The right degree programme

Whether Bachelor, Master, state examination or doctorate: the range of courses and degrees available in Germany is wide. It’s worth knowing how they differ.

German Universities provide more than 19,000 programs while the Indonesian universities provide only less than 700 programs.

Read the university program outlines carefully so you can get an idea what the course is about and its main goals, then compare it with other courses you’ve found. For example, although the curriculum of a study program may contain exact subjects of your interest, you may want it to be more of a lab-based research-oriented program rather than a theoretically-oriented study program.

The summer semester runs from March to August at Fachhochschulen (Universities of Applied Sciences) and April to September at universities; the winter semester is from September to February and October to March respectively.

BA/BSc equals 6 semesters of study
MA/MSc equals to 2-4 semesters, depending on the program
PhD equals 4-6 semesters, depending on the program


The bachelor’s degree is the initial academic degree that is recognised on the international job market. During a bachelor’s degree programme, you acquire basic knowledge of a subject over six to eight semesters. This may sometimes also consist of two subjects or a major and two minor subjects. Once you have successfully completed your bachelor’s degree, you can launch your career or take the next academic degree: the master’s. Typical bachelor’s degree programmes include the Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) for the humanities and social sciences, the Bachelor of Science (B.Sc.) for technical and science courses, and the Bachelor of Engineering (B.Eng.) for the engineering sciences.


At German universities, the master’s is the academic degree that follows the Bachelor’s. A prerequisite is that you have successfully completed a bachelor’s degree (or equivalent). During a master’s programme, you can deepen and extend your knowledge or specialise in a particular field over two to four semesters. If you have an undergraduate degree in biology, you could, for example, do a master’s in bioinformatics.

For master’s courses, there is also a choice between a Master of Arts (M.A.), Master of Science (M.Sc.), and Master of Engineering (M.Eng.) etc. Degree programmes at German universities have been reformed in recent years. Though you may still come across some traditional diploma and Magister (Artium) degree programmes. They are similar to the master’s degree.

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During your doctoral studies, you write a research paper on a specific subject (dissertation or doctoral thesis). The duration of the doctorate depends on the research topic, most are two to five years. The doctoral studies end with the award of a PhD.

There are two types of doctorates: in the traditional model, you work independently on your dissertation and will be supervised by a professor from the faculty. if you want to study for a doctorate, you will need to find a PhD supervisor beforehand. Alternatively, you can have a fixed period of three years during which you work on your dissertation with several supervisors. You need to clarify beforehand which university and which research focus are available for your topic.
However, taking a bachelor’s or a master’s is far less complicated: you can get a B.A. or B.Sc. after 3 or 4 years of university education; after this, you can apply for a master’s course, which is scheduled for another year or two. Only an M.A. or M.Sc. allows you to become a Ph.D. student, though.