Many international students who applied to a Master’s degree at a university abroad were surprised to find out that they were rejected, even if they thought they had met the necessary requirements. The reason? They completed a Bachelor’s degree at a university of applied sciences, which was not compatible with the university graduate degree they were planning to attend.
Differences between a university of applied sciences and a regular university
A university in Applied Science (UAS) is a German-style tertiary education institution (called Fachhochschule in German) focusing on teaching professional skills on topics like Engineering, Technology, or Business topics. They may also be considered equivalent to vocational universities. In addition to Germany, these higher education institutions are also found in Austria, Switzerland, the Netherlands, Liechtenstein, or Greece.
Universities of applied sciences are distinct from regular universities because their courses are much more practice-oriented and may not cover theoretical concepts in-depth. Other differences include small study groups and focus on strictly relevant topics, with lectures from the private sector, with a higher number of examinations, but shorter ones.
In comparison, typical universities may focus more on theory and scientific study. Students are expected to develop self-discipline, organise with less supervision, lectures are longer and broader, with less application-oriented knowledge. In this case, universities build the core knowledge for more in-depth practice or research-oriented studies during graduate degrees.
The influence of UAS on student university graduate education
These significant differences may have a big impact on students when getting ready to apply for a Master’s degree in a university. That's why many international students are rejected when applying for a Master’s programme after completing a degree course at a university of applied sciences. The differences in teaching and the subject matter are too large.
However, this doesn’t mean you should avoid attending a university of applied sciences. If your study field is related to your desired Master’s you may meet the university requirements, even if you have completed a course at a university of applied sciences. It’s best to check with the university before applying, to avoid being rejected.
How to meet Master’s degree requirements with a Bachelor’s from a university of applied sciences?
As mentioned before, there are significant differences between an undergraduate degree at a regular university and a university of applied sciences. Pre-Master degree options in a chosen destination country are perfect for meeting the theoretical knowledge gap of international students. The extra preparation courses are included as part of foundation year studies dedicated to future Master’s students. In Germany, these foundation courses are called schakelprogramma.
Foundation degrees for university of applied sciences are similar to other types of university preparation programmes and focus on getting students ready for their rewarding Master’s study experience at a chosen university abroad.