How can I complete my schooling in Germany?
Note: The school systems are different for the 16 German Federal States (“Bundesländer” in German), so your personal situation depends on where you are located. We therefore recommend that besides looking at the general requirements, you also ask at one of the counseling offices mentioned below for more information on schooling.
In order to know what to do to complete your schooling, you first need to decide your long-term goal so you can know which school-leaving certificate you need (in Germany there are different types on different levels). No matter what your goal is, holding a school-leaving certificate of some kind will be very useful for your future. So, if you are younger than 21 years old and did not have a chance to get a school-leaving-certificate in your home country, we recommend that you try to do so here in Germany.
Goal A: I want to go to university (Universität) or university of applied sciences (Fachhochschule)
In that case you need to prove that you have enough years of school education. That means that you must have completed upper secondary education and have a high school diploma (“Abitur” or “Hochschulreife” in German) to be able to enter university. Usually, this means that you have attended school for 11 to 13 years and have passed a final exam.
Goal B: I want to do a vocational training
In this case, it is highly recommended to have completed at least lower secondary education (“Mittlerer Schulabschluss”, “Hauptschulabschluss” or “Realschulabschluss” in German). Usually, this means that you have attended school for 8 to 11 years and have passed a final exam. But some vocational training programs require an upper secondary education (high school) diploma, especially in the fields of business and finance.
So what do I do now?
If you did not have a chance to complete secondary education in your home country, there are several ways to catch up on that in Germany. See below:
- If you are younger than 21, we strongly recommend that you try to go to a German school and finish the years you have left.
If you are older than 21, there are different options:
Evening schools (“Abendschule” in German) - institutions for adults to catch up on school-leaving certificates. Since most adults have work and other obligations during the day, courses usually take place in the evening.
Adult education centers (“Volkshochschule” or “VHS” in German) - there you can take courses on all kinds of things but also catch up on school certificates. If you are interested in going to a VHS we suggest you get in contact with them directly. Find the closest one to where you live here.
In any case, we strongly recommend that you go to an educational counseling office near you to get all relevant info. Find out more about that here, beginning from page 82.
Do you want to know more about alternatives to studying in Germany? Check out this article in our knowledge base!