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The Magister (female also Magistra ) is an academic degree .

Word origin

Latin magister is freely translated for teacher or master . The German word Meister as well as the French maître (old French maistre ) and English master and Mister are derived from magister .

The current German abbreviation for the degree is MA for Magister Artium / Magistra Artium or, especially in Austria, Mag .; in Germany it is usually used after the name and in Austria before the name. MA sometimes appears without periods ( MA ). Earlier abbreviations were based on Dr. (Doctor) the Mr. used mainly by pharmacists and the M.

The made-up word magistrix , sometimes used based on the feminine word form of doctor ( doctrix ), is not documented in Latin text sources. The form Magistra used today is a modern word creation.

Masters and other degrees

In the Middle Ages , magistrates and doctorates were of equal rank and only differed according to their disciplines. Often the licentiate was preceded as an academic degree , as it is today in Catholic theology .

See also for the historical degree of the Magister: Magister artium


In contrast to the often technically oriented diploma program, the modern master’s degree is characterized by a broader orientation. Here, the students can often largely determine the composition of the subjects from the offer of the university themselves. The master’s degree opens up the possibility of combining artistic subjects, e.g. with languages ​​and historical subjects, as well as subjects from other faculties as a further major or minor. This gives the students the opportunity to work on a broad scientific spectrum and their own interests can largely be realized.

Students take either one major and two minor subjects, e.g. B. art education with educational science and sociology or two main subjects, z. B. History and German Studies or Scandinavian Studies and Political Science . At least at JLU Giessen, a third variant is known, according to which a major, a minor and two so-called study elements could be studied, e.g. B. Modern History (HF), Specialized Journalism (NF) as well as Spanish (SE1) and German Studies (SE2). The total study effort is essentially the same for all possible combinations. While the main focus of the minor course is on acquiring basic knowledge, in the major course, in addition to the basics, emphasis is placed on dealing with specific topics.

The master’s degree does not prepare for any particular profession . However, through the choice of subjects, the students have the opportunity to work towards a desired field of activity. In addition to working in higher education and in culture , typical career goals are in publishing and libraries , in the leisure and media sector, as well as adult and further education . With corresponding internships and other business-related experience, however, MA are also in great demand in industry, services and consulting. Magisters thus open up various professional perspectives, not least thanks to the ability to process complex information contexts from a wide variety of disciplines, as well as because of the broad range of topics and, if necessary, additional language skills acquired during the course .

In the Federal Republic of Germany the degree was reintroduced at the end of the 1950s, first in 1957 at the Free University of Berlin . Other universities followed until or around 1960. The goal was to relieve the universities. Because everyone who studied humanities at the time without wanting to become a teacher had to do a doctorate, as there was no other degree than the state examination and doctorate . In the course of the Bologna Process , many Magister courses (as well as diploma courses) are currently being converted into corresponding Bachelor and Master courses.

The final designation Master may be in the form of the college alternatively Magister loan, see the article about Master . In this case, the regulations for master’s courses apply. However, this form is given less often and cannot be chosen or optionally led by the graduate.

The most common Magister degrees Magister Artium and Magister Scientiarum are awarded with MA or M.Sc. abbreviated. The corresponding academic master’s degrees are abbreviated identically, but refer to postgraduate studies according to the Bologna system . Universities are free to name their master’s degrees (level 2 of the three-stage academic training according to the Bologna model) “Magisters”. However, these are to be distinguished from the classic undergraduate master’s degrees.

As a rule, a doctorate is possible, at least in Germany, after having passed a master’s examination with good or very good.

Magister Artium / Magistra Artium (MA)

Magister Artium or Magistra Artium (MA, "Teacher or Master of the Arts") is an academic degree . This degree relates to the conception of the disciplines of the basic sciences as the septem artes liberales, which was formed in antiquity and handed down through the entire Middle Ages . It therefore means "(teaching) master of the sciences" and is not restricted to artistic areas. In the period that followed, this degree was adopted for all subjects that continued to establish themselves on a “philosophical” basis, e.g. B. the languages ​​and history subjects.

Until the switch to bachelor and master degrees, it was increasingly possible at many universities to study subjects such as computer science , business administration or law , which do not correspond to the classic image of a master’s degree, as a master’s subject. If these subjects are chosen as the main subject ( i.e. in which the master’s thesis is written), the degree is called Magister / Magistra Scientiarum (M.Sc.), i.e. H. "Teacher of (natural) sciences".

Career opportunities

The Magister Artium degree is suitable:

  1. as a scientifically oriented degree in the humanities,
  2. in the case of a study decision for combinations of subject areas in which it is not possible to graduate with a diploma or with a first state examination for teaching at grammar schools,
  3. as an additional qualification in addition to a professional qualification,
  4. for foreign students.

In the general or foreign cultural and media area to which the Magister Artium degree is based, there are employment opportunities in consulting, library, documentation, concerts, museums, theater and translation as well as in the field of foreign affairs, depending on the main subject chosen (Cultural) service. In addition, this degree also opens up a speaker position at church, municipal, educational, political and social science institutions, in foreign, personnel, staff and advertising departments of companies as well as in institutions of education and science administration / funding. As a rule, however, a doctorate is a prerequisite for such lecturing activities , and in some cases a doctorate for higher archiving or library services . In addition to the employment opportunities mentioned, positions as lecturers or specialist editors at radio, television and newspaper and book publishers could also be considered, although additional journalism training or at least journalistic experience from freelance activities is almost always required.

Magister Legum Europae

The Magister Legum Europae (MLE) is a European Magister degree.

The course prepares students for international legal activities and, in addition to knowledge of European law, also imparts knowledge of the law of the various European legal systems , with reference to the social, political and economic framework conditions.

In order to acquire the MLE, a successfully completed undergraduate degree in law at a university in one of the EU or EFTA countries is required. Foreign students are admitted after being selected by the partner universities. In Germany students for the subject must jurisprudence at the University of Hanover and the University of Goettingen be enrolled and studying an academic year - supported by an Erasmus scholarship - at one of the 30 European partner universities of the program. The MLE exam consists of a master’s thesis and the oral exam.

Similar courses

Similar courses are offered by the universities of Münster , Göttingen , Bremen and Leipzig , some with the designation LL. M. Eur. Etc. The University of Giessen offers a degree as “Magister of International Law” (MJI, Magister Juris Internationalis). The Magister courses previously offered by the Fernuni Hagen expired with the winter semester 2013/2014 (March 31, 2014) or have been converted into Master courses.

Career opportunities

The Magister Legum Europae is suitable for activities in transnational organizations, law firms with law firms in different EU countries , companies with special international connections in the field of the European Union and the foreign service as well as an additional qualification for all legal professional fields.

Further Magister forms

  • Magister iuris : The law faculties of the Universities of Heidelberg, Cologne and Konstanz, the Technical University of Dresden and the University of Bonn award the degree of Magister iuris (Mag. Iur.) After passing the 1st state law examination. The Justus Liebig University of Giessen offers the Magister Iuris Internationalis as an independent degree. In Hamburg this degree was awarded by LL.B. Replaced degrees.
  • Magister rerum publicarum (Mag. Rer. Publ.): Magister in administrative sciences
  • Magister Scientiarum (M.Sc.)
  • Magister Theologiae (Mag theol..): The Catholic Church has with the Standing Conference as part of the Bologna Process decided to graduate -Studiengang Catholic theology to modularize, but to leave it as a five-year full-time study, then with the academic degree Magister Theologiae concludes.

See also for the master’s degrees in Protestant theology and Catholic theology : Magister der Theologie


In Austria , the Magister degree has only become the most common degree in the last few decades, when, for example, lawyers were awarded the Dr. iur. own doctoral studies have been established. Since then (until the implementation of Bologna) other courses (e.g. most natural sciences , art studies or the former business administration graduate ) have been awarded the Magister degree (Mag. Scient., Mag. Art., Mag. Phil., Mag . rer. nat., Mag. pharm., Mag. rer. soc. oec. and others).

Until 2006, Magister (male) or Magistra (female) was the usual academic degree for most courses at Master's level. This applies both to the system of diploma courses (four to six years from Matura ) and to the new system of master’s courses, which were introduced in accordance with the cycles of the Bologna process . One to two years are added to a bachelor's degree . Exceptions are the technical studies (graduation with the degree of Diplom-Ingenieur ), the studies of human and dental medicine (completion with the doctoral degree , although they are considered as diploma studies) as well as various university courses that give English designations (e.g. Master of Science) .

From 2006, however, the degree of master's degree must be awarded instead of the master's degree for newly established courses, and the courses previously referred to as “master's degree” are called “master's degree”. The abbreviation MA or MSc is used in contrast to 'Mag.' after the name. These serve "to deepen and supplement the scientific and artistic pre-vocational training on the basis of bachelor's degree programs" (Universities Act 2002) and were introduced with the Universities Studies Act (UniStG) 1997.

The minimum requirement for admission to the master’s degree is typically a bachelor’s degree in the same or a closely related subject. The workload stipulated in the curriculum must correspond to at least 120 ECTS points, which are made up of courses and a master’s thesis.

The abbreviation for the male and female form of the degree is “Mag.” (In recent years the variant “Mag. A ” or “Mag.a” has become more and more natural for the female form ), which is the approximate field of study indicated by a (faculty) addition, e.g. B .:

  • Mag. Arch. (Magister / Magistra architecturae, Magister / Magistra of Architecture, is awarded by the art universities for this course)
  • Mag. Art. (Magister / Magistra artium, Magister / Magistra der Künste)
  • Mag. Des. Ind. (Magister / Magistra designationis industrialis, Magister / Magistra des Industrial Design, is awarded by the art universities for this course)
  • Mag. Iur. (Magister / Magistra iuris, Magister / Magistra of Law)
  • Mag. Med. vet. (Magister / Magistra medicinae veterinaeriae, Magister / Magistra of Veterinary Medicine)
  • Mag. Pharm. (Magister / Magistra pharmaciae, Magister / Magistra of Pharmacy)
  • Mag. Phil. (Magister / Magistra philosophiae, Magister / Magistra of Philosophy, many humanities and social science studies conclude with this title)
  • Mag. Phil. fac. theol. (Magister / Magistra philosophiae facultatis theologicae, Magister / Magistra of the philosophy of the theological faculty)
  • Mag. Rer. nat. (Magister / Magistra rerum naturalium, Magister / Magistra of Natural Science)
  • Mag. Rer. soc. oec. (Magister / Magistra rerum socialium oeconomicarumque, Magister / Magistra of Social and Economic Sciences)
  • Mag. Theol. (Magister / Magistra theologiae, Magister / Magistra of Theology)

Magister degrees from universities of applied sciences are generally marked with the addition "(FH)". Due to an amendment to the law passed in 2006 , this addition was omitted for the master’s degree programs , but not for the diploma degree programs , which were still partially offered at the time . Previously awarded Master’s degrees remain unaffected by the new regulation, however, graduates of the Master’s study programs can, if necessary, have the awarded degree converted to a newly introduced Master’s degree.


The study system was also reformed at the ten Swiss universities (five German-speaking, three French-speaking, Freiburg both, one Italian) and the two federal technical universities as a result of the Bologna Process. Until then, the study regulations had often provided for the traditional degree with a diploma , licentiate or state examination , with the licentiate corresponding to the German Magister courses. According to the decision of the Swiss University Conference (2006) it can be converted to the Magister degree.

The restructuring according to the so-called Bologna model and the introduction of Bachelor and Master courses were completed at the various universities around 2010. Since then - as in Germany and Austria - the first professional degree (Bachelor) can be acquired after three years. In the 1 to 2-year master’s course that builds on this, there is a specialization. In the case of licentiate or diploma courses, on the other hand , the basic course usually lasted two years, the main course two to three years.


The Polish magister (abbreviation mgr) corresponds to the German diploma, but not exactly the German Magister with regard to the structure of the study, although the name is identical. As in the German diploma or master’s degree, one subject is often preferred in the Polish master’s or master’s degree, while several subjects are preferred for the German master’s degree.

There are both undergraduate and bachelor’s degree courses ( licencjat or inżynier in engineering). The magister is awarded after a four to five year standard period of study, which ends with a thesis called the magisterium . In human medicine, the lekarz medycyny degree replaces the magister, in veterinary medicine the corresponding degree is called lekarz weterynarii . In technical courses, the degree magister is supplemented by inżynier (engineer, abbreviated mgr inż.) .

There is an equivalence agreement between the Federal Republic of Germany and the Republic of Poland on the mutual recognition of university degrees. This agreement was signed in Warsaw on July 23, 1997 and supplemented by two additional protocols on the same day. The agreement entered into force on January 14, 1998. From this intergovernmental agreement a. shows that the Polish Magister degree corresponds to the German Diploma degree at universities. Similarly, the Polish magister inżynier is equivalent to the German graduate engineer at universities, technical colleges or comprehensive universities.


Up until the 19th century, Magister was the highest degree in the philosophical faculty in Scandinavia and officially corresponded to the doctoral degree in the other faculties (theology, law and medicine).

In Denmark and Norway , magister artium (mag. Art.) Or magister scientiarum (mag. Scient.) Was an academic degree in the 20th century that generally required 7 to 8 years of university education, including one 3-year scientific dissertation (magister (grads) afhandling or magister (grads) avhandling) as well as a trial lecture , which should demonstrate the candidate's skills as a university professor . The Magister is regarded as a research degree, prepares you for a scientific career and is linked to the German doctoral degree or the Anglo-Saxon Ph.D. comparable. The Magister is higher than the Scandinavian candidate degree (candidatus / candidata) . The degree magister artium was abolished around 2000, the magister scientiarum as early as 1978 and replaced by the ph.d. which requires 8 years of university education, including a 2.5 to 3 year dissertation. The Ph.D. is traditionally considered in Scandinavia and not officially in Denmark as a doctoral degree (in the Scandinavian sense). A conventional Scandinavian doctoral degree in the humanities or social sciences (dr. Phil. (In Denmark), dr. Philos. (In Norway), fil. Dr. (In Sweden)) is well above a Ph.D. or a classic German doctorate. However - as indicated above - it is neither completely congruent with the habilitation in German-speaking countries nor, like this, a traditional, possible admission requirement for full university professorships. Today in Denmark it is often referred to as the "higher doctoral degree".

In Sweden was filosofie magister (fil.mag.), A translation of the Latin magister artium, to 1863, the highest degree of Arts and thus equivalent to the above master's degrees in Denmark and Norway. Since 1863, magister has denoted various degrees in Sweden. The Scandinavian research degree Magister does not match the lower, usually 4- to 5-year-old degree cand.mag. or to be confused with the master’s examination in Sweden .

See also

Web links

Wiktionary: Magister  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations
Wiktionary: magistra  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  2. 45 years Magister in Germany. FU Berlin awarded the first Magister Artium of the Federal Republic on February 1, 1957 , Deutschlandfunk, February 1, 2002, accessed on January 23, 2017.
  3. Martha Meyer-Althoff: Humanities (studies) . In: Ludwig Huber (Hrsg.): Enzyklopädie Erziehungswissenschaft , Vol. 10: Education and socialization in the university . Ernst Klett, Stuttgart 1983. pp. 510-518, here p. 514.
  4. Magister course: Magister / Magistra Juris Internationalis (MJI) , on, accessed on February 9, 2019
  5. Offer of the legal bachelor courses of the University of Hamburg ( Memento from January 28th 2010 in the internet archive )
  6. See press release of the Diocese of Limburg ; Konradsblatt No. 13 of March 30, 2008 ( Memento of September 26, 2008 in the Internet Archive ).
  7. ^ Maintaining academic degrees and titles in Austria. In: European Education Group. European Education Group AG, archived from the original on November 26, 2017 ; accessed on January 27, 2018 .
  8. Studies and degrees. Retrieved July 5, 2016 .
  9. Appendix 1 Diploma Studies Z 2.2 UniStG (Federal Law Gazette I No. 48/1997 last amended by Federal Law Gazette I No. 77/2000). In: Federal Chancellery Legal Information System. September 1, 2000, accessed January 27, 2018 .
  10. See Studying in Switzerland .
  11. Federal Law Gazette 1998 Part II No. 20 of June 19, 1998, pp. 1011-1026. The amendment to Annex 2 of this Agreement was published in BGBl. 1999 Part II No. 15 of June 25, 1999, pp. 471–472.
  12. Cf. on this the German-Polish Agreement on the Recognition of Equivalences in the University Sector of January 14, 1998 (PDF; 731 kB) and - addition to Appendix 2 (PDF; 118 kB).
  13. ^ A b Higher education ( Memento from August 29, 2010 on WebCite ), Danish Agency for International Education