Einheit 2.4 (online)

Gutenberg University - picture of the sign Universität-Frankfurt

Schule und Studium in Deutschland

The school system and the university system in Germany are very different from what you might be familiar with. All children in Germany attend elementary school for 4 years, and then they go to different types of secondary school (completing 9 or 10 grades and then apprentice for a job, or completing 12 or 13 grades to be able to study at the university).

Watch the following video for more info about the German School System.

German also distinguishes between different words used at the school or the university level. Students in school are called Schüler and Schülerinnen, whereas students at the university are referred to as Studenten and Studentinnen. Instructors are also described with different terms: a Lehrer or Lehrerin teaches at a school, whereas a Professor or Professorin teaches at the university. Some subjects of study also have different names, depending on whether you take them in school or at the university. For example, the subject Deutsch in school is called Germanistik at the university, and the subject Englisch in school would be called Anglistik, Amerikanistik, or Kanadistik (depending on the focus of your studies). The English verb to study might also mean different things in German: when someone studies for a test or exam, they would use lernen. When someone talks about the subject that they are studying (for a degree), they would use the verb studieren. For example: Ich lerne für meinen Mathetest. Ich studiere Mathematik.

Watch the following video about the German Higher Education System.

presentation icon Studienfächer



You may be asking yourself, why do so many subjects have the word Wissenschaft in it? For example, you have seen Politikwissenschaft, Medienwissenschaft, and Naturwissenschaft. In German, Wissenschaft refers to the systematic study of a subject matter. In English, it could be translated as science (as in political science) or studies (as in media studies). Many other subjects that can be studied at the university also have the suffix -wissenschaft (en), for example Theaterwissenschaft, Sprachwissenschaft, Kommunikationswissenschaft, Wirtschaftswissenschaften, or Literaturwissenschaft.

In English, we often tend to think of subjects such as biology, chemistry, or physics when we talk about science. In German, these subjects would be described as natural sciences or Naturwissenschaften.

video icon Studierende in den USA

Watch the following video from Easy German until 1:23. Then answer the following questions. If you want to learn more about the difference between studying in Germany and the USA please feel free to watch the entire video.


writing icon Was studieren Sie? Please answer the following questions in full sentences and bring your answers with you to our next class. You can use dict.cc if you are unsure of the German.  If you cannot find a translation for what you study, please pick a subject of study that is close to what you are studying.

1. Was ist Ihr Hauptfach / Ihr Nebenfach?                 Mein Hauptfach ist … / Mein Nebenfach ist …

2. Welche Kurse haben Sie dieses Semester?            Dieses Semester habe ich …


grammar icon Grammatik

The Nominative Case & Word Order in Statements

Please work through the following presentation to learn about the nominative case and word order in statements.

The Nominative Case & Word Order in Statements

H5P activity icon Übung 1


grammar icon Grammatik

Possessive Determiners

Since the beginning of this book you have seen examples of possessive determiners.

Mein Name ist
Das ist meine beste Freundin und ihr Hauptfach ist Chemie.
Ist deine Lieblingsfarbe Blau?
Was ist Ihr Nebenfach?

These little words indicate possession or relationship and precede a noun (e.g., my name, her major, your minor, etc). In the nominative case, masculine and neuter do not have an ending, whereas feminine and plural add an -e. The ending is determined by the gender of the noun that it precedes.

mein/meine – my
dein/deine – your (informal, singular)
sein/seine – his
ihr/ihre –
– your (formal, singular or plural)

We will learn all of the possessive determiners in Einheit 3.2.

H5P activity icon Übung 2

external link icon Wortschatz in Quizlet:


Schule und Studium

Schule und Studium (plurals)

Quiz icon Was wissen Sie jetzt?
Klicken Sie hier für Quiz 2.4.

Extra Practice (optional):

video icon 5 Minute German Grammar
If you want extra practice on the grammar concepts learned today, click the topic below:
Nominative case
Introduction to German syntax

video icon Meet the Germans
If you want more information on studying in Germany in general, watch this video.

video icon Germany in a Nutshell
If you want more information about studying in Germany as an international student, watch this video.

Media Attributions


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