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Hochschule (plural: Hochschulen) is a German language term for an institution of higher education, used particularly in relation to institutions in the German and Austrian educational systems. The name translates literally as "high school" (from hoch "high" and Schule "school"), but it is not the same as what is called a high school in English-speaking countries. A Hochschule might be referred to in English as a university or college (or sometimes as a university college), depending on its type.
The term Hochschule can be used to refer to all institutions of higher education in Germany that confer academic degrees like specialized (primarily vocational or technical) universities, colleges in the Anglo-American education systems, or university colleges. German art schools (Kunsthochschulen) have the same formal academic status as universities, while other institutions like Fachhochschulen usually differ.
In recent years, Hochschule has increasingly become the term for institutions of higher education without full university status, i.e. for institutions that:
- do not cover a large diversity of academic fields, but focus on certain areas;
- do not have the right to award doctorates, but bachelor's degrees and master's degrees.
Institutions that are called Hochschule meet one or more of these criteria, which differentiate them from a full Universität (university).
Hochschulen are similar in mission to specialized colleges or academies (e.g., of arts) in English-speaking countries. Other German terms for this type of institution are Hochschule für angewandte Wissenschaften (university of applied sciences, institute of technology) or Fachhochschule (FH).
In most German states, a Berufsakademie is not a Hochschule by either of the definitions because the bachelor's degrees conferred by such are professional degrees, which are de jure not academic degrees. However the state of Baden-Württemberg, from where this type of tertiary sector education originally emerged, has recently elevated these institutions to the status of a Hochschule as Baden-Württemberg Cooperative State University. The degrees awarded by the latter are academic degrees and equivalent to those awarded by Fachhochschulen and universities.
- "HRG – nichtamtliches Inhaltsverzeichnis" (in German). Bundesrecht.juris.de. Retrieved 19 June 2010.
- "Duale Hochschule Baden-Württemberg nimmt Arbeit auf" (in German). Dhbw.de. 28 May 2010. Retrieved 19 June 2010.