Management of Foreign University Degrees

Management of Foreign University Degrees


Bachelor, Master, Doctor, Magister, Diploma – all of these degrees are academic degrees. Academic degrees are protected in Germany ; that is, the requirement for the award and management of academic degrees or titles is regulated by law. The use of a university degree means that you publicly indicate that you are in possession of the corresponding degree, for example by means of business letters, visiting cards or a door sign.

Students who have obtained their academic degree abroad have to consider certain things when using foreign university degrees in Germany.

Definition of an academic degree / title

An academic university degree is a degree that a university awards after successfully completing a degree by means of a certificate. The Conference of Ministers of Education and Cultural Affairs established in 2010 which qualifications are valid in Germany for which courses in the Bachelor and Master’s area. The provisions are documented in the “Common Structural Specifications for the Accreditation of Bachelor’s and Master’s Degree Programs”.

Higher Legally no academic university degrees, for example,

  • State examination (an examination and not a qualification; the university may award an academic degree on request)
  • Professor (an official title that is not related to the habilitation, but to the call to a university)
  • Honorary doctorates such as Dr.hc (not related to a university degree)

Management of foreign university degrees: responsibilities

The management of foreign university degrees is regulated in the individual state university laws of the 16 federal states. The regulations documented there are largely based on resolutions of the Standing Conference of the Ministers of Education and Cultural Affairs (KMK). With regard to the management of foreign university degrees, the most important resolution of the KMK of 2000 is: ” Principles for the regulation of the management of foreign university degrees in the sense of a legal general authorization through uniform provisions ” (pdf).

These principles now have their counterparts in the state university laws and in most federal states, general approval is now common. This means that you no longer need to apply for a foreign university degree. Anyone in possession of a foreign academic degree can use it without submitting an application, but must observe certain regulations.

Requirement for the management of foreign university degrees

The following requirements apply to the use of foreign university degrees in Germany, which also apply to state and ecclesiastical degrees as well as to university titles:

  • The academic degree was obtained after completing a prescribed course of study and completing an examination.
  • A university or an authorized state / church body has duly awarded the academic university degree.
  • The foreign university is officially recognized or accredited in the relevant country.

Formal guidelines for the management of foreign university degrees

There are formal guidelines in Germany for managing foreign university degrees:

  • The use of foreign university degrees is only permitted in the (possibly transliterated) original form in the respective national language.
  • The conversion of the foreign university degree into a German degree and the use of German terms is not permitted. However, a German translation may be added in brackets after the original.
  • The foreign university that awarded the degree must also be named; Simply stating the country of origin is not sufficient.

A reference to the university is not necessary for university degrees from the EU, the European Economic Area (EEA) and Switzerland. There may also be favorable regulations for other countries if Germany has concluded an equivalence agreement with them with regard to the use of foreign university degrees. Whether this is the case can be researched in the anabin database of the Conference of Ministers of Education.

Management of foreign doctoral degrees

In many European countries, as well as in the USA, it is important to differentiate between academic doctoral degrees and professional doctorates. In these countries, universities award professional doctorates directly after successfully completing a (dental) medical or legal degree. These doctorates are therefore not linked to a doctorate, which has consequences for the management of the foreign university degree in Germany.

In Germany, the use of a doctorate is generally tied to a scientific doctorate. Thus, the use of the title Dr. med. In this country reserved for those people who have also completed a scientific doctorate after (or during) their medical studies with a final state examination.

Ph.D. degrees in Germany as doctoral degrees

Anyone who has obtained a Ph.D. degree as part of a doctorate in an EU or EEA country is entitled to use the academic degree “Doctor (Dr.)” in Germany without adding any additions or details of origin. According to a resolution by the Standing Conference, this is also possible for Ph.D. degrees from the following countries:

  • Australia
  • Israel
  • Japan
  • Canada

The Ph.D. degree from the USA may only be listed as a German doctoral degree if the doctorate was completed at a recognized research university. This means that they must have been classified by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching as a “Research University” (high research activity / very high research activity).

Management of Foreign University Degrees