National qualifications framework
A national qualifications framework encompassing all levels of education is in development. The current higher education framework is explained below.
The organisation of the Bachelor and Master's programmes makes use
of modular components and of the European Credit Transfer and
Accumulation System (ECTS) with 30 credits corresponding to one
At the first cycle, Bachelor's programmes lay the academic foundations, provide methodological skills and lead to qualifications related to the professional
The Bachelor's programme includes a thesis requirement. Programmes leading to the Bachelor's degree must be accredited according to the Law establishing a Foundation for the Accreditation of Study Programmes in Germany.
The Bachelor's degree normally takes 3 to 4 years of studies.
These programmes lead to Bachelor of Arts (B.A.), Bachelor of Science (B.Sc.), Bachelor of Engineering (B.Eng.), Bachelor of Laws (LL.B.), Bachelor of Fine Arts (B.F.A.) or Bachelor of Music (B.Mus.).
At the second cycle, Master's programmes are differentiated by their profile. There are “more professionally-oriented” and “more academic-oriented” master's programmes. Higher education institutions define the profile of their Master's programmes themselves.
The Master's programme includes a thesis requirement. Programmes leading to the Master's degree must be accredited according to the Law establishing a Foundation for the Accreditation of Study Programmes in Germany.
The Master's degree normally takes 1 to 2 years of studies.
These programmes lead to Master of Arts (M.A.), Master of Science (M.Sc.), Master of Engineering (M.Eng.), Master of Laws (L.L.M), Master of Fine Arts (M.F.A.) or Master of Music (M.Mus.).
Master's programmes, which are designed for advanced studies or which do not
build on the preceding Bachelor's programmes in terms of their
content, may carry other designations (e.g. MBA).
Integrated "Long" Programmes (One-Tier)
->Diplom degrees, Magister Artium, Staatsprüfung
An integrated programme is either mono-disciplinary (i.e. Diplom degrees and most programmes completed by a Staatsprüfung) or is a
combination of either two major or one major and two minors
(i.e. Magister Artium).
The first stage (1.5 to 2 years) focuses on broad orientations and foundations of the field(s) of study. An Intermediate Examination (Diplom-Vorprüfung for Diplom degrees; Zwischenprüfung or credit requirements for the Magister Artium) is prerequisite to enter the second stage of advanced studies and specialisations. Degree requirements include submission of a thesis (up to 6 months duration) and comprehensive final written and oral examinations. Similar regulations apply to studies leading to a Staatsprüfung. The level of qualification is equivalent to the Master level.
- Integrated studies at Universitäten (Universities) last 4 to 5 years (i.e. Diplom
degree, Magister Artium) or 3 to 6.5 years (i.e. Staatsprüfung).
The Diplom degree is awarded in engineering disciplines, the natural sciences as well as economics and business.
In the humanities, the corresponding degree is usually the Magister Artium (M.A.). In the social sciences, the practice varies as a matter of institutional traditions.
Studies preparing for the legal, medical, pharmaceutical
and teaching professions are completed by a Staatsprüfung.
These three qualifications (Diplom, Magister Artium and Staatsprüfung) are academically equivalent. They qualify to apply for admission to doctoral studies. Further prerequisites for admission may be defined by the Higher Education Institution.
- Integrated studies at Fachhochschulen (FH)/Universities of Applied Sciences (UAS) last 4 years and lead to a Diplom (FH) degree. While the FH/UAS are non-doctorate granting institutions, qualified graduates may apply for admission to doctoral studies at doctorate-granting institutions, cf. Sec. 5.
- Studies at Kunst- and Musikhochschulen (Universities of Art/Music etc.) are more diverse in their organisation, depending on the field and individual objectives. In addition to Diplom/Magister degrees, the integrated study programme awards include Certificates and certified examinations for specialised areas and professional purposes.
Universities as well as specialised institutions of university standing and
some Universities of Art/Music can award doctorate degrees.
Formal prerequisite for admission to doctoral studies is a qualified Master (UAS and
U), a Magister degree, a Diplom, a Staatsprüfung, or a foreign equivalent. Particularly qualified holders of a Bachelor or a Diplom (FH) degree may also be admitted to doctoral studies without acquisition of a further degree by means of a procedure to determine their aptitude. The universities respectively the doctorate-granting institutions regulate entry to a doctorate as well as the structure of the procedure to determine aptitude. Admission further requires the acceptance of the Dissertation research project by a professor as a supervisor.