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In general, the education system in Germany has a classic European structure, and only some nuances distinguish it from other European systems. Conventionally it consists of 4 stages: :

  • Preschool Education;
  • Elementary Education;
  • Secondary Education;
  • Higher education.

But it is important to note that there are two stages of compulsory education, which are designed for children from 6 to 19 years old (the duration of education in schools in Germany is about 13 years), after which students receive a certificate of completed secondary education and the right to enter higher education institutions. There is no time limit and it is up to the students themselves how they study at the universities.

There are schools in Germany:

  • State;
  • Private;
  • Catholic;
  • Utilities, etc.

The percentage of foreigners in private schools in relation to German children is very small, in order for a child to become a student in a private school who is not a resident of Germany must pass an entrance exam.

All schools in Germany are subject to the government of the state in which the school is located. There are 16 states in Germany, so the programs, regulations, and length of schooling may differ from one area to another. But all schools have vacations: summer (6 weeks), Christmas, winter and Easter.

Read more about each stage of education.

Preschool education

Pre-primary education in Germany is not compulsory, and therefore it is not very well developed. Kindergartens in Germany are mostly privately owned and are intended for children between the ages of 3 and 5. The main task of teachers is to develop the child’s ability to build logic chains, concentrate, interact with peers, follow the rules of play, and not quit.

Primary education

Primary education in Germany is a compulsory four-year phase and is intended for children from the ages of 6 to 11 (in some states up to 12). Education in elementary school is comprehensive, which means that the general basic subjects (writing, reading, natural history, mathematics) are taught in a single course. The task of teachers is to discern a child’s abilities in a particular subject. The grading system also has its own peculiarities, for example, one – is the indicator of a high result, and five – “unsatisfactory”. In elementary school, students do not get grades.

At the end of four years of schooling, the child is enrolled in high school. There are cases where neither the child nor the parents have been able to choose which secondary school to continue their education in. In such cases, it is possible to choose a “transitional stage”, i.e. two more years of elementary school.

Secondary education

Secondary education in Germany is a compulsory stage of education, at the end of which students receive different knowledge and opportunities, depending on what type of school they have graduated from. Secondary education in Germany can be divided into two stages:

  • Middle I (continues through 10th grade)
  • Middle II (grades 11-13)

Secondary education institutions in Germany are divided into:

The main schools

Most children go to this type of school. Education lasts until the 10th grade. The programs of such schools are aimed at giving students a basic education and guiding them to choose their future profession. After graduation from basic schools, students either go to low-skilled jobs or continue their studies at vocational schools.

Real Schools

As in elementary school, education lasts until the tenth grade. The programs in these schools have a special focus and, in addition to providing a basic education, are narrowly focused on a particular specialty. At the end of their studies at mainstream schools, pupils can either get a job or continue their studies at an upper secondary school (years 11 – 13).


Gymnasiums are the most prestigious type of secondary education institution. They belong to the second stage. Only pupils who have a recommendation from an elementary school teacher can enter here. On average, it lasts nine years. At the end of Grade 12, pupils receive a special diploma, with which they can enter a technical institute. After finishing the 13th grade and passing the state exam, they receive a certificate of complete secondary education. Only after high school graduates in Germany have the right to enter universities, they are automatically applicants.

Admission to institutions of higher education is based on the average grade on your diploma.

Common Schools

Common schools include the main features of all of the schools listed above. Education lasts until the 10th grade. Some schools have upper grades, based on the principle of gymnasiums, but enrollment here is without any recommendations.

There is a practice in Germany. When high school students receive an additional secondary vocational education, they attend colleges or technical schools, where they study a narrow list of disciplines that are fully relevant to their position.

Higher education

German higher education is one of the most prestigious in the world, it combines high quality and mostly low prices. Most of the universities in the country are public, but there are also private ones.

Study at the university is divided into three stages:

  • The first stage is a basic course. The program is designed for 3-4 years of study, upon completion the student is awarded a licentiate (bachelor’s) degree;
  • The second level is the core course. After the bachelor’s program, students can continue their studies and earn a master’s degree, or a specialist’s degree in a technical specialty. The duration of master’s programs is 4-6 semesters;
  • The third step – after the master’s program, the student can get a doctoral degree.

Higher education in Germany is characterized by its “academic freedom. Students are free to choose their own subjects, make their own plans, and choose the appropriate time for classes.

The main types of higher education institutions in Germany:

  • Universities;
  • Special institutes (pedagogical, medical, etc.);
  • Graduate Schools of Applied Sciences;
  • Higher education institutions of art;
  • Technical Universities.

The German government has paid and continues to pay enormous attention to education. At the end of 2016, Germany was in the top five countries in terms of education in the world.

This high level makes Germany an example for many countries, because it is our future that lies in quality education and development.

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