The German Education System


The German education system is named to be one of the first that implemented a mandatory school learning. Unlike such countries as France or the UK, Germany follows an egalitarian approach for all types of studying, thus offering equal opportunities to all its citizens. Moreover, even international students can come to Germany and get a high-quality international education without having to pay tuition fees, though they must know German language (get to know more about it below).

The German education system and schooling

Even though it is not mandatory, but parents are able to choose to give their kids, aged between 3 and 6, to a kindergarten. After this, they should attend their local schools in their regions, and this attendance is, indeed, mandatory. The primary schooling includes 4 years of learning, when pupils learn basic things and then get enrolled into other schools.

Education system in Germany

The German education system is overly complicated through the eyes of a foreigner

Based on the results of the pupils’ learning, the pupils will be advised (though the parents may disagree and act the way they think it is right) to join one of the following schools: Hauptschule, Realschule, and Gymnasium. Whereas learning at Hauptschule means studying from the 5th up to the 9th grade, studying at Realschule and Gymnasium lasts up to the 10th and 13th grades respectively.

In some regions, there are schools that are called as Gesamtschule and they imply studying from the 1st up to the 10th grade. Such schools let pupils of all abilities to enroll after the 4th grade. These schools can be found mostly in those regions where SDP, the Social Democratic Party, has the majority. They claim that it is impossible to assess real abilities of pupils when they are just 10 years old, and so Gesamtschule are a good way to get out of this situation and provide education opportunities for everyone.

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The German education system and higher education

In order to get enrolled into a university, pupils have to pass the exams known as Abitur upon the completion of the Gymnasium course. Those pupils who studied at Realschule are able to get enrolled too, though they will have to study at Gymnasium and complete the Abitur prior to enrolling.

One of the key features of the German education system that attracts students from all over the world is a tuition-free higher education. Right, you got it correctly. Even if you are from the outside of the country, you are able to apply for a tuition-free higher education in Germany. In 2014, the last region of Germany – Lower Saxony – abolished tuition fees. Yet, you have to provide a respective document that certifies your knowledge of the German language.

The sector of higher education in the German education system consists of the following educational institutions: universities and other institutions of higher education equal to them (they include Pädagogische Hochschulen, Technische Universitäten and Technise Hochschulen – yes, institutions teaching engineering also have a status of university), colleges of arts and music, Fachhochschulen (universities of applied sciences first introduced in 1971), and Berufsakademien (professional academies).

Regarding what a diploma you are able to get and/or strive for, this matter is not that much different in other education systems: bachelor’s degree, master’s degree, Ph. D, and Doktorgrad (title of Doktor).


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