High school leaving certificate, usually awarded after 12 or 13 years of school at the age of 18 or 19, similar to A-levels or equivalent in UK. It is the only entrance requirement to enrol at university. A very good average high school grade is required to be admitted to ‘numerus clausus’ courses – i.e. those only open to a limited number of students. An aptitude test is required to enter art and music colleges.
Akademisches Auslandsamt (AAA)
Foreign Students' Office – it can be found at every university and is an important address for all foreign students in Germany as well as for German students wishing to study or do an internship in a foreign country. The Akademisches Auslandsamt is responsible for admission of foreign students to German universities. It organises preparatory courses for German language examinations, which all foreign students have to take in order to study at a German university. Many Foreign Student Offices also hold ‘orientation weeks’ for foreign students, one or two weeks before the semester begins.
Allgemeiner Studentischer Ausschuss - AstA
Present at all universities and colleges, the AstA is a self-administered executive body of student representatives elected each year by the student body. The main goal of the AstA is to represent students' interests. The AstA also provides help and advice on how and where to find a job, a room, on matters related to changing university or changing academic majors.
State employment agency with a wide office network in all major cities and towns. Online job search under www.arbeitsagentur.de (the Job Vermittlungsbörse is the place to look for student and part-time jobs). The Arbeitsagentur collects unemployment insurance contributions and pays unemployment benefits as well as granting work permits. The ‘Aufenthaltsgenehmigung’ (residence permit) is issued by the Ausländeramt (government office for foreign nationals). Students from non-EU countries must apply for a residence permit before their visa (usually granted for three months) expires. Since a residence permit is only issued for 12 months, it must be extended every year. The Ausländeramt also issues work permits after the after the initial application at the Arbeitsagentur, which has to approve the permission.
Assessment, evaluation – in general, marks are given as a number ranging from 1–6 or 0–15. See also ‘Noten’.
University degree, normally after studying for three years and writing a dissertation.
Every course has a certain amount of credit points dependent on its relevance. You obtain these credit points by passing the course.
c.t. - cum tempore
A ‘c.t.’ beside the starting time of a course means that it will start 15 minutes late.
High-ranking official in a college or university who is responsible for the organisation of a department.
Deutsch als Fremdsprache (DAF)
German as a Foreign Language – All colleges and universities offer German language courses you can attend during your studies in order to improve your German and get acquainted with academic German. Please contact the international office (Akademisches Auslandsamt) at your university for more information.
Final examination and degree for science, engineering, economics and social science courses. The examination may include written and oral sections, as well as an experimental/research section, plus a final thesis/degree dissertation (Diplomarbeit).
A PhD qualification for those who already hold a degree and have completed post-graduate doctoral research. Candidates have to pass a doctoral examination, submit a doctoral thesis (Dissertation/Doktorarbeit) and defend their thesis in an oral examination (Rigorosum).
Deutsche Sprachprüfung für den Hochschulzugang ausländischer Studienbewerber – a German language examination needed in order to enrol at a German university or higher education institution. Preparatory language courses are held at many institutions in Germany.
Removal from the register of students. This generally happens automatically when studies are completed or a student decides to interrupt his or her studies. Please note that you can also be removed from the students' register if you forget to re-enrol at the beginning of a new semester.
Department or faculty
University of Applied Sciences
Departmental Student Organisation – This organisation is composed of students from one specific discipline and represents the students' interests in the relevant department.
Introductory basic study period at university.
Advanced study period at university. It follows the ‘Grundstudium’ and leads to a university degree.
Short scientific essay on a particular subject done by students as part of the work required for a course.
Scientific Assistant – they assist the lecturers and professors of a department in their research or administrative activities. See also "wissenschaftliche Hilfskraft".
Formal admission to study at a university or college. Please note that you can only enrol within certain time frames and that you will need to submit several certificates, including proof of health insurance. Upon enrolment you are given a registration number (Matrikelnummer) which identifies you as regular student. In certain cases you may be asked to use your matriculation number for written exams.
Written examination on the literature/items covered in lectures, seminars, etc.
Health insurance – in order to enrol at a German university you need to take out health insurance. Your local AOK Student-Service is there to help you find the best solution for your health care needs.
‘Scheine’ are certificates earned after successful course assessment. Leistungsscheine include a mark which can be obtained by taking part in written examinations (Klausur), laboratory exercises or oral/written reports (Referat). See also "Scheine".
Magister Artium (M.A.)
Final examination and degree, especially in humanities and art disciplines, including a master´s thesis as well as written and oral examinations.
University degree, normally after studying four semesters and writing a master´s dissertation. Having a Bachelor´s degree is a prerequisite.
Enrolment papers – check with the foreign office at your chosen university to find out which papers and certificates you need. Your AOK Student-Service will be happy to issue the health insurance certificate needed for enrolling.
Accommodation service – offers accommodation, apartments and rooms for a period of days, weeks, months or years; both furnished and unfurnished.
Marks – In Germany marks are generally given as a number ranging from 1–6 (or 0–15 points). In this system a mark of 1 (15) in an exam or for a piece of work shows that the work is considered to be excellent and a 6 (0) means the coursework or exam is of an unsatisfactory standard.
Numerus clausus (NC)
Latin term meaning a restricted number; refers to the practice of setting a quota for the number of students who will be admitted into an educational institution. ‘N.c’ faculties only admit students with a very good average grade.
Orientation weeks for freshers are organised at almost all universities in Germany. In general they take place one week before the official course start dates and are very useful. New students get a chance to get to know other students, the campus and the organisation of the university.
An oral presentation, sometimes followed by written coursework.
Registration renewal – Registration at German universities is only valid for one semester; students wishing to continue studying have to submit a registration renewal declaration for each semester.
s.t. ‑ sine tempore
‘s.t.’ beside the starting time of a course means that it will start on time.
Certificates earned after successful course assessment. See also "Leistungsscheine".
Notice board, pin board
The minimum fee due at the beginning of each semester. It entitles the student to a student identity card, a course record book (Studienbuch) and several registration certificates (Immatrikulationsbescheinigungen), which are needed when applying for student accommodation or for obtaining reduced-price fares from transport companies. Sometimes the fee also includes a ‘semester ticket’ which allows students to use some public transport free of charge.
Number of hours per week during a semester that the student is required to spend at seminars, lectures etc. The number of compulsory SWS is set in the Studien- und Prüfungsordnung.
This word has a double meaning in Germany: it refers to a seminar (a course in which a teacher and a group of students meet to study and discuss something) and also to a university building.
‘Regular's table’ – Student organisations meet regularly for a drink and a chat.
Student service organisation deal with the practical aspects of student life. They are responsible for student accommodation and university canteen.
Studien- und Prüfungsordnung
Course and examination regulations. This very important handbook tells you how many lectures, exercise courses and seminars you must or may take in each semester. You should try to combine the requirements set in the ‘Course and examination regulations’ with the courses actually offered to draw up your timetable for the semester. Sometimes you will need to register for the courses you are interested in. Ask your Departmental Student Organisation for further information.
Intermediate examination to be taken at end of the basic study (Grundstudium) to qualify for the main study period (Hauptstudium) – sometimes students are required to take written and oral examinations, sometimes they must simply submit a set number of certificates with marks (Leistungsscheine). See also "Zwischenprüfung".
Course catalogue/electronic course catalogue – published at the beginning of each semester by each faculty/department.
Also "WiMi", scientific assistant. WiMis assist lecturers and professors in their research or administrative work.
Intermediate examination to be taken at the end of the basic study period (Grundstudium) to qualify for the main study (Hauptstudium). Sometimes students are required to take written and/or oral examinations; sometimes they must simply submit a set number of certificates with marks (Leistungsscheine). See also "Vordiplom".