The Right Degree Programme

Whether Bachelor, Master, state examination or doctorate: the range of courses and degrees available in Germany is wide. It's worth knowing how they differ.


The is the first academic degree. It teaches the basics of a subject and is recognised as a fully featured course of academic study that allows you to immediately embark on your career after graduating. The most common Bachelor's degrees are Bachelor of Arts (BA), Bachelor of Science (BSc) and Bachelor of Engineering (BEng).

Special features:

  • : usually six
  • One subject (standard) or two subjects (two major subjects or one major and one minor subject)
  • Advantages: short period of study, flexibility in specialising later on


If you want to continue studying after gaining your Bachelor's degree, you can enrol in a programme as a second academic qualification.

Special features:

  • Requirement: completed Bachelor’s degree (or comparable degree)
  • Standard period of study: between two and four semesters
  • Serves for example to enhance knowledge from a prior Bachelor's degree or to specialise in a particular area
  • Prepares students for academic work at higher education institutions; a subsequent doctorate is possible
  • Is required in some professions

Finding Bachelor's and Master's courses

There are more than 17.000 Bachelor's and Master's degree programmes in Germany. You can search for specific courses in various databases.

TIP: The higher education institutions list all degree programmes they offer on their websites, along with information on course content and how to apply. Your first point of contact should always be the at the respective higher education institution.

State examination

Some degree programmes lead to a . This means that the final examination is organised and given by a government board. If you want to work as a medical doctor, lawyer, teacher or pharmacist in Germany, you will need a state examination.

Special features:

  • Theoretical degree programme concludes with the first state examination
  • This is followed by a practical training phase that ends with the second state examination

TIP: International students should urgently clarify beforehand whether this degree is recognised in their home country. The DAAD degree programme search lets you explore subjects that lead to a state examination.


require you to write a complex scientific research paper in a specific subject, known as your . The duration of your doctorate depends on the research topic. In the end, you are awarded a PhD.

Special features:

  • Traditional model: free, self-determined work on your thesis, supervised by a professor at the faculty; duration: approximately two to five years
  • Structured doctorate: often limited to three years, fixed working periods, several supervising researchers, examples: , , international doctoral programmes

Finding doctoral Programmes

More than 28,000 students gained their doctorate in Germany in 2017. You can search for specific doctoral programmes in the following databases:

TIP: If you want to complete an unstructured doctorate, you first have to find a who considers your research promising and is willing to support you. Find out well in advance which higher education institution and which research focus would be a good fit for your work, for example at GERiT, an information portal on German research institutions.


DAAD - Deutscher Akademischer Austauschdienst - German Academic Exchange Service