Germany follows the classic education system but with a difference. Surf through this piece to learn about the educational structure prevailing in Germany.
Education System in Germany
Rich heritage, phenomenal level of education and research, exceptionally magnificent discoveries, exquisite architecture, vibrant lifestyle, and picturesque beauty define this stunning country, set in the heart of the European continent. The large system of education and reputable universities set a leading example for unique academic levels, second to none in the world. It is due to the birth of world renowned scholars in Germany that it is today often referred to as the ‘land of scholars’ and ‘country of thinkers and poets’. Right from learning new skills and developing individual talents, opportunities are plentiful for students traveling to this part of the world for further studies. Be it the contemporary metropolises enriched with lively culture and shopping extravaganza, or the calm and tranquil countryside boasting of ancient palaces and abbeys, Germany is apt for all kinds of students pouring in, in large numbers from any nation. But just as the opportunities and prospects of exploring ideas are abundant, so is the diversity of the education system. While education is mandatory for students up till secondary level, the system differs from state to state, though there do exist some generalizations. Here we present you the education system followed in Germany.
Sending children to kindergarten is not mandatory in Germany as it is not a part of the regular public school system. Nevertheless, more than 67% of kids aged three to six attend kindergarten. In Germany, most kindergartens are established and supervised by churches, organizations, and private companies.
Grundschule (Primary School)
Compulsory school education in Germany begins at primary school, called Grundschule, from grade 1 through grade 4. The students are taught basic skills like reading, writing, math, and religion. A special class called “Heimat and Sachunterricht” is also conducted wherein information about local history, geography, and biology is imparted to the students. It is during this stage that students are evaluated on their academic abilities, speed of learning, and intelligence, and promoted to grade 5. The decision also depends upon the wish of the parents.
Hauptschule, Realschule, or Gymnasium
Depending upon the talent and choice of the family members, students are sent to one of the three schools - Hauptschule, Realschule, or Gymnasium. Hauptschule is the lowest track in the German education system that begins with grade 5 and extends up till grade 9. Here, the students are prepared for occupations that require training, along with being educated in basic subjects and English. On completion of Hauptschule, students can opt for a vocational school lasting for 2 years. A little more advanced than Hauptschule is the Realschule which starts in grade 5 and continues till grade 10. Basic subjects are taught to students with the motive of training them for a mid-level job in the industry. Students can get themselves transferred to a Gymnasium, if they qualify with high academic grades.
The Gymnasium prepares students for entry into a university and commences from grade 5 to grade 13. That is, students undergo nine years of formal education at this level. Apart from the basic school subjects, students are required to learn two foreign languages, out of which one has to be English, in grade 13th to prepare for Abitur, an examination necessary for seeking admission in a university. Apart from the three school types, there also exists a comprehensive school called Gesamtschule, prevalent only in some federal states since it is a recent development. It covers the grades from 5 to 10. It combines all the three levels, based on the development of the student’s qualifications. So students with satisfactory grades can receive the Hauptschule certificate after grade 9 and those with improving results after grade 10, receive the Realschule certificate.
On successful completion of primary and secondary education, students opt for higher education through any one of the three educational institutions - universities (Universitäten, Technische Hochschulen/Technische Universitäten, Pädagogische Hochschulen), colleges of applied sciences (Fachhochschulen), and colleges of art and music (Kunsthochschulen and Musikhochschulen). Complete range of academic subjects is offered by universities that aim at providing classical academic and theoretical research and training. Over the last few decades, universities in Germany have been modified into comprehensive institutions, divided into faculties, colleges, and schools offering a plethora of interdisciplinary studies, such as medicine, law, science, engineering, business management, economics, social sciences, agriculture, and forestry.
A wide range of practically oriented study courses are offered by universities of applied sciences, or Fachhochschulen as they are known in German. They are also called vocational academies in some states as they focus more on the industry needs and follow a strict and tighter curriculum. The fields of study include engineering, economics, social work, public and legal administration, and health and therapy. Colleges of art and music generally form a part of universities and Fachhochschulen. They pertain to graduate and postgraduate courses offered in film and media, drama, architecture, performing arts, fine art, design, and music.
Similar to the higher education system followed in most parts of the world, Germany has transformed its system to fit into the bachelor’s and master’s degree structure, as per the Bologna Process. Thus, a bachelor’s degree can be earned after a minimum study period of 3 years, once the student accomplishes 180 study credit points. The next level of higher education is the master’s degree which requires one or two years of study and accumulation of 120 credit points. Successful students are awarded with a master’s degree, equivalent to the German ‘Diplom’ or ‘Magister’ degree. A doctoral or PhD program taken up after graduation requires a written dissertation and oral examination to obtain the Doctorate or PhD title. Students in their doctoral degree program are called Doktoranden.
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