Admission Requirements for a Degree

Before you even consider whether you can obtain advanced standing for a degree you should check with me whether you will be qualified for admission to the degree. If the Australian university will not accept your admission qualifications then everything else is a waste of time.

In this section I merely discuss academic aspects of admission requirements. As a German you will also have to fulfil other admission requirements, in particular with respect to your knowledge of English. As the exact requirements are different in different universities, and even in different faculties of the same university, you will find more information about the English requirements in the appendix describing the university to which you are considering sending an application.

Admission to a Bachelor Pass Degree

As in Germany, the qualification for entering an Australian bachelor pass degree is an appropriate school leaving certificate designed for university entrance, with appropriate marks in appropriate subjects.

However, if you wish to enter a bachelor degree with advanced standing, then usually you will not have to provide a copy of your Abitur or Fachabitur certificate (unless this is relevant for meeting English requirements). Some universities accept that if you have provably met the tertiary education entrance requirements in Germany, then you also meet the requirements for university entry in Australia.

Admission to a Bachelor Honours Degree

You must meet the same requirements as Australian students. In the case of a one year honours degree (see chapter 4 section 3) the main requirement is usually a result at the bachelor pass degree level with good marks in the same or a similar area of study. What "good marks" actually means depends on the particular degree, but usually you will need to have an average mark of at least 2.7 or better, though in some courses a different mark (e.g. 2.3 or 3.0) might be the minimum required.

If you wish to be admitted to a four year professional bachelor degree and receive the award with honours (which you will not be able to complete in two semesters) then you cannot usually apply directly to take this with honours. In this case the award of an honours degree is dependent on the quality of your work in the degree.

Admission to a Coursework Master Degree

For most (but not all) coursework master degrees you will normally need at least a "pass" result (see chapter 4 section 2.3) at the bachelor pass degree level. In this case the actual level of success at the pass degree level usually plays a lesser role that for admission to an honours degree, but there are exceptions. However the admission regulations for some master by coursework degrees require a higher standard.

What if You are not Studying for a Bachelor Degree in Germany?

If you are still studying under the "old" German system (e.g. for a Diplom, a Magister degree or a Staatsexamen) then – without guarantee – if you prove that you have "bachelor equivalence" you will be accepted by the Australian university or faculty for entry into a one year honours degree (subject also to obtaining good marks) or into a coursework master degree.

In this case you will have to prove (to the Australian university) that you have completed sufficient studies in Germany or elsewhere to be considered equivalent to an Australian bachelor graduate. What this means in detail depends on the requirements for entry into a particular degree. For example if you are studying engineering and you wish to enter an Australian coursework master degree that requires a bachelor degree in engineering as background then this will mean that you will have to prove that you have studied an engineering degree (or degrees) equivalent to an Australian four year engineering degree. But for a normal three year pass degree you will have to prove that you have successfully achieved the equivalent of six semesters of study in Australia.

There is no standard method of demonstrating bachelor equivalence. (You will usually not even find this concept mentioned on the websites of Australian universities.) For that reason I cannot set out a particular set of rules for you here. If your German degree is not a bachelor degree but you believe that you have studied enough to convince an Australian university of your bachelor equivalence (i.e. for a standard bachelor pass degree normally at least six semesters of successful study with achievements equivalent to what is required to meet the "Regelstudienzeit" in your German degree), then you should contact the Australian university.

The Significance of Bachelor Equivalence for Your Application

Bachelor equivalence gives you a status which is equivalent to having a corresponding Australian bachelor degree. This is often an admission requirement, without which you cannot receive a full offer for a postgraduate degree or an honours course. Consequently bachelor equivalence must always be demonstrated about three months or so before you want to start your Australian degree. You should not plan to demonstrate bachelor equivalence when you arrive in Australia to start your course, because that won't work. Notice that this is a major difference between bachelor equivalence and advanced standing (see section 5 below).

The Vordiplom (or Similar) and Bachelor Equivalence

Most first degrees in Germany which are not bachelor degrees have a first study phase which is theoretically completed after about four semesters. At universities the officially prescribed study period is normally 4 semesters, but in Diplom courses which combine two subjects this may for example be five semesters. On the other hand at many universities of applied sciences (Fachhochschulen) the standard time for completing a Vordiplom is often 3 semesters.

In establishing equivalence to an Australian bachelor degree the completion of the Vordiplom (or similar) may be recognised as the equivalent of the standard study time which appears in the degree regulations, i.e. three, four or five semesters, but it will never be accepted alone as sufficient for you to be granted bachelor equivalence.

Some German students have a mistaken belief that the German Vordiplom alone will be accepted in the Anglo-Saxon world as sufficient evidence of bachelor equivalence. I suspect, but I am not sure, that this myth arose because some colleges in the USA may accept the Vordiplom for this purpose. However, you should be quite clear that this is not the case with Australian universities!