What is a German school abroad?
From nursery to primary school and right up to school-leaving age, they offer a school education which is “made in Germany”. There are currently 140 German schools offering education to German standards in 72 different countries. Pupils there can obtain German or international qualifications, or qualifications specific to the country.
These schools fall into two distinct categories: German-speaking schools and bilingual schools. In the German-speaking schools, pupils are taught solely in German. In the bilingual schools lessons are taught in German, but also in the language of the country or in English.
The majority of German schools abroad are bilingual schools. Besides German children who live abroad with their parents, the schools are also open to children of other nationalities. Of the more than 82,000 pupils who attend these schools, some 73 per cent are not German citizens and are learning German from beginner level as a foreign language.
But German schools abroad do not just impart academic knowledge and language skills. They place great importance on intercultural exchanges and actively promote partnerships with schools in Germany. This gives pupils the opportunity of getting to know Germany in situ as part of an exchange.
Qualifications from German schools abroad are known worldwide for their high standards. With them, school-leavers have every chance of finding a job in Germany. You can find out what possibilities are open to you in Germany as a graduate of a German school abroad here "Off to Germany with a school-leaving certificate".
A couple of clicks on the interactive “local contacts” world map will show you whether there is a German school in the country where you want your children to attend school. Otherwise, you can consult the world map of schools which are part of the “Schools: Partners for the Future” project, called “PASCH” for short.
The German Schools Abroad offer a variety of school-leaving qualifications. Besides the classic German “Abitur”, they have the alternative of taking the international Abitur (DIAP), the International Baccalaureate (IB) or the Bilingual International Baccalaureate (BIB). You can find out more about these different school-leaving qualifications here.
Pupils attending German Schools Abroad can take the German Abitur. This is the highest school qualification in Germany. The German Abitur examination is based on the same requirements at all German Schools Abroad, and these largely coincide with the standards for schools in Germany. The teaching content, and therefore the basis for the Abitur examinations, is also laid down in a curriculum which is identical for all. This qualification certifies that pupils have the aptitude to enter higher education. The German Abitur is a qualification which is acknowledged worldwide. It is on a par with all national and international secondary school-leaving certificates and entitles holders to study at a university in Germany or anywhere in the world.
German International Abitur examination (DIAP)
Another possibility of qualifying for higher education is to take the German international Abitur diploma (Deutsche Internationale Abiturprüfung, or DIAP). This has been open to pupils at German Schools Abroad since 2009. With this diploma, parts of the written and oral examinations are taken in a foreign language, and in addition to the conventional examination there is also a colloquium. Consequently, the DIAP diploma is especially international in nature and fosters bilingualism and autonomous learning. Just like the German Abitur, this qualification gives pupils access to university studies in Germany and at numerous universities worldwide.
International Baccalaureate (IB) and Bilingual International Baccalaureate (BIB)
The IB and BIB are paying international school-leaving qualifications awarded by the International Baccalaureate Organization (IBO). The curricula are identical the world over and in most countries in the world the diplomas entitle pupils to be admitted to university. Some German Schools Abroad offer the IB diploma. At the moment, 30 German schools offer this possibility. Unlike the IB, a large proportion of the BIB is taught in German: the six compulsory subjects are taught and examined half in German and half in French, English or Spanish. For more information on this, consult a German school in your country.
Dual education and vocational training
Some German Schools Abroad offer dual education and vocational education courses. These kinds of practical training courses or apprenticeships give graduates good career opportunities all over the world.
German-style dual education courses are greatly admired internationally and are a top export. At German Schools Abroad, the courses on offer are primarily business management courses. The combination of theory and practical professional work they offer gets students off to a quick career start. Theoretical teaching in the German Schools Abroad alternates with practical training in the company, usually in the language of the country. The final examination is taken at the German Chamber of Industry and Commerce (AHK) in that country.
Vocational secondary schools
Vocational secondary schools offer pupils the chance of being admitted to a vocational university course. German Schools Abroad also offer these kinds of apprenticeships. Vocational secondary schools start in year 11 and combine theoretical teaching with practical vocational work. The German Schools Abroad offer vocational courses in the fields of economics and administration, as well as health and social welfare.
The German Schools Abroad listed here offer dual education courses or vocational education courses.
Conditions for admission and costs
The admission requirements to a German School Abroad differ from school to school. It is the directors of the schools themselves who decide who is admitted. In doing so, the schools have to verify that a pupil meets all the requirements for attendance.
German Schools Abroad are privately funded, which means that school fees are charged for attendance. Each school sets its own fees. For further information, consult a German school in your country or consult the Web site of the school you are interested in.
The German language is a basic part of the education taught at a German School Abroad. This is why it is advantageous to master some basic German even before starting school – although it is not usually compulsory for admission. For children who are not yet proficient enough in German to follow lessons, additional assistance may be offered depending on the school.
Federal Foreign Office
Detailed information on German Schools Abroad (German, English)
Federal Office of Administration - Central Agency for Schools Abroad
PASCH: "Schools: Partners for the Future"
World map with school locations (German)