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German Universities - Programs


Programs in Fachhochschule or Universities of Applied Sciences


Fachhochschule or Universities of Applied Sciences offer a diplomgrad (diplom degree) after the Diplomprüfung (Diploma examination), e.g. Diplom-Ingenieur (FH). Since the courses taught are practical and job oriented ones, the topics for diploma theses that one has to submit at the end of the course, usually deals with current practical problems in the relevant field. In some study courses, especially the engineering sciences, 60 to 70% of all diploma theses are prepared in cooperation with industry. ‘FH’ initials are added after passing the final examinations.


According to the Regelstudienzeit (standard period defined for each period of study), a degree programme at Fachhochschulen should be completed in 8 semesters (2 semesters = 1 academic year), including one or two practical semesters.

Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees:

In its 1998 amendment of the Framework Act for Higher Education (HRG), the Federal Government established the option of bachelor’s and master’s degree programmes at Fachhochschulen. By doing this, Germany entered the international scene of the popular American-British system of consecutive study courses and relevant degrees. Universities award bachelor’s degrees for lower division study courses and master’s degrees to postgraduate courses. Courses with a more theoretical background have bachelor’s or master’s degree.

For a consolidated list of programs in Universities and Universities of Applied Sciences, click here.


Bachelor’s Degree: At least 3 years and no more than 4 years
Master’s Degree: At least one year but no more than 2 years

Total duration of study (Bachelor’s + Master’s): Should not exceed 5 years

Programs in Universities

Stage I: In this stage an intermediate examination (Diplom-Vorprüfung, Zwischenprüfung) is conducted and duration lasts for four semesters (2 years).

Stage II: (Hauptstudium): After completing Stage I, a student moves upto level II. No degree is awarded at this stage. Hauptstudium leads to the final degree examination. Hauptstudium consists of 5 semesters and leads to the award of Diplom.

The Magister is awarded by universities, predominantly in the Arts, on the basis of the Magister examination. The course of study comprises either two equally weighed major subjects or a combination of one major and two minor subjects. As a first degree, the Magister is usually awarded as a Magister Artium/MA without specifying individual subjects. The Magistergrad can also be awarded at the end of one or two years’ postgraduate studies following upon the acquisition of a first degree.

Doctoral Studies

Doctoral studies are only pursued in universities (Universitäten). The period of doctoral studies, known as the Promotion, consists of two to four years’ independent research and the submission of a thesis following the award of the Diplom/Erstes Staatsexamen/Magister Artium/Master of Arts/Science. The title of Doktor is given based on written thesis and an oral examination.

Post-doctoral qualification is called Habilitation. It is awarded by the departments of universities and equivalent higher education institutions, usually on the basis of a post-doctoral thesis and a public lecture followed by a discussion.

Bachelor’s Degree Diploma  Magister Artium (M.A.) 
Awarded to most academic disciplines Awarded mainly subjects from the natural sciences and engineering, economics and social sciences, performing arts, media and design art; Mainly arts and humanities and social sciences subjects
Subject structure: one major, one minor plus interdisciplinary skills/general studies or two majors and interdisciplinary skills/general studies;  Subject structure: one major; sometimes one major and a minor;  Subject structure: two majors or one major and two minors;
A Bachelor’s thesis (time allowed: six weeks to four months), oral exams Diploma thesis (time allowed: up to six months); oral examinations, written examinations, some degree courses also require students to carry out experiments under exam conditions (natural sciences and engineering) Examination: Magister thesis (time allowed: up to six months); oral examinations, written examinations;
Degree is awarded by: respective university Degree is awarded by: respective university Degree is awarded by: respective university

International Programs:

Higher Education in Germany is not just about courses in German. There are several courses in Germany which are International Programmes taught either entirely in English or partly in German and partly in English. Many German universities and institutes have introduced international programmes in English to cater to the thousands of international students every year. If you opt for an international programme, you can register for a German language course in the university.
For a detailed list of International Programs at the Bachelor’s and Master’s level, click here.



Most of the programmes offered by German universities today are modularised especially the newly-introduced Bachelor’s and Master’s programmes. In other words, a programme consists of various modules of structured content and number which includes elements like written exams, seminars and internships. Students get credit points and grades for their course which accounts towards their final degree.

A module will help you choose a degree program of your choice. The module requirements are charted out and helps you assess in advance whether the program actually suits you or not.

Credit Points:

Credit points based on European Credit Transfer System (ECTS) are awarded after successful completion of a module. Credit points are based on seminar papers, written exams or oral exams. They do not replace the grade, but they are important for successful progress along one’s career. A student must prove that they have collected a definite number of credit points before they can be admitted to intermediate and final exams. One credit point is roughly equal to between 25 and 30 hours of study. This equates to a workload of 60 credit points per academic year (two semesters).

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