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Higher Education


Learn more about the German higher education system, the different types of universities and the degrees they offer.


Every degree programme provides students with a certain level of academic qualification. When you choose a degree programme, you don’t only choose a subject of study but you are also choosing the degree you’d like to receive. German universities offer degree programmes that fit every wish and level of education.


Depending on where you are in your academic career, German universities offer you the following options:

  •  start a bachelor’s programme as a first-time student.
  •  In your own country, as part of your degree programme complete various semesters of  study  abroad.
  •  Register in a graduate programme after obtaining your undergraduate degree.
  •  earn your doctorate.


You can earn the following academic degrees at German Universities:

Bachelor’s (B.A., B.Sc., Bachelor of Engineering, etc.)

On the international labour market, the bachelor’s degree is a first-level university qualification which is recognized. You learn the basics of a particular subject in 6-8 semesters ina bachelor’s degree programme, . When you have finished the programme, you can either begin your professional career or continue studying for the next higher degree possibly the master’s degree.

Master’s (M.A., M.Sc., Master of Engineering, etc.)

The second-level university qualification master’s degree is offered by German universities. A master’s programme that takes another 2 to 4 semesters, allows you to expand or deepen your already gained knowledge. When you have obtained your master’s degree, you can become a professional or you might continue studying to obtain the next higher academic degree maybe the doctorate. The successful completion of a bachelor’s or another equivalent programme is a necessity for getting admission to a master’s degree programme.

State examination

You must pass a state examination if you plan to work in Germany as a lawyer, doctor, pharmacist or teacher. After finishing a study programme in Law, Pharmacy, Medicine or a subject for teacher certification, you are permitted to take your First State Examination. When it is done, you initiate a professional, functional training period to prepare for the Second State Examination for obtaining a doctorate. The state examination isn’t an educational degree – it is a state acknowledged degree. That indicates that the examination management is not handled by the university but rather the federal states. Moreover, state invigilators conduct the examinations. Please note– passing the state examination does not ensure that you’ll receive a job. In advance, you should inquire if the German state examination is acknowledged in your country or not.


Doctoral study programmes conclude with the conferral of a doctoral title (PhD). During your studies, you are required to write a research paper (dissertation). The PhD programme’s duration varies according to the topic of your research project but normally it takes between 2 – 5 years.

German universities, in recent years,  have worked very hard to improve their degree programmes according to the Bologna Process. All of the traditional “Diplom” and “Magister Artium” programmes have been replaced by the new bachelor’s and master’s degree programme practically. These degrees might be found in your search for proper study possibilities. Both are equivalent to a master’s degree.

The “Diplom” is conferred to students who successfully have finished their studies in the Engineering, Economics, Natural Sciences, Social Sciences or artistic disciplines. Usually, The “Magister Artium” (M.A.) is conferred following completion of study programmes in the humanities.


It is not so simple to maintain an overview, with so many degree programmes to choose from. If this is difficult for you to decide indeed, there very helpful online tests are available:

TestAS – Test whether you are prepared for university-level study in Germany (free)
Self-assessment – Especially suited to technical subjects; test your strengths and weaknesses  for free