Germany Glossary

Students in Germany encounter not only a very different educational system, but also a vocabulary that mystifies at first. Below are some of the most common words and phrases you might encounter as you begin to research possible program options for study abroad. A few cultural (non-academic) terms are included to help you along.

German Term Translation
Abitur Secondary-school final exams, used for admission to university, like “A-levels” in the UK
Allgemeine Ortskrankasse (AOK) Student health insurance
AStA or UStA Student unions
Auslandsamt A university’s international office
Bundesliga The German national soccer league
DAF Deutsch als Fremdsprache – German for foreigners
Diplom Final exam/degree in science, engineering, economics, social sciences
ECTS European Credit Transfer System – a uniform measurement of credit & grades in Europe
Fachschaft The student body in an academic department, e.g., all German majors
Grundstudium Basic studies; introductory study period
Handy Cell phone
Hauptseminar Advanced/upper-level discussion-based class
Hauptstudium Advanced coursework in an academic field
Hochschule German tertiary education
Klausur A proctored examination
Kneipe A pub or bar, especially one frequented by students
Kommentiertes Vorlesungsverzeichnis A comprehensive catalog of faculty, departments & courses offered at a German university
Kondetorei A place to buy delicious baked goods and coffee
Landeskunde Cultural studies
Mensa Student cafeteria
Mündliche Prüfung An oral examination
Proseminar A lower-level discussion class for undergraduates at intro level
Seminar A discussion-based class
Sommer Semester The second term of the academic year, from April – July
Sprachkurs Language class
Studentenwerk Student services/social affairs, e.g., housing, counseling, language classes
Studentenwohnheim A student residence hall
Übung A drill or exercise, usually associated with language studies
Völkerkunde Ethnography
Vordiplom An intermediate exam for students in the sciences, engineering, economics, & social sciences
Vorlesung A lecture
Vorlesungsverzeichnis See “Kommentiertes Vorlesungsverzeichnis”
Winter Semester The first term of the academic year, October – February
Wohngemeinshaft (WG) A residence hall
Zwischenprüfung An intermediate examination; passages allows continuation of studies to more advanced work