Glossary of Academic Terms

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  • Academic Advising
    German: Studienberatung

    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
    German: Studienverlaufsbescheinigung

    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.

  • Academic Training
    German: Studientraining

    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.

  • Accreditation
    German: Akkreditierung

    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.

    Further Information

  • Admission Process
    German: Zulassungsverfahren

    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
    German: Alumni

    Alumni are graduates of a university. Additional information can be found at the link below.

    Further Information

    German: ANABIN

    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.

  • Apostille
    German: Apostille

    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.

    Further Information (de)

  • AStA
    German: AStA

    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.

  • Auditor
    German: Gasthörer

    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.

    Further Information

  • 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..

  • BAföG
    German: BAföG

    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.

  • Block Course
    German: Blockveranstaltung

    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.

  • Bridge Courses
    German: Vorkurse

    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.

  • Career Service
    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.

    Further Information

  • Certificate of Good Standing
    German: Unbedenklichkeitsbescheinigung

    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.

  • Colloquium
    German: Kolloquium

    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.

  • Course
    German: Lehrveranstaltung

    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.

  • Cross-Registration
    German: Zweithörerschaft

    Enrolled students from other universities can be admitted as cross-registered students to take classes and exams in another course of study.

  • Curriculum
    German: Curriculum

    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.

  • Dean
    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
    German: Fachstudienberatung

    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.

  • DIES
    German: DIES

    The Dies academicus or Dies are an academic holiday, on which courses are not held. Current information can be found in the semester dates.

    Further Information

  • Diplom
    German: Diplom

    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.

  • Diploma Supplement
    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.

  • Dissertation
    German: Dissertation

    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.

  • Doctoral Degree
    German: Promotion

    "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.

  • ECTS
    German: ECTS

    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.

  • Enrollment
    German: Immatrikulation

    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.

  • Evaluation
    German: Evaluation

    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.

    Further Information

  • Examination Board
    German: Prüfungsausschuss

    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 Performance
    German: Prüfungsleistung

     Examination performances are all the performances students must finish during their studies.

  • Examination Regulation
    German: Prüfungsordnung

    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
    German: Übung

    A course with a restricted number of students in which students learn and apply the scientific work methods of a field.

  • Faculties
    German: Fakultäten

    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.

  • Fixed-Semester/Variable-Semester
    German: Semesterfixiert/Semestervariabel

    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.

  • Graduate Survey
    German: Absolvierendenbefragung

    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.

    Further Information

  • Habilitation or Post-Doctoral Lecturing Qualification
    German: Habilitation

    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
    German: HiWi

    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
    German: Selbststudium

    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
    German: L²P

    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.

    Further Information

  • Language Skills
    German: Sprachkenntnisse

    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
    German: Beurlaubung

    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.

    Further Information