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Fachhochschule: Wikis


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A Fachhochschule (FH) (plural: Fachhochschulen) or University of Applied Sciences (UAS) is a German type of university, sometimes specialized in certain topical areas (e.g. technology or business). Fachhochschulen were founded in Germany and later adopted by Austria, Liechtenstein, Switzerland and Greece. An increasing number of Fachhochschulen are abbreviated as Hochschule or Hochschule für angewandte Wissenschaften (HAW), which is also the generic term in Germany for all institutions awarding academic degrees in higher education. Due to the Bologna process, Universitäten and Fachhochschulen award legally equivalent academic Bachelor's and Master's degrees.[1] Fachhochschulen do not award doctoral degrees themselves, and this remains their major difference from traditional universities.

Universities of Applied Sciences are designed with a focus on teaching professional skills. Swiss law calls Fachhochschulen and Universitäten "separate but equal"[2]. Just like more academically oriented traditional universities, the UAS are able to issue both Bachelor and Master degrees. In Switzerland, they may run doctoral programs when the degree itself is awarded by a partner institution which is allowed to, just as some German Fachhochschulen also co-run doctoral programs, with doctoral degrees being awarded by the partner university.[3]



The Fachhochschule or University of Applied Sciences and Arts is a type of German institution of higher education that emerged in the early 1970s and differs from the traditional university (Universität) mainly through its more application or practical orientation. This includes research and vocational aspects. Subjects taught at a Fachhochschule include engineering, computer science, business & management, arts & design, communication studies, social service and other professional fields.

The traditional degree awarded at a Fachhochschule is the Diplom (FH). Actual coursework generally totals eight semesters (four years) of full-time study with various options for specialization. In addition, there are one or two practical training semesters to provide hands-on experience in a real working environment. The program concludes usually after five years with the final examination and a thesis (Diplomarbeit) which usually is an extensive project of a current practical or scientific aspect of the profession.

In an effort to make educational degrees more compatible within Europe, the German [[Diplom (FH)]] degree will be phased out and replaced by the European bachelor's and master's degree by 2010.

The Fachhochschule represents a close relationship between higher education and the employment system. The students’ up-to-date knowledge of the field enhances their preparation for their profession. Their practical orientation makes them very attractive for employers.[4]

Today the Fachhochschulen are also conducting research. The research projects are either publicly funded or sponsored by industry. The German universities of applied sciences enjoy a high importance for the German industry and they have several partnerships with the local industry. Nevertheless, in Germany the right to confer doctoral degrees is still reserved to Universitäten.[5] Some Fachhochschulen run doctoral programs where the degree itself is awarded by a partner university (like doctoral programs in German research institutes like Fraunhofer Society or Max Planck Society).

Bologna process

Due to the Bologna process, most German Universitäten and Fachhochschulen have ceased admitting students to programs leading to the traditional German Diplom, but apply now the new EU degree standard of Bachelor and Master's degrees. In line with the Bologna process, Bachelor's and Master's degrees awarded by both types of universities (Universitäten and Fachhochschulen) are legally equivalent.

With a Master's from either it is now possible to enter a doctoral degree program at a Universität, but a graduate with a Bachelor's degree from either is normally unable to proceed directly to a doctoral degree program in Germany (some US schools only require a Bachelor degree for admission to doctoral programs, but require additional coursework for students lacking a Master).[1] Also, with the Master's degree of either of the institutions a graduate can enter the höheren Dienst (higher service) career for civil servants.[1][6]


The Austrian government decided to establish Fachhochschulen in 1990. In the academic year of 2004/05, there were 18 institutions officially considered as Fachhochschulen plus a number of other providers of Fachhochschulstudiengängen with a total of 25,554 students. About a third of the 136 Fachhochschulstudiengänge are organized as part-time courses of studies.


  1. ^ a b c Secretariat of the Standing Conference of the Ministers of Education and Cultural Affairs of the Länder in the Federal Republic of Germany, 10/10/2003, version of 22/09/2005
  2. ^ Federal Law on Universities of Applied Sciences, Switzerland
  3. ^ "Molecular imaging methods for the analysis of gene and protein expression". University of Heidelberg. Retrieved 2008-06-06.  
  4. ^ Studienberatung USA in der Fachhochschule Hannover, an Education USA Student Advising Center for Lower Saxony, affiliated with the U.S. Department of State, Washington, 2006. Adapted from: G. B. Porter, Federal Republic of Germany: a Study of the Educational System of the FRG and a Guide to the Academic Placement of Students in Educational Institutions of the United States. (American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers, 1986)
  5. ^ "Auszüge aus dem Hochschulrahmengesetz der BRD (citings are outdated)" (PDF). German Rectors Conference. 2003-12-01.  
  6. ^ Standing Conference of the Ministers of Internal Affairs of the Länder (IMK) in the Federal Republic of Germany, 07/12/2007.

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