The education system in Germany

Finding out how the education system in Germany works is essential if you want to relocate to Germany with kids. This article will give you a high-level overview of the system’s framework and other helpful details, such as the academic year, grading scale, and vacations.

Understanding the basics of the German education system can go a long way toward helping parents make informed decisions about their child’s schooling.

For more information on this topic, parents may seek educational resources that offer insight into the nuances of the education system in Germany.

Most websites or apps linked in this article are in German and English. Use Google TranslateTarjimly, or any other translation service if you need it.

How is the education system in Germany

The BMBF runs Germany’s education system.

Every National state (Länd) has its own Ministry of Education, which determines its educational system, schools, and standards.

German education includes:



Secondary, and


All six- to 15-year-olds must attend elementary and secondary school full-time. German schooling usually ends at 18.

Germany leads the world in education. The 2018 OECD/PISA study of 15-year-olds ranked 16th in maths, reading, and science.

The PISA study also indicated that German pupils are usually happy. However, there are substantial differences between the highest- and lowest-performing kids.

Germany’s Preschool Program

Allowed for children under the age of three:

A nursery (Kinderkrippen).

While those between the ages of three and six can enroll in a preschool (Kindergarten/Kita).

These may be scheduled for early mornings, whole days, nights, and weekends at specific locations.

These kinds of child care can be private, public, or church-run in Germany.

Some are free, while others cost money. These can change from state to state and are generally based on how much money you make.

They’re an excellent method for ex-pat kids to play and learn with German kids and learn the language and culture.

Five-year-olds may enroll in preschool programs (Vorklassen) to prepare for primary school in certain areas.

German elementary schools

In Germany, primary school (Grundschule) is mandatory for children.

They typically start Grundschule in the autumn term of the year they turn six. However, different German states may have cut-off dates to determine the specific starting age, so it’s essential to check with your local authority.

Primary education in Germany usually consists of four grades or years (1–4), although it extends until year 6 in some regions.

Children generally attend the primary school closest to their home.

Efforts have been made to reduce educational inequalities in different areas. However, it is still true that affluent neighborhoods often provide better schooling opportunities compared to non-affluent neighborhoods.

Mandatory Education in Germany

What Does Germany Consider Compulsory Education?

All German children are required to start school at age six and continue through the Gymnasium.

After nine years or from another public education school after ten years of full-time study.

Upper secondary students must take part-time left-aside lessons if they don’t attend full-time courses at general or vocational education institutions. Even if they’ve graduated, this applies. “Berufsschule Berufsschulpflicht” is a three-year requirement.

Other youngsters who fail to attend such education and training may be obliged to attend full-time vocational school sessions.

Disabled kids must attend school too. Students will attend a regular or special school depending on their unique education requirements.

Other youngsters who fail to attend such education and training may be obliged to attend full-time vocational school sessions.

The German Primary School System

Children must go to Grundschule (primary school) starting:

They learn in mixed-ability groups from age six until they finish grade 4 (or grade 6 in Berlin and Brandenburg).

In Germany, there are two ways to teach kids in elementary school.

In a preschool setup :

With a 5-day school week, there are 188 training days per year.

In a preschool with a six-day school week and two Saturday classes every month, there are 208 days of training per year.

Secondary Education in Germany

German secondary education is divided into:

A “Sekundarstufe I” and a “Sekundarstufe II” follow the primary level of education.

Lower secondary education:

It is for 10–16-year-olds in grades 5–9.

After lower secondary school:

15–18-year-olds enter upper secondary education to prepare for college or vocational training.

Which Secondary Schools Are in Germany

As a federal nation, Germany provides secondary education options in public and private institutions.

The following are examples of German public secondary schools:

  1. “Gymnasium”: These schools offer intensive general education and prepare students for university studies and scientific work. Grades usually range from 5-12 or 5-13, leading to an “Allgemeine Hochschulreife” (Abitur).
  2. “Hauptschule”: These schools provide primary general education, leading to a vocational or university entrance qualification. Education typically lasts from grades 5-9, sometimes including grade 10, resulting in a “Hauptschulabschluss.”
  3. Realschule”:  These schools provide more thorough instruction for vocational or university admittance.

German private secondary schools are:

Alternate schools:

Offering comparable curricula to public secondary schools.

Supplementary schools:

Despite public secondary schools’ offerings, teaching other subjects.

What are the goals of German secondary education

German secondary education achieves the following:

  1. Engaging kids mentally, emotionally, and physically.
  2. Teaching freedom, decision-making, personal, social, and political responsibility.
  3. Supporting their academic ambitions.
  4. Enhancing their expertise.

Tertiary Education in Germany

German postsecondary education is available to those who have finished secondary school in Germany or abroad.

Who Supervises German Tertiary Education?

Under the Basic Law, universities may autonomously govern scholarship, research, and teaching.

These institutions must follow Lander’s ministry in academic and government concerns.

Which German Universities Are There

German tertiary education providers (higher education institutions) provide courses that meet local and international labor market demands.

German higher education institutions are:

  1. Universities and Equal Institutions.
  2. Tech schools/universities.
  3. “Pädagogische Hochschulen”.
  4. Theological colleges.
  5. Fachhochschulen (Applied Science Universities).
  6. Music and art schools.
  7. Military colleges.
  8. Dual-Study Colleges “Berufsakademie” (BA).

The Academic Degrees and Grading System in Germany

Germany has implemented the Bologna certification procedure, standardizing degree courses with other European nations.

Students may now pursue the following:


Master’s or;

Doctoral degrees.

Law, education, and medicine need Staatsexamen after graduation.

Some of the universities in Germany are:

Technical University of Munich

LMU Munich

Heidelberg University

For more, read about the Best universities in Germany

How does Germany grade universities

The Bologna system grades bachelor’s degrees. Students get a First Class, Upper Second, Lower Second, or Third Class degree.

Source: Expatica

The cover image above was taken in Munich, Germany. Photo by Kinga Howard on Unsplash


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2 responses to “The education system in Germany”

  1. πολυ κακο

    1. Ευαγγέλια ΧΑΤΖΆΚΗ

      καλημέρα κ Ελένη έχετε προσωπικη εμπειρία για το εκπαιδευτικό σύστημα?

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