FAQ - Frequently Asked Questions

  1. Must all bachelor and master programmes be accredited?
  2. Why do not all currently offered bachelor and master programmes bear the seal of the Accreditation Council?
  3. Do bachelor and master programmes, offered by system accredited higher education institutions, bear the seal of the Accreditation Council?
  4. May I legitimately use an academic title granted by a higher education institution, if the study programme on which the title is based has not been accredited?
  5. Should one basically refrain from studying a non-accredited study programme?
  6. Which seal is decisive for the accreditation of a bachelor or master study programme?
  7. Do bachelor and master programmes offered by universities of applied sciences entail other entitlements as those offered by universities?
  8. What does it mean if a study programme is not listed in the database of accredited study programmes on the website of the Accreditation Council?
  9. Can I take up a one-year master programme subsequent to a three-year bachelor programme?
  10. How long is the accreditation of a specific study programme typically valid?
  11. Can individual study performances achieved within Germany or abroad be accredited?
  12. Where may I recognize my individual study performances achieved within Germany or abroad?
  13. Can the decision of the accreditation agencies in accreditation processes be appealed?

Question 1: Must all bachelor and master programmes be accredited?

Answer 1: Yes, in accordance with the Common structural guidelines of the Länder pursuant to Article 9 Clause 2 Framework Act for Higher Education ("HRG") for the accreditation of bachelor and master programmes of 10 October 2003, all bachelor and master programmes must be accredited. Moreover, the individual State Higher Education Acts contain additional regulations concerning the accreditation of study programmes. This particularly includes the stipulation of time periods within which a study programme must be accredited.

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Question 2: Why do not all currently offered bachelor and master programmes bear the seal of the Accreditation Council?

Answer 2: The difference between offered and accredited bachelor and master programmes can be explained by the recent history of the higher education reform. The introduction of tiered study programmes as part of the amendment of the Framework Act for Higher Education and the introduction of the accreditation system then took place nearly at the same time. While the higher education institutions could immediately begin setting up bachelor and master programmes in 1998, the accreditation system had to be implemented first, i.e. the Accreditation Council had to be appointed, criteria developed, agencies set up and accredited and higher education institutions informed about the new procedure. However, in the past few years the cleft between offered and accredited bachelor and master programmes could be reduced significantly as a result of the consolidation of the accreditation system and the successive development of accreditation capacities.

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Question 3: Do bachelor and master programmes, offered by system accredited higher education institutions, bear the seal of the Accreditation Council?

Question 3: Subject matter of the system accreditation is the internal quality assurance system of a higher education institution in the field of teaching and learning. A positive system accreditation attests the higher education institution that its quality assurance system in the field of teaching and learning is appropriate to achieve the qualification objectives and to ensure the quality standards of its study programmes. Accordingly, study programmes set up within the accredited system or that already have been the subject matter of internal quality assurance are accredited and bear the seal of the Accreditation Council. The requirements for the internal quality management system of a higher education institution are set by the Rules for the accreditation of study programmes and for system accreditation.

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Question 4: May I legitimately use an academic title granted by a higher education institution, if the study programme on which the title is based has not been accredited?

Answer 4: Yes, if the academic title has been granted by a state or state certified private higher education institution, you are naturally entitled to use the title bestowed on you - irrespective of, whether the study programme completed by you bears the quality seal of the Accreditation Council or not.

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Question 5: Should one basically refrain from studying a non-accredited study programme?

Answer 5: If a study programme is not accredited, this means in the first instance that its quality has (to date) not been ascertained on the basis of criteria regarding the accreditation of study programmes adopted by the Accreditation Council and, as a consequence, that there is no quality assessment regarding the study programme (concerning curricula, the study structure, personnel, spatial and material resources or modularisation etc.) available. Even when a study programme is of high quality, completion of a non-accredited study programme can be disadvantageous in that a future potential employer or a foreign higher education institution where, for example, you would like to study a Ph.D. programme at a later time, has no significant evidence on the qualification underlying your education. Nevertheless, you are entitled to use the title bestowed on you after having successfully completed a non-accredited study programme.

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Question 6: Which seal is decisive for the accreditation of a bachelor or master study programme?

Answer 6: The quality seal of the Accreditation Council is decisive. In programme- or system accreditation agencies only award the seal of the Accreditation Council. Others than this seal must not be awarded in the same accreditation procedure or on the basis of the same review.

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Question 7: Do bachelor and master programmes offered by universities of applied sciences entail other entitlements as those offered by universities?

Answer 6: Generally, it is irrelevant for entitlements associated with bachelor and master programmes whether the study programmes are offered by universities of applied sciences or by universities. A master's degree earned on an University of Applied Sciences only opens up access to a career in senior services if the respective master's degree gets accredited and bears the seal of the accreditation council. This also applies for study programmes that have been accredited as part of system accreditation. A not accredited master's degree or a master's degree of a University of Applied Sciences earned before accreditation leads into the higher service.

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Question 8: What does it mean if a study programme is not listed in the database of accredited study programmes on the website of the Accreditation Council?

Answer 8:If a bachelor or master programme is not listed in the database of the Accreditation Council, one of the following reasons may apply:

a)     The study programme is not yet accredited.

b)     The procedure for accrediting a study programme is not yet completed.

c)     The study programme is already accredited, but the corresponding data set must still be created by the agency responsible for the procedure

d)     The study programme is offered by a private, not state certified educational institution or by a foreign higher education institution.

e)    The application for accreditation of the study programme has been rejected. Enrolled students enjoy protection of confidence, but new enrolments are not possible.

To find out the reason you must contact the higher education institution offering the study programme. The Accreditation Council is only informed about completed procedures on the part of the agencies.

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Question 9: Can I take up a one-year master programme subsequent to a three-year bachelor programme?

Answer 9: In accordance with the Common structural guidelines of the Länder passed by the Standing Conference of the Ministers of Education and Cultural Affairs, 300 ECTS points are required generally for a master degree taking into account any preceding studies up to the first vocational qualification degree in line with international requirements. As a consequence, a one-year master programme commonly requires completion of a four-year bachelor programme or 240 already achieved ECTS points as a prerequisite to be admitted.

On a case-by-case basis, admission to a master programme might be granted although one does not achieve 300 ECTS points after graduating. Therefore, a student's qualification is the decisive factor, and will be determined by the respective higher education institution.

Whith regard to the design of programmes, consecutive bachelor and master study programmes modelled „3+1“ are not possible.

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Question 10: How long is the accreditation of a specific study programme typically valid? Can I presume that I have completed an accredited study programme, if the study programme for example is accredited only one month after the issue of a diploma, or if accreditation of a study programme expired one month after the issue of a diploma and the re-accreditation procedure has not yet begun?

Answer 10: The accreditation agencies stipulate the time periods for the accreditation of a study programme pursuant to the resolution adopted by the Accreditation Council, Rules for the Accreditation of Study Programmes and for System Accreditation. A study programme may not be deemed accredited prior to and after expiry of the accreditation term stipulated by the agency and documented on the accreditation instrument. Unfortunately, corresponding negative effects on students enrolled in not yet or no longer accredited study programmes cannot be excluded. In case you have completed a study programme shortly prior to or shortly after expiry of its accreditation, we advise you to address the competent higher education institution and ask them to issue an adequate certificate or, as the case may be, to put forth the facts in the diploma supplement.

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Question 11: Can individual study performances achieved within Germany or abroad be accredited?

Answer 11: No, currently only study programmes (programme accreditation) or internal quality assurance systems of higher education institutions (system accreditation) are the subject matter of accreditation in Germany. The Accreditation Council's mission is to certify agencies that in turn conduct the procedures for the accreditation or re-accreditation of study programmes.

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Question 12: Where may I recognize my individual study performances achieved within Germany or abroad?

Answer 12: On the recognition of individual study performances decides the higher education institution at which you have been admitted. In case of study programmes leading to a lead to a Staatsexamen degree (such as law, medicine, teaching, pharmacy, etc.) the Landesprüfungsämter (examination offices of the federal states) decide on the recognition.
For details on the recognition of foreign qualifications, please contact the "Zentralstelle für ausländisches Bildungswesen" (zab) or see the information portal for the recognition of foreign qualifications "anabin"

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Question 13: Can the decision of the accreditation agencies in accreditation processes be appealed?

Answer 13: Yes, an appeal against the decisions made during the accreditation process to higher education institutions is possible. The appeal can be aimed at the accreditation decision as well as at the process. Responsible for the decision about an appeal is the affected accreditation agency in the first instance which must have an internal appeal process available. If the appeal at the agency stays ineffective there is the possibility to appeal to the Accreditation Council in writing. The Accreditation Council will then promptly review if the agency has breached any accreditation criteria or process regulations of the Accreditation Council in the respective process and will ask the agency to correct them if applicable. Additionally the legal process is open.

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