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Bachelor and Master - what you always wanted to know

During our consultations we have made the experience that it is the actual debate about the introduction of bachelor and master which interests you the most. No wonder, because in the near future the academic landscape will be changed entirely. A reorganization of this extent has never been made before and automatically creates many questions.

What are bachelor and master courses?

With the bachelor the students attend a final degree already after 6 to 8 terms. The bachelors' and masters' degree classify your course: only who wants to deepen his knowledge goes on to the master-degree. By this new structuring of the courses the professional qualification shall be improved, the mobility of the students elevated and the time of studies be shortened. Because your study performance is rated with credit-points your achievements at other universities (in Germany or abroad) can more easily be approved.

Do really all the courses change?

Yes, in the next couple of months all the courses will be changed in Germany. The decision of the conference in Bologna 1999 - the adaptation had been decided here - have to be transformed into national law. For the moment there's still the discussion what shall become the "Staatsexamen"s' degree (for example in law, medical science). Pedagogical courses with the "Lehramt"s' degree have already been adapted in several universities.

What means the structuring of the class-schedule into modules?

Classes which are resembling each other as regards content are summarized in thematically modules. A tighter organization of the class-schedules is the idea behind this classification. The classes last over maximum two terms and should give access to diverse branches of study (e.g. there could be a module “marketing” in economics). Furthermore the universities have to define the qualification targets of the different branches in order to help the students planning their studies.

What is a Diploma Supplement?

The Diploma Supplement can also be seen as additional information to the degree. It explains admission requirements, precises main focuses during the study and gives information on internships. Furthermore it describes the duration and kind of final thesis. By this the achievement during the study become more transparent and each study gets it’s own profile – despite the same titles.

Could it happen that I can not attend a master study because of a bad bachelor degree?

Yes, this could happen. Master studies use to be a further qualification for scientifically talented. A bad bachelor degree can inhibit your further career at a university because you normally have to make a new application. But the universities define the admission requirements for master studies on their own. In the case a certain job (e.g. teacher) can only be done with the master there are often special regulations. In case of further questions the consulting office of the specific university can help.

Can I attend a master study at a university with the bachelor degree of a UAS?

Theoretically this combination is possible; but consider also here that certain universities regulate their admission criteria on their own. A first university degree is the main premise to attend a master course. Which further admission requirements the university has depends on each university.
But the degrees of university and UAS still are not on equal terms.

I have mentioned that many master studies have high tuition fees - why?

When it comes to be a postgraduate master the university can - in difference to a consecutive master - demand cost-covering fees. A graduate master is normally intended for working people who wants to deepen their knowledge.

How many bachelor / master courses are available now?

Right now the number of adapted courses is not yet astonishing, but this will change soon.  The association of universities in Germany gives new data regularly: during the winter term 2007/2008 61 percent of the courses in Germany had the bachelors' or masters' degree.

Should I finish my Magister / Diploma course?

Of course. If you already have begun to study a Magister- or Diploma-course you can finish in the standard period of study (with a special prolongation). Everyone who wants start studying should watch out for possible changes at the universities during the next time.

Which position does the economy take in? Will the new diplomas be accepted?

Because the changes are irreversible the economy is obliged to accept the new diplomas. But already now many companies approve the developments. In spring 2004 the managements of human resources of the leading companies have taken position for the new diplomas - a trend that is proven by surveys, the German Economy has made concerning the employment of bachelor-graduates. Mainly in big companies the doors are wide open: over 83 percent of the companies can imagine employing graduates with a german bachelor-degree (October 2004).

Why has the decision so hardly been discussed?

The reform is not just a formal redefinition. Critics fear that many universities could not center the improvement of the study-content which is the most important part of the educational reform. Only to shorten the courses and to give them a new name is not what the "inventors" intended.

What means "accreditation"?

In order to guarantee the quality in this restructuring and reintroducing of courses the association of universities in Germany has decided to characterize the new courses with a seal of approval. External agencies have been charged with this work which remains the role of the technical control in qualifying cars. The courses are checked for their capabilities in qualifying for business and for their content.

Important agencies for accreditations are:

AQAS - for courses of all faculties
AQUIN - for courses of all faculties
ZEvA - for courses of all faculties
ASIIN - for economical courses
AHPGS - for courses of all faculties of the sanitary and social business

Do I have acces to the higher service with a masters' degree?

Theoretically this is possible if the access is designated in the accreditation. But some master-graduates have told that some public authorities only react gently to the innovations.

, Editor in Chief