Academic Degrees: Choosing the Right Degree

Academic Degrees: Choosing the Right Degree

German universities offer a wide range of international bachelor’s, master’s, and PhD programs with many advantages for foreign students.

Bachelor’s degree

A good two-thirds of newly enrolled students in Germany choose to study for a bachelor’s degree. The courses teach the basic principles of a subject in six to eight semesters. With a bachelor’s qualification you can either go job-hunting straight away or continue your studies with a master’s program.

German universities offer about 6,000 different bachelor’s courses, many of which have an international orientation and are taught in other languages than German. What is different here compared to some other countries is that German and international students attend the same cour­ses. Many student unions organize a newcomer service for international students and help them with the first steps. A selection of international courses of study (also for master’s programs and structured PhD programs) has been carefully selected by the DAAD according to different quality criteria and can be found online at:

Master’s degree

Building on the basic know­ledge acquired with a bachelor’s degree, students can either deepen or broaden their knowledge of a subject in a two- to three-semester master’s course. German universities now offer more than 5,000 master’s courses. This degree is gradually replacing the Diplom and Magister qualifications that used to be common in Germany.

The DAAD offers about 40 postgraduate courses on topics related to development policy – an exciting range of courses for young managers from developing countries who have already had initial work experience. The courses are particularly practice-oriented and cover such topics as development management, tropical hydrogeology or renewable energy. Most of these programs are offered in English, some also in German. Interested people from developing countries can apply for special grants to do these master’s degrees. More information is available at:


There are many different ways to do a PhD. Fundamentally, a distinction is made in Germany between the traditional individual doctorate and structured doctoral programs based on the kind of PhD training better known in English-speaking countries. There are now about 600 structured PhD programs on offer, and many of them are internationally oriented and particularly attractive for international graduates. They offer good supervision, team work and practical relevance, and lead to a PhD in about three years. Furthermore, special interdisciplinary graduate schools are opening up new horizons for up-and-coming scientists. Top-level doctoral training is also offered by research schools affiliated to institutes like the Max Planck and Fraunhofer Societies and the Helmholtz and Leibniz Associations.