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.
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