Diplom (German: [diˈploːm] ( listen), from Ancient
Greek: δίπλωμα diploma) is an academic degree in the
German-speaking countries Germany, Austria, and Switzerland and a
similarly named degree in some other European countries including
Bulgaria, Belarus, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Estonia, Finland
(only for engineers), France, Greece, Hungary, Russia, Romania,
Serbia, Macedonia, Slovenia, and Ukraine. The term is also used in
Brazil for engineers.
3.1 Further kinds of diploma (Germany)
3.1.1 Other uses of the word
3.2 International comparison (Germany)
3.3 Comparison between
Diplom and Bologna Degrees in Germany
8 See also
10 External links
Diplom originates from the French Diplôme (Diplôme de l'ordre
impérial de la légion d'honneur) describing a certificate devised
Second French Empire
Second French Empire to bestow honours upon outstanding
citizens and soldiers of the imperial French army to promote them into
Legion of Honour
Legion of Honour since 1862. The
Magister degree was the original
graduate degree at German speaking universities. In Germany the Diplom
dates back to the pre-republican period: In October 1899 the
Diplom was announced by a supreme decree of the
Wilhelm II in his function as the King of
the advent of the Centenary of the Prussian Technical College in
Diplom was subsequently adopted by the Technische
Hochschulen (Institutes of Technology) which had received university
status following this Prussian decree. Later, all German
universities adopted the
Diplom as their degree in Science or
In East Germany, the
Diplom was the only first degree and was also
granted in disciplines such as medicine or law, which at West German
universities were completed with a Staatsexamen. Nowadays such diploms
are still granted to students of such disciplines, although most
universities only grant the diplom status (for example "Diplom-Jurist"
in law) on request. Some universities also grant a master's degree
(e.g. "Magister iuris") to such students on request.
With the implementation of the Bologna process, awarding new Diplom
and Magister degrees has become rare, since they are replaced by
bachelor's or master's degrees. Already awarded degrees remain valid.
'Diplôme' is the French word for degree or diploma. The French
engineering diploma is called Diplôme d'Ingénieur.
Before the introduction of the bachelor's and master's degrees in
Germany, the standard Science, Engineering or Business degree was the
Diplom and could be, in several variations, obtained at several types
of institutes of higher education.
Obtained at a university, the degree was simply called a
Diplom (Univ.) and took usually between four and six years
European Credit Transfer and Accumulation System credits),
depending on subject and curriculum. When obtained at a so-called
University of Applied Sciences (or Fachhochschule), the diploma degree
is called a
Diplom (FH) and took mostly four years (240 ECTS credits).
Diplom was usually awarded in the natural sciences, business and
engineering, while students of humanities, arts and languages finished
with a Magister. (The degree in social sciences differed from
university to university.) All kinds of
Diplom degrees were usually
first degrees. However, the
Diplom (Univ.) was also the
highest non-doctoral degree in science, business or engineering in
The duration of the
Diplom degree programmes differed depending on
subject and university. An official average duration
(Regelstudienzeit) was set by law in each German state, usually being
four years for a
Diplom (FH) and 4, 4.5 or 5 years for a
Diplom (Univ.). In exceptional cases, universities were allowed to set
longer average durations for certain subjects (HGRP1995 § 26 (3),
NHG2007 § 6 (3), HmbHG2001 §53 (3)). However, due to the
curriculum set by most universities in Germany, the 4, 4.5 or 5 years
Diplom (Univ.) were often exceeded. Although being a
first degree, because of its actual duration, the
Diplom / Diplom
(Univ.) was and is in Germany not considered as an equivalent to a
bachelor's but rather to a master's degree, as also expressed by the
equivalent ECTS credits for the
A holder of a
Diplom obtained at a university is, depending on
subject, for example referred to as "Diplom-Ingenieur"
(Diplom-Engineer), "Diplom-Kaufmann" (Diplom-Merchant),
"Diplom-Biologe" (Diplom-Biologist) and so on. In Bavaria, sometimes
the postfix "(Univ.)" is added. If the
Diplom has been obtained at a
University of Applied Sciences (Fachhochschule) the postfix "(FH)" has
to be added (e.g. Diplom-Ingenieur (FH)). There are a few rare
exceptions where the postfix need not be added, mostly due to older
laws, small differences in the laws of the
German states or transition
rules. Transition rules, for example in engineering, or European Union
directives like directive 2005/36/EC grant certain limited groups
with other kinds of related qualifications to also use the designation
To obtain a
Diplom at a university, students had to complete two
separate periods of study. The first one was a two-year period of
coursework in courses of mainly (but not only) introductory nature,
the Grundstudium (meaning basic studying period). After (and during)
this period, in addition to exams for passing the modules, students
attained a series of usually four intermediate exams to obtain the
Vordiplom (meaning pre-diploma). The second period, the Hauptstudium
(meaning main period of study), consisted of two years of coursework
in courses of advanced level, an additional period of several months
in which a thesis had to be written and eventually a series of usually
four final exams. It was not unusual for students to need more than
two years for the coursework of the Hauptstudium. An obtained
Vordiplom and the completion of the coursework of the Hauptstudium
were the requirements to register for working on the thesis and for
the final exams. However, access to courses of the Hauptstudium was
usually not restricted to students who had already obtained the
The extent of the final exams and the exams to obtain the Vordiplom
was set by each university individually in its regulations. Normally,
the content of two different modules of the preceding period of
coursework was examined in each of the examinations, which could be
oral or less often in writing. Most students needed approximately six
months to complete the final exam period.
The thesis which followed an independent (although supervised)
research project had officially to be completed in not more than 3 to
9 months (depending on subject and university). However, the actual
time students worked on these projects could again exceed the official
duration by several months.
The curriculum for a
Diplom (FH) degree, obtained at a University of
Applied Sciences (Fachhochschule) used to be more
application-oriented, in comparison to what was expected for a Univ.
Diplom degree. The programme was slightly shorter and often one
semester was spent by the students doing an internship. Those with
some previous vocational qualification in a subject related to their
studies were typically except from the requirement to do an
internship. Typically, the studies in such a program were more
organized and structured than the studies at a university, with a
tighter schedule and a larger number of intermediate and final exams.
Subjects were split into those regarded as basic studies and in-depth
studies. Unlike the universities the period of basic studies
(Grundstudium) wasn't completely separated from the period of in-depth
studies (Fachstudium) by a pre-diploma. Instead of a pre-diploma the
passing of one or more intermediate exams in a subject qualified to
move forward with that particular subject or start related in-depth
subject studies. Passing one or more final exams in a subject
completed a subject. Once almost all subjects were completed thesis
work could start, but the missing final exams had to be passed latest
with the completion of the thesis work. It was typical to perform
thesis work in the industry, supervised by a professor from the
university of applied science and a senior professional from the
company where the work was performed. Although lab work was also
permitted as thesis work. The written thesis work needed to be
defended in an oral exam after which the diploma was granted.
Diplom (Univ.) is usually a prerequisite for preparing a
doctorate (Doktorarbeit). However, under certain conditions, holders
Diplom (FH) are also eligible for doctoral studies. In
German-speaking countries and in countries which Germany has bilateral
agreements with—regarding the recognition of academic
Diplom (Univ.) is usually accepted as
admission into doctorate programs.
Further kinds of diploma (Germany)
Diplom (Univ.) and the
Diplom (FH) were the most
Diplom degrees in Germany, further
Diploma did and do exist.
Diplom (BA) – The
Diplom (BA) was not an academic degree, but
instead a qualification designation which students received after
completing a three-year programme at a so-called University of
Cooperative Education (Berufsakademie). These colleges combined
coursework with apprenticeships.
Diplom (DH) – In the
German state of Baden-Württemberg, the
Cooperative Education were transferred into the
Baden-Württemberg Cooperative State University (Duale Hochschule
Baden-Württemberg) in 2009. Former students of a University of
Cooperative Education can transfer their qualification designation
Diplom (BA) into the academic degree
Diplom I and
Diplom II – Some German universities (for example the
University of Kassel) used to offer these academic degrees, where the
Diplom I was basically a minor
Diplom (Univ.) obtained after
a shortened program of study, while the
Diplom II was the equivalent
Other uses of the word
In the German language the word
Diplom can also be used for
certificates of any kind of achievement. It is usually apparent from
the context if an academic degree is meant or not, especially when the
word is combined with the academic profession.
International comparison (Germany)
Acceptance of the
Diplom (Univ.) and the
Diplom (FH) varies
from country to country and from university to university. Usually
holders of any of the degrees are considered for admission to
postgraduate (not necessarily doctoral) studies. The acceptance or
rejection of the diploma not only varies because of different academic
standards, but also because of political, regulatory and
A bilateral agreement between Germany and France sets the
Diplom (Univ.) as equivalent to the French Maîtrise.
In the Netherlands the
Diplom (Univ.) is usually accepted as
equivalent to the Dutch doctorandus or the Dutch master's
In the United States, evaluations by U.S. universities vary. For
example, for admission to graduate studies, the University of
Arizona, the University of Central Florida and the University
of Wisconsin-Madison require (at least) the Vordiplom plus an
additional year of study. The Oregon State University and the
University of Southern California consider holders of a Diplom
(not differing between (FH) and (Univ.)) for admission to graduate
studies. In contrast to this, the University of California, Los
Angeles requires the
Diplom (Univ.) and considers the
Diplom (FH) or a German bachelor's degree as not
sufficient. According to World Education Services, a German
equivalent to having earned both U.S. bachelor's and master's
In Canada, the
Diplom (Univ.) is at most universities the
prerequisite to enter a Canadian Master's
program, and corresponds generally to
a Canadian 4-year Bachelor's/Bachelier degree and an honours
bachelor's degree; in all cases to a university Bachelor with Honours
In Denmark the
Diplom (FH) awarded after four years of tuition is
considered as being equivalent to a Danish bachelor's degree, whereas
Diplom (Univ.) awarded after at least 4 ½ years of
tuition merits a Kandidatuddannelse. The German
Diplom must not be
confused with a Danish Diplomuddannelse which is equivalent to a
In the United Kingdom the University of Aberystwyth, the
University College London and the University of Sheffield
Diplom or a bachelor's degree as sufficient to enter a
postgraduate programme. Also the
University of Edinburgh
University of Edinburgh states that
it considers both degrees as sufficient to enter postgraduate
In the Republic of Ireland, the
Diplom (FH) is recognized as being
equivalent to a Bachelor's Honours degre, while a
Diplom is considered
equivalent to the Irish Mater's degree if its standard duration was at
least 4.5 years. 
In Norway, the authority in charge for the recognition of foreign
qualifications Norwegian Agency for Quality Assurance in Education,
Diplom degree system as being both "complex" and
"confusing". The Norwegian Statistical Office compares the Diplom
Diplom (Univ.) with the Norwegian master's degree.
In Sweden, the
Swedish National Agency for Higher Education considers
Diplom as sufficient for the admission to a Swedish Master's
program. On the Conceive-Design-Implement-Operate Conference in
2005 in Kingston, Ontario, Canada, Malmqvist et al. stated that,
the Swedish Civilingenjör engineering degree programs "are 4½ year
integrated engineering programs roughly equivalent to Master of
Science or Diplom-Ingenieur degrees".
Diplom and Bologna Degrees in Germany
The variations in the acceptance of degrees was one reason the EU
initiated and executed the Bologna Process. Part of the Bologna
Process shall ensure comparability between higher-education
qualifications in the EU. As part of this process Germany has
introduced Masters and bachelor's degrees and has largely phased out
the awarding of new diploma degrees. A process not universally
welcomed by the German academic and engineering communities.
The already awarded
Diplom (Univ.) and the
degrees remain valid indefinitely and are not exchanged for master's
or bachelor's degrees. Current German binding recommendations state
that the newly German master's and bachelor's degrees come with the
same eligibilities as the old degrees
Diplom (Univ.) and
Diplom (FH), respectively. This is, for example, important for
joining certain career paths in government administration, military,
or regulated professions, where some kind of diploma was required. It
also implies that
Diplom (FH) holders can join a master's degree
program. It does not imply the degrees are the same, a fact stretched
multiple times in the cited reference.
An actual comparison, in case it is needed, is done via ECTS points
which are retroactively calculated/assigned to old
Diplom / Diplom
Diplom (FH) degrees, when needed. This calculation is e.g.
done when a holder of a
Diploma (FH) wants to join a Masters program
and needs to know the number of additional ECTS point to study for to
obtain a Masters.
Since the old diploma study programs were all a bit different there is
not a single ECTS value or comparison chart for all kinds of diplomas.
Almost universally, however, when retroactively calculating ECTS
Diplom (Univ.) degrees they end up well into the
ECTS point range for a master's degree. The situation is different for
Diplom (FH) degrees. Those tend to end up at least at the Bachelor's
ECTS point level or above, and below the ECTS point level for a
master's degree. The ranking is roughly shown in the following table,
from lowest to highest rank. Typical ECTS points are provided for a
very rough comparison, individual points vary.
German non-academic degrees
ECTS point Examples
German academic degrees
ECTS point Examples
Diplom II, Master
The following chart illustrates the durations required to obtain the
old degrees (Diplom,
Diplom (FH)) and the new European degrees
(bachelor's and master's), using nominal example durations.
At the time of the Bologna process, schools in most German states
started changing from 13 school years to 12 years. (An exception are
the states of
Saxony and Thuringia, where Gymnasium has always lasted
only 12 years ever since the German Reunification.) Most of the
students going for a
Diplom therefore spent 13 years in school before
starting their university studies, while the younger Bachelor students
nowadays may start one year earlier. (However, in some states, such as
Rhineland-Palatinate or Schleswig-Holstein, the first class which
completes school after 12 years will graduate as late as 2016.)
Regarding international comparison, one may argue that British, Irish
and French high school students have school also in the afternoons
which could compensate with the (former) additional year of school
attendance in Germany.
Bachelors (3 or more years)
2 Sem. Master
Diplom (FH) with excellent grades
Note: For the
Diplom (FH) a student has to spend one to two obligatory
semesters during his studies in a company. These semesters are
included in the table. The study time is therefore one to two
semesters shorter. Bachelor studies have them included in the table
too. For the
Diplom (Universität) those semesters are sometimes not
included in the table.
Also note: In Germany, a
Diplom (Universität) student can enter a
doctoral program directly (if the student meets the admission
Diplom (FH) student has to have excellent grades to
directly enter a doctorate program. With the Higher Education Act
of the Land Lower
Saxony as of August 2010, outstanding Bachelor
graduates can commence their doctorate at the universities of this
German state. In addition, a few German graduate schools, such as
the Saarbrücken Graduate School of Computer Science or the Berlin
Mathematical School also admit students with a bachelor's degree and
excellent grades to their doctorate programmes.
The Austrian diploma curriculum is a first degree usually structured
into 2–3 phases comprising a total of 240–360 ECTS credits
(nominally 4–6 years). It typically ends with a final examination
after submitting a "Diplomarbeit" (diploma thesis).
Depending on the subject, the degrees granted are either
Magister/Magistra with a specific suffix (such as Magister
philosophiae for philosophy), or Diplom-Ingenieur (in engineering).
Notable exceptions are the diploma studies of dentistry and medicine,
which result in the degree Doctor medicinae universae (Dr. med. univ.)
or Doctor medicinae dentalis (Dr. med. dent.)
In most subjects, diplom programmes have already been phased out in
favour of separate, Bologna-style Bachelor and Master programmes.
However, the degree Diplom-Ingenieur is still used for Master's
graduates in engineering.
In Switzerland, the
Diplom (German) or Diplôme (French) was the
typical first degree at the two federal institutes of technology and
at the Swiss universities of applied sciences. Since 2004, these Swiss
degrees are no longer offered since they are replaced by Bologna style
bachelor's and master's degrees.
In Finland, the old diplomi-insinööri ("diploma engineer") title was
completely replaced by Master of Science (Technology) in the Bologna
process. All Finnish academic degrees are awarded both in Finnish and
English and therefore the title is still awarded as
diplomi-insinööri with Master of Science (Technology) as the
official translation. Conversion was straightforward and academic
credits were transformed linearly.
In Greece, a higher education diploma (δίπλωμα/πτυχίο
ανώτατης εκπαίδευσης) is a 5-year (10-semester)
(300 ECTS –
ISCED 5A) degree, formatted similarly to the German
Diplom, awarded to students of the Greek Engineering Schools and
Departments (called Polytechnic in Greece – not to be confused
though with the polytechnics of the UK).
While every institution has its own individual approaches, the
curriculum usually consists of general knowledge and essential
background subjects in the first five semesters. After the end of the
fifth semester, students select their academic area of interest and
pursue a set of specialised courses for the next four semesters. The
last semester is devoted to the preparation of a thesis on the
student's chosen area of interest, which is presented before a
Diplomas are considered equivalent to integrated master's degrees and
especially diplomas in engineering are considered equivalent to master
of engineering (MEng) degrees. The holder of a diploma in engineering
is permitted to sit in the
Technical Chamber of Greece exams without
any prerequisite. It also allows the engineer to be considered for
doctorate studies without taking any additional classes.
Since adoption of the 2001 Higher Education Reform Act (Ν. 2916/2001,
Ν. 3549/2007, N. 4009/2011) the Technological Educational Institutes
(Τεχνολογικά Εκπαιδευτικά Ιδρύματα –
TEI) constitute a parallel part of public higher education in Greece.
They confer a 4-year bachelor's degree formatted similarly to the
Diplom (FH) (240 ECTS –
Grades range between 0 and 10, 5 being the passing mark. However,
since grading practice differs amongst awarding institutions, a
descriptive mark is used, which is more or less universal throughout
Greece. For example, in the National Technical University of Athens, a
grade in the diploma between 5 and 6.99 is "good" (καλώς), a
grade between 7.00 and 8.99 is "very good" (λίαν καλώς) and a
grade of 9.00 or more is "excellent" (άριστα). In the
University of Patras the ranges are from 5 to 6.49 (good), from
6.5 to 8.49 (very good) and from 8.5 to 10 (excellent).
DEA (former French degree)
Specialist, an analogous degree in Russia and CIS (former USSR)
German Academic Exchange Service
^ "Landesrecht – Justiz –
Portal Hamburg" (in German).
Landesrecht.hamburg.de. Retrieved 23 September 2011.
^  – Example: Technical University of Berlin – derivation of
actual duration of study from standard duration for the years
^  Free movement of professionals
^  – Example: Examination regulations for the
Diplom degree in
Biology, University of Bonn (German)
^ a b "Report 11 – B The relationship of UK degrees to those
elsewhere in Europe". Leeds.ac.uk. Retrieved 23 September 2011.
^ "Nuffic Site" (PDF). nuffic.nl. Retrieved 29 May 2015.
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2011. Retrieved 23 September 2011.
^ "Graduate Admission Requirements by Country Graduate School
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Usc.edu. Retrieved 23 September 2011.
^ "International Credential Evaluation – World Education Services".
wes.org. Retrieved 29 May 2015.
^ Sybilla Pijet-. "Bureau des étudiants internationaux –
Université de Montréal". Bei.umontreal.ca. Retrieved 23 September
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Department of Nutritional Sciences". Utoronto.ca. Archived from the
original on 5 October 2012. Retrieved 23 September 2011.
^ International Student Evaluation Manual. "Faculty of Graduate
Studies". Iem.grad.ubc.ca. Archived from the original on 19 August
2011. Retrieved 23 September 2011.
^ Canada. "Graduate International Admission Qualifications – School
of Graduate Studies – Concordia University – Montreal, Quebec,
Canada". Graduatestudies.concordia.ca. Retrieved 23 September
^ "US and International – Dean of Graduate Studies – Simon Fraser
University". Sfu.ca. Retrieved 23 September 2011.
^ "International Degree Equivalencies – Faculty of Graduate Studies
– Dalhousie University". Dalgrad.dal.ca. Retrieved 23 September
^ "Graduate Studies University of Waterloo". Grad.uwaterloo.ca.
Retrieved 23 September 2011.
^ "Database over vurderinger af udenlandske uddannelser – Styrelsen
for International Uddannelse". Ciriusonline.ciriusintra.dk. Retrieved
23 September 2011.
^ "Aberystwyth University – EU Qualifications". Aber.ac.uk.
Retrieved 23 September 2011.
^ "Germany". Ucl.ac.uk. Archived from the original on 11 May 2012.
Retrieved 23 September 2011.
^ "Entry Requirements". Ucl.ac.uk. Archived from the original on 11
April 2012. Retrieved 23 September 2011.
^ "Germany". Sheffield.ac.uk. Archived from the original on 24
September 2012. Retrieved 23 September 2011.
^ "Postgraduate Germany International students". Ed.ac.uk. 28
March 2008. Retrieved 23 September 2011.
^ "NARIC Ireland Foreign Qualifications - Diplom". Retrieved 25 April
^ "NARIC Ireland Foreign Qualifications -
Diplom (FH)". Retrieved 25
^ "Dokumentasjon og dokumentasjonskrav Tysktalende land" (PDF).
Norwegian Agency for Quality Assurance in Education. 2010. Retrieved
14 April 2011. External link in work= (help)
^ "Norge i Europa – statistikk, utdanningssystemer og høyere
utdanning" (PDF). Norwegian Statistical Office. 2005. Retrieved 14
^  Archived 12 August 2011 at the Wayback Machine.
^ Malmqvist J., and Sadurskis A. Quality Assurance of Engineering
Education in Sweden. In Patil A.S., and Gray P.J. (eds.) –
Engineering Education Quality Assurance – A Global Perspective. pp.
133–144. Springer Science+Business Media, Dordrecht, 2009
^ "Bologna Declaration" (PDF). European Commission. 2007. Retrieved 10
^ "Promovieren mit FH-Diplom". Archived from the original on 17
September 2008. Retrieved 12 February 2008.
^ "Niedersächsisches Hochschulgesetz (NHG)". Lower Saxony. 2011.
Retrieved 23 January 2011.
^ a b Austrian Ministry of Science and Research, 2011: The system of
Austrian higher education
^  Archived 7 August 2007 at the Wayback Machine.
^  Archived 17 November 2007 at the Wayback Machine.
Look up diplom in Wiktionary, the free dictionary.
Levels of academic degree
ISCED level 5
Higher National Diploma/
Diploma of Higher Education/Certificate of
ISCED level 6
ISCED level 7
ISCED level 8
Candidate of Sciences
No dominant classification
Ad eundem degree