At a glance

If you plan to start your research stay with school-age children, you can find out more about the school system and opportunities in Tübingen here.

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German education system - general information

Compulsory attendance

In Germany school attendance is compulsory for all children over six years and from a duration of stay of more than 6 months. Most German schools are run by the states. Then no fees are charged. This does not apply for private schools.


The German school system is structured as follows:

Secondary schools (Weiterführende Schulen)

(secondary general school)

  • grades: 5 - 9/10
  • more practical
  • graduation: Hauptschulabschluss (eligible for vocational training)
  • can transfer to Realschule (secondary school)

(secondary school)

  • grades: 5 - 10
  • more practical
  • graduation: Realschulabschluss (eligible for vocational training)
  • can transfer to the secondary
    level (Oberstufe) at Gymnasium or 
    Gemeinschaftsschule (Gesamtschule)

(comprehensive school)

  • grades: 5 - 12/13
  • combines  Hauptschule,Realschule 
    and Gymnasium 
  • offers an alternative to the tripartite school system
  • offers all types of diplomas

(academic secondary school)

  • grades: 5 - 12/13
  • graduation: Abitur (certificate of advanced secondary education) entitling to study at a university or at a university of applied sciences,  but vocational training and entering the job market directly are also possible.
  • distinction between general and vocational high schools (Allgemeinbildende und Berufliche Gymnasien)

Primary schools (Grundschule)

age: starts with 5 - 7-year-olds
grades: 1 - 4

Childcare facilities

School year

The school year in Baden-Württemberg begins in mid-September and lasts until the end of July of the following year.

School hours

Classes are held Monday to Friday mornings. However, most of the schools also offer afternoon care and activities. Please contact the school directly or have a look at their website concerning their care services.

Language support (preparatory classes)

Children and adolescents whose native language  is not German attend, as far as possible, the class that corresponds to their age and the type of school that corresponds to their performance.

If this is not possible due to lack of German knowledge, they take part in special support measures. Language support can take place in specially formed classes (the so-called international preparatory classes), in a course system or through other organizational measures (divided lessons, remedial classes, etc.) of the school.

For children who cannot yet read and write, so-called literacy programs may also be offered. Which of Tübingen's schools offer preparatory classes can be found in the description of the individual schools.

A special German subject: Religious Education

Religious Education is a subject in German schools. Students are taught separately according to their denomination. In the Federal State of Baden-Württemberg various options are available depending on the school. Generally, schools offer Catholic and Protestant Religious Education. Some schools offer Religious Education for other communities, including Jewish or Muslim Religious Education.

Parents who do not want their children to take part in Religious Education can have them opt out. Most schools offer Ethics as a secular alternative. Participation in Ethics is mandatory for students who do not participate in Religious Education.  

Religious communities whose denomination is not on offer in schools often provide religious instruction on weekends or during after-school hours. 


If you are interested in finding out more about the German school system, a good overview is available on the EURAXESS website or on the website Make it in Germany.

Primary schools in Tübingen

School district regulations

Please note that in Tübingen parents do not have a free choice of primary schools. Instead, children are assigned to the primary school in their living district (map of Tübingen school districts). While it is possible to apply for a change of the assigned school, most children go to the school in their neighborhood. Re-assignment to a different school is subject to availability and approval by the city's school authorities (official application required; form can be obtained at primary schools).


On the website from the city of Tübingen you can find an overview of all primary schools

In addition to the schools run by the city, there are a few private schools. You can find the overview at under “Schulen in freier Trägerschaft”.

How to apply

  • Choose the primary school closest to your residence on the city's map of Tübingen school districts.
  • Contact the school via e-mail, including the following information:
    • length of stay
    • name and nationality of your child
    • age and grade they are currently attending
    • English and/or German language proficiency (if applicable)

If the school does not answer your e-mail you can also call them and/or visit the school in person after your arrival in Germany.

Secondary schools in Tübingen

In Tübingen there are only two options for secondary schools. You can choose between a Gymnasium (Allgemeinbildendes oder Berufliches Gymnasium) or Gemeinschaftsschule.


At the website from the city of Tübingen, you can find an overview of all secondary schools at the bottom under Gymnasien and Gemeinschaftsschulen:

In addition to the schools run by the city, there are a few private and vocational schools. You can find an overview at

International preparatory classes

There are no bilingual schools in Tübingen or nearby. There are bilingual or international preparatory classes in some schools, which even if offering an excellent education, cannot be compared with the bilingual school systems you may know from your home country. Therefore, there are different possibilities for children staying here:

1. Your child is admitted to a so-called “international preparatory class”. The focus in this type of class is on learning German and integrating into the German school system. Students and refugees staying in Germany long term usually have priority for this type of class. If your stay here is shorter than 1 year, chances that your child will be admitted aren't very high (at least within the first six months).

2. Your child is admitted as a guest student into a regular class. No German as a Foreign Language lessons are offered and most school subjects are in German (in so-called English bilingual classes, up to 4-5 hours weekly of subjects such as biology or geography may be in English depending on the school and grade). A knowledge of basic German, regular attendance and good behavior are expected. For this reason, it's essential for your child/ren to start learning German as soon as possible, even before you leave home if you can arrange it.

3. If your child is 15 years of age or older, the school strongly urges you to consider whether it might not be possible for your child/ren to finish and graduate from high school in your home country and then come Germany to continue their studies at the university level, if they wish. This recommendation is based on long years of experience. Only one additional year in the international preparatory class is not sufficient to make them ready to be successfully integrated in the German system of "Abitur", even if they have excellent school grades at home.

How to apply

  • Contact the schools that might be a good fit for your child directly via e-mail including following information: 
    • length of your stay
    • name and nationality of your child
    • age and grade they are currently attending
    • English and/or German language proficiency

If the school does not answer your e-mail you can also call them and/or visit the school in person after your arrival in Germany. 

Please also note that admittance is usually only approved by the school’s principal after a personal interview with you and your child after you have arrived in Tübingen. This applies to all schools and grades.

Short stays (less than 6 months)
  • Finding a spot in a suitable school and/ or class for short stays and for children older than 10 years old can be quite a challenge.
  • Tübingen tries to allocate a school place to every child, even if the duration of the stay is less than 6 months. The admission of guest pupils for stays shorter than 6 months is voluntary on the part of the school.
  • Classes passed while in Tübingen might not be recognized by your child's school in your home country when they get back. Please get in touch with your child's regular school for clarification. Depending on language ability, the academic success of  such a school visit is questionable and should therefore be carefully considered.

Intercultural Network Parent Education Tübingen (INET)

The Intercultural Network Parent Education Tübingen (INET) supports and informs parents with questions about education, daycare and school in over 25 languages. You can find more information and their contact details here:


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