You can attend a German university in various ways:

  • as an undergraduate (Bachelor's degree)
  • as a master student
  • as an exchange student (see Financing & Scholarships)
  • as a doctoral student

Universities and Degrees

There are various kinds of universities that have different focuses: comprehensive universities and those who specialize in one field only. In general, universities in Germany are considered comprehensive higher education institutions whose range of majors is quite wide, ranging from engineering to art history.

Students will attend theory-oriented seminars and lectures within the field of their majors. Compared to this, universities of applied sciences, which are called “Fachhochschulen” in German, emphasizes a more practice-oriented approach. During their study, they will have the opportunity to put their knowledge to the test in practical problem-solving situations. For the students who have artistic talent in art, design, music, film or film production, etc., they will find their dream courses in German colleges of art, movies, and music. If you want to get more information about German universities after this brief introduction, you can also read our article

to inform yourself better.

You might have heard that Germany has 3 types of degrees in the past: Diplom, Magister and Staatsexamen are all equaled to master. The difference between Diplom and Magister is that Diplom is for students who graduate from science-engineering majors, which Magister is like Master of Arts. However, after participating in the Bologna Process, the German higher education system or degree has become more aligned with international standards. There are four types of degrees in Germany now:

  • Bachelor
  • Master
  • State exam
  • PhD

Almost all German higher education institutions have changed their systems so far. To help you clear all the confusion away, we will give you an overview of these aforementioned degrees in the following parts.

Bachelor's Degree

The goal of a Bachelor’s Degree is to equip students with foundation knowledge surrounding their dream fields of study and/or work. The lectures and seminars also aim to help you gain different perspectives to make sure that you will have an overview of what it is like to work in the field in the future. Bachelor’s Degree usually lasts from 6 to 8 semesters in Germany. After finishing your degree successfully, you can choose to either launch a career or go on to do a Master's Degree.

Typical bachelor's degree programs include:

  • Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) in Humanities and Social Sciences
  • Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA)
  • Bachelor of Science (B.Sc.) in Technical and Scientific Studies
  • Bachelor of Engineering (B.Eng.)

For the application for the bachelor‘s degree in German universities, please remember to check the official website of your universities and prepare for the required documents at least 6 months before the deadline.


Master's Degree

The master's degree is a follow-up degree after the Bachelor's Degree at German universities. Now that after completing your Bachelor’s Degree, you are expected to have the fundamental knowledge of your major, what a Master’s Degree will do for you is to deepen, expand your understanding, or help you specialize in a specific area of your previous study. It usually takes you 4 to 6 semesters to finish your master's degree.

Typical Master's Degree programs include:

  • Master of Arts (M.A.)
  • Master of Science (M.Sc.)
  • Master of Engineering (M.Eng.)
  • Master of Fine Arts (MFA)

Magister or Diplom as we mentioned above is comparable to the degree of master.

If you want to apply for a Master’s Degree in Germany, the study course you want to apply for must have comparable requirements to your respective bachelor program. Besides, some universities will also set credits as one of the admission requirements. If you are interested in studying in English for your master, you can inquire at your selected university's International Office or search the online DAAD database.

State examination

State examination, called ”Staatsexam” in German, will be arranged as the final exam and carried out by Federal State, not by universities. If you are interested in the following majors (jobs) and want to study them in Germany, then you have to attend state examination:

  • Doctor
  • Pharmacist
  • Dentist
  • Lawyer
  • Judge
  • Teacher in the school
  • Veterinary

In some majors like law, dentistry, etc., you will first take theoretical academic studies and then take the first state exam then a second one for practical training. For instance, students who want to be a lawyer need to do their “internship” to finish their state exams.

We would like to suggest you first think about where you want to work after graduation, in Germany or your home country before starting your application. If you plan to launch a career in your home country, make sure that these certificates or diploma will be recognized then. The application for these kinds of programs is called “NC” (Numerus Clausus) in Germany, which means students need registration on (DoSV). For further information about "university application", you can check


This type of degree is strongly research-focused. Besides attending seminars, working on the dissertation is one of the most important tasks during your doctorate. To start with your doctorate, you should usually contact a Ph.D. advisor/professors who could be interested in your thesis topic in advance. If he or she agrees to be your supervisor, then he will send you an admission letter or invitation to the study in German as a Doctorate student.