Glossary of Academic Terms
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The Student Advice Centre provides general information about study possibilities at RWTH Aachen and provides assistance with exam preparation and application procedures. Departmental student advising provides more detailed information for subject-specific questions.
Academic Progress Certificate
International students, who received a visa to study in Germany, are required by the Foreigners' Office in the Aachen City Region to submit an academic progress certificate after the typical length of studies has passed. On the academic progress certificate, the university confirms that the student is completing studies as scheduled and provides a prognosis on the expected academic degree. Contact your departmental advising to get an academic progress certificate.
The Student Advice Centre offers trainings on different topics about shaping studied. The goal of the courses is to develop individual strategies in a group that can be immediately tested in everyday academic life and reviewed. Active participation and discussion with one another is a crucial requirement.
It is legally required for courses of study to be accredited before they can be implemented. The goal of accreditation is to ensure the quality of teaching and studies by determining minimum standards. Accreditation is completed by external agents who use an elaborate process to review whether the course of study fulfills the demands. After successful accreditation and a certain deadline, courses of study must be re-accredited. Additional information about accreditation can be found at the link below.
There is an admission process for courses of study for which more applicants are expected than available study placements. The process is conducted by either the university itself (internal restricted admission) or by Hochschulstart, the Stiftung für Hochschulzulassung, in Dortmund. The Stiftung für Hochschulzulassung in Dortmund is responsible for courses of study that have restricted admission nationwide.
Alumni are graduates of a university. Additional information can be found at the link below.
The ANABIN database documents the education systems in about 180 countries. It provides information about the university institutions, types of degrees, and degrees. Individuals who possess a university entrance qualification certificate from another country can use the database to estimate the validity of their education with regard to the German education system. On the Anabin website you can find information on whether or not your completed education allows you to gain admission to a course of study or field. You can also learn more about the German grade system by having your grade point average or average grade recalculated.
Transcript and certificates from RWTH Aachen that have the official stamp of the university are recognized without any problems in most countries. However, there are some countries that require these papers to have an apostille. This confirms the authenticity of the signature on the transcript or certificate. Apostilles can only be issued by state German office. The office responsible for RWTH Aachen is the District Government Cologne or Bezirksregierung Köln.
The abbreviation AStA is short for Allgemeiner Studierendenausschus or the General Students' Committee, which is the executive student representation. Chairs, speakers, and officers of the ASta are elected by a committee made up of representatives from all of the student representative councils. You can find out more about the team, its responsibiities, and how to get involved on the AStA website.
Individuals who participate in individual courses without a university entrance qualification certificate. They are now allowed to take exams or acquire proof of performance and do not receive an academic degree. Additional information can be found at the link below.
Bachelor, B.Sc., B.A.
German: Bachelor, B.Sc., B.A.
The Bachelor is the first career qualifying degree and has a typical length of study of at least six semesters, eight semesters at the most. Depending on the course of study, students earn one of the following academic degrees: Bachelor of Science, B.Sc. for short, or Bachelor of Arts, B.A..
The Federal Training Assistance Act or BAföG, regulates financial support for student from the state. It is issued independent of the parents' or spouse's income or from assets available.The longest period of funding available is the typical length of study for the course of study. Bachelor and Master are two courses of study. Half of the funding is awarded as a grant and the other half is an interest free loan. The Student Services Office of Federal Assistance can provide information about specific details.
A block course is a course that does not take place over the course of a whole semester but is concentrated over a few days, such as a week.
A service for first-year students to refresh or advance what they learned in school in subjects that are important for many courses of study. The goal of the courses is to enable an easier start to studies by repeating the basic knowledge required in the first semesters. Participation is voluntary and free of charge. You can get more information about the bridge courses from the Student Advice Centre.
German: Career Service
The Career Center is the intersection of the job market and RWTH Aachen. Here students and graduates can find support in entering the economy and academia. Additional information is available at the link below.
Certificate of Good Standing
In order to enroll in a different course of study at RWTH Aachen, you must submit a certificate of good standing. You can get this from the examination board or departmental advising, for the course of study you wish to transfer into. You must submit all certificates about academic performance up to now, including previous studies at other German universities. A certificate about past studies at RWTH Aachen can be issued in RWTHonline or you can get a print out from the Central Examination Office.
A course with a small group of students, who talk with the lecturer and among themselves.
Compensation for Disadvantages in Exams
German: Nachteilsausgleich bei Prüfungen
Students, who prove that they are at disadvantage because of a longer term or consistant physical handicap or chronic illness, can contact the examination board.
A course is an instructional unit that is part of studies at a university. There are different types of courses. They differ in their didactics and the degree of qualifications required from the participant. There are practical and theoretical courses.
Credit Points or ECTS
German: Credit Points oder ECTS
Academic performance in individual modules is evaluated and are weighted with credit points or CP for an average grade. They are the unit of measure for the amount of time students have to invest to participate in class and prepare, homework, and exams. The term and abbreviation credits or ECTS points are often used. A credit point corresponds to an estimated amount of work of about 30 hours. One semester is typically 30 credit points.
Enrolled students from other universities can be admitted as cross-registered students to take classes and exams in another course of study.
The work curriculum is sometimes equated to a teaching plan. A teaching plan is usually a list of lesson content. A curriculum mostly includes teaching times and the layout and schedule for a course of study.
German: Dekanin und Dekan
The dean is a professor of a faculty elected by the faculty council. The dean represents the faculty and is also involved in teaching matters.
Departmental Student Advising
Every course of study has its own departmental advising, that advises them on questions about the content of studies, surrounding studies, or problems about their course of study.
The Dies academicus or Dies are an academic holiday, on which courses are not held. Current information can be found in the semester dates.
An academic degree that is awarded after a student has passed the Diplom exam from a university of applied sciences or a university in technical, natural science, economic, or social science courses of study. The Diplom degree is being replaced by Bachelor and Master degrees as part of the Bologna Reform. It is no longer possible to begin Diplom studies at RWTH Aachen.
German: Diploma Supplement
The Diploma Supplement or DS is an additional document that describes university degrees acquired and the corresponding qualifications. The DS explains the German university system and its degrees as well as the university awarding the degree, and concrete content of the course of study completed. The DS is issued in both German and English and included with the diploma. It serves to provide employers with additional information.
An independent academic paper for the acquisition of a doctoral degree. All dissertations that are accepted by the university can be taken out from the University Library.
"Promotion" is the German word for the process of acquiring a doctoral degree. It is uncommon to acquire the doctoral degree in a structured graduate program at German universities in contrast to Anglo-American universities. Instead, doctoral candidates work on a research project that is supervised by a university professor, called either the Doktormutter oder den Doktorvater. The goal of doctoral studies is to independently write a scientific paper that advances the level of knowledge in a selected field of research. A prerequisite for being accepted to doctoral studies is the completion of a consecutive Master's degree or a comparable degree. A doctoral degree is aquired by finishing a dissertation and completing studies with a preferable above average grade.
The European Credit Transfer and Accumulation System or ECTS ensures that students' performance at univerisities in the European Higher Education Area are comparable and can be calculated and recognized if a student transfers to another university, even if it is abroad.
See Credit Points as well.
Applicants become members of the university with full rights and obligations through immatriculation or enrollment. There is an enrollment deadline, provided in the admission letter, for Numerus Clausus subjects. If you do not enroll by this time, you will lose your spot. Enrollment takes place in person and electronically or in writing at certain times in Registrar's Office.
Erasmus or Stays Abroad During Studies
German: Erasmus oder Auslandsaufenthalt während des Studiums
Erasmus stands for EuRopean (Community) Action Scheme for the Mobility of University Students. The fundamental elements are recognition of academic performanc abroad with the help of the European Credit Transfer Systems, ECTS for short, and financial support for exchange students via scholarships. If there is talk of Erasmus, people usually mean the organized and financially supported student exchange. A prerequisite for participating in Erasmus is that there be an agreement between the home university and host university.
EU or EEA
German: EU oder EWR
European Union, EU for short, member countries include Belgium, Bulgaria, Denmark, Germany, Estonia, Finland, France, Greece, Great Britain, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Austria, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Sweden, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, the Czech Republic, Hungary, and Cyprus.
The European Economic Area, EEA for short, encompasses the European Union member countries and Iceland, Liechtenstein, and Norway.
Universities are required to accredit their courses of study and to implement an evaluation process for quality assurance. In order to minimize the amount of work for the faculties, course of study evaluations and the accreditation process are also conducted together at RWTH Aachen. Evaluation of the teaching units is conducted before the respective accreditation process, in order to use the knowledge gained during the reevalution and the elicted improvement measures for accreditation. Additional information can be found at the link below.
Examination boards organize exams. The examination boards makes sure that certain regulations in the examination regulation are adhered to and that exams are implemented according to the regulation. The examination board appoints the examiners. It is particularly responsible for decisions about contradictions to decisions made during the examination process. Furthermore it regularly informs the faculty at least once year about the development of exams and study times. It provides feedbac about reforming the examination regulation and the curriculum and publicizes the distribution of grades and final grades. The chair of the board can assume responsiblity of all regular cases. This does not apply to decisions about contradictions and the repot to the faculty.
Examination performances are all the performances students must finish during their studies.
Each course of study has its own examination regulation approved by the Faculty Council. Students are included in the creation of the examination regulations. The University is legally required to include certain regulations in the examination regulations.
Exercise or Tutorial
A course with a restricted number of students in which students learn and apply the scientific work methods of a field.
A subdivision of the university responsible for the teaching and research in a field of academia, also called departments at many universities. There are a total of nine faculties at RWTH Aachen. You can refer to the course of study descriptions to find out which faculty your course of study is in.
Examination performance is fixed-semester when it must be completed within a determined core semester of studies. An examination performance can also be semester-variable.
RWTH Aachen is convinced that a degree from RWTH Aachen is a good ticket into a professional career. The graduate survey checks this conviction. The goal of the project is to improve the quality of studies based on feedback from graduates. While the first survey primarily serves to improve the quality of study conditions against the backdrop of starting a career, the repeat survey offers valuable recognition about our students' preparation for the first five professional years. A report of results is available to download.
Habilitation or Post-Doctoral Lecturing Qualification
The process for acquiring the “Venia legendi,” that is the right to teach as a professor. This process includes submitting an academic paper, teaching experience, and a presentation in front of the faculty.
HiWi or Student Assistant
Student assistant, comes from the word “Hilfswissenschaftler.” Usually a student employee in a department or other university institution working a limited amount of hours for relatively low wages.
HZB or University Entrance Qualification Certificate
German: HZB oder Hochschulzugangsberechtigung
You can acquire the university entrance qualification certificate in a variety of ways:
- General University Entrance Qualification, also the Abitur, is a general university entrance qualification for all courses of study at RWTH Aachen, a university or university of applied sciences degree is also recognized as a university entrance qualification, in the event that a restricted study permit had originally existed (subject-related university entrance qualification or university of applied sciences entrance qualification)
the subject-related university entrance qualification, also the subject-related Abitur, is a restricted university entrance qualification for certain courses of study at RWTH Aachen
Note: the university of applied science entrance qualification, also called the Fachabitur, is the entrance qualification for courses of study at universities of applied sciences
- Access for applicants qualified through professional training without a university entrance qualification certificate
- foreign secondary education degree, that is equal to the German Abitur, for example the International Baccalaureat, when certain conditions are fulfilled. It is possible that your foreign degree does not allow you to immediately begin studies in Germany. In that case, you may need to study for a few semesters in your home country or complete a Studienkolleg in Germany. You can get more information about the recognition of foreign school degrees in Germany from Anabin.
Independent study is when a student indepently learns the material for a field. All studies require students to learn a portion of the material independently.
Individuals with German Secondary Degrees
German: Bildungsinländerin und Bildungsinländer
Individuals with German secondary degrees include international students or prospective students at German universities, who acquired their university entrance qualification certificate, HZB for short, in Germany or at a German school abroad.
Kommilitonin oder Kommilitone
German: Kommilitonin oder Kommilitone
A term for a fellow student
L²P is the RWTH Aachen teaching and learning portal. In L²P lecturers can offer virtual classrooms for each of their CAMPUS courses. A classroom is a protected area that supports teaching and the exchange of study materials and information. Additional information can be found below.
Students in teacher training subjects must learn two subjects in order to be admitted to preparatory service. Documentation of their language skills is typically fulfilled by the university entrance qualification certificate. English skills are indispensable for all courses of study, sense technical literature is usually published in English.
Leave of Absence
In accordance with the enrollment regulation, a leave of absence can be granted upon documentation of an important reason. Applications for a leave of absence are submitted during the re-enrollment period. The RWTH Aachen Registrar's Office can provide additional information about this.
A crucial form of teaching at universities. A lecturer presents a topic, and students listen, typically writing down the most important information. Lectures are often supplemented by additional aids such as slides, maps, transparencies, or projectors.
A directory of all the courses offered at the university during a semester. It contains information about the course time, location such as lecture hall, seminar room, or lab, and the name of the lecturer. The lecture directory is also available online in Campus.
M.Sc., M.A., M.Ed., or Master
German: M.Sc., M.A., M.Ed. oder Master
Master courses of study require an initial academic degree such as Bachelor, Magister, Diplom, or Staatsexamen. Depending on the course of study, the academic degrees Master of Science or M.Sc., Master of Arts, M.A., or Master of Education, M.Ed. are awarded.
Magister or Magister Artium
German: Magister oder Magister Artium
The academic degree Magister Artium was common for philosophical, linguistic, cultural, or historical subjects. It is no longer possible to begin or enroll in Magister courses of study at RWTH Aachen.
The mandatory modules encompass all courses that are already determined and which all students must take.
The Staatsexamen in medical courses of study is a state finishing exam based on a unified exam regulation. THe medical courses of study are completed by the so called Medical Exam or Dental Exam. Medical licensing allows a doctor or dentist to practice medicine or dentistry.
A mentoring program was created as part of the RWTH-wide initiative Excellent Teaching institutional strategy to improve study conditions. The goal of the program is to individually support and promote them. The service expands and supplements the services of the departmental student advising and student representative council to include personal and individual accompaniment throughout studies.
Modules are a collection of courses that are focused on a certain thematic or content-related focus. A module is teaching and learning unit that is over both content-wide and temporally. This unit is made up of different courses.
The module handbook describes the individual modules including information about the core semester, content, duration, learning goals, SWS, prerequisites, frequency, grading, rotation, examinations, and language.
Numerus Clausus or NC
German: Numerus Clausus oder NC
Numerus clausus, abbreviated as NC, is the restriction of admission to universities. The term comes from the Latin numerus for number and clausus for closed, and means a limited number, that is the the capacity for admission in certain courses of study.
Oral Supplementary Exam
German: Mündliche Ergänzungsprüfung
If someone fails the second retake of an exam and receives a grade of insufficient or 5.0, the student has the opportunity to take an oral supplementary exam. Depending on the oral supplementary exam, a student will either receive a sufficient or 4.0 or an insufficient or 5.0.
The orientation period is the first five weeks after lectures begin.
First-year students in Bachelor and Staatsexamen courses of study are welcomed at the beginning of the semester with the orientation week. The week is organized primarily by the student representative councils and begins with the orientation events on the first day of the semester. Then, smaller groups are formed that are accompanied by a tutor to the week's events. Some Master's courses of study offer orientation events as well. Additional information is available at the link below.
After grades are announced students can view their corrected exam or examination paper.
Practical Components (Teacher Training)
German: Praxiselemente (Lehramt)
The Bachelor’s teacher training programs require an internship of at least four weeks in duration in a non-school context. The aim of this internship is to help students reflect on their choice of studies and career and broaden their horizons for their later activities as teachers.
Another practical component is the "suitability and orientation internship," which encompasses a preparatory seminar, the internship of at least 25 days in duration, and a written report by the students critically reflecting on their experience. The internship aims to introduce students to educational practice at schools and give them the opportunity to develop profession-oriented perspectives from which to pursue their studies.
The Master of Education program requires a “practical” semester, which is divided into a preparatory phase and a participatory phase at a school. The activities at school are in turn divided into a practical and theoretical part. The practical semester coincides with a 6-month school term. It is part of a two-semester period focusing on vocational aspects, complemented by seminars in the field of educational science and pedagogy.
All practical components must be documented in a portfolio. They are required for admission to the next stage in teacher education, the so-called “preparatory service.”
Preparatory service, formerly called Refendariat, is teaching training completed at schools and state centers for practical teacher education. It lasts at least twelve months and is completed in the subject, in which a student has studied and wishes to teach.
Proof of Performance
The transcript of records offers an overview of your proof of performance. You can print out your transcript of grades yourself on Campus Office.
The project "Reorganization of Processes Surrounding Exam and Course Management including the Introduction of an Integrated Software Solution" or PuL for short, aims at improving the related processes, including introducing corresponding IT support. The project is hosted and coordinated by the Department of Academic Affairs and Registrar's Office. The link below provides additional information.
Studients, who wish to continue their studies at RWTH Aachen, must reenroll before the start of every semester in order to continue studying. You are reenrolled as soon as you have paid the full student body and social contribution fee before the reenrollment deadline.
Retirement of a Professor
This is retirement of a professor due to old age. The professor can voluntarily continue to hold classes and events though.
RWTHonline is the University’s Campus Management System. It will accompany you throughout your studies – from when you first apply to RWTH to the day you graduate. In RWTHonline you can plan your studies, register for courses and exams, download certificates, and much more.
Schein or Slip
A casual term for proof of performance
A self assessment is, simply put, an orientation test. It serves to help you to realistically assess your own abilities. The individual test results offer you an opportunity to orient yourself when choosing your subject. Our Self Assessments help you get to know not only your own aptitudes and tendencies but also the demands of certain fields of study, since the tests were created in close collaboration with representatives from the individual subjects.
The semester indicates the academic half-year of a six month period. An academic year is broken down into a winter and summer semester. The summer semester lasts from April 1 to September 30, and the winter semester is from October 1 to March 31.
The Semesterticket is a ticket for all public transportation in Aachen and North-Rhine Westphalia. It is valid for one semester.
Courses with a smaller group of students. Selected topics are discussed and discussions are led by a seminar leader. Students often have to give a presentation or present how they worked something out.
Social Contribution Fee
Students pay a fee each semester, which finances different student institutions, Student Services, and the semester ticket, among other things.
Some university courses of study are not completed with an exam by the university but rather an exam in front of a state exam office, the so-called Staatsexamen. RWTH Aachen has Staatsexamen in its teacher training subjects, which are being phased out and replaced by the Bachelor and Master, and human medicine and dentistry.
Start of Studies
Many RWTH Aachen courses of study begin in both summer and winter semester. However some only start in the winter semester. Students interested in teacher training courses of study are recommended to start their studies in the winter semester. Prospective students should visit academic advising before beginning studies in the summer semester.
Students are recommend to complete a stay abroad to expand their horizons, expand their social skills, for intercultural experience, improve foreign language skills, expand technical qualifications, and build up a network. Below are possibilities for going abroad:
- Exchange program through a university partnership
- Application for a scholarship from the DAAD or another organization
- Independent and individual planning for a stay abroad (independent planning, application, financing as a "free mover")
Additional information can be found at the link below.
STEM is short for science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. RWTH Aachen has begun various projects to awaken and promote school students' interests in studies in one of these areas. The link belows provides additional information.
A student council is a student administrative institution that represents students' interests at RWTH Aachen. Additional information is available at the link below.
Student Course Evaluation
German: Studentische Lehrveranstaltungsbewertung
Student course evaluations serve to ensure and improve the quality and efficiency of individual courses. Its primary goal is to consistently review the teaching and learning methods practiced and to give teachers constructive feedback about the courses from students' perspectives. Teachers thus receive tips and estimations, on the basis of which they can implement short-term modifications. Student course evaluations are conducted once a semester. The link below provides additional information.
After enrolling all RWTH Aachen students receive a student ID that services as a multifunctional chip card. This is the RWTH University BlueCard. The link below provides additional information.
Student Services is a service provider for students that is responsible for the cafeterias, the different dormitories, and questions about the Federal Training Assistance Act.
TBA or TBD
This stands for "to be announced" or "to be determined" when a name has not yet been provided or determined.
Teacher Training Center
The RWTH Aachen Teacher Training Center or Lehrerbildungszentrum, LBZ, is a central academic institution and is not part of any of the faculties. It was founded in October 1999 with an integrated internship office and was restructured in 2010 due to law reforming teaching training from May 12, 2009 (Article 2). It then became the center of teacher training within the university.
Teacher Traning Subjects
Teaching training subjects are subjects chosen within the framework of teacher training studies. Depending on the grade level, one instructional subject, a vocational subject , a small vocational subject, or a big vocational subject. The combinations possible are legally set.
Termination of Enrollment
All students who are ending studies or are switching to another university must terminate their enrollment. This means, they are no longer listed among students. Students who did not pay the semester fee on time or do not pass their course of study due to three fails also have their enrollment terminated after being previously notified.
Testat or Credit Certificate
Proof of an exam you have passed or successful participation in an internship or practical experience day.
Transcript of Records
German: Notenspiegel oder Transcript of Records
The transcript of records offers an overview of your proof of performance. You can print out your transcript of grades yourself on RWTHonline.
If you have begun studies at another German university and wish to continue them at RWTH Aachen, you need recognition of your academic and exam performance as well as placement into a higher core semester of the chosen course of study. You can request recognition of past academic and exam work as well as placement into a higher core semester from the responsible examination board. The examination board must also issue a certificate of good standing in order for you to continue your studies. Please make sure you have information about the process, how long the process takes, and possible forms you need to submit.
If there is no restricted admission for the higher core semesters, you can enroll with just the placement certificate and certificate of good standing. If the higher core semesters have restricted admission, a selection process takes place. You can only enroll after you have been admitted.
Transfer Students with New Course of Study
Changing subjects or courses of subject is always recognized as a Quereinstieg. To transfer with a new course of study you need recognition for your past academics and exams as well as placement in a higher core semester of the desired course of study. You must send a request to the responsible examination board to have your past academics and exams recognized and to be placed in a higher core semester. Please make sure you have all the necessary information about the process, the processing duration, and posisble necessary forms. If the higher core semester has open admission, you can enroll with the placement certificate. If it does have restricted admission and there is a selection process, applicants from this group are selected via a lottery.
Tuition fees were discontinued in North Rhine-Westphalia, NRW, after winter semester 2010/2011. The tuition or study fees, were fees collected by the university from students to pay for teaching.
German: Tutorin oder Tutor
Tutors are mostly student assistants who volunteer or get paid to lead exercises and practical experiences. There are also tutors in the student self-administration or the student dorms, who take care of newly enrolled students for example.
Typical Length of Study
The typical length of study is the time period in which studies should be completed. It can depend on the course of study and academic degree.
WiHi or Research Assistant
Wissenschaftliche Hilfskraft, a research assistant who is temporarily employed after final exams to assist wtih teaching and research
it is possible to withdraw from an exam. Individual details are regulated by the corresponding examination regulation.
This is the expected amount of work students will have, see credit points.
A written examination at a university taken under supervision of staff from the department within a set time limit. The result is usually part of the final course grade.