Glossary entries

Akademisches Auslandsamt

“Akademische Auslandsämter” are sometimes also called International Offices. They are responsible for international students and should be your first point of call if you have any problems or questions concerning your stay at a German university. Some International offices also organise special orientation days and events.

Find contact addresses of all International Offices

Aufenthaltstitel

(Residence Permit)
Non-EU nationals may have to apply for a “Aufenthaltstitel” (residence permit) for their stay in Germany. Residence permits issued include "befristete Aufenthaltserlaubnis (a residence permit issued for a limited period of time), the EU Blue Card, “Niederlassungserlaubnis” (permanent settlement permit) or “Daueraufenthalt-EG” (EC long-term residence permit). Contact your local “Ausländerbehörde” for more information on residence permits.

Ausländerbehörde

(Foreigners' Registration Authority)
The “Ausländerbehörde” is the public authority responsible for foreign nationals. This is where you need to apply, if you require a “Aufenthaltstitel” (residence permit) for your stay in Germany. Each administrative district in Germany has its own “Ausländerbehörde”. You can find information on your local Foreigners' Registration Authority on the official website of your city or district.

BAföG

BAföG is short for “Bundesausbildungsförderungsgesetz” (Federal Education and Training Assistance Act). This law entitles students to financial support, if they are unable to cover their living costs. In some cases, international students can also apply for BAföG. You can find more information on BAföG on the website of Studentenwerke.

Beglaubigung

(Certified copy)
Universities may sometimes ask you to submit certified copies of documents, for example degree certificates or transcripts. This is called “Beglaubigung” in German. Documents can be officially certified by German authorities, consulates or embassies.

Blended Learning

Blended Learning is a combination of courses or modules that are taught online and seminars or lectures that are taught in the classroom.

Blockveranstaltung/ Blockseminar

A “Blockveranstaltung” is an intensive course that is taught “en bloc” over a number of days, for example on one weekend or during the semester break.

C.t.

C.t. is short for the Latin expression “cum tempore” (with time). If your read “c.t.” next to the time for a lecture or seminar in the course programme, this means that it starts 15 minutes later (8 am ct = 8:15 am). If the course programme says a lecture or seminar starts “s.t.” this stands for “sine tempore” (without time). “S.t.” means that you should arrive punctually at the time given.

DAAD

The DAAD is the world’s largest funding organisation to promote the international exchange of students and scientists. More information on the DAAD

Dekan / Dekanat

(Dean, Dean’s Office)
The dean (Dekan in German) heads up a university faculty. The dean’s office (Dekanat) is a faculty’s central administrative unit.

Deutscher Akademischer Austauschdiens (DAAD)

The DAAD is the world’s largest funding organisation to promote the international exchange of students and scientists. More information on the DAAD

Deutschlandstipendium

The “Deutschlandstipendium” is a bursary of 300 Euros per month that the German government awards to exceptionally talented students. The scholarships are awarded irrespective of income and are not repayable loans. More information on the Deutschlandstipendium

Diplom

The “Diplom” is a degree title that is awarded by universities and universities of cooperative education (“Berufsakademien”). Before bachelor’s and master’s degrees were introduced at German universities, the “Diplom” was one of the most common degree titles in fields such as Mathematics, Science, Economics and Social Sciences.

Dissertation

(Doktorarbeit) 
A dissertation is a written thesis on a particular subject required to achieve a doctoral degree. In addition to the dissertation, doctoral candidates also have to pass an oral examination.

Doppeldiplom

(Double Degree)
Double degrees (“Doppeldiplom”) are special binational programmes that allow students to achieve degrees from two universities at the same time – one in Germany and one abroad. Often, double degrees also include internship or work placements in international companies or institutions.

Doppelstudium

If you are enrolled in two different degree courses at once, this is also called “Doppelstudium” in German. Enrolment in two degrees is possible at Bavarian universities if there is a proven interest in combining different subjects for professional, scientific or artistic reasons. Students who wish to study two different degree courses need a written confirmation from the university administration.

Dozent/ Dozentin

(Lecturer)
A “Dozent” (female: Dozentin) is an academic at a university or other educational institutions.

DSH

DSH is short for “Deutsche Sprachprüfung für den Hochschulzugang ausländischer Studienbewerber”. The DSH is a test to assess the German language skills of international applicants who want to study at German universities. Many universities and language schools offer language courses that prepare you for the DSH test.

Duales Studium

(Dual Studies)
Dual Studies are degree courses that are offered by universities in co-operation with businesses. They allow students to combine practical work and study periods.

Find more information on hochschule dual (website in German)

ECTS

ECTS stands for European Credit Transfer System. It is a standard measurement system that awards credits for students’ learning achievements (for example for seminars, internships or essays). Read more information on ECTS credits and the German grading system.

Einschreibung

see Immatrikulation

Einwohnermeldeamt

(Residents’ Registration Office)
All residents in Germany have to register their address at the “Einwohnermeldeamt”.

The registration must take place within the first seven days of finding accommodation in Germany. If you move to a new city within Germany, you need to re-register. Registration is only possible with a permanent address (youth hostel or hotel addresses are not accepted). You can find the address of your local “Einwohnermeldeamt” on the official website of your city or district.

Elitenetzwerk Bayern

(Elite Network of Bavaria)
The Elite Network of Bavaria offers special programmes and funding opportunities for exceptionally talented and self-motivated students. You can find more information on the Elite Network here.

Exmatrikulation

(ex-matriculation)
Ex-matriculation is the process by which a student terminates his or her registration at a university. This normally happens automatically at the end of the semester in which the final examination takes place. However, students can leave the university at any time. The university administration prepares a certificate of ex-matriculation which is required if you want to re-register at a different university. The university can also exmatriculate you if you miss the dates for re-registration (see “Rückmeldung”).

Exzellenzinitiative

(Excellence Initiative)
The Excellence Initiative is a programme of the German government and the federal states, run by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (German Research Foundation) and the Wissenschaftsrat (German Research Council). Its aim is to increase the international competitiveness, visibility and quality of top research in Germany. Six Clusters of Excellence, two institutional strategies and nine graduate schools are funded by the Excellence Initiative at Bavarian universities. Read more information on the Excellence Initiative (website in German).

Fachschaft

(student representation)
The “Fachschaft” are the student representatives of a faculty, who are elected every year.

Fakultativ

(optional, voluntary)
“Fakultativ” means that something is optional or voluntary. If a certain class is
“fakultativ”, this means it is not compulsory but you are free to attend.

Feststellungsprüfung

(Assessment Test)
International applicants whose foreign university entrance certificates do not fulfil the requirements for German universities can take an assessment test, the “Feststellungsprüfung”. The “Studienkolleg”, a two-semester course, prepares them for this test. Once they have successfully passed the examination, they can apply for a university place with the certificate of the assessment test and the university entrance certificate of their home country. Read more information on the “Feststellungsprüfung”

Grundstudium

(Foundational Studies)
The “Grundstudium” is the first part (first one or two years) of your degree course that sets the foundation for further studies in your chosen subject.

Habilitation

In order to become a university professor in Germany, you generally need a doctoral degree and an additional qualification called habilitation. The habilitation process consists of a thesis (Habilitationsschrift) and an examination. Sometimes, the thesis can also be completed cumulatively, by publishing a series of papers in academic journals for example.

Hauptstudium

(Advanced Studies)
The “Hauptstudium” follows the “Grundstudium” and allows you to specialise in certain subject areas. The “Hauptstudium” finishes with an academic examination leading to, for example, a bachelor’s or master’s title.

Hausarbeit

A “Hausarbeit” is an essay or term paper that is usually written in the context of a seminar. The length of the paper differs according to subject and course.

Hilfswissenschaftler (HiWi)

A “HiWi” is a research assistant. Often, these are students who assist a full-time lecturer, while completing their studies.

Hochschulreife

(Higher Education Entrance Qualification)
The “Hochschulreife” is a higher education entrance qualification that allows you to study at a German university. Foreign qualifications are also accepted for university entrance, if they fulfil the requirements for a chosen degree course. Universities examine qualifications and make decisions on an individual basis. Read more on entrance qualifications

Hochschulwechsel

(Change of University)
It is generally possible to change universities at the end of a semester. Students who wish to change to a different university need to check the course regulations carefully. There may be differences in the contents and examination requirements of degree courses which prevent an easy transition across universities. Some degree courses also only start in the winter or summer semesters.

Hörsaal

A “Hörsaal” is a lecture hall or auditorium.

Immatrikulation

(Matriculation)
In Germany the enrolment at a university is called “Immatrikulation”. Enrolment is only possible on certain dates that are published on the university websites. There are also certain documents you need to bring along. You can usually find a list of the required documents on the university websites or contact your International Office for more information.

Klausur

A “Klausur” is a written examination.

Kolloquium

(Colloquium)
A Kolloquium is a discussion group to expand on the contents of a lecture series or to exchange ideas. A short examination or a lecture by an expert without habilitation can also sometimes be called “Kolloquium”.

Kommilitone

A “Kommilitone” is what you call a fellow student.

Lehrstuhl

(Research Chair)
A “Lehrstuhl” consists of one or more professors and their team, including research assistants, tutors or secretaries for example.

Lehrveranstaltung

A “Lehrveranstaltung” is a different word for a course unit, such as a seminar, tutorial or lecture.

Mensa

(Refectory, Cafeteria)
The “Mensa” is a dining hall at a university that offers meals, drinks and snacks at subsidised prices.

Module

(Modules)
Study modules contain thematically related seminars and lectures. One module normally includes at least two different seminars or lectures. In the “Grundstudium” modules are called “Basismodule” (basic modules), in the “Hauptstudium” they are “Aufbaumodule” (advanced modules).

N.C.

(Restricted Access)
In certain subjects, such as medicine or pharmacy, the number of students admitted is restricted. This is also called “Numerus Clausus (N.C.)” which means “restricted number” in Latin. Read more on subjects with restricted access

N.N.

N.N. means “Nomen Nominandum” (Latin for “name to be called”). This abbreviation is used if it is not yet known who will run a certain seminar or lecture.

Obligatorisch

(Mandatory)
“Obligatorisch” means that something is required or mandatory. You have to attend courses that are “obligatorisch”.

Plagiat

(Plagiarism)
The illegal appropriation of intellectual property is also called “Plagiat” in German. This is when you publish someone else’s thoughts and present them as your original work without proper citation or quotes – even if you do so accidentally! So make sure you follow the guidelines for academic writing of your university. Plagiarism is considered academic fraud and will not be tolerated at German universities.

Promotion

(Doctoral Studies)
The “Promotion” leads to a Doctoral title. In Germany most doctoral studies are based on individual research projects. There are also some structured doctoral programmes that often lead to a PhD title. However, these are still few in number.

Read more information on doctoral studies

Propädeutikum

A “Propädeutikum” is a preparatory course for students. Its aim is to provide students with the basic knowledge and skills required for a certain degree course.

Proseminar

An introductory seminar during the “Grundstudium”, the first few years of study, is also called “Proseminar” in German.

Prüfungsamt

(Examination Office)
The “Prüfungsamt” is responsible for all matters concerning examinations, including certificates and transcripts, for example. It also offers advice for students who have questions about examinations.

Referat

(Presentation)
A “Referat” is an oral presentation, usually given by students in a seminar. Please ask your lecturer what is expected of you (length of the presentation, handouts, etc.) before you start research for your presentation.

Regelstudienzeit

“Regelstudienzeit” is the number of semesters needed to complete a degree course, if you study intensively and efficiently. You can find the “Regelstudienzeit” for a particular degree course in the “Prüfungsordnung” (examination regulations). Bachelor’s courses can normally be completed in six semesters for example, master’s courses in an additional two to four semesters.

Repetitorium

(Revision Course)
A “Repetitorium” is a revision course that helps you to prepare you for examinations for example. These revision courses often take place in subjects such as Law, Medicine or Teaching.

Rückmeldung

(Re-registration)
At the start of each semester, students have to confirm that they are returning to university. At most universities this happens automatically if you pay your student fees within the set deadline. Students who do not re-register can be ex-matriculated.

Rundfunkbeitrag

(Radio and TV License)
All households in Germany need a Radio and TV License, no matter how many TVs, radios and computers they own. The License fee is about 18 Euros per month. In exceptional cases students can be exempted from paying the fee, if they receive BAFöG for example. More information on License Fees (website in German only)

Schein

(Certificate)
You receive a “Schein” on the successful completion of a course unit, such as a seminar.

Semester

A semester is a period of six months. In Germany, study courses are usually taught in two semesters per year, a summer and a winter semester.

Semesterticket

Some universities in Bavaria offer a “Semesterticket” for students. This ticket allows you to use public transport within a certain area. The ticket price is already included in your administrative study fees.

Semesterwochenstunden

(SWS)
The “Semesterwochenstunden” (SWS) are the number of hours a seminar or lecture takes up per week.

Staatsexamen

(State Examination)
The “Staatsexamen” is a state examination for teachers, medical students, pharmacists and lawyers.
Find out more information on German degrees

Stiftung für Hochschulzulassung

(Central Admissions Office)
The “Stiftung für Hochschulzulassung” is responsible for applications to degree courses with restricted access, including medicine, dental studies and pharmacy.
Find out more information on “Stiftung für Hochschulzulassung” (in German only)

Studentenausweis

(Student ID)
Your “Studentenausweis” (student ID), which your university will give or send to you once you are enrolled, entitles you to a number of student reductions, such as cheaper entrance fees to cinemas, museums or theatres. Student travel agencies and student organisations also sell additional international ISIC student IDs that are accepted all over the world. Find out more on ISIC

Studentenwerk

(Student Services Association)
“Studentenwerke” (student services associations) help students with everyday university life. They are responsible for refectories, halls of residence and advisory services. Find more information on Studentenwerke Bayern (website in German only).

Studien- und Prüfungsordnung

(Study and Examination Regulations)
The “Prüfungsordnung” (examination regulations) contains information on the contents, requirements, time and process of examinations. You can find the “Prüfungsordnung” on your university website or contact the university’s “Prüfungsamt” (examination office).

Based on the examination guidelines the “Studienordnung” (study regulations) contains binding procedural regulations as well as recommendations on the specific courses that students should complete each semester. It is also a helpful tool to set up your personal timetable. You can find the “Studienordnung” on individual university websites, normally in the section of course descriptions.

Studienkolleg

(Foundation course)
A “Studienkolleg” is a preparatory course for international university applicants, whose foreign university entrance certificates have not been accepted by German universities. The course provides them with the necessary skills and knowledge to enrol in a degree programme at a German university. Find out more information on the “Studienkolleg” for research universities and the „Studienkolleg“ for universities of applied sciences (website mostly in German)

Tandem Partner

Tandem partners are two students from different countries who meet to exchange their language skills.

Tutorium

(Tutorial)
A “Tutorium” is a meeting with a tutor which accompanies a series of lectures or seminars. Often, these tutorials also help prepare students for examinations.

Übung

An “Übung” is an additional seminar that normally allows students to expand their knowledge on subjects covered in lectures.

Uni-Assist

Uni-Assist is an online service for applications to German universities. So far, only a few universities take part in this scheme. Find out more about Uni-Assist

vhb

vhb stands for “Virtuelle Hochschule Bayern” (Virtual University of Bavaria). On www.vhb.org students who are enrolled at Bavarian universities have access to online learning resources. More information on vhb

Vorlesung

(Lecture)
A “Vorlesung” is a lecture by a professor. At the end of term, there may be a written exam on the contents of the lecture. So it is a good idea to take notes.

Vorlesungsverzeichnis

(Course prospectus)
The “Vorlesungsverzeichnis” lists all courses and dates. It helps you to set up your personal study timetable. Just before the start of the semester, exact times and room numbers for lectures and seminars are published on the notice boards in your faculty. You can find the “Vorlesungsverzeichnis” on your university’s website.

Vorlesungszeit

(Lecture Period)
“Vorlesungszeit” is the period of a semester during which lectures and seminars take place. In between these periods there are semester breaks. The lecture period in the winter semester takes place from around mid-October to mid-February and the lecture period in the summer semester from mid-April to mid-July. Different dates may apply to universities and universities of applied sciences.

WG

WG is short for “Wohngemeinschaft”, an apartment that you share with others. This means that everyone has their own room but you share a kitchen and bathroom. Read more on accommodation for students in Bavaria.

Zeugnisanerkennungsstelle

(Certificate Recognition Office)
The “Zeugnisanerkennungsstelle” is responsible for the recognition of foreign university entrance certificates, in cases where decisions cannot be made directly by the universities. It also examines the qualifications of international university applicants for the “Studienkolleg” and “Feststellungsprüfung” and provides information on questions concerning foreign entrance certificates.
Find out more about the “Zeugnisanerkennungsstelle”(Information in German only)
Here you find an English application form for the “Zeugnisanerkennungsstelle”

Zugangsvoraussetzungen

(Course Requirements)
“Zugangsvoraussetzungen” are the course requirements necessary to enrol in a certain course. One of these requirements is a university entrance certificate (“Hochschulreife”) for example. Depending on the degree course there may be other requirements such as language skills or assessment tests. More information on “Zugangsvoraussetzungen”

Zulassungsbescheid

(University Offer Letter)
The “Zulassungsbescheid” is an official letter from a university, offering the applicant a place on a study programme. After you have received a “Zulassungsbescheid” you can enrol for a course.

Zweitstudium

A “Zweitstudium” is a second degree that is started after completing a first degree.

Zwischenprüfung

The “Zwischenprüfung” is the final examination at the end of the first few years of basic studies, also called “Grundstudium” in German. It normally consists of a written and oral examination. The aim of the “Zwischenprüfung” is to assess whether a student has learned the necessary skills to continue in his or her studies.

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