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I am really confused by the difference between Hochschule (university of applied sciences) and (Technische) Universität ((technical) university) in Germany, especially with respect to the master’s degree.

What is the main difference and features?

Can a master graduate from Hochschule have a chance to do PhD like a graduate from a university in Europe, US, Canada or Australia?

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First we should get the words right. In Germany, a Hochschule is the general name for higher education. A University and a University of Applied Science are both a Hochschule. It is the generalization.

A Fachhochschule on the other hand is just the University of Applied Science.

When it comes to Germany, a graduate from a "Fachhochschule" is allowed to write his or her PhD at a normal university. However, some universities may have some reservations and force you to "prove" your scientific skills, or to attend additional classes.

From the legal point of view, an M.Sc. from the Fachhochschule is equal to the one of the University. However, the Fachhochschule often awards the Master of Engineering, instead of the Master of Science from the University. (While the M.Eng still allows you to write the PHD)

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The term "University of applied sciences" is an attempt at translating the name "Fachhochschule" for the international audience. The issue with this wording is that they are not universities.

They give vocational degrees geared at preparing students to enter the workforce directly. These degrees are typically valued in industry and government or healthcare settings, not so much in academic ones. Note that the Bachelor/Masters system has been (somewhat awkwardly) patched over the previous education system in German-speaking countries. A Bachelor from a Fachhochschule typically cannot get you admitted in a Masters at a Technical university.

What complicates the issue is that some institutions with the word "Hochschule" in their names have university accreditation. These and technical universities offer more fundamental learning, an education more suitable to pursue academic careers.

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Both the answers by Cape Code and user6522399 are spot on. Two other things are:

One additional difference, albeit not related to Master studies but important nontheless: A Fachhochschule usually does not award PhD degrees. It used to be like this throughout Germany, but things changed very recently. So if you get an MSc (or MEng) from a Fachhochschule you will have to change places in most cases.

A bit more related to Master studies: Fachhochschulen do not have the mission to train the students for research - as Cape Code said, they train students to get jobs in companies. Their training is often much more hands on and not focusing on fundamental issues that much. That said, I know at least one Master student from a Fachhochschule who wrote good PhD thesis at a university later…

  • "So if you get an MSc (or MEng) from a Fachhochschule you will have to change places in most cases." Not sure if it's most cases - I know quite a few "external PhD students", who are employed at a Fachhochschule or some associated institute, and also have a university supervisor who acts as the official supervisor for the PhD thesis. – lighthouse keeper Oct 8 '17 at 14:49
  • @lighthousekeeper Yes, this is getting more and more common. – Dirk Oct 8 '17 at 16:40
  • "Fachhochschulen do not have the mission to train the students for research - as Cape Code said, they train students to get jobs in companies." At least in Austria that's not the case. – DSVA Oct 8 '17 at 17:35
  • @DSVA Good to know! – Dirk Oct 8 '17 at 20:38

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