Why are Bachelor courses usually 4 years

What is a Bachelor?

The history of the Bachelor

The word "Bachelor" can be traced back to the Latin word "Bakkalaureus", which means something like "crowned with laurels". As early as the Middle Ages, the bachelor's degree denoted the holder of the lowest academic degree. At the beginning of the 19th century this academic degree disappeared in Germany. The Abitur took its place.

At the beginning of the 21st century, the Bologna reform reintroduced the Bachelor's degree in Germany as part of the new multi-level Bachelor-Master system. The aim of the Bologna Process was to standardize the European higher education system in order to enable better comparability and more exchange. The bachelor's and master's degrees now correspond to uniform standards in 47 nations.

The most important advantages of the Bachelor's degree

  • Shortened study times, faster professional qualifications
  • Uniform, internationally recognized qualification throughout Europe
  • Flexible study options
  • Modernized study regulations with increased occupational focus

Table of Contents

Popular Bachelor courses

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The structure of the bachelor's degree

Your bachelor's degree usually comprises 6 semesters. Building on this, you can expand your specialist knowledge and gain further qualifications in a master's degree lasting 2 to 4 semesters. The bachelor's degree provides you with technical knowledge and the basics of scientific work. In addition, you can acquire language and social skills.

In many bachelor's degree programs you also complete an internship: Universities of applied sciences, which provide more practice-oriented training, usually keep a whole internship semester free, while in university studies you usually do internships during the semester break. In the bachelor's degree you can also gain intercultural experience as part of a voluntary or compulsory semester abroad.

The modules in the bachelor's degree

Your bachelor's degree is divided into several thematic sections, the so-called modules. A module consists of related courses such as lectures, seminars and exercises. The grades of the individual courses add up to your average grade for the respective modules. All module grades flow into your final grade. The modular system structures your bachelor's degree.

The ECTS system in the bachelor's degree

With the bachelor's degree, a uniform credit point system for evaluating performance was introduced: The “European Credit Transfer System” (ECTS) makes study achievements within the European educational area comparable and thus makes it easier to recognize your achievements when changing universities.

For a 6-semester bachelor's degree, you usually have to achieve 180 credit points. You collect an average of 30 credit points per semester. One point corresponds to 30 hours of work distributed over the semester. In order to complete the course within the standard period of study, you should plan to work 40 hours a week over the course of the year.

You receive credit points in the bachelor's degree for attending lectures and seminars. In order to successfully complete a course, more participation is usually not enough. Usually presentations, a term paper or an exam are required. The number of points you get depends on the amount of work involved. The credit points are awarded independently of your grades.

The bachelor thesis

You complete your bachelor's degree with a bachelor thesis (also known as a bachelor thesis). You will complete these in the last semester. In this way you show your ability to work on a topic independently and on a scientific basis. Depending on the bachelor's degree, the length and the planned amount of time as well as the influence of the work on your final grade differ. As a rule, you will write 20 to 60 pages and will receive between 6 and 12 credit points with a workload of 180 to 360 hours. The thesis usually only makes up a small part of the final grade.

After completion, you ideally have someone else proofread it. To be on the safe side and to avoid plagiarism, you can carry out a plagiarism check before submitting your bachelor thesis. Then you print it out and submit it to the examination office. In some courses you have to pass an oral final examination in addition to the bachelor thesis.

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Degrees and fields of study

Depending on the course, you will complete your bachelor's degree with one of the various bachelor degrees:

You can acquire these degrees as part of a bachelor's degree in the following fields:

Subject / subject groupgraduation
  • Linguistics and cultural studies
  • Sports and Sports Science
  • Society and social sciences
  • Art studies
Bachelor of Arts / Master of Arts
  • mathematics
  • Natural sciences
  • Medicine *
  • Agricultural, forest and nutritional sciences *
Bachelor of Science / Master of Science
  • Economics
  • Bachelor of Arts / Bachelor of Science
  • Master of Arts / Master of Science
  • Bachelor of Business Administration / Master of Business Administration
  • Bachelor of Engineering / Bachelor of Science
  • Master of Engineering / Master of Science
Bachelor of Laws / Master of Laws
Bachelor of Fine Arts / Master of Fine Arts
  • Artistic applied courses
  • performing arts
Bachelor of Arts / Master of Arts
Bachelor of Music / Master of Music
  • Degree programs that are the prerequisite for a teaching post
Bachelor of Education / Master of Education
Bachelor of Musical Arts / Master of Musical Arts

* Note: Does not apply to state-regulated courses
Source: Study and Career Choice 2009/2010
You can add a master’s course to every bachelor’s degree. You have the choice between consecutive master’s programs, which are based directly on a specific bachelor’s degree, and non-consecutive master’s degree programs, which you can take regardless of your bachelor’s degree.

Effects of the Bachelor

In the meantime, over 85% of the courses at German universities have been adapted to the Bachelor-Master system. Time to take stock: How are the Bachelor and Master students doing today? Have the ambitious goals been achieved?

Shortened study times, faster professional qualification

The bachelor's degree is usually designed for 6 semesters. This means that after 3 years you will have an academic degree with which, according to a study, 84% of German companies would hire you. According to HIS (Hochschul-Informations-System GmbH), only 3% of Bachelor graduates do not find employment within one year. However, such figures also result from the fact that 77% take up a master’s degree directly after completing their bachelor’s degree. This usually takes another 4 semesters, so that the total length of the course is 10 semesters. This means that it is even longer than the standard period of study for many old courses that have completed with a diploma or master's degree.

Uniform, internationally recognized qualification throughout Europe

The introduction of the bachelor's degree has led to a standardization of the European higher education system. As planned, the new degrees stimulate international exchange. According to the Federal Statistical Office, 27% of German Bachelor and Master students decided to go abroad in 2009, compared to only 19% when they received their diploma. The proportion of foreign students in Germany also rose from 6% to 8.3% between 1999 and 2011.

However, the standardization also has disadvantages: Critics criticized the school's schooling, which leaves no room for free development opportunities. In addition, there are often problems with semesters abroad, as not all courses that you have to take according to the study regulations are offered every semester.

Flexible study options

It may sound paradoxical that the Bachelor-Master system, of all things, with its tight structures has ensured more flexibility in the course of study. In fact, the separation of Bachelor's and Master's degrees enables many students to design their studies more flexibly. For example, after completing the Bachelor's degree, it is possible to choose a new focus in the Master’s course or to reorientate yourself in a non-consecutive Master’s course. You can also continue your master’s degree at another university, in another city or even in another country. It is also possible to pursue a job after completing your bachelor's degree and to resume your studies after a few years.

Modernized study regulations with increased occupational focus

The bachelor's degree is intended to make university studies more practice-oriented. In fact, universities and business have converged. Commercial companies commission scientific work, and more students are doing internships during their studies. With the bachelor’s degree, the tendency towards smaller seminars also increased. This trend has intensified in the universities of applied sciences, which have always relied on more personal support. But the universities also restrict the number of participants in the courses. As a result, it is now difficult to take certain courses at some universities. With the introduction of the Bachelor degree programs, the number of admission-restricted degree programs increased in order to keep the number of students at the universities small.