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Access to Postgraduate and Doctorate Programmes

There have been profound changes in the higher education system in Germany during the first years of the new millennium. The old degrees – Diplom (FH and Uni), Magister, Staatsexamen – were replaced by the two-stage structure of bachelor’s and master’s degrees. The rationale behind this was the internationalisation of programmes and the promotion of student and scientist mobility.

Admission to Master's degree programmes

Holders of a foreign academic degree, who would like to study for a master’s degree (or equivalent) at a German university, may apply directly to the university of their choice. They need to provide evidence on the comparability of their education to a German bachelor’s degree. The qualification has to be an entrance qualification to postgraduate programmes (or an equivalent academic level) in the country of origin as well.

Admission to doctorate programmes

Holders of a foreign academic degree who would like to study for a doctorate at a German university, need to provide evidence that their qualification entitles them this level of study in their country of origin as well. The qualification has to be comparable to a German master’s degree, Universitätsdiplom, Magister or Staatsexamen. Doctorates can be earned at German universities, universities of technology, comprehensive universities and teacher training colleges.

Which authorities are in charge of recognition?

The responsible board of a university decides on the admission to postgraduate studies or doctorates on the basis of their respective regulations. If necessary, the university may ask the Central Office for Foreign Education (ZAB) for an evaluation of the foreign degree. Where applicable, equivalency agreements and the ‘Convention on the Recognition of Qualifications concerning Higher Education in the European Region’ (known as Lisbon Recognition Convention) are to be considered. The Lisbon Recognition Convention became effective in Germany on 1 October 2007.

Documents and useful links

Publications and decisions

Higher Education Compass offered by the German Rectors' Conference (HRK)