German Abitur

Applying for an academic study program in Germany involves, before all, satisfying Germany’s higher education entrance qualification requirement, known as “Hochschulzugangsberechtigung” (HZB).

HZB largely refers to a German “Abitur” and accompanying education certificates showing your earlier education.

What Is the German Abitur?

The Zeugnis der Allgemeinen Hochschulreife” usually referred as “Abitur” or as “Abiturzeugnis” is an education certificate that leavers “Abiturientenexamen” of a recognized German school, in Germany or abroad, will receive by completing 12-13 consecutive schooling years and by successfully passing the final school-leaving exam “Abiturprüfung”.

Abitur is internationally accepted for its equivalence with almost all foreign school-leaving diplomas.

With an Abitur you can apply for academic studies in Germany or everyplace in the world.

The Abitur contains personalized information on your school-level studies completed so far, between (1) language, literature, arts, (2) social sciences and (3) math, natural sciences, technology.

The Abitur has arisen on December 23, 1788 from the “Abiturreglement”, a law that was put into force by the Prussian administration under Minister Karl Abraham Von Zedlids, with the intention to block the unrestricted access to university of that time financially capitalized school-leavers.

What’s The Structure of an Abitur?

The Abitur shows your grades and achievements you’ve reached over the 2 final years of upper secondary schooling, as well as by sitting the Abitur exam.

If you’ve an Abitur, you must have been studying in any of the 3 aforesaid subject areas. Minimum 2 subjects must have been as your main intensive courses “Leistungskurse”. One of these two courses must have been a language, math, or natural sciences subject. The other course must have been taken as basic course “Grundkurse”.

Note: Such differentiation between courses importance doesn’t apply in Baden-Württemberg and Bavaria.

Which Are the Minimum Points for Passing an Abitur?

The Abitur has an overall final grade out of 6. The minimum points for passing a German Abitur test is 300.

What is a German International Abitur Diploma (DIAP)?

Deutsche Internationale Abiturprüfung (DIAP) or a German International Abitur Diploma is an education certificate that you may receive by passing a final exam as a “leaver” of a German school in a foreign country. DIAP it is equal to the classical German Abitur.

DIAP has applied since 2009, and can be obtained by passing a written and oral exam in a foreign language, as well as a colloquium.

What Are the International Baccalaureate (IB) and the Bilingual International Baccalaureate (BIB)?

IB and BIB are internationally recognized school-leaving qualifications that you can obtained by the International Baccalaureate Organization (IBO). This organization has a study curriculum that is identical around the world and their school-leaving diplomas, therefore, are accepted as university entrance qualifications in many world countries, including Germany.

To be eligible for academic studies in Germany with a BIB or IB you’ve to also meet the requirements of the Conference of Culture Ministers (KMK) (except if you’ve mainly studied in German language).

Moreover, there are 30 German schools abroad that issue themselves IB diploma.

A BIB diploma shows that during your studies you’ve taken at least 6 study subjects in German language and that you’ve been examined half in German, and the other half in English, French or Spanish.

What is the European Baccalaureate Diploma?

The EB Diploma is an education certificate that you can receive as a leaver of one out of 14 European Schools, after having passed the European Baccalaureate (EB) examination. An EB is generally recognized as a university entrance qualification in Germany, EU and other world countries.

EB schools are originally created in 1957 for the children of workers of the EU institutions, such as European Commission, while nowadays includes also the European Patent Office, European Research Organizations and more.

To get an EB Diploma you’ve to pass 10-11 examinations, and it is obtained during the last year of studies.

Why Do I Need a German Abitur?

Amongst key requirements of getting accepted for academic studies at a German Higher Education Institution (HEI) is Hochschulzugangsberechtigung (HZB) or the University Entrance Qualification.

HZB typically refers to collective documents confirming your school education, such as Abitur and certificates of your complete years of studies.  

What If I Am a Foreigner Who Doesn’t Have an Abitur?

HZB also refer to a foreign school-leaving certificate accompanied by a university entrance exam and/or certificate of studies completed abroad, at a non-German school.

And so, if you don’t have an Abitur from a German school, you still have chances to get admitted in a HEI here.

To make your foreign earlier education recognized in Germany for commencing academic studies here, you’ve to follow lessons of a 1-year foundation course at a “Studienkolleg” beforehand. This course is to prepare you for the university qualification exam “Feststellungsprüfung” which will lead you to an equivalent qualification as the German Abitur.

What Is the “Feststellungsprüfung”?

Feststellungsprüfung is the exam you need to pass to make your foreign school-leaving diploma recognized for starting academic studies here in Germany.

The original name is  “Prüfung zur Feststellung der Eignung internationaler Studienbewerber für die Aufnahme eines Studiums an Hochschulen in der Bundesrepublik Deutschland” and it is translated as “The Examination to Assess the Qualification of International Student Applicants For Entering Studies at Universities In The Federal Republic of Germany”.

You’ve to pass such assessment exam in order to apply for Bachelor studies or equal undergraduate study course in Germany within your field of study “Fachrichtung”.

To sit this exam, you will usually be required to attend a preparatory study known as “Studienkolleg”. You may also dismiss attending standard preparatory studies, known as “Externe Feststellungsprüfung”, but this requires from you to prepare for the test on your own.

The exam that lasts 60 minutes is very demanding and to pass it, you’ve to be a dedicated participant in the preparatory lessons. If you decide to prepare on your own for the test, a prior consultation with the respective Studienkolleg, regarding the literature to consider, is highly recommended.

When failing to pass the assessment exam in the first site, you shouldn’t attempt undertaking the test again before at least 6 months having passed. The maximum times you can sit the exam is 3.

If you pass the entrance qualification exam at a university in Germany, you can only apply to study at university or university of applied sciences here.

By passing such exam at a university of applied sciences, you can only make an application for academic studies in a university of applied sciences here.

What Are the “Studienkollegs”?

Studienkolleg refers to universities “Universitäten” and universities of applied sciences “Fachhochschulen” in Germany offering 1-year preparatory courses (2 semesters) in an academic and linguistic area, for prospective university students in Germany. In dependence to which is your field of studies or your focus study area, you will qualify for a different preparatory course.

Studienkollegs are offered by universities, colleges and universities of applied sciences in Germany against no tuition fee; however, you’ve to make a semester contribution in return for certain university services you will be receiving. Semester fees may vary from one institution to another, as each of them has their own rules and regulations.

Keep in mind that not all the higher education institutions offer Studienkolleg.

Depending which is your area of studies, there are different specialized Studienkollegs for offering the following preparatory courses for the following study degrees:

  • M-medicine, biology and pharmacology.
  • T-math, science and technology.
  • W-business, economy and social sciences.
  • G-humanities.
  • S-language.

At the end of such preparatory course, you’ve to pass the “Feststellungsprüfung” test.

By successfully passing this exam, will be issued a subject-restricted “Fachgebundene HZB” with which you can apply for Bachelor studies, “Statesexamen”, or “Diplom courses” within your field of studies, for which you’ve studied before.

How Can I Attend a Studienkolleg?

If you’ve a school-leaving certificate which doesn’t qualify you to apply for academic studies in Germany, you most probably have to attend a Studienkolleg. You are not normally required to attend a Studienkolleg if you’ve a recognized earlier education here in Germany.

When deciding to apply for a Studienkolleg, you must chose a Studienkolleg and check for the admission requirements and deadlines.

Some Studienkolleg have the option to directly apply in their address, while some other require from you to apply through their online portal of the University Application Service for International Students in Germany, called the Uni-Assist.

To get a seat in your preferred Studienkolleg, you’ll be required to pass the Scholastic Entrance Exam “Aufnahmetest”. By passing the test, your German language proficiency in the subjects you intend studying for, will be properly demonstrated.

To be able to undertake the entry exam you should show proof of German language command of at least B1 level of the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages. This can be done by presenting a recognized German language certificate such as DSH or TestDaF certificate.

In dependence to which is the level of your foreign education recognition level and what you intend studying for further here, a different entry exam you’ll be required to pass. Thus, you’ll have to undertake a T-Entrance Exam which includes German, Math, Physics, Chemistry, Informatics, Technology, English or Technical Drawing, if you intend to study technology. If you’ll be studying business/social sciences you’ve to pass the W-Entrance Exam which includes German, Math, Economics, Accounting, Informatics, Social studies and English.

See: How to Apply for Studienkolleg in Germany

Will I Automatically Be Admitted at a German HEI If I Pass the University Qualification Exam?

Just by passing the university qualification exam you don’t automatically qualify for the university admission. You must also meet other requirements that your German university has towards their future students.

Will My Foreign Certificate Be Recognized for University Studies in Germany?

If you’re a foreigner having studied at a German school in Germany or abroad, who has finally passed the Abitur examination, you make an eligible candidate for university studies in Germany.

If you’ve a school-leaving certificate received from a school/other recognized education provider in the EU, Liechtenstein, Norway, Iceland, or Switzerland you’ll usually be considered eligible for academic studies in Germany.

For school-leaving certificated taken from a foreign school outside of such countries the earlier education may be sufficient solely if applying at an art college and you’re of a special talent. In case, your earlier education may be overlooked if you have an extraordinary portfolio and you show great results in the college’s aptitude test.

For other cases than that, you’ve to check if the country where the secondary school which has issued you the final school-leaving diploma is located has an equal education system to that of Germany.

Where Can I Check the Equivalence of My Foreign Education with That in Germany?

To understand if your foreign education is/isn’t recognized for academic studying in Germany, you may check yourself against the relevant online databases, by writing the name of the country where you’ve taken the certificate.

This takes account of Anabin and DAAD databases.

If the information you get from such databases doesn’t satisfy your required answer, you may address your question to the email address of the International Office of the German university where you intend applying for studies to.

DAAD’s Database on Admission Requirements

Deutscher Akademischer Austauschdienst (DAAD) database is an official online source/tool which has information about equivalency of international school diplomas with German Abitur. By selecting the foreign country where you’ve obtained your school-leaving certificate, you get specific information about the level of recognition of such document for further studies in Germany.

Anabin Database on Assessment of Foreign Education Certificates

Anabin database is an online source available only in German language, providing specific information for education certificates of each foreign country, as regards of their equivalency with the certificates issued by German education providers. If your foreign education qualification is not recognized in Germany, the Anabin will assist you with the information on how to make such qualification acknowledged for further studies here.

The International Office of the University in Germany

Another address where you can pursue your questions regarding the recognition and requirements for recognition of your foreign school-leaving diploma is the international office of the university where you seek applying to.

You may write an email with a list of questions you have, using the form that is usually found in the contact section of the official university webpage.

You have to be aware that the university is the final authority which decides on the recognition of your earlier education.

Which Are the University Admission Types in Germany?

In dependence to what university entrance qualification “Hochschulzugangsberechtigung (HZB)” you currently have, your entitlement to study in Germany will be different.

Direct HZB.

This means that you can directly apply to study your subject in the university you want in Germany. Usually, this includes having a foreign school-leaving that is equivalent to a German Abitur.

Indirect HZB.

This means that you should attend a Studienkolleg and pass the Feststellungsprüfung. By passing this assessment exam you will be receiving a subject-specific HZB. This usually applies if your foreign school-leaving diploma isn’t directly recognized in Germany.

General HZB.

If you will be given a general HZB this means you may study in all study subjects and HEIs in Germany.

Subject-specific HZB.

You may only apply to study in certain academic study subjects technical and scientific subjects (T), social and economic sciences (W), medicine and biology or related subjects (M) and humanities and languages (G, S or combination of both).

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