How to use your academic degree?

Master's and Bachelor's / Master's /PhD degrees are usually listed behind the name. Diploma and doctoral degrees are listed before the name.

Only the highest degree achieved is added to the name:

  • Anyone who has obtained a master's degree, therefore, no longer gives the indication of the undergraduate degree; for example, "Dipl. Finanzw. (FH) Max Mustermann" may become "Max Mustermann, LL.M." or "Erika Mustermann, B.A." may become "Erika Mustermann, M.Sc.".
  • Those who have obtained their doctorate and thus the highest academic degree are no longer required to state the previous degree; thus "Max Mustermann, LL.M." may become "Dr. jur. Max Mustermann" or "Erika Mustermann, M.Sc." a "Dr. phil. Erika Mustermann".
  • "Stacking" of degrees is unusual, but can be useful in professional contexts: "Max Mustermann, M.A., LL.M.".

Grade may only be conducted in the form as stated in the award certificate!

If the diploma degree was awarded by a Fachhochschule with the addition (FH), this addition may still not be omitted in use of the degree. Omission would be a criminal offence, since the diploma was not obtained at a university.

The background to this is that the German FH diploma degrees are internationally equal to the Bachelor's degree; the German Univ. diploma degrees, on the other hand, are equal to the Master's degree. If you omit the suffix"(FH)", you are wrongly rewriting your degree from Bachelor's to Master's level, thus leading to an unacquired academic degree.

Also the later acquisition of a Master degree does not ennoble or refine the earlier FH diploma to a university diploma. In Germany, such unlawful management of an academic degree is a criminal offence under § 132a StGB (misuse of titles, professional titles and badges) and can be punished with imprisonment.

Honorary doctorates (Dr. h. c.) honour merits. However, they are not academic degrees which can only be obtained by passing an associated university examination, but titles which do not require an associated university examination. 

All professorial appointments are also awarded titles, but not academic degrees.

The unlawful use of an academic degree or a title - also of foreign origin - is a criminal offence in Germany according to § 132a StGB (Misuse of titles, job titles and badges) and can be punished with imprisonment.


Bachelor's degrees

The Standing Conference of the Ministers of Education and Cultural Affairs (KMK) has stipulated in its structural specifications that the following final designations must be used in Germany:

  • Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) = Graduates of social, linguistic, cultural, information and economic sciences
  • Bachelor of Science (B.Sc.) = graduates of architecture, natural sciences, humanities, engineering, economics, mathematics and computer science
  • Bachelor of Engineering (B.Eng.) = Engineering graduates
  • Bachelor of Laws (LL.B.) = Law graduates
  • Bachelor of Education (B.Ed.) = Graduates of the teaching profession

In addition to the Bachelor of Arts, the following titles are awarded at art and music academies:

  • Bachelor of Fine Arts (B.F.A.) = Graduates of (fine) art courses
  • Bachelor of Music (B.Mus.) = graduates of musical courses of study
  • Bachelor of Musical Arts (B.M.A.) = graduates in opera singing

The graduate must use the degree title as it was conferred, and this without adding the subject area studied or the name of the degree program.

The name is written after the name, for example Erika Mustermann, B.A. (without spaces between B. and A.!), or in words: Erika Mustermann, Bachelor of Arts.

The Bachelor's degree may not be supplemented by a subject or an indication of the type of educational institution that awarded the Bachelor's degree (e.g.: (FH) or (Univ.)). 

The reason for this is that there are no specific requirements for the type of higher education institution in Germany (e.g. duration of studies) and all types of higher education institutions are subject to the same accreditation requirements.


Master's degrees

Consecutive Master's programmes are based on a corresponding Bachelor's degree. A Master's programme can also be completed after a diploma programme. 

To simplify matters, only the following seven Master's degrees are available for consecutive courses of study. Technical additions are not possible.

  • Master of Arts (M.A.) = Graduates in linguistics and cultural studies, sports, sports science, social science, art studies, applied arts, performing arts, partly economics
  • Master of Science (M.Sc.) = graduates in natural sciences, mathematics, computer science, partly engineering sciences, partly economics
  • Master of Engineering (M.Eng.) = Engineering graduates
  • Master of Laws (LL.M.) = Law graduates (except state examination)
  • Master of Fine Arts (M.F.A.) = graduates in free art, "artistic core subjects" at art academies
  • Master of Music (M.Mus.) = Graduates in Music
  • Master of Education (M.Ed.) = Requirements for a teaching profession

The degree titles of continuing education, non-consecutive Master's degree programmes may be awarded by the universities in deviation from the titles for consecutive Master's degree programmes. However, the degree titles need not differ from those for consecutive Master's programmes. 

Approximately one in ten non-consecutive Master's degree courses leading to further education confers a different degree, half of which is a Master of Business Administration (MBA).

The graduate must use the degree title as it was conferred, and this without adding the subject area studied or the name of the degree program.

The name is written after the name, for example Erika Mustermann, M.A. (without spaces between M. and A.!), or in words: Erika Mustermann, Master of Arts. Or also: Erika Mustermann, MBA or Erika Mustermann, Master of Business Administration.


Doctor title

They may also only be used with the designation indicated in the award certificate. 

In German-speaking countries this is mostly done with the addition of a subject area of the respective awarding faculty, e.g. "phil." or "rer. nat." or "rer. pol". This addition does not have to be made, but if it is made, it must not be made otherwise.

The rest of the global academic world also knows other titles. To be able to lead them in Germany, they must above all be recognised as equivalent. For example, a Ph.D can even be listed as a "Dr." in Germany if it is recognised as equivalent.

However, it would not be possible to add to the additions that are lent in Germany ("rer. pol."), since they are not lent in this way.

Holders of foreign doctoral degrees must therefore either manage them as conferred there, or - if permissible - as "Dr." without any additions.

The faculty's own additions, which follow German university law but are not normally given abroad, may under no circumstances be added at will.

A "Dr. phil." cannot therefore be imported from the Netherlands any more than a "Dr. rer. pol." from Italy.

 
 

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