German Education System
The education system in Germany varies from state to state, although the basic K-12 system is fairly uniform. Education is the responsibility of each of the 16 German states (Bundesländer), but there is a national conference of state education ministers (Kultusministerkonferenz, KMK) that serves to coordinate educational practices at the national level. However, there is still some variation in the school systems across Germany.
Secondary education, for children aged 10 to 19, is divided into 2 cycles:
- Sekundarstufe/Sekundarbereich I (for pupils aged 10-16) and
- Sekundarstufe/Sekundarbereich II (for pupils aged 16-19
Admission to Higher Education
The Zeugnis der Allgemeinen Hochschulreife grants admission to all forms of higher education. The Lisbon Convention applies.
Higher Education system
Traditionally, university attendance in Germany has been tuition free. That is such an embedded German tradition, that when seven states (between 2004 and 2007) introduced very modest tuition fees (Studiengebühren) of 500 euros, or about $560 per semester, there were mass protests. By 2013 only Lower Saxony (Niedersachsen) still had university tuition fees. Then Bavaria dropped them, and Lower Saxony, the last holdout, cancelled its tuition fees in 2015.
Nowadays, studying in Germany is still mostly tuition free. Public universities do not charge tuition fees for Bachelor’s and Master’s programs except if you plan to pursue a Master’s degree that focuses on a different subject than the one you studied as a Bachelor’s student. The German free tuition system is available for all foreign students, regardless of their country of origin.
Bachelor Most bachelor’s programs take 4 years to complete. Some programs take 5 years to complete (architecture, art, graphic art, and pharmacy). Medicine, dentistry and veterinary medicine programs take 6 years of study.
Master’s degree programs usually take 2 years. A bachelor’s degree with a Grade Point Average (GPA) of at least 3 is required for admission to the master.
A master’s degree with a Grade Point Average (GPA) of at least 3.5 is required for admission to the PhD phase. The doctoral degree (PhD) requires 2 to 4 years of study.