Everyone goes to university

University or college

It can make a difference where you study - and that doesn't just mean the location or possible focus of the university. No, university, technical college and academy differ fundamentally in a few points. Here we give you all the information about the different types of universities.

If you want to study, you often think of a university first, because that's the classic way. But there are even more types of universities at which you can also study: Universities of applied sciences and academies also offer a wide range of courses, so you should expand your search radius if you are looking for a specific course. Academies and private universities in particular often offer more specialized courses than universities.

But we have to make one thing clear at the beginning: The really big differences between university and university of applied sciences no longer exist since the Bologna Process - i.e. since the switch to Bachelor and Master degrees. The two forms of higher education are becoming more and more similar, so that although there are still minor differences, many of the original points are no longer as important as they were, for example, 15 years ago.

Corona stirs up the world of studies

You can find out how Covid-19 affects the university sector and how you can keep a cool head when planning your studies despite the spread of the coronavirus in our article My Studies & Corona.

Studied at a university

For many, the university is THE place to study because it is the highest educational institution in Germany acts. Universities were originally only open to high school graduates, but it is now also possible to study at a university without a high school diploma. The prerequisites for this are regulated at the state level, that is, the requirements differ depending on the federal state. However, it is still not possible to study all courses without a high school diploma, for example medicine or law still require the high school diploma as an admission requirement.

Otherwise, the focus at universities is on science, that is, a lot of emphasis is placed on teaching and research and the content taught is more theoretical. But here too, the old patterns have adapted over time. While practical experience was not part of the curriculum a few years ago at universities, nowadays universities also know the importance of practical experience during their studies, so that a compulsory internship is provided in many courses and, if possible, practical exercises with experts from the field are offered . Nevertheless, the following still applies: If you are looking for a lot of practice, you are not in good hands at a university.

Since the switch to the bachelor's and master's degrees, the timetables have changed somewhat, because the entire university system has become more school-based and the options are no longer as diverse as they used to be. Nevertheless, at a university you usually still have the opportunity to specialize in your subject by choosing a specific seminar depending on your interests.

If you are really planning a scientific career and would like to do research, a university is definitely a good choice, because there you have the opportunity to obtain a doctorate. But here, too, the following applies: Since the Bologna Process, i.e. the switch to Bachelor and Master degree programs, universities and universities of applied sciences are becoming more and more similar and it is now possible (at least theoretically) to do a doctorate at a university with a university of applied sciences degree.

And where is the downside?

But of course there are also disadvantages at universities: The courses are often much larger, so that the whole course can be very anonymous and you can quickly get lost in the crowd. In order to get noticed, you definitely have to work harder than at academies or the like.

Studied at a (technical) university

First of all, some information in advance: While this form was always called Fachhochschule at the time, many universities are now leaving out the "subject" and call themselves only university or in English University of Applied Sciences. With this, the universities of applied sciences want to make the alignment with universities even more clear. Because before the switch to Bachelor's and Master's degrees, a distinction was made between university and university of applied sciences degrees, with a “(FH)” after the diploma if the degree was obtained from a university of applied sciences. There is no longer any difference between university and college for bachelor's and master's degrees, the degrees are counted equally.

Usually, teaching at universities of applied sciences is more practical than at universities. But here, too, it has to be said that teaching is becoming more and more similar as a result of the Bologna Process and that the differences are no longer that great. However, especially at private universities, there is still a lot of collaboration with lecturers from the business world, who can report directly from practice and thus convey the topics in a much more vivid way. At the same time, the students can make important contacts for their future careers. The focus at universities is therefore more on applied research.

Another advantage at universities of applied sciences was the possibility of studying with a technical diploma. But since there are more and more opportunities to study without a high school diploma, this advantage is no longer so important.

In addition, the seminar sizes are often much smaller than at universities, so that the atmosphere is a bit more personal and the lecturers get to know their students more quickly than in groups of 80 people.

And where is the downside?

Originally, the timetable at universities of applied sciences was much stricter than at universities. The advantage of this: the students have to organize themselves much less, the difference to school is not too great. The disadvantage of this is that there are far fewer opportunities to set individual priorities in your studies and pursue your own interests. But even at universities, this option has been severely restricted by the modularization of the Bachelor's and Master's degree programs, so that this point is no longer a unique selling point of the universities of applied sciences.

Are you still looking for a degree? You already have the direction in mind, but you haven't really made up your mind yet? Then maybe our degree program overview will help you. In 15 different categories you will find more than 100 courses that we will present to you in more detail.

Overview of courses

Studied at an academy

The biggest difference in the types of university are the private academies, which, however, are very often not recognized by the state and are therefore not allowed to award an academic bachelor's or master's degree. In this case, the academies usually cooperate with state universities, from which you will then be awarded the bachelor's degree at the end of your studies.

Important point: the financing

Since these academies are not state-owned, they are financed solely by their students - that is, the academies charge tuition fees to cover their costs. These fees can amount to a total of 20,000 euros - the topic of student finance plays a much bigger role here than at state universities and technical colleges.

An NC is also less important when applying. Instead, there is often an internal university selection process, which can vary depending on the university and which places more emphasis on getting to know the applicant personally and thus being able to assess whether the course and the university are suitable for the prospective student. So if you didn't do so well in your Abitur and therefore don't have such good prospects in NC subjects at state universities, you definitely still have opportunities at private academies.

The course costs money, but you usually get added value compared to universities. Because the study groups are very small, so the relationship between students and lecturers is very personal, everyone knows everyone. This also makes it easier for you to make friends, because you spend almost every seminar with the same people.

The learning atmosphere is also much better because of the small groups, because you can ask questions quickly if you have problems. The university's equipment is also usually much more modern: the latest technology, up-to-date teaching material and nicely furnished seminar rooms ensure that learning is at least a little more fun.

And where is the downside?

The disadvantage of academies: On the one hand, of course, the tuition fees. Even if you get very good learning conditions for it, you have to have the money first.
In addition, there is not much space for your own interests to be formed outside of the timetable, because this is clearly specified. Of course, you can choose focal points, but even within these focal points there are only fixed seminars.

And then there are of course the vocational academies, which normally come into play in dual study programs and where the theoretical part takes place. These professional academies can also be state or state recognized and therefore also award you a bachelor's degree.

Which university should I choose now?

Now that you know the individual university types, it is unfortunately up to you to make the final decision - we cannot make it for you. All types have their advantages and disadvantages and their special characteristics. Therefore, you should think about the learning atmosphere in which you feel most comfortable, what is important to you in your studies or less important, and of course you should also think about the financing of your studies and assess them realistically.