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Education System in Germany: Understanding Germany's Education System for International Students

Yocket Editorial Team

Germany is known around the world for providing excellent education and offering plenty of courses. The German higher education system is well known for high standards and enjoys a good reputation. Zero to low tuition fees at public universities coupled with an excellent reputation for offering world-leading technical degrees, has made Germany one of the most popular study abroad destinations among students from around the world. In this blog we help you  understand all about the education system in Germany including types of universities, programs, requirements, fees and much more.

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Table of Contents

Understanding the Education System in Germany

The German higher education system functions upon the rules and regulations of the Basic Law “Grundgesetz”. The Federal Ministries of Education, Cultural Affair and Science is the main authority for making education, science and arts policy guidelines, and for adopting related laws and administrative regulations.

Coming to higher education in Germany, universities here place a lot of importance on research and academic freedom. Technical degrees are also a significant aspect of the education system in Germany because such degrees are given a lot of importance in the German university landscape. This is the reason why at a global level the Germany education ranking is quite high.

The universities in Germany follow two semesters, Winter and summer. Students can choose to apply for any semester of their choice.

Winter Semester

Summer Semester

April to September

October to March

Application Deadline - January 15th

Application Deadline - July 15th

When it comes to the language of instruction, some universities in Germany offer courses in English, especially at applied science universities. Majority of other courses are taught in German.

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How is the Education System in Germany?

The German education system for international students starts with Kindergarten, which is the starting point of the education system in Germany. Primary education is of the duration of four-six years, and the secondary education is called Gesamtschule. Higher study in Germany for Indian students is provided by Universitaten or universities (public or private). There are 300+ state universities in Germany along with 150 applied science universities and 50+ colleges for film, art and music.

Students can choose from a diverse range of educational programs, and more than 500 English taught programs in Germany.

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Structure of Education System in Germany

Given below is the structure of education system in Germany:

Early Childhood





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Types of Universities in Germany

Education system in Germany comprises 3 types of universities, namely- academic universities, universities of applied sciences and universities of art/music.

Given below are the main features of the types of universities in Germany

Types of Universities


Academic Universities (Universitäten)

Programs are based on theoretical knowledge and methodological expertise.

Possibility to do a PhD, this is not possible in other higher institutions.

Universities of Applied Sciences (Fachhochschulen)

Focus on the practical side of learning and professional practice.

Programs are related to technology, medicine, social work, business.

Provide ‘Praxissemester’ : a work placement for the period of one or several semesters at companies in Germany or abroad.

Universities of Art & Music (Kunst- und Musikhochschulen)

Offer courses on artistic careers in fine arts, performing arts and music, mass communications, architecture, design.

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Public vs. Private Universities in Germany

All the above  universities are either Public or Private in nature.

Public universities in Germany represent universities funded by the government. These are usually heavily subsidized which means the tuition fees for such universities are almost zero.

Private universities in Germany on the other hand are not funded by the government so students do have to pay tuition fees. Private universities are mostly for courses related to applied sciences.

Study Programs at German Universities

The best part about the German higher education system is that there is an array of courses available for tertiary education in Germany. With thousands of degrees at over 400 institutions, there is definitely a lot of choice on courses. As a student you would be able to find a course on every subject that you could possibly think of.

Although Germany is famous for its technical degrees, courses related to other subjects are also equally amazing. The quality of education is never compromised.

Some of the top study programs in Germany are relate to the following  fields-

  • Engineering
  • Business Administration
  • Humanities
  • Maths and Computer Sciences
  • Fine and Applied Arts

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You must take plenty of time to research and understand your course options and then go for the application process.

German University Degrees and Grading System

Now that we have understood many aspects of the German higher education system, let us take a look at the type of degrees provided in Germany and their grading scale.

German University Degrees

German higher education used to be offered in integrated "long" (one-tier) programmes leading to Diploma- or Magister Artium degrees or completed by a Staatsprüfung (State Examination).

However it is changing now because Germany has started incorporating a different system. Many universities offer degrees at bachelors, masters and PhD level instead of just one long integrated programme except for most law and medicine related courses.



Doctoral / PhD Program

3-4 years

Masters Program

1-2 Years

Bachelor’s Program

3-4 years

Integrated Program

3-6 years

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The Bachelor and Master's programmes are designed to provide an enlarged variety of the educational plans and experiences for students.

MIM in Germany

Germany vs Other Countries

MS in Germany Cost

Masters in Architecture in Germany

PhD in Germany

MBBS in Germany

German Grading System

The grading system in German universities is based on the GPA system. Germany uses a 1 to 6 (or 5) point grading system to assess the academic performance of students. 1 being very good performance and 6 being unsatisfactory performance.

Bachelor’s degrees are graded in the standard method for the Bologna system. This means students will attain a First Class, Upper Second, Lower Second, or Third Class degree.

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Guide for Studying in Germany for Indian Students

  • A majority of universities in Germany charge zero or no tuition fees, as they are government funded.
  • Higher education in Germany for international students is popular because of the vast amount of scholarships and grants available.
  • A majority of Indian students opt for higher study in Germany because of its excellent career prospects, and praiseworthy infrastructure.
  • The flight distance between India and Germany is 10 hours, which makes it even more convenient for Indian students studying in Germany.
  • Although German is the primary language, international students are offered numerous English taught courses in Germany.

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The Germany education system for international students gives them exposure to the excellent quality education, intensive research, modern methods of teaching and a great student life in Germany. Pursuing higher education in Germany can thus elevate your career and you can certainly enjoy an upper hand in the job market. You can reach out to our counsellors by subscribing to Yocket premium services and taking their end-to-end guidance.


Frequently Asked Questions About the German Higher Education System

Where does Germany Education Ranking stand at a global level?

How is higher education in Germany for Indian students?

Is education good in Germany?

Is higher education in Germany free?

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