Final degrees - what types are there?
Your choice of a particular programme also determines what type of degree you will receive. You obtain your degree after passing either a higher education examination, a state examination, or an examination administered by a religious body. Programmes that lead to a higher education examination are awarded an academic degree. These include bachelor’s and master’s degrees, the Diplom, and the Magister.
Bachelor´s and Master´s degree
Bachelor’s and master’s are academic degrees awarded by higher education institutions after the successful completion of examinations.
A bachelor’s degree – also known as Bakkalaureus at some German higher education institutions – is the first level of qualification that qualifies its holder for a profession. The standard period of study for a bachelor’s programme is a minimum of three years and a maximum of four years. The most common bachelor’s degrees are Bachelor of Arts, Bachelor of Science and Bachelor of Engineering.
Programmes that lead to a master’s degree qualification usually require students to have already completed a first degree and therefore often build on the knowledge and skills gained at bachelor’s level. A master’s degree – also known as a Magister at some German higher education institutions – is awarded on completion of a master’s programme. The master’s degree is an advanced higher education degree providing further qualification for a profession. The standard period of study for a master’s degree is a minimum of one year and a maximum of two years. The most common master’s degrees are Master of Arts, Master of Science and Master of Engineering.
Staatsexamen (state examination)
Programmes leading to the Staatsexamen (state examination) are studied at university, but the final examinations are administered by state examination boards.
The Staatsexamen is awarded for programmes in medicine, dentistry, veterinary medicine, law, pharmacy, food chemistry, and some teacher training programmes.
The Diplom is awarded on the basis of an examination administered by a higher education institution following the completion of a Diplom programme. The degree title always includes the subject in which it has been awarded, e.g. Diplom-Chemiker (graduate chemist), Diplom-Physiker (graduate physicist). Diplom degrees that have been obtained at universities of applied sciences (Fachhochschule) must add FH to the degree title.
Most Diplom programmes are being phased out. That means you can no longer register to begin a Diplom programme.
Like Diplom programmes, most nine-semester undergraduate Magister programmes are also being phased out. The Magister degree is awarded by universities on completion of a Magister programme.
The Magister degree that is obtained after studying to an advanced level is equivalent to a master’s degree, and should not be confused with the nine-semester undergraduate Magister programme. The most commonly awarded Magister degree is the Magister Artium (M.A.).
In addition to the degrees listed above, you can study for other qualifications in some programmes. For example, a programme in an art-related subject may lead to a final qualification in art or a theological programme may result in a qualification awarded by a religious body. There are only a few programmes that do not lead to a traditional final qualification.