Questions about the German education system: universities of applied sciences, dual studies, vocational training

Answers to frequently asked questions about the German education system

Here you can find out what the difference is between Ausbildung and dual studies, universities of applied sciences and universities, Ukrainian evaluation system and the German one.

 There are five state run universities in Berlin as well as seven state and two church run universities of applied sciences:

Universities offer a very wide range of subjects, mainly scientifically oriented, with the possibility of a subsequent doctorate. Universities of Applied Sciences focus more on the job-related application of the knowledge imparted. In addition, there are universities with artistic subjects such as music, drama, performing arts and fine arts.

Universities of applied sciences are smaller than universities and specialise in certain subjects. As at universities, the first degree is the Bachelor's degree, the second the Master's degree. The practical phases, which are firmly scheduled into the course of study and can last one or more semesters depending on the degree programme, involve completing internships and longer project phases at companies in Germany and abroad. At some universities of applied sciences you can also do a doctorate. You can find more information about the different types of higher education institutions here.

The most important difference between state and private universities is probably the way they are financed: state universities are financed by taxes, while private universities are financed by tuition fees paid by students. This means that you only pay a small semester fee at a state university, which is usually around €200. In contrast, you will have to pay considerably more for a place at a private university. The tuition fees can be up to €1000 per month(!).

If you are thinking about enrolling at a private university, think carefully about how you can finance your studies. Maybe scholarships, student loans or BAföG is available for you. Our social counselling service will be happy to answer any questions you may have about financing your studies.

There are also big differences between state and private universities when it comes to admission and study conditions. Private universities often have admission requirements that are easier to meet, for example, they often do not have an NC. While studies at private universities are tightly organised and completely planned, students at state universities have more freedom and greater flexibility in organising their studies. In addition, private universities offer more courses in English.

You can find more information on the advantages and disadvantages of state and private universities here.

Bachelor's degree
The Bachelor's degree is a first degree that exists in many countries around the world. A Bachelor's degree normally takes 3 to 4 years. At the end, you write a thesis. Then, depending on the subject area, you can call yourself Bachelor of Arts, Bachelor of Science or Bachelor of Engineering. With a Bachelor's degree, you are already fundamentally equipped for the working world in many professions.

A Bachelor's degree generally entitles you to take up a Master's programme. However, universities may set further requirements for admission to a Master's programme.

A Master's degree is an advanced degree that allows you to deepen your knowledge. The programme usually takes one to two years. Depending on the subject area, you will graduate with a Master of Arts, Master of Science or another designation. The Master's programme usually builds on a Bachelor's degree ("consecutive Master's"). It is also possible to first gain professional experience after completing a Bachelor's degree and then add a Master's degree ("continuing education Master's").

State examination
Some degree programmes end with a state examination, the Staatsexamen. These include human, veterinary and dental medicine, law, pharmacy, food chemistry and, depending on the federal state, some teacher training programmes.

You can find more information on university degrees here.

In a dual study programme, practical work in a company is combined with theoretical lectures at a university or university of cooperative education. These two areas (practice and theory) alternate with each other in a mostly regular rhythm.

At the end of the dual study programme, you will receive an internationally recognised Bachelor's degree. At this point, however, you not only have the degree in your pocket, but also a lot of practical work experience and often even a recognised vocational training. Berlin's largest provider of dual study programmes is the State University of Economics and Law (HWR).

This form of education has many advantages: you receive a salary (training allowance) and work experience. In addition, many companies offer their graduates a job following their studies. These advantages make dual study programmes very popular among prospective students. The competition is correspondingly high and the companies can choose the best applicants.

You can find more information about dual studies here.

You can find dual degree programmes on the portals for degree programme searches (link to the relevant FAQ) and on job fairs.


In Germany, there is a system called Duale Ausbildung, which is a vocational training. This can be a good alternative to studying if you still lack a few prerequisites for the university. For example, if you are thinking about doing a vocational training as a business administrator instead of studying business administration, you can apply to a suitable company. There you will learn the practical skills you need for your profession. At the same time, you regularly attend a vocational school where you learn the theory. As a rule, a vocational training lasts two to three years, depending on your previous education. You will receive a training salary during your training. After graduation, you can start working immediately.

Where can I find a training place?
There are search engines on the internet specifically for vocational trainings (unfortunately only in German), such as:

It is also worthwhile to search via job portals such as Stepstone, Indeed, etc.