If you want to study in Germany, you can choose between different types of universities. State universities are considered THE top address for prospective students. However, universities of applied sciences (Fachhochschulen (FH), also known as Hochschulen für angewandte Wissenschaften (HAW) or even Technische Hochschulen (TH) enjoy an excellent reputation in Germany. What is the difference and which type of university suits you best?
In contrast to state universities, universities of applied sciences (UAS) tend to be small and their programs are practice-oriented. Of course, theory is also taught, but unlike universities, the focus is on the practical application of what is learned. UASs offer both bachelor’s and master’s degree programs. At some UASs, it is even possible to earn a doctorate (PhD).
The learning conditions at universities of applied sciences are generally very good. Not only the schools themselves, but also the individual faculties and study programs are often smaller than those at a university. Students know the professors and other employees of the school personally. Students are well looked after and always have a contact person for questions.
Studies at a university of applied sciences are well structured: There is usually a fixed schedule for each semester. At the university, on the other hand, there are many options and the schedule has to be put together independently.
The most significant difference to universities is the practical orientation. The teachers usually have a doctorate, so they have worked scientifically for several years. In addition, they have several years of professional experience outside the university. At a state university, the teachers rarely have practical experience outside the university. As a result, teaching at UASs is very application-oriented and students are well trained for their future jobs. At the university, on the other hand, the studies are scientific and the students are prepared for a scientific career in research. An internship or practical semester are integrated into most degree programs at UAS and are mandatory. In addition, final theses are very often written while working in companies.
Due to the strong practical orientation, graduates of universities of applied sciences usually have an easier start into professional life than state university students. Through the practical parts of their studies, they have already been able to build up a network of contacts, which can be very useful when looking for a job.
If you are more the practical type and prefer clear structures in your studies, you are certainly better off at a university of applied sciences than at a state university. If, on the other hand, you want to have a lot of freedom in organizing your studies and like to deal with theoretical knowledge in detail, a university is the right place for you. Of course, you will not be able to avoid theory and scientific texts at a university of applied sciences, and studies are work-intensive regardless of the type of university!