Hochschule (plural: Hochschulen) is a German term with two meanings.
The literal meaning of the word Hochschule is “high school” which is not appropriate as a translation.
The term Hochschule can be used to refer to all institutions of higher education in Germany that confer academic degrees like specialized (primarily vocational or technical) universities and colleges in the Anglo-American education systems. German art schools (Kunsthochschulen) have the same formal academic status as universities (Universitäten), while other institutions like Fachhochschulen usually differ.
In recent years, Hochschule has increasingly become the term for institutions of higher education without full university status, i.e. for institutions that:
Institutions that are called Hochschule meet one or more of these criteria, which differentiate them from a full Universität.
These are similar in mission to specialized colleges or academies (e.g., of arts) in English-speaking countries. Other German terms for this type of institution are Hochschule für angewandte Wissenschaften university of applied sciences or Fachhochschule.
In most German states, a Berufsakademie is not a Hochschule by either of the definitions because the bachelor's degrees conferred by such are professional degrees, which are de jure not academic degrees. However the state of Baden-Württemberg, from where this type of tertiary sector education originally emerged, has recently elevated these institutions to the status of a Hochschule and rebranded them "Duale Hochschule Baden Württemberg". The degrees awarded by the latter are academic degrees and equivalent to those awarded by Fachhochschulen and Universitäten.
The Hochschule has equivalents in other European countries, such as the főiskola (lit. "main school") in Hungary or the högskola in Skandinavia.