How to study in Baden-Württemberg
Baden-Württemberg is a great place to study. There are some tips and tricks, though, that could make studying here a tiny bit easier.
The way programs are taught may differ to some extent from what you are used to from your home university. Introductory courses in many subjects, like economics or engineering for example, are typically given as lectures, with very little interaction between students and professors. They are often complemented by tutorials in which graduate students or other teaching staff consider the subject matter in greater depth with small groups of students.
More advanced and more specialized courses usually take the form of seminars. These are more student-centered and focus on discussion and active participation. Many programs may also include a lot of project work in their curricula. Students are guided to find solutions to problems by applying their knowledge and learning and working together in groups. Students benefit vastly from this approach as they learn to think creatively and independently while working analytically and in a problem-solving manner. Plus they train their communication and interpersonal skills.
Most of the degrees you can earn in Baden-Württemberg are bachelor's and master's. They were transformed in recent years and now adhere to international standards. The standard time to complete your undergraduate studies and gain a bachelor's degree is between six and eight semesters (i.e. three to four years). This qualifies you either to enter the employment market or to continue your studies and take up a master's course. Master's degrees usually take two to four semesters (one to two years) to complete and lead to a degree which allows you to do a doctorate, either independently or in a structured program. For the various Ph.D. options available in Baden-Württemberg, please go to our partner site at www.bw-career.de.
There are however, some things peculiar to Baden-Württemberg which are worth mentioning. In some subjects, namely law, medicine and pharmacy, students earn a special degree called a Staatsexamen (state exam). The final exam is not adjudicated by your university, but by the State of Baden-Württemberg. The state has supervisory authority for these subjects and therefore installs its own examination board.
The academic year in Baden-Württemberg is generally divided into two semesters. The winter term lasts from October to March, the summer term from April to September. The lecture period, on the other hand, can be quite varied. Most universities are in session between mid-October and mid-February and then again between mid-April and mid-to-end of July.
Universities of applied science have a different schedule, however. They usually start their lectures with the start of the semester in October and April and end them at the end of January and June. In the breaks between lecture periods, students have to sit their exams and write their term papers to complete the courses they have taken. You will also find some time off to relax and go on vacation. Please check your university's web site for exact information.
If you would like to study abroad but don't have the time for a whole semester, there are still a number of options open to you. Our universities offer a variety of programs across a range of academic subjects. This is a good way to use your time off and deepen your knowledge. Participating in a short-term program will also give you a first glimpse of what student life in Baden-Württemberg is like.
Apart from subject-related courses, many Baden-Württemberg universities and institutions offer German language courses during the summer break. In small classes you have the opportunity to learn German on-site. Basically all different levels of language proficiency are covered, so it's easy to find the right course suited for you. Most courses are accompanied by workshops that deal with intercultural understanding to help you better understand the German way of life. Accommodation and joint leisure activities are mostly organized by the universities as well.
We are happy to help
There are lots of people in Baden-Württemberg's universities who will be able to help you along. The most important facility for international students is the international office. It can be found at all institutions of higher education which offer foreign study programs and admit foreign students. International offices provide foreign students with a broad spectrum of information from accommodation possibilities to the documents you will need for admission and study.
Some international offices run orientation courses for foreign students a few weeks before the semester actually begins. In many cases they also offer additional services like welcome centers for international teaching staff or dual career services which provide assistance with the relocation of families. The staff at international offices will also be happy to answer any questions you might have before you actually arrive in Baden-Württemberg. Feel free to e-mail them at any time.