The University of Applied Sciences (FH ) is a high school type, which operates research and teaching on a scientific basis with application focus. Colleges are increasingly leading the designations College (HS), University of Applied Sciences ( HAW), Technical University (TH ), and the corresponding English name University of Applied Sciences ( UAS).

The courses offered by polytechnics covers engineering, natural, social, economic and legal scholars, as well as technical and design courses. Studying at a university of applied sciences is completed with an academic degree; at first it was the academic graduation of the Occupation, for example, graduate engineer, Ing ( grad ), and later graduated with a diploma, such as a graduate engineer ( Fachhochschule ), Dipl. -Ing. ( FH). With the Bologna process and the reform of higher education colleges offer stepped bachelor's and master 's degrees in accredited study programs.

  • 5.1 predecessor and conceptual phase (until 1969)
  • 5.2 expansion phase ( 1969-1999 )
  • 5.3 Bologna (from 2000)



Studying at a university of applied sciences is usually ahead of the general higher education (Abitur ), the subject-specific university or a certificate of ( general or subject-specific ) technical college.

Since 2009 is an admission requirement for studies at a university, a " professional qualification ", eg, as a master, as a graduate of a two-year technical schools or through a special entrance examination and various equivalent training professions. More detailed provisions of the Resolution of the Standing Conference entitled " access to higher education for vocationally qualified applicants without formal university entrance qualification ".

In addition, frequently, depending on the course, the proof of a relevant pre-study internship, a completed specialized training or a one-year professional internship, for example, at the 11th class of a vocational high school.

The special colleges for Public Administration ( FHöV ) are accessible only for civil service candidates of the higher civil service in general, but now some FHöVs have opened for all applicants (eg, Saxony -Anhalt, Berlin, Brandenburg).

Diploma courses

The former had diploma college degree a normal period of 8 semesters, in exceptional cases, standard periods of 7 or 6 semesters were possible. With the completion of the course, an academic degree status, indicating the field of study and the suffix ( Fachhochschule ) or (FH ) has been awarded, for example, graduate engineer ( Fachhochschule ), Dipl. -Ing. ( FH). The academic degree may be used only in accordance with the degree certificate, awarded the additive can not be omitted in any circumstances, and not added.

Depending on the state of one or two practical semesters as a prerequisite for a graduate college degree were in the study contain mostly depends on the recognition of previously rendered professional training and services to meet such operational procedures in practice and / or to a company or an authority his to develop thesis. The second semester was mostly mandatory and was adopted only in exceptional cases.

In the context of overall university models ( Hesse, North Rhine -Westphalia ), there was a tiered study within which the technical university could be purchased to then conclude with a degree II degree ( university degree ).

Bachelor's and Master's programs

According to § 19 Higher Education Act ( HRG) tiered study the Bachelor and Master can be introduced since 1998. This must be accredited at all universities for quality assurance in independent accreditation agencies. As part of the accreditation process, the courses on technical and substantive minimum standards and professional relevance are examined. In the meantime, " countries Common structural requirements in accordance with § 9 para 2 HRG for the accreditation of Bachelor's and Master's programs " were adopted by the Standing Conference.

The requirements are the same for all types of higher education and there is no differentiation by type of higher education for courses, standard period of study or degree titles.

The standard period of study for all types of higher education in a bachelor's degree 6-8 semesters, for a master's degree program 2 to 4 semesters. Master's programs are mostly tuned as consecutive program to an appropriate Bachelor's degree program, the normal period then totals 10 semester.


Colleges do not have a doctorate and habilitation also no law.

However, master's graduates from a university can basically do a doctorate at a university or other higher education institutions entitled to award doctorates and a habilitation. The Master's degree from a university is not formally different from the university and allows as a rule precondition basically the doctoral admission at a university without additional requirements. In individual cases, is to check whether the corresponding doctoral regulations of the University provides particular conditions to graduates of a Master of a technical college.

Recent developments, in particular the transition to Bachelor's and Master's degrees, slowly cause and colleges begin to deal with its own right to award doctorates. The Catholic University of Applied Sciences Berlin ( KSB ) focused on the promotion of young researchers, the doctoral program "Social professions and human rights " a. The college started in January 2010.

The diploma graduates of colleges of all types of higher education are approved in many cases, also for promotion. Here are usually in advance as part of an individually designed " aptitude test " to provide additional coursework and pass aptitude tests, which can take several semesters.

Professors at colleges can act at universities in most states as a supervisor, consultant and auditor with promotions. The respective doctoral program are country - specific and university.

Some colleges are working with universities and other universities along with doctoral degrees to offer so-called cooperative promotions. Here is the research activity rather than in institutions of college and is staffed by resident professors. The actual promotion (examination of the scientific work, official support and the award of the PhD degree ) is, however, out formally on the part of the cooperating university.

Research at colleges

Colleges were originally conceived as a purely teaching facilities so that research in the higher education legislation was not initially provided. However, this has changed since the 80s and 90s. Meanwhile, the research contract for technical colleges in each State Higher Education Act is anchored.

However, the research contract aimed - in contrast to the universities - not to each professor, but to the university as a whole. Professors have the choice of their full teaching load ( in most provinces, 18 hours per week, hours per week) to meet or solicit research projects and a corresponding reduction of the teaching load. In some states, such as Baden- Württemberg, this " Deputatsumwidmung " up to 9 hours per week may be, with which the technical college professors in the result is the same teaching load would have as their university colleagues. In practice, however, such a re is not always easy, because for the duration of a research project do not always find substitute teachers ( colleagues or lecturers ). Therefore interested in research technical college professors lead their projects are often in addition to the full teaching load from.

In the areas of equipment or facilities ( large equipment ) and technical staff (also by the lack of mid-level faculty and the previously existing promotion law ) the technical colleges are made ​​even worse than the established universities ( however, this does not apply to the equipment of the premises for teaching, where the colleges are usually very well equipped). Thus, in many fields of science, the research is not as intense possible, as it is practiced at universities. Many colleges, therefore, but focus on a few, powerful research priorities. These are operationalized in permanently applied research activities in the form of institutions at university, faculty or department level. It is estimated that around 20% of university professors participate in the survey ( the number varies from university to university and state to state considerably ); However, in addition there are approximately another 30% who carry in addition to activities directly research and development contracts for the industry or are a consultant on innovative fields.

The colleges are successful because of their application-oriented scientific approach as a research partner for innovative small, medium and partly large companies and interesting in this area. Projects have been and are supported, including through programs of the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF). Also, some federal states (Baden- Württemberg, Lower Saxony, Saarland, North Rhine -Westphalia) lead or carried out their own programs for the colleges. In addition, the colleges also participate in major national and EU projects. Only the DFG, which is one of the most important means giver of the university research, has so far played no major role in the colleges. Reasons for this is the fact that the DFG is predominantly fundamental research promotes, in turn, is very seldom at the colleges. In addition, the colleges are yet no member universities of the DFG.

The fields in which the colleges in the research have been particularly successful in recent years, are, inter alia, automation technology, biotechnology, molecular Technical Medicine, power engineering and energy, automotive, industrial information technology, medical computer science, medical technology, micro-and nanotechnology, robotics, software, technology, process engineering (including environmental technology), materials sciences and applied social sciences and economics. In addition, some colleges are also characterized by very intensive research activities in areas that are hardly or not treated at German universities, such as foundry engineering at the University of Aalen, radiometry at the Hochschule Ravensburg -Weingarten or musical instruments at the West Saxon University of Zwickau.

As part of the implementation of the Bologna process, in particular the introduction of Master courses, research at colleges is becoming increasingly important, as Master's degrees with current scientific issues need to be coupled.

Recognition in politics, business and public service

In order to remain competitive in the international competition, the German economy had already called in the 1960s better-qualified employees who can solve practical tasks on the basis of academic training to quickly and successfully should. The question of the recognition of qualifications within the European Economic Community, especially for the former engineering school graduates was unclear because the engineering education in most of the then EEC countries was only at university level.

But the predetermined by the Higher Education Act of 1976 for the equality of colleges period of two years has been greatly exceeded because competences had to be transferred from the states to the federal government in education policy. It was also very long, until the FH diploma was generally accepted and no longer was massively discredited by graduates of universities and technical colleges in politics, administration, business, industry and the media.

Bachelor's degrees lead to career qualification for the elevated service in public administration, as well as the previous diploma at colleges. On successful completion of a master's degree program at a university or college graduates acquire the right to access the higher civil service, as well as by the existing university diploma.

The assignment of degrees to careers in the public service is carried out according to § § 13 et seq Civil Service Framework Act ( BRRG ), generally in accordance with Directive 89/48/EEC of 21 December 1988 the Council of the European Communities and on the basis of a successful process of accreditation of a degree program. § 13 paragraph 3, sentence 2 BRRG reads: " The educational requirements must be suitable to meet the requirements of the qualifications for careers in conjunction with the prescribed practical training for career or occupation. ".

Note the agreement " access to the runways of the higher service through a master's degree at colleges " ( decisions of the Conference of Interior Ministers and the Standing Conference of 2007 and its predecessor in 2002) and the " guidelines for the mutual recognition of Bachelor's and Master's degrees in degree programs, with the educational prerequisites are taught for a teaching position. "

College - University

The term college is a generic term for universities, colleges and other universities, so a part of the institutions of tertiary education. The English name University is the structure of the Anglo-American dominated education systems needs. In these institutions of tertiary education, the post-graduate diplomas will give, referred to as Universities, which corresponds to the universities in Germany. The High School, Higher than literal translation of the term school is to be allocated to secondary education and more likely to equate the term high school.

Many colleges have renamed in college or University of Applied Sciences. This naming is done by agreement between the University of Applied Sciences with the respective state and its necessary for legislative competence. In Baden- Württemberg, Berlin, Bremen, Hamburg, Lower Saxony, North Rhine -Westphalia, Saarland, Saxony and Saxony -Anhalt have been renamed in this way nearly all government colleges in college, in the other provinces not yet (as of November 2010). Except for the four newly appointed technical colleges all state Bavarian colleges bear the name " University of Applied Sciences". For several years, use polytechnics English translation is University of Applied Sciences or only University, for example, Reutlingen University. In Bavaria, the colleges will not allow her name to expand sole University, for example, forbade the Bavarian Ministry of Science of Deggendorf University ( HDU ) in the year 2011 the use of the additive University. Universities had complained about the misleading, fraudulent use.

Because in Germany has only a "university" or this equivalent university the right to award doctorates as obvious distinction from technical colleges. Some former colleges with later verliehenem promotion law but do not want to use the designation University in the name, for example, technical universities such as the Rheinisch- Westfälische Technische Hochschule Aachen or equivalent, mostly for traditional reasons. The term " institution of higher education ", with the formerly universities with doctoral degrees were designated as formal demarcation to the colleges is mostly no longer used in the higher education policy parlance, as this might imply otherwise, that there are also " non-scientific " would be universities.

The Federal Constitutional Court stated in a judgment on 13 April 2010 that the technical college professors are treated as university professors in terms of constitutional freedoms. No regulatory differences also existed more in the laws (judgment, paragraph 44). The 1982 and 1983 by the same court nor distinction made between science education goals at universities and preparing for an occupation by application-oriented teaching at the colleges do not want the Constitutional Court more maintained ( para 45). In addition, it notes that in the meantime, the colleges have been mandated by the State Higher Education Laws concerning research practice (paragraph 51).


The history of the colleges in the Federal Republic of Germany can be divided into three phases: the first and conceptual phase until 1969, the second and expansion phase until 1999, the third phase from 2000.

Predecessor and conceptual phase (until 1969)

As with many universities were many predecessor institutions State Engineering schools, technical colleges for ..., academies and similar institutions ... even at the colleges. About one- third of the colleges has its origin in these established before 1969 predecessor institutions. Significant decision was Georg Picht with his documentaries " The German education catastrophe," which were published in the years 1963-1965. In addition, comparisons of education emerged in the European Economic Community ( EEC).

On July 31, 1967 Higher Education Plan Baden- Württemberg was presented by the Baden-Württemberg Minister of Education William Hahn, who had been prepared under the direction of Ralf Dahrendorf, and therefore is also known as Dahrendorf plan. After that, the tertiary education sector was as follows grouped: Research universities (universities ), universities of education ( including vocational teacher training colleges and other institutions of teacher education ), teacher training colleges, art schools, engineering schools, higher professional schools. Already this Plan proposes a unified higher education and a degree structure model ( short and long course).

Other major impetus to the restructuring of the university department of the Federal Republic of Germany developed among the ministers of culture of other states ( eg Carl -Heinz Evers / Berlin, Johannes Rau / North Rhine -Westphalia) As certain endpoint and simultaneous starting point the agreement of the eleven prime ministers of countries can the Federal Republic of Germany on 5 July 1968, the on October 31, 1968 adopted by the same " Agreement between the Länder in the Federal Republic of Germany on harmonization in the field of professional higher education " are considered, which defined the technical colleges as independent educational institutions in higher education and with was the adopted and implemented a transformation of ( most of) the higher vocational schools in colleges. A consequence of this decision was the change in admission requirements, another consequence was the development of technical college bills in the countries.

Expansion phase (1969-1999)

The adoption of the polytechnic laws and the establishment of colleges by the individual states made ​​between 1969 and 1972.

Parallel to this effort to a greater unity and integration of Higher Education of the Federal Republic. Community responsibilities of federal and state were defined by constitutional amendment of 12 May 1969

  • Participation rights, inter alia, in the development and construction of institutions, including university clinics (Article 91a ).
  • Next was adopted that federal and state governments can cooperate through agreements in educational planning and the promotion of facilities and projects of scientific research (Article 91b GG).
  • Furthermore, the federal government received a frame responsibility for the general principles of higher education concurrent legislative competence for regulating the training aid.

Only the Higher Education Act (HRG ) of the Federal 1976 raised the colleges on the same legal " tertiary level " such as universities and similar institutions this; the freedom of research and teaching, and academic self-administration at colleges was guaranteed. The states had two years to adapt their national higher education legislation in the HRG what happened more or less hesitant, depending on party political majority of state governments.

The amendment to the Higher Education Act of 1985 also includes application-oriented research and development on the tasks of technical colleges. It is now enshrined in all countries laws as institutional task, but anchored (only optional for example in Bavaria) from country to country with different weights.

While the colleges in the 1970s, the old state designations often took over and their graduates this, awarded in the form of academic degrees, such as Ing ( grad ) or Business Administration ( grad ), were college graduates with the implementation of the Higher Education Act of 1976 in the 1980s as academic degree diploma indicating the field of study, for example, engineer, Business Administration or Business Administration. The award of the diploma degree was in some states with the addition of " FH", for example, graduate engineer ( FH), since 1987 throughout the country.

In a specific higher education model in North Rhine -Westphalia, Hesse, and some other states, universities, teacher training colleges, other universities and colleges were merged into comprehensive universities with university and corresponding UAS degree programs but different academic admission requirements and degree titles, such as the " Dipl. - Maschinenbauing. " for application-oriented FH direction and the " Dipl. -Ing. " for scientific Univ.- study. The comprehensive universities have now been converted into universities and technical colleges.

After the accession of the GDR, the recommendations of the Science Council were on the territory of the new Länder implemented from 1992 and all engineering colleges ( Ihsen ), transferred to many technical colleges as well as some schools of engineering in colleges.

In a fresh wave of foundations in the 1990s, another third of the colleges emerged, primarily in the new, but also in some of the old federal states.

Bologna (from 2000)

Since 2000 takes place in a third phase, the change in the polytechnics in the framework of the Bologna Process and in accordance with § 19 HRG newly established degrees of Bachelor and Master. Their financial statements are those of the universities fully equivalent and therefore identical - the suffix "( FH) " here is no longer permitted - and also in terms of opportunities for further study ( Bachelor Programmes> Master> PhD study ) equal.

Beginning of 2000, passed by numbers of the Science Council 151 colleges, of which 47 are in non- government sponsorship. It was the end of 2002 523.000 students at colleges, which corresponds to a share of 26 % of all students in Germany. The number of students at the German universities of applied sciences varies greatly, from a few hundred to more than 21,000 students.

As part of the promotion of the scientific profile of colleges such as the colleges in Bavaria founded in 2006 the club Hochschule Bayern eV. This is due to coordination of the scientific development of the members of high schools and their strategic positioning promote science, research and art in Bavaria.

In recent history, there are mergers of formerly independent universities and colleges. Examples include became effective on 1 January 2005 Merger of the University of Lüneburg with the Fachhochschule Nordostniedersachsen the University of Lüneburg and 1 July 2013, the merger of the Brandenburg Technical University of Cottbus and the Lausitz University of Brandenburg University of Technology Cottbus- Senftenberg.

Comparison with other European countries

Also in other German-speaking countries there are designated as colleges educational institutions, such as the Austrian Universities of Applied Sciences and the Swiss Universities of Applied Sciences. In its organization and tasks they differ sometimes significantly from the technical colleges in Germany. In Liechtenstein there is no more college since the former Fachhochschule Liechtenstein renamed in 2005 in University of Liechtenstein and was converted subsequently in 2011 to the University of Liechtenstein.

The colleges in the countries of the German-speaking world partly differ materially from those colleges in the rest of Europe. In Germany, for example, the teaching is now done mostly by usually doctoral faculty. In the Netherlands, for example, offer " Hogescholen " even without a scientific lecturers master courses (eg associate degree ) or (Bachelor's ), which are carried out, inter alia, in Germany and Austria in the dual education system.

The 1999 initiated by the Bologna Declaration Bologna process has to reach the target by 2010 in the European system of higher education and study systems greater compatibility ( compatibility ) and comparability ( Komparabilität ) using the European Credit Transfer System ECTS. Most colleges in the German language have now been converted to the new system and accordingly offer accredited Bachelor and Master courses.

Lists of colleges

  • List of colleges in Germany


  • Higher Education Act of 1976, amended seven times to 2005
  • Higher Education Acts of the States of the Federal Republic of Germany