The German Academic System
The structure of the modern German academic system goes back to Wilhelm von Humboldt (1767 – 1835). Von Humboldt called for the “unity of research and teaching,” which explains the strong emphasis of German colleges on science and research. Scientific expertise and methods are imparted in a way that facilitates a flexible and sophisticated application of this knowledge.
German universities apply the so-called principle of “academic freedom,” which means that in many degree programs students do not have a fixed class schedule and are not obliged to take certain courses. Teachers and scientists can also choose topics of research and courses relatively independently. Apart from regular universities there are also the so-called universities of applied sciences, which rather focus on application-oriented teaching and practical knowledge.
The Structure of the TU Kaiserslautern
Kaiserslautern University has been divided up into different departments (Fachbereiche). Each department will have subdivisions like institutes (Institute), teaching areas (Lehrgebiete), study groups (Arbeitsgemeinschaft: AG), or divisions (Abteilung). The Department of Mechanical Engineering, for example, has a Division of Materials Science: Each division, institute, study group, or department is chaired by a professor and employs teaching staff for individual areas or subjects of study.
Degrees at TUK
Common degrees at German universities were Diplom, Magister and Staatsexamen. However, the German university and college system has been undergoing a reformation (Bologna - Process) to create a uniform system of higher education across Europe.
For this reason, Kaiserslautern University offers standardized degrees in the form of Bachelor’s and Master’s programmes, with features like:
- a modularised structure
- course exams
- a credit point system
The Bachelor's degree represents the first academic degree and takes around three to four years to complete. After finishing, you can decide whether to join the workforce or to continue studying in a Master's degree program (corresponding to the German diploma).
The Master's degree is the second professional degree. However, each Master's degree also has its own specific admissions requirements. The standard period of study averages between two to five semesters.The Master's degree can be subdivided into two categories:
- Consecutive Master's degree programs are study programs which do not require working experience prior to the begin of studies.
- Continuing education programs are established as Master's degree programs. These study programs are based on Bachelor's degree and professional activity before the begin of studies.
All completed course requirements are converted into ECTS points, the Europe-wide standard for documenting progress in a course of study.
In German universities the academic year is divided into two semesters, the winter semester (WS), starting on October 1st and the summer semester (SS), starting on April 1st. Please make sure to have acquired your new student ID by these dates.
The lectures normally start a few weeks later.
The period between the semesters are instruction- free period of two or three months duration. These are not vacation as during these period students take rest and their respective semester exams, prepare for final exams, undertake practical work experiences and complete term papers.