Survival Guides

The German Education System - A Broad Overview.


In Germany, most educational programs are publicly financed and many times they are almost completely for free. This holds for school (from the first year on) to the university level. There are also many postgraduate programs and private business schools.

In the German school system, there are differences in each one of the sixteen states (Bundesländer). But roughly, they all have in common that kids go to school usually when they are 6. At the 4° Grade, the kids go to differente schools:

-The kids with good marks will go to the school that will enable them to receive the highest school degree, the so called “Abitur”. With the Abitur, you can study at a university.

-With lower school degrees from a Realschule or Hauptschule, one can study a program called “Ausbildung”, which usually takes three years. Practical professions, like nurses, electricians, office workers, bookkeepers or carpenters go through these programs.

There is one further technical distinction between universities in Munich, ‘Universität’ and ‘Hochschule/Fachhochschule’. One can study all kinds of disciplines at a Universität, but “only” technical and applied disciplines at a Fachhochschule. A German Fachhochschule is like a university of applied sciences, or an institute of technology, so to speak.