School system, education and training in Germany


The school system in Germany begins with primary school. There is no kindergarten in Germany, but children often go to the “Kindergarten” (kindergarten) or “Kindertagesstätte” (KiTa = crèche) while waiting for schooling. This type of daycare and first awakening is not compulsory.

Cultural differences From the age of 6, German children are subject to compulsory school: After four years in primary school (unlike five years in France), called “Grundschule”, children are divided into different types of secondary establishments according to their results for the last year (equivalent to CM1): “Hauptschule”, “Realschule”, “Gymnasium” or “Gesamtschule”. The “Gesamtschule” offers three possible courses within the same establishment, students can finish school with different diplomas.

It should be noted that education is an area that falls under the jurisdiction of the federal states (“Länder”). Although there is a certain homogeneity, each federal state has its own legislative variations and there are other types of schools such as “Sekundarschule”, “Oberschule”, “Realschule Plus”, etc. For more information on the school systems in each federal state, follow this link.

Blog ExpatriationIt is however possible to stop after the diploma obtained at the “Hauptschule” or “Realschule” to continue to do an apprenticeship. In general, apprenticeship enjoys a better reputation in Germany than in France, preparing apprentices for business life while imparting substantive theoretical knowledge in vocational school. Once the apprenticeship is finished and the diploma obtained, the apprentices can continue to work in a company or have the possibility of pursuing higher education at the “Fachhochschule” (in this case, obtaining the baccalaureate is not compulsory for the ‘admission).

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Here is a simplified presentation of the German school system (detailed explanation at the bottom):

German school system by EuroRekruter

As in France, public schools are free. However, the assessment system is different: Grades range from 1 to 6 during the first 10 school years (1 being the best grade). From the “Oberstufe” (comparable to the high school, that is to say in the courses of the “Gymnasium” or the “Fachoberschule”), the pupils are evaluated however with marks ranging from 0 to 15 (15 being The best grade). Students continuing their education at higher establishments such as the
“Fachhochschule” or the University (“Universität”) are rated from 1.0 to 5.0 (1.0 being the best rating).

The “Hauptschule” lasts 5 years and is aimed at students who do not plan to pursue higher education (but often a rather manual job). At the end of their schooling, they obtain a certificate which allows them to continue their training or start working. For highly motivated students with above-average results, it is possible to take courses up to the “Mittlere Reife” or even to the baccalaureate, a course especially possible within a “Gesamtschule”.
Diploma: “Berufsbildungsreife”

The “Realschule” lasts 6 years. After passing the exam called “Mittlere Reife” students can follow various paths: first, it is possible to do a work-study apprenticeship for 3 years. However, if they wish to continue their training, it is possible for them to follow courses at the “Fachoberschule” to obtain a vocational baccalaureate or at the “gymnasiale Oberstufe” (at the “Gymnasium”) to obtain a general baccalaureate, two diplomas which allow them access to higher education.
Diploma: “Mittlere Reife”

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The “Gymnasium” lasts 8 or 9 years and prepares students for higher education. It ends with the “Allgemeine Hochschulreife” (= general baccalaureate, commonly called Abitur). The total duration (8 or 9 years) that students spend at the “Gymnasium” depends on the legislation of the federal states.
Diploma: “Allgemeine Hochschulreife”

Higher education institutions are divided into two categories in Germany: Universitäten and Fachhochschulen (University of Applied Sciences) where students prepare their Bachelor’s degree (Bac + 3) and often followed by a Master’s (Bac + 5). Fachhochschulen are more specialized universities with more practical courses. For some courses, it is essential to take courses at a “Universität”: medicine, law, school education, etc.
Qualifications: Bachelor’s, Master’s, Staatsexamen, Master’s

Applying to GermanyIn any case, every student has access to all school education opportunities. With a diploma from the “Hauptschule”, it is also possible to continue on the “Realschule”, then to integrate a high school to obtain the Bac (“Abitur”), even if this path remains relatively rare. He is also

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