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Types of School:

Primary Education:

“Grundschule”: Primary school, a regular school for children from 5 / 6 years (grade one) to 10 years of age (grade four). Afterwards, pupils attend secondary schools, depending on their primary school teachers’ recommendations.

Secondary Education:

  • Gymnasium: grades 5 to 12 / 13. This school type was designed to prepare pupils for university. If pupils successfully graduate from the “Gymnasium” after 12 or 13 years, they are awarded the “Abitur”, which is the qualification required to go to university.
  • Realschule: grades 5-10, a school for a wide range of pupils, offers the “Realschulabschluss” or “Mittlere Reife”, which is needed to be accepted for entering most apprenticeships.
  • Hauptschule: grades 5-10, which results in a basic school-leavers’ qualification known as the “Hauptschulabschluss”.
  • Gesamtschule: “comprehensive schools”, for all children, offers all three of the aforementioned school-leaving certificates in an integrated learning environment.

Berufsschule: “Vocational schools” are schools of higher secondary education. They are part of the German “duales System” which combines apprenticeships and vocational training within these part time schools, e.g. two days at school each week and three days at a workplace. Students in apprenticeships that are more theoretically based are offered block-weeks. Furthermore, these schools offer students the chance to make up high school qualifications similar to GCSE and “A” Levels.

Förderschule: grades 1-10. These are schools which most children with special needs attend, depending on their individual “Förderbedarf” (special need). These schools differ in their focal points of support, such as:

  • Learning difficulties
  • Intellectual / mental development
  • Emotional and social development
  • Physical and motor development
  • Visual impairment
  • Speech and language difficulties
  • Hearing impairment


Lehramtsstudium and Referendariat

In Germany one has to decide before they start their studies at which type of school they want to teach. In the “Lehramtsstudium” students do not only study the subjects they want to teach, but educational sciences, sociology and psychology are also integrated into the degree programmes. At TU Dortmund future teachers have to do three work-experience placements in schools during their semester holidays in order to get teaching experience. After a successful completion of one’s Bachelor and Masters degree (which can be recognized as the “1. Staatsexamen” / 1st state examination), they have to do a 2-year long “Vorbereitungsdienst / Referendariat” (preparatory programme, traineeship) in a school. After a successfully completion, they are awarded the 2nd state examination and are then fully-trained teachers.


At University:

Studiengang: Degree programme; the regulations under which one studies the “Profile” and the individual combination of subjects.

Profiles at TU Dortmund (Teacher-Training-Degrees - Bachelor)

  • BfP (Bachelor fachwissenschaftliches Profil) “subject-related in-depth Bachelor Profile”: Future teachers for “Gymnasien”, “Gesamtschulen” (Comprehensive Schools) and vocational schools have to choose this profile. Students have to choose a core subject (90 credits) and a complementary subject (45 credits). They also have to take 37 credits of “Bildung und Wissen” (modules including work experience placements and dealing with heterogeneity) and write a Bachelor thesis (8 credits).
  • BrP (Bachelor rehabilitationswissenschaftliches Profil) “rehabilitation-studies-related Bachelor Profile”: Those who want to become teachers of special education or work in the field of rehabilitation sciences choose this profile. They have to study modules of general basic principles of Rehabilitation Science (47 credits), two course specialisations known as “Förderschwerpunkte” (18 credits each), teacher training components (27 credits), 8 credits of “Bildung und Wissen” (modules including work experience placements and dealing with heterogeneity), one supplementary teaching subject (45 credits) and one core teaching subject (9 credits). They must also complete a Bachelor thesis (8 credits). Either the core or the supplementary subject has to be German or Mathematics if students want to become teachers.


Förderschwerpunkte: Students studying under BrP regulations have to choose two “Förderschwerpunkte” (course specialisations).  These are:

  • Förderschwerpunkt Lernen (Learning Difficulties: Compulsory)• Förderschwerpunkt Sprache (Speech and Language Difficulties: Optional)
  • Förderschwerpunkt Sehen (Visual Impairment: Optional)
  • Förderschwerpunkt körperliche und motorische Entwicklung (Physical and motor development: Optional)
  • Förderschwerpunkt geistige Entwicklung (Intellectual / Mental development: Optional)
  • Förderschwerpunkt emotionale und soziale Entwicklung (Emotional and social development: Optional)
  • Förderschwerpunkt Sprache und Kommunikation (Speech and language difficulties)


Großes / Kleines Unterrichtsfach: Within the BrP programme the “Großes Unterrichtsfach” (large teaching subject) is the supplementary subject (45 credits) which students study in their Bachelor course of study. They study 9 further credits of this subject in their Masters course of study. The “Kleines Unterrichtsfach” (small teaching subject) is the core subject (9 credits). Students study 21 further credits of this subject in their Masters course of study. Either the core or the complementary subject has to be German or Mathematics if they want to become teachers.


Master für Lehramt (Masters for qualifying as a teacher):
After students have successfully finished their Bachelor degree, in order to become teachers they have to complete a two-year Masters level teacher-training course in Special Education for special schools or secondary / vocational schools, depending on their former Bachelor profile. Afterwards, they are awarded a Master of Education degree and can enter the “Refrendariat” (see below).