Bachelor's, Master's, and doctoral degree – a brief explanation


What are Bachelor's and Master's degrees? What do you get a doctoral degree for? What does it take to qualify for each degree type? Which paths lead to which qualification, academic rank, or title? The information provided below will answer this question.
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The Bologna System: Bachelor's and Master's degree

Degree programs at the University of Stuttgart are organized in modules. The Bachelor’s and Master’s qualifications are modularized degree programs.This aligns the programs with the Bologna System, which allows to compare academic credits throughout Europe and makes it easier to change where in Europe you study.

All study programs are divided into two levels: First come the study programs leading to a Bachelor’s degree. Building on this, next come the study programs leading to a Master’s degree.

Studierende beugen sich über den Antrieb eines Fahrzeugs. (c)
Students can already engage in research for their Bachelor's thesis.

Studies leading to a Bachelor's degree

Bachelor’s studies are “undergraduate studies.” It is the first set of studies and starts after qualifying for university or technical college upon leaving high school. It normally takes six semesters to earn a Bachelor’s degree. It is a full-fledged degree and the fastest way through the university to a career.  

The Bachelor’s degree is also the prerequisite for all other academic degrees. Anyone planning a career in science also needs to begin with a Bachelor’s degree program.

The University of Stuttgart offers two bachelor degree programs:

  • Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) for the humanities and for a teaching position
  • Bachelor of Science (B.Sc.) for the natural sciences, engineering sciences, and economics

Studies leading to a Master's degree

The Master’s degree program is primarily a follow-on (consecutive) program. In addition, there are continuing education Master‘s studies. As already noted, to study for the Master’s degree requires having earned a Bachelor’s degree first. A Master’s is normally earned in four semesters.

This degree makes it possible to focus on a specialized subject in the discipline in which studies have already commenced. Many employers value academics with Master’s degrees because they often have in-depth knowledge of a subject, can work independently, and also bring a modicum of professional experience to the job if they completed an internship semester.

The University of Stuttgart offers three consecutive Master's degrees:

  • Master of Arts (M.A.) in the humanities
  • Master of Science (M.Sc.) in the natural sciences, engineering sciences, and economics
  • Master of Education (M.Ed.) is the program that produces teachers qualified for teaching high school in Baden-Wuerttemberg.

In addition to the above, the University of Stuttgart's Master:Online-Academy [de] offers continuing education Master's programs with differently-named degrees . These are open to anyone interested in studying while working in a related subject area.

Ein kleines Kind hält einen Stapel aus vier Büchern auf seinem Kopf und wirkt damit größer. (c) luxus/
One step at time: If you want to reach the top, you first need a Bachelor's degree, then earn a Master's degree, before the docotrate can follow.

Doctoral degree studies

The University of Stuttgart currently has 1,600 individuals pursuing their PhDs. This means they do independent academic work in a subject specialty. They write up the results of their research in a dissertation (doctoral thesis). Upon successfully completion of their studies, the doctorate degree is conferred on them, giving them the right to put “Dr.” before or “PhD” after their names henceforth.

The prerequisite for studying for a PhD at the University of Stuttgart is a follow-on Master’s degree.

For more information on doctoral degree program, see the research websites of the University of Stuttgart.

On the admission information pages you will find organizational details on docotral degree studes, how to apply, and prerequisites to be observed when enrolling.

Double degrees

University of Stuttgart student have the option of entering double degree programs. These make it possible to obtain degrees from two universities located in different countries. At this time, they are mostly offered in the Master’s studies realm.

For more information on double degrees, see our Study Abroad websites.

Expiring and former degree programs

All regulations for a particular study program are established by the exam regulations (only available in German) for example, which degree it results in or what is required to obtain it. An exam regulation (Prüfungsordnung = PO) remains in force until a new PO is adopted. The new regulation will stipulate transition deadlines within which students are then allowed to complete studies begun under the previous PO.

There is still one outdated degree program at the University of Stuttgart: the First State Examination for High School Teaching. It pertains to students that began their studies prior to the introduction of the modularized exam regulations.

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