Foto: Shutterstock

Those wishing to continue their education at a higher education institution (HEI) in Germany now have a wealth of different formats to choose from. The options range from individual courses to executive degree programmes. In this context, the fees for a Bachelor’s programme can be as high as €22,800 and anything up to €19,000 for a Master’s programme. There is a particularly high demand, however, for shorter formats such as one-semester certificate courses, which are cheaper and less time-consuming. These are the findings of a current overview of the topic by CHE.

A growing number of HEIs have started embracing the issue of continuing education, and now offer corresponding programmes. Among state-run providers of continuing education, HEIs now account for almost every second offer (45%), alongside adult education centres, museums and libraries. An ever-increasing number of private HEIs have discovered the continuing education market, too. The main target group is individuals with an undergraduate degree; however, numerous programmes are now also open to holders of a vocational qualification who do not have a (restricted) university entry certificate.

Some 376 new academic continuing education programmes were implemented at more than 100 HEIs in Germany between 2011 and 2020 alone. “Thanks to a comprehensive adjustment to the needs of workers, not even the coronavirus pandemic was able to make much of a dent in demand. On the whole, university managers still see potential for growth in this area,” remarked Sigrun Nickel, Head of Higher Education Research at the CHE Centre for Higher Education. Reasons for this include the advantages resulting from an extensive digital transformation, and the greater flexibility of courses, both in terms of time and space.

The continuing education formats range from traditional Bachelor’s and Master’s degree programmes to considerably shorter certificate courses and programmes, to courses leading merely to a certificate of attendance rather than an official qualification. These short formats, at a level below degree programme level, now account for around three-quarters of all continuing education programmes offered at HEIs. This is shown by data from the latest “CHECK – Das Weiterbildungsangebot deutscher Hochschulen” (CHECK – Continuing education programmes offered by German higher education institutions), which sheds light on the differences between short formats, among other things.

“Often the area of continuing education is highly innovative at HEIs, where they tend to experiment with methods of teaching and learning that are not yet feasible in traditional study programmes. For example, most executive degree programmes have a modular structure, enabling students to take the entire programme or just parts of it as individual courses. In this way, interested students can put together their own individual education programme as they see fit,” stated Sigrun Nickel.

Academic continuing education programmes are fee-based at both state-run and private HEIs. However, the fee amount depends on the content, the scope and the provider. It therefore makes sense to compare offers and obtain good advice, helping to save time and money. Analysis conducted by CHE shows just how wide-ranging programme fees are. As an example, the cost of a certificate course, i.e. a short series of seminar units, ranges from €50 to €4,000. Fees for an executive Bachelor’s programme can range from €2,300 to €22,800. For slightly shorter Master’s programmes, the cost range is between €1,500 and €19,000, depending on the programme and the provider.

About the publication

The CHE format CHECK provides a quick overview of a variety of topics. To illustrate the topic of “academic continuing education”, CHE compiled current data from a variety of sources, including, above all, CHE data obtained in the context of research in support of the joint Federal Government-Länder competition “Advancement through Education”. Dr. Sigrun Nickel wrote the publication “CHECK – Das Weiterbildungsangebot deutscher Hochschulen”. All graphics are available in the CHE Flickr cloud.