The Secretariat of the Standing Conference of the Ministers of Education and Cultural Affairs of the Federal States in the Federal Republic of Germany
Ten Theses on the Structure of B.A. and M.A. Programs in Germany
The introduction of a tiered system with B.A. and M.A. degree programs is a central aim of German higher education policy. It is part of a far-reaching organizational and substantive reform of university studies, a reform that will lead to greater differentiation in the educational programs offered at institutions of higher education. Tiered degree programs open up a range of study options that can be used flexibly by entering students, current students, and the presently employed, in accordance with their individual need for professional and vocational qualifications. In this way, tiered degree programs lead to shorter periods of study, distinctly higher success rates, and to the ongoing improvement of students’ vocational and professional qualifications and to graduates’ employability. The new system guarantees international compatibility, and thus increases both student mobility and the international appeal of German institutions of higher education. [ . . . ]
1. The Independence of B.A. and M.A. Degree Programs
B.A. and M.A. degrees are independent university degrees that confer professional qualifications. The integration of a B.A. degree into the [traditional] diploma [Diplom] course of study is not permissible, nor is the awarding of an M.A. degree on the basis of the successful completion of the diploma course of study.
2. Tiered Structure of Study
As the first academic degree that confers professional qualifications, the B.A. is the standard degree and thus leads most students into the world of employment. Admission to an M.A. program, the second tier of study, is contingent upon the completion of either an initial qualifying university degree or an equivalent degree; admission should also depend on additional requirements.
3. Professional Qualifications
As the standard university degree, the B.A. reflects the attainment of an independent professional skill set developed on the basis of the curriculum taught within the regular duration of a course of study. Bachelor’s degree programs must impart the scholarly foundations, methodological competencies, and professional and vocational qualifications necessary for entry into professional and vocational life.
4. Profile Types
M.A. degree programs are to be divided into “more practical” or “more research-oriented” programs. In accordance with the varying focal points of institutions of higher education, they can be offered at universities as well as polytechnics (technical and applied science colleges).
[ . . . ]