NOTE: Education levels are defined according to the 1997 International Standard
Classification of Education (ISCED97). Ages represent the typical age at the beginning
of the school year.
Numbers in bold print indicate ages of universal enrollment (i.e., an enrollment rate of over 90 percent). Numbers highlighted represent the age at which compulsory enrollment begins through the age at which compulsory enrollment ends. No meaning should be inferred from width of subdivisions. Duration of first university degree program is generally 4 years in Germany.
SOURCE: Miller, D.C. and Warren L.K. (2011). Comparative Indicators of Education in the United States and Other G-8 Countries: 2011 (NCES 2012-007). U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics. Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office.
NOTE: There are differences within the education system of Germany because responsibilities and oversight for compulsory education take place at the state (Länder) level. However, the purpose of this document is to present a brief, general summary of education in Germany. The sources cited at the end of this section provide more specific details.
NOTE: Students may attend preprimary programs from age 1.
NOTE: In two Länder (the German equivalent of states), Grundschule covers 6 grades.
NOTE: There are different types of secondary schools, some combining Hauptschule and Realschule (for reporting purposes, this type is referred to as Schule mit mehreren Bildungsgangen). During the last few years, many Länder have decided to focus on combining Hauptschule and Realschule rather than to continue with the separate educational tracks, mainly due to the decrease in the number of pupils. The secondary school that a student in Germany attends is determined by a combination of factors, depending on the Länder: admissions tests, previous grade point average, teacher recommendations, and parents' wishes. The degree of flexibility that parents have in choosing which educational track their child enters also varies among Länder.
However, the type of school that a student attends is sometimes less important than the chosen track: at the end of lower secondary, all students who meet the requirements receive a leaving certificate. At the Hauptschule, it is generally the Hauptschulabschluss. In some Länder, students who excel may receive a Qualifizierter Hauptschulabschluss at the end of grade 9. In some Länder, students may obtain a Realschulabschluss on completing grade 10. (At the Realschule, students typically receive the Realschulabschluss—also called the Mittlerer Schulabschluss—and at the Gesamtschule, both types of diplomas are offered.) Although regulations differ between Länder, most students attending Gymnasium who advance to the upper secondary level automatically receive the Realschulabschluss.
Some Länder also have an orientation phase during the firs 2 years of lower secondary school, which gives parents and teachers 2 more years to decide a child's educational path. In Länder with a 6-year primary school, lower secondary school is 2 years shorter.
NOTE: Gymnasium and Gesamtschule are generally combined lower and upper secondary schools, although students concentrate their studies on fewer subjects during the Gymnasiale Oberstufe. In most Länder, there is currently a gradual conversion from a 9-year to an 8-year Gymnasium course of education. Additionally, a few Länder offer the Berufsoberschule, a vocational upper secondary school for those who have completed vocational training or have 5 years of work experience.
Autorengruppe Bildungsberichterstattung. (2010). Bildung in Deutschland 2010. Ein indikatorengestützter Bericht mit einer Analyse zu Perspektiven des Bildungswesens im demografischen Wandel [Education in Germany 2010. An Indicator-Based Report Including an Analysis of Demographic Challenges for the Education System]. Bielefeld: WBV.
Avenarius, H., and Füssel, H.-P. (2010). Schulrecht. Ein Handbuch für Praxis, Rechtsprechung und Wissenschaft [School laws. A Handbook for Practice, Law and Research] (8th ed.). Kronach: Carl Link.
Eurydice. (2013). Eurydice Highlights: The Structure of the European Education Systems 2012/13. Brussels: Eurydice. Retrieved March 22, 2013, from http://eacea.ec.europa.eu/ education/eurydice/documents/facts_and_figures/educ - tion_structures_EN.pdf.
German Education Server (Deutscher Bildungs Server). (2006). Glossary for the Education System in the Federal Republic of Germany. Compiled chiefly by the Standing Conference of the State Ministers of Education and the Arts in the Federal Republic of Germany. Retrieved March 25, 2013, from http://www.eduserver.de/glossare.html?sp=1.
Marlow-Ferguson, R. (Ed.). (2002). World Education Encyclopedia: A Survey of Educational Systems Worldwide, Vol. 1 (2nd ed.). Farmington Hills, MI: Gale Group.
Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. (1996). Education at a Glance 1996: OECD Indicators. Paris: Author.
Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. (1999). INES Network A Newsletter, Issue 10. Paris: Author.
Robitaille, D.F. (1997). National Contexts for Mathematics and Science Education: An Encyclopedia of the Education Systems Participating in TIMSS. Vancouver, Canada: Pacific Educational Press.
Secretariat of the Standing Conference of the Ministers of Education and Cultural Affairs of the Länder in the Federal Republic of Germany. (2010). Glossary on Education. Institutions, Examinations, Qualifications, Titles and Other Specialist Terms. Bonn: KMK. Retrieved March 25, 2013, from http://www.kmk.org/fileadmin/doc/DokumentationGlossary_dt_engl.pdf.
5 The Bologna Process is a voluntary initiative undertaken by 46 nations to improve the transparency between individual nations’ higher education systems, as well as to implement tools to facilitate recognition of degrees and academic qualifications, mobility, and exchanges between institutions.