Studying abroad for one or two semesters during your studies not only looks good on your résumé, it is also an enrichment from a professional and personal point of view. It is important for many German students to gain experience abroad during their studies. For many – especially for freemovers – the greatest challenge in organizing their stay abroad is ensuring the recognition of academic achievements. After all, very few want to accept an extension of their study time due to their studies abroad. A survey by the DAAD from 2013 on the topic of “Recognition of academic achievements” showed that 86% of those questioned would not go abroad if there were problems with recognition.
The recognition of academic achievements is above all a question of the right organization and should therefore not be an obstacle for you to dare the adventure of a semester abroad.
Process of recognition of academic achievements
When it comes to the recognition of academic achievements abroad, good planning both before, during and after your studies abroad is essential. If you observe the following things, you are on the safe side:
Selection of the “right” university
If you want to have the courses you attended during your semester abroad count towards your studies in Germany, you have to make sure that the university of your choice also has the right courses on offer. You can find out what content the respective courses cover in the course descriptions (syllabi), which you can either research online on the university’s website or request.
Conclude the learning agreement
Once you have made your choice of course, you must first check whether your courses can potentially be recognized. If this is possible, you should conclude your planned study achievements with your home university via a so-called learning agreement. Your home university undertakes to recognize all courses listed on the document, provided that you have attended them at the end. Your home university is responsible for the recognition of academic achievements. The first point of contact is usually the international office, the student secretariat or a course coordinator.
Tip: For each desired course, choose at least one alternative course, which you can also have the responsible office at your home university check for recognition. In this way you can be sure that you will receive your necessary credits in the end even if you do not come to one of your desired courses.
Important: Every change, for example a change of course, should be discussed with your coordinator and recorded in writing in the learning agreement!
Transcript of records and transfer of grades
Before your semester abroad, familiarize yourself with the evaluation system of your chosen university and find out about the system for transferring grades at your home university. In this way you can be sure that there will be no difficulties with the conversion and recognition of the study achievements later. Apply to the foreign university to issue a transcript of records(Copy of the study data), on which the courses attended, the credits and the grades are noted. After your semester abroad, you submit both the Learning Agreement and the Transcript of Records to the responsible office at your home university, which will check the submitted documents in advance and forward them to the examination board or the dean of studies. You will usually receive notification of recognition within four months.