This is to enlighten intending foreign students who want to study in Germany by giving them an overview of what German education (University), what it entails and likely challenges that might occur while studying in Germany.  

education in germany

In the past few years, there had been a high surge of foreign study coming to study in Germany from countries like the Middle Eastern Countries (China, India, etc), European Countries (France,), and Africa (Nigeria, Sri Lanka, etc) but in recent times there’s been a sharp drop in the number of foreign students in Germany due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

In the nearest future, there is no doubt that Germany will be an international education hub because the country has a good strategy to attract the world’s “smartest minds” through its international funding.


Germany’s formidable reputation for world-class programs in engineering and other technical subjects made it highly attractive to study in Germany and also German public universities charges minimal tuition fees. This is an advantage considering the exorbitant cost charged in other international study destinations.

The language might want to hinder you not to study in Germany especially if you are from English-speaking destination countries. However, these barriers are becoming increasingly insignificant because of the growing availability of English-taught master and doctoral programs whereby international student/applicant can choose from 1,300 master programs offered in English though bachelor programs are still taught in German. Against this backdrop international graduates are excellent immigrants; they can at least speak some german due to their familiarity with the country. Aside from language getting a transcript to further in Germany might be an issue also.


The University Education

Universities are mostly large multi-disciplinary institutions that focus on basic research and offer a full range of academic programs, from bachelor degrees to doctorates. However, several universities, especially smaller private institutions, are often specialized in specific disciplines, such as technical fields, business, or psychology. In 2019/2020, 107 institutions are classified as universities. 

FernUniversitat Hagen is the largest public distance education provider with about 75,000 students across Germany, other large public universities include the University of Cologne with 54,000 students, the University of Munich (49,000 students), and the Technical University of Aachen (45,900 students).


University Admissions

Admission requirements for international undergraduate students are fairly stringent in Germany. Applicants from non-EU countries who did not complete any post-secondary study in their home countries are often required to complete a one-year preparatory program (Studienkolleg), at the end of which they must pass an equivalency examination (Feststellungsprüfung). Admission into these prep programs requires adequate German language skills and may involve entrance examinations. Even if a prep program is not required, students from all non-German-speaking countries must pass a German language test, such as the Test DaF, unless they seek entry into English-taught programs. The specific admission requirements for 130 countries can be found in a database maintained by the DAAD.

Credit System and Grading Scale

Before the Bologna reforms, universities did not use credit systems but quantified course and program requirements in weekly hours per semester (Semesterwochenstunden) with Diplom or Magister programs typically requiring a total of 140 to 170 semester hours on average to graduate.

ECTS credit system is now used by German Universities, which defines one year of full-time study as 60 credit units with one credit representing 25 to 30 hours of study. A three-year bachelor program, thus, requires 180 ECTS credits.

Bachelor’s Degree

Bachelor programs are offered in universities and are either three years (180 ECTS credits), three and a half years (210 ECTS), or four years (240 ECTS) in length. The curricula are specialized within the major—there are usually no general education subjects or minor specializations as found in the United States. The programs are divided into subject modules, each comprising several related courses. At the end of the program, students write a thesis, typically worth 6 to 12 ECTS credits. A study abroad period or industry internship may be required, depending on the program. The degree names that have been approved by German authorities are Bachelor of Arts, Bachelor of Science, Bachelor of Engineering, Bachelor of Laws, Bachelor of Fine Arts, Bachelor of Music, and Bachelor of Education.

Master’s Degree

Master degrees have the same names as bachelor degrees (Master of Arts, Master of Science, Master of Engineering, and so on). The length of the programs can vary between one year (60 ECTS), one and a half years (90 ECTS), and two years (120 ECTS), but it should be noted that a combined credit load of at least 300 ECTS in both cycles is required in the case of consecutive programs in which the master program builds directly on the bachelor program. Admission generally requires a bachelor degree in a related discipline with sufficiently high grades, but students with bachelor degrees in unrelated disciplines may sometimes be able to be admitted via entrance examinations. Some programs may also require work experience for admission. Like bachelor programs, master programs are offered by both universities and FHs. They are modularized and conclude with a thesis typically worth 15 to 30 ECTS.

NOTE: This is not a comprehensive article of what German Education is, just, a piece of it. You are hereby advised to surf the web for more information if you really anticipate studying in Germany.

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