Professional academy

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Logo of the vocational academies in Saxony

A vocational academy ( BA ) is a university in the tertiary education sector that offers courses with strong practical relevance. Theoretical training at the vocational academy is linked to practical training in a company (dual system). The vocational academies award their degrees as state degrees .

Model of vocational academy

Applicants conclude a three-year training contract with a company where half of the training also takes place. The other half of the training takes place at the University of Cooperative Education, with theoretical and practical phases changing every three months.

Significance in individual federal states

The state vocational academies in Saxony were converted into a single "Berufsakademie Sachsen" as an institution under public law with seven associated (legally dependent) state study academies (Bautzen, Breitenbrunn, Dresden, Glauchau, Leipzig, Plauen, Riesa) on the basis of the University Act in 2017 .

The state vocational academies in Baden-Württemberg were converted into the Baden-Württemberg Cooperative State University on March 1, 2009 .

There are state-recognized, privately owned vocational academies based on relevant state laws in:

In Berlin (Department of the Berlin School of Economics and Law ) there are corresponding dual training courses based on the concept of the vocational academy within a university.

In the other countries, such as B. North Rhine-Westphalia and Rhineland-Palatinate also exist vocational academies, but without the institutions in question belonging to the tertiary education sector. Their professional profile is based on traditional apprenticeships such as B. the nursing professions. In Baden-Württemberg, the term "cooperative education" was missed, coinciding with the establishment by trademark law to protect. The use of this term is regulated in the State University Act, but these regulations are only valid within the state borders.

The vocational academy law, which was amended in Lower Saxony in October 2002, allows vocational academies in Lower Saxony to award Bachelor degrees as a state qualification after they have been accredited. Since July 2004 the first four vocational academies in Lower Saxony ( Hameln , Hanover , Lingen and Vienenburg ) have been offering accredited dual Bachelor degree programs. In 2005, the bachelor's degree programs at the Göttingen and Leer vocational academies were also accredited.

In June 2005 the Hamburg citizenship also passed a vocational academy law. In comparison to the BA laws of other federal states, this law is unusual in two respects. Firstly, it allows both state BAs and state-recognized BAs to be set up privately and, secondly, it only mentions the bachelor's degree as the state qualification for the Hamburg vocational academy. The state-approved, private BA-Hamburg started operations in October 2006 as the first Hamburg BA .

Despite the absence of the Berufsakademie law, the Mecklenburg-Vorpommern University of Cooperative Education was founded in 2008 and entered in the Rostock commercial register in December 2008 . The BA Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania cooperates with universities from the European Bologna higher education area and in this way achieves equivalent state recognition.

Difference to the university

A dual course of study at a vocational academy is fundamentally closely linked to the practical implementation of the academic knowledge acquired in professional practice. The connection is usually so close that the responsible lecturer plans, organizes and supervises the practical implementation together with the company. This is the main difference to university courses, in which internships are often offered, but these should not guarantee an implementation-oriented link with the academic knowledge imparted. Independent of the curriculum, the internship should serve to gain practical connections to business.

In Saxony, lecturers at the vocational academy are not university teachers in the sense of the SächsHSFG, but according to the SächsBAG. Thus, they are not clearly authorized to take examinations at the universities of the Free State of Saxony (as a rule, examination regulations require the examination authorization under state law without specifying whether this state law excludes the SächsBAG.); Conversely, however, all professors at the Saxon universities can be clearly appointed as examiners at the Saxony University of Cooperative Education. For professors at the Berufsakademie Sachsen , the same appointment guidelines apply as for professors at universities of applied sciences or universities of applied sciences. The appointment requirements for professors are according to § 17 paragraph 1 SächsBAG:

  1. a completed university degree in the relevant scientific field,
  2. Pedagogical aptitude, which is usually proven through experience in teaching or training and through a trial event,
  3. special aptitude for scientific work, which is usually proven by the quality of a doctorate,
  4. special achievements in the application or development of scientific knowledge and methods in at least five years of relevant professional practice, of which at least three years should have been carried out outside the university area.

Requirements for studying

To study at a vocational academy, proof of subject-related or general university entrance qualification is required. In addition, an apprenticeship or internship contract with a company is required for the period of the BA course.

The training companies must meet certain requirements, including above all personal and material suitability to convey the training content prescribed in the study and training plans of the respective subject areas.


The study at the vocational academy is usually in courses with 20 to 30 students. In accredited study programs, according to the accreditation provisions, the relevant workload is decisive, which is composed of contact hours (teaching hours), preparation and follow-up times as well as company study and training times. The scope of the respective study modules is calculated from the credit points to be awarded. One credit point corresponds to a workload of 25 to 30 hours. A total of 180 credit points must be acquired in accredited study programs, with 210 credit points the BA Berlin and the Baden-Württemberg Cooperative State University are an exception. These correspond to a student work assignment of a maximum of 5,400 hours with 180 credit points.

The basic course is completed after two years with an intermediate examination (assistant examination). During the course of studies, term papers (practical work, project work, student work ) must be completed and various exams must be taken. The exact distribution of the prerequisites for exams (for example the number of papers in which semester) is determined by the respective vocational academy and is regulated differently from course to course. At least 40% of the lectures are attended by full-time professors. The majority of the lectures are given by part-time lecturers who are mainly recruited from companies but also from technical colleges or universities. This gives the teachers practical experience and the course content can be quickly adapted to developments in the economy. Attendance is compulsory to attend the lectures.

The three-month theoretical phases on average, in which the specialist knowledge necessary for the course is to be imparted, is followed by coordinated practical phases in which this knowledge is to be applied and deepened. These practical phases do not take place in the vocational academy, but in the company. In the practical phases, the trainee is entitled to between four and six weeks of vacation per year.

The student usually receives a training allowance or a salary for the entire duration of the training . Depending on the company, year of training and subject area, it averages between 400 and 1,600 euros. Other grants, for example for rent, are also possible. Under certain circumstances, child benefit and BAföG can also be granted. Some companies also grant special payments for scripts and books between 50 and 200 euros per semester.

The course lasts six semesters , with no possibility of repeating the semester, and ends with a thesis or, in the case of accredited courses, a bachelor thesis. All subjects must be completed with at least the grade "sufficient" in each academic year. If this result is not achieved, the corresponding exams can be repeated once. If this examination is not passed with "sufficient", a second repeat examination can be taken with application and approval by the practice partner. If the student cannot achieve the grade “sufficient” in this either, he will be de-registered. With de-registration, the training relationship with the company is also terminated.


The courses of study at the vocational academies are divided into the areas of social affairs , technology and economics, with some in-depth subjects. There are also professional academies for music in Hesse. The courses of study listed below are currently offered at the various academies.

Social affairs

  • Work with old people
  • Work with disabled people
  • Working with the mentally ill and addicts
  • Network social space work
  • Social work in education and at work
  • Working with offenders
  • Social work in youth, family and social welfare
  • Home upbringing and educational aids
  • Child and youth work
  • physical therapy
  • rehabilitation
  • Social work in health care
  • Social work in administration / social services
  • Social management
  • Social economy
  • Social work in education and at work
  • Social work - accompanying people with disabilities
  • Social work - elementary education
  • Social work - education aids
  • Social work - youth work / youth social work
  • Social Work - Social Services
  • Social Work - Social Gerontology


  • Applied computer science / Applied Computer Science
  • Automotive management
  • Construction
  • Civil engineering
  • Civil engineering
  • Biotechnology
  • Bioinformatics / biosystem informatics
  • Electrical engineering
  • Project Engineering - International Technical Management
  • Facility management
  • Vehicle system technology / engineering
  • Manufacturing process informatics
  • Wood technology, wood construction, building elements
  • Information technology (specializations: automotive, network and software technology, engineering informatics, medical information management)
  • Information systems
  • Information-and communicationtechnologies
  • Maintenance and service management
  • Refrigeration system technology / air conditioning system technology
  • construction
  • Plastics technology
  • Food safety
  • mechanical engineering
  • Mechatronics / automation
  • Media informatics
  • Media technology and information systems
  • Medical technology
  • Medical informatics
  • Metal construction
  • Paper technology
  • Practical computer science
  • Production engineering
  • Quality management and manufacturing technology
  • Safety (occupational safety, radiation protection, environmental technology)
  • Systems engineering
  • Technical management
  • Utility and environmental technology
  • industrial engineering



  • Elementary music education
  • Instrumental pedagogy
  • Vocal pedagogy


Students complete their BA degree with the state qualification “Diplom-… (BA)” or, in the case of accredited courses, with the state qualification “ Bachelor ”.

Legal evaluation

With degrees from vocational academies, there are generally the same career opportunities as with technically corresponding diploma degrees from universities of applied sciences, including the public service. In contrast to universities of applied sciences, vocational academies are not considered to be universities and award the diploma (BA) as a " state qualification " instead of an academic degree . This is important in professional practice insofar as BA graduates have received a less diversified education than university graduates. The possibilities for further studies in higher education can, however, differ depending on the federal state and university.

The Standing Conference (KMK) recommended on 29 September 1995, cooperative education graduates in terms of professional regulations (career right salary law, engineering laws, rules for accountants and auditors etc.) equate with graduates of diploma courses of the colleges. The legal implementation can be found in the respective laws of the countries. As part of the Bologna process , the vocational academies will offer bachelor's programs, provided that they meet the relevant accreditation requirements. The bachelor's degree is also awarded as a state qualification.

According to the coalition agreement, the coalition parties in Baden-Württemberg are examining “the further development of the vocational academy into a dual university while preserving its tried and tested structural features” within “the scope newly gained with the federalism reform”.

In countries of BAs based on the Baden-Württemberg model, namely state or state-recognized BAs in Saxony, Baden-Württemberg, Hesse and Berlin (up to the integration of the dual study programs of the vocational academy into the Berlin University of Applied Sciences in 2003), the admission regulations of the universities regulate the Recognition of BA degrees explicitly. In Bavaria and North Rhine-Westphalia there are reservations about the qualifications, as the vocational academies are not universities (with the exception of the Berufsakademie Berlin, which is a department of a university of applied sciences). Accreditation does not guarantee recognition of academic achievements either.

Career prospects after graduation

The chances of a BA graduate of being taken on by his training company are high, as the company helps to finance the training. The average takeover rate at the training center in Baden-Württemberg is 80%. A disadvantage for a vocational college graduate is the orientation towards the training company, whereas a university course is more generalistic. The advantage, however, is that BA graduates have a higher degree of practical relevance and were able to put what they learned into practice during the training phase.

Bachelor accreditation

On the basis of the Berufsakademiegesetz in Lower Saxony, Lower Saxony professional academies can independently award the state qualification "Bachelor" after successful accreditation . The vocational academies Ost-Friesland e. V. and the University of Cooperative Education Göttingen have successfully completed the accreditation procedure of the Central Evaluation and Accreditation Agency (ZEvA) and offer the accredited Bachelor of Arts in Business Administration course.

The three-year bachelor’s courses at the Baden-Württemberg University of Cooperative Education successfully completed the ZEvA accreditation process for the first time in May 2006 with a student workload initially amounting to 180 ECTS points. In July 2008, the Bachelor's degree courses at the Baden-Württemberg University of Cooperative Education were accredited by ZEvA with 210 ECTS points, as the student workload in the operational phases of the dual study would justify a total of 60 ECTS points.

Since October 2006, the Thuringian vocational academies (Eisenach and Gera) have introduced Bachelor's degree programs after accreditation. The state-recognized vocational academies in Hessen also award bachelor's degrees. The dual bachelor's degree course at the Hamburg University of Cooperative Education was accredited by FIBAA in September 2007.

In 2006, the Bachelor's degree courses at the University of Cooperative Education at the Berlin University of Applied Sciences were accredited with 210 ECTS points as an intensive course as part of the evaluation process of the Agency for Quality Assurance through Accreditation of Degree Programs (AQAS) . Almost 50% of the time allocated in the practical phase would be spent on processing the topics specified by the university on the practical transfer report and on the study projects. The practical phases could be seen as an integral part of the course and part of the self-study, in which the theoretical knowledge could be consolidated and transferred to the specific issues of everyday professional life. Thus, the higher workload can be fully credited to the course and justify the award of 35 credits / semester.

The accreditation of the bachelor’s training courses is relevant for the legal classification within the framework of the requirements of the Standing Conference of Ministers of Education: According to the "Resolution of the Conference of Education Ministers on the classification of the bachelor’s training programs at professional academies" of October 15, 2004, the bachelor’s degrees of accredited degree programs from professional academies should be the state qualifications of the bachelor’s degrees as academic degrees of universities of applied sciences and universities have the same legal status. According to the explanations in the resolution, this means that the university graduates should be made easier to continue their studies at a university. The fact that the recognition of these non-academic degrees in higher education still runs into problems in practice is one of the reasons why the vocational academies in Baden-Württemberg were transferred to the so-called Dual University (DH) in 2009 .

Recognition abroad

BA students in Baden-Württemberg were able to obtain a Bachelor's Degree with Honors from the Open University in Milton Keynes, Great Britain , with their degree Diplom-… (BA) , whereby the professional academies promised an easier classification of the degrees abroad. The accreditation relationship ended at the end of 2013.

Master's degree

Some vocational academies, in cooperation with English universities, offer master’s degrees, in which the foreign university awards the master’s degree. In addition, the Lörrach University of Cooperative Education offers a master’s degree in cooperation with the Albert-Ludwigs University of Freiburg , whereby the university awards the master’s degree. In addition, the Berufsakademie Berlin offers a master’s degree in process and project management.


For some years now, a direct path to a doctorate in Baden-Württemberg has been opened up for particularly qualified applicants whose first degree at a vocational academy usually has to be completed with an overall grade of “very good” or “with distinction”. This leads through an aptitude assessment procedure  - without prior acquisition of a university diploma or a master's degree - whereby a study time of at least two to three years can be expected for the aptitude assessment procedure (i.e. the corresponding university degree is made up during this time) and is generally only very good Open to graduates. The exact mode is regulated by the doctoral regulations of the respective faculty. Such procedures are therefore exceptional.

For graduates with a bachelor's degree, regular doctoral procedures lead to a master’s degree. In addition to doctoral grants, doctoral opportunities typically exist within the framework of employment relationships as a research assistant or as an “external doctoral candidate” who finds a university professor whose research interests coincide with his own.

Postgraduate degree in Baden-Württemberg

With the conversion of the Stuttgart University of Cooperative Education to the Baden-Württemberg Cooperative State University, graduates of the University of Cooperative Education were given the opportunity to apply for a postgraduate degree . The "state designation" Dipl.-… (BA) is revoked and the academic degree Dipl.-… (DH) is awarded as a replacement . Such postgraduate graduates are then academics and are entitled to doctorate throughout Germany, comparable to university graduates. Your BA degree is then deemed to be a “completed university degree”, which can have an impact on further training and retraining measures by the Federal Employment Agency .


Founding idea from Baden-Württemberg

The history of the vocational academies in Baden-Württemberg has its origins in the educational policy situation of the 1960s and early 1970s. The educational political optimism of these years led to a rapid expansion of general education schools as well as the establishment of new schools and resulted in an increase in the number of high school graduates, the number of students and consequently also the number of university graduates.

Due to the overload at the universities, there was a growing concern that young people would not receive adequate training and thus run the risk of being left on the street after completing their studies. The companies also feared the emergence of a skills gap that could not be adequately filled by the new universities.

In 1971, Daimler-Benz AG made the proposal to the Baden-Württemberg Ministry of Culture to promote the attractiveness of high school graduates in the dual system by combining the training with a kind of “university course system”. In the course of the same year, the Stuttgart companies Robert Bosch GmbH , Daimler-Benz AG and Standard Elektrik Lorenz AG also held talks . It was agreed that an essential prerequisite for the success of the planned alternative training courses would be to offer high school graduates a real alternative to “classic” university studies. This meant that the new training opportunities had to open up comparable opportunities compared to a university degree - comparable in terms of achievable income, but also comparable in terms of career opportunities. However, these conditions could only be met in the long term if the quality of the learning content and learning objectives of these new training courses were of a level comparable to that of universities.

In close cooperation with the Württemberg Administration and Business Academy (VWA) in Stuttgart and the Middle Neckar Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the three "founding" companies developed the new educational offer for high school graduates, which was presented to the public on July 15, 1972: the " Stuttgarter Modell “was born. In the following year, the then Minister of Education, Professor Wilhelm Hahn, announced the main features of an offensive program for vocational training to the public. As one of the focal points, he named the creation of a professional academy. The basic idea here was - inspired by the "Stuttgart Model" - to transfer the dual system to the tertiary area .

Foundation of the vocational academies in Baden-Württemberg

On October 1, 1974, the vocational academies in Stuttgart and Mannheim started as part of a pilot project with a total of 164 students and 51 training centers in the two fields of business and technology. In 1975 the social affairs training area started its work at the Stuttgart University of Cooperative Education. By 1981 the vocational academies in Villingen-Schwenningen , Heidenheim an der Brenz , Ravensburg , Karlsruhe , Mosbach and Lörrach were added.

The “Law on the University of Cooperative Education in the State of Baden-Württemberg” was passed by the state parliament in April 1982 and came into force on May 26, 1982. The previous pilot phase for the new training and study model was thus ended. The vocational academies were now anchored as standard institutions in the state's tertiary education sector.

In August 1982 the Council of Ministers decided to further expand the Baden-Württemberg University of Cooperative Education. The total number of students should increase to around 5,000 by 1985. Since this increase in capacity also only met the demand for places at the University of Cooperative Education for a short time, there was a further increase to 12,140 places by 1990 and, in the expansion program, a capacity increase to 18,000 places by 2004. Today more than 20,000 students study at all locations and there are already over 70,000 graduates of the vocational academy in the various courses.

True to the model of the Baden-Württemberg University of Cooperative Education, the university-political efforts were intensified in parallel to the expansion of the University of Cooperative Education to achieve supra-regional recognition of the BA degrees. With the recommendation made at the conference of the ministers of education in Halle in September 1995 to the federal states to treat college graduates like college graduates, the long-term efforts for supraregional recognition had made a decisive step forward. The Conference of Ministers of Education and Cultural Affairs determined that the degrees of the professional academies based on the model of the Baden-Württemberg professional academies are degrees in the tertiary sector, which fall under the university diploma directive of the European Union. This also created the conditions for Europe-wide recognition.

Up until February 28, 2009, the vocational academies in Baden-Württemberg had a total of eight locations and three branch offices: Mannheim , Stuttgart (with the Horb branch ), Heidenheim , Karlsruhe , Lörrach , Mosbach (with the Bad Mergentheim branch ), Ravensburg (with the Friedrichshafen ) and Villingen-Schwenningen .

Adaptation in Berlin, Thuringia and Saxony

After the German reunification , Berlin , Thuringia and Saxony adapted the model.

The Berufsakademie Berlin (founded in 1993 as a study facility of the State of Berlin) was integrated into the Berlin University of Applied Sciences (FHW) as a department by a law of the House of Representatives . The special features and advantages of the dual course of study should be retained, but at the same time problems associated with the lack of permeability to the higher education system, especially with admission to advanced and master’s courses, should be eliminated. In Thuringia, the vocational academy has now been converted to the Gera-Eisenach Cooperative State University . In Saxony, a further development of the University of Cooperative Education into a dual university has been announced.

Conversion of the vocational academies into dual universities in Baden-Württemberg, Thuringia and Saxony

In 2009 all vocational academies in Baden-Württemberg were transferred to the Baden-Württemberg Cooperative State University . This created a new type of university. The previously independent vocational academies became locations of the dual university, which only has one seat in Stuttgart. The model was the State University System in the USA. In the accredited courses, after successful completion of the course, an academic degree ( Bachelor ) and no qualification is awarded.

With the Thuringian Law on the Cooperative State University Gera-Eisenach of July 2, 2016, the special status of the BA Gera-Eisenach was abolished and it was integrated into the University Act as a regular university, albeit with organizational and study-specific features and temporary continued application of traditional legal provisions. It is possible to convert previous degrees.

In the current coalition agreement (2019) between the CDU, the Greens and the SPD, the further development of the Saxony University of Cooperative Education into a dual university is announced. A corresponding implementation concept is to be developed from 2020.

Comparable offers in Bavaria, Berlin and Hesse

At the Bavarian universities there is an alternative model with hochschule dual with roughly equal proportions of academic training and practical training. One possibility is the combined study , in which a vocational training / apprenticeship is combined with the study. Another option is to study with in-depth practice , which includes longer practical phases. There are also various dual courses of study at universities in Berlin that follow a similar concept. In Hessen, courses of study that provide a balanced combination of theory and practice are offered under the Hessen Dual Studies campaign .

Individual evidence

  1. Hamburg University of Cooperative Education
  2. Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania University of Cooperative Education ( Memento from June 30, 2011 in the Internet Archive )
  3. a b Saxon State Ministry for Science and Art: Saxon Professional Academy Act. June 9, 2017, accessed December 14, 2019 .
  4. ↑ e.g. § 19 (1) Examination Regulations for the Diploma Course in Computer Science at TU Dresden (PDF file; 139 kB)
  5. ^ University of Cooperative Education Saxony: Appointments of the University of Cooperative Education Saxony. June 26, 2018, accessed December 14, 2019 .
  6. Professional academies for music in the Hessian law on state recognition
  7. Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania University of Cooperative Education : Dual Studies BSc Hons Int. Hospitality and Tourism Management ( Memento from December 20, 2010 in the Internet Archive )
  8. Recommendation of the Conference of Ministers of Education and Cultural Affairs of September 29, 1995,
  9. ^ Resolution of the Conference of Ministers of Education and Cultural Affairs of October 15, 2004, Section 1 and related explanations.
  10. State University Act Baden-Württemberg, January 5, 2005, § 91 (6)
  11. Agreement between CDU and FDP on the formation of a coalition government for the 14th legislative period of the Baden-Württemberg state parliament (PDF file; 393 kB)
  12. Archive link ( Memento from July 30, 2008 in the Internet Archive )
  13. Design and production (dual study) ( Memento from September 28, 2009 in the Internet Archive )
  14. DHBW: International degrees ( Memento from August 21, 2014 in the Internet Archive ) August 2014
  15. Postgraduate ( memento of March 5, 2012 in the Internet Archive ) at the Baden-Württemberg Cooperative State University as a graduate of the former Stuttgart University of Cooperative Education
  16. Law on the Dual University Gera-Eisenach , Law and Ordinance Gazette 5/2016, p. 205
  17. MDR: That's in the coalition agreement for Saxony. December 1, 2019, accessed December 14, 2019 .
  19. Archived copy ( Memento from June 3, 2008 in the Internet Archive )

Web links

Wiktionary: Berufsakademie  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations