung und Forschung), and the education government bodies in each German state.
Types of higher education institutions in Germany
In Germany there are two different types of higher education institutions including:
- Universities: Universitäten are German multidisciplinary or specialized institutions of higher education and research which can provide academic degrees and education at undergraduate and postgraduate level, including doctorates. Specialized universities which have the formal status of Universität include Technical Universities (Technische Universitäten), Universities of Education (Pädagogische Hochschulen), Universities of Arts (Kunsthochschulen) and Universities of Music (Musikhochschulen). uniRank currently includes more than 150 German Universities.
- Universities of Applied Sciences: Fachhochschulen are specialized higher education institutions which can provide academic degrees and education in a few specific scientific fields at undergraduate and postgraduate level but have no power to award PhD-level degrees, at least not in their own right. uniRank currently includes more than 180 Universities of Applied Sciences.
Access to higher education in Germany
German students access higher education after a total of at least 13 years of primary, secondary and higher secondary school studies, from the age of 6 to the age of 18, and after obtaining the certificate of general qualification for university entrance (Zeugnis der Allgemeinen Hochschulreife, often referred to as Abiturzeugnis or shortly Abitur) which is the official German certificate awarded after candidates have passed their final higher secondary school exams; it is also the document which contains their grades in both the last and second last school year and formally enables them to attend university. Thus, it encompasses the functions of both a secondary school graduation certificate and a University entrance qualification.
Languages of instruction in Germany
University programs and courses are mainly taught in the German national language.
Stages of higher education in Germany
- First stage: the first stage of University-level higher education in Germany can last from 3 to 4 years, depending on the area of study, and leads to the award of the Bachelor's degree.
- Second stage: once obtained a Bachelor's degree, the second stage of University-level higher education generally lasts between 1 and 2 years, depending on the area of study, and leads to the award of the Master’s degree.
- Third stage: the fourth and last stage of University-level higher education in Germany can last from 2 to 6 years, depending on the area of study, and leads to the award of a Ph.D. or Doctoral degree. While it is not an academic degree formally, the Habilitation is an additional higher, post-doctoral academic qualification for teaching independently at Universities.
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