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Foreign university degrees and their meaning | Easily explained!

If you are interested in studying abroad or in a so-called double degree course, you will certainly have stumbled upon foreign degrees and perhaps asked yourself what it is all about. In the following, we will explain to you in particular the English Bachelor degrees and their meaning!

Even if higher education degrees have become more internationally comparable due to the Bologna reform, there are still enough differences in the European higher education landscape that sometimes make it somewhat difficult to understand the individual degrees.

If you are interested in studying (part of) the UK, for example, you will read more often about the Bachelor (Hons) and Bachelor (Honors) degrees, which may look the same at first glance. In fact, there are two fundamentally different degrees that we are going to introduce to you here.

University degrees in UK

At first glance, the university degrees in England do not differ that much from the German ones - In the UK, too, most courses end with a Bachelor ("First Degree"), which lasts three years (in Scotland, however, four). And of course there is also a master’s degree.

However, there are some abbreviations for Bachelor degrees that are not common in Germany. In the meantime, however, you will also come across a bachelor's degree (Hons) from more and more German private providers.

Whether Bachelor (Hons.) Or Bachelor (Hon.) - the degree is the same. The Hon (s) indicates that the graduate has completed his bachelor's degree in an honors degree. You have to know that the English Bachelor's degree is divided into five sections according to study performance:

ResultLevel of honors degree
over 70%first class honors degree
60 % – 70 %upper second class honors degree
50 % – 60 %lower second class honors degree
40 % – 50 %third class honors degree
0 % – 39 %(non-honors) pass degree

To make it clear that you have not graduated in the worst category (pass), it is common to put the abbreviation (Hons / Hon) for an honors degree after the degree. This system has largely been adopted in the Commonwealth of Nations.

However, this designation should not be confused with the Bachelor (Honors) / Bachelor with Honors!

Bachelor (Honors) / Bachelor with Honors

The Bachelor (Honors), which is mainly awarded in New Zealand, Australia and South Africa, should not be confused with the Bachelor (Hons / Hon)! The Bachelor with Honors can no longer be compared with the German Bachelor degree, but rather resembles the first year of the Master’s degree in Germany.

It can be taken by students who have completed an upper second class or a first class degree. This study lasts two semesters and includes a intensive research work, which is concluded with a thesis and an examination. Then you have one Bachelor with Honors or Bachelor (Honors) and this period of study can count towards his master’s degree.

Will be in most foreign countries In addition to Bachelor and Master degrees, also "Certificates" and "Diplomas" awarded. These degrees are also obtained at the university and often denote a short advanced or advanced studies or one Possibility for a lateral entry in a compartment.
In Germany, these courses most closely correspond to advanced training, but basically there is no suitable German equivalent. Mainly because the content and requirements differ from country to country.

Above all, one must note that these certificates / diplomas do not represent an academic degree and are therefore often not recognized in Germany!

Here are some examples of Certicate / Diploma degrees and their significance in the various countries:


CertificateDiplomaGraduate CertificateGraduate DiplomaPostgraduate CertificatePostgraduate Diploma





Duration: 1 year, postgraduate studies after completing a first degree in a relevant subject area, practice-orientedDuration: 2 years, postgraduate studies after completing a first degree in a relevant subject area, practice-oriented
United StatesNo clear difference between the degrees, in contrast to BA / MA shorter and more practice-oriented






CanadaDuration: ½ - 1 year, as a lateral entry for a certain field of study, lower level than with a diplomaThe classic bachelor's degree can be completed with a diploma after 2 years for a faster entry into professional life




“Post-Degree Diploma”: advanced study for a special subject area that can be taken after the first university degree



Duration: 1 semester, after a regular BA degree, practically oriented for entry into professional lifeDuration: 2 semesters that can be completed after a BA degree; Graduate Certificate can be credited



New Zealand




Can be completed after the first HS degree, good for lateral entry into a new subject


Duration: 1 year, is practically oriented and builds on existing knowledge from the bachelor's degree

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