Phases of Study
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Basic Studies and Main Study

Studies at a university are usually divided into different phases, which include the basic studies and the main studies. These phases shape the course of studies and are crucial for the students' professional development. In this article, we will take an in-depth look at the basic studies and the main studies and examine their significance as well as their differences and similarities.

Differences between Basic Studies (undergraduate) and Main Study (graduate)

Basic Studies Main Study
Content focus on basic knowledge specialization and in-depth study
Provision of basic knowledge and skills Focus on specific focal points and topics
Broad understanding of the subject area In-depth examination of current issues
Structured curriculum Greater personal responsibility and independence
Less freedom of choice in courses and topics More freedom of choice in courses and topics
Preparation for graduate study Preparation for entry into a profession or advanced research

Basic Studies

The undergraduate program, also known as the bachelor's program, is the first stage of a degree program. Its purpose is to provide students with a broad and solid knowledge base in their field of study. During the basic studies, fundamental subjects are covered that are relevant for the subsequent main studies. This usually includes an introduction to various subfields of the field of study and provides students with a basic understanding of key concepts and theories.

The undergraduate program usually lasts three to four semesters, depending on the program and the university. During this time, students complete a variety of courses and participate in practical exercises as well as laboratory and project work. The aim of the basic studies is to provide students with a solid foundation for their later main studies and to give them a broad technical basis.

During the basic studies, students also take their first examinations and performance assessments, which serve to check their learning progress and ensure that they have acquired the necessary basic knowledge. These exams may include written exams, oral exams, term papers, or practical exams. Through these certificates of achievement, students can demonstrate their professional development and qualify for the main course of study.

Main Study

The completion of the basic studies is followed by the main studies, also referred to as master studies. The main study period builds on the knowledge acquired in the basic study period and offers students the opportunity to further specialize and deepen their knowledge in their field of study. During the major, students typically choose specific concentrations or electives that match their individual interests and career goals.

During the major, students focus on advanced topics, current research, and specialized areas of the field of study. Students have the opportunity to participate in challenging seminars, project work, and research projects. They work closely with faculty and researchers to expand their professional knowledge and practical skills.

An important component of the major is the completion of a thesis, also known as a master's thesis. In this thesis, students explore a specific topic and demonstrate their ability to conduct independent research and generate scientific knowledge. The thesis often involves an oral defense in which students must present and defend their work.

The major concludes the program and prepares students for entry into the workforce or for more advanced research activities. Through the in-depth study of specific topics and the completion of the final thesis, students develop their professional expertise and gain a comprehensive qualification in their field of study.

Differences between Basic Studies (undergraduate) and Main Study (graduate)

Although undergraduate and graduate studies are part of the same degree program, there are some key differences between the two phases.

  • Main content and learning objectives: The undergraduate program focuses on providing fundamental knowledge and skills in various subfields of the field of study. The foundations are laid and a broad understanding of the subject is conveyed. In the major studies, on the other hand, students focus on specific areas of concentration and deepen their knowledge in selected areas. The main study period enables students to further explore current topics and research questions.
  • Requirements and study load: The basic study program lays the foundation for further studies and provides a solid basis. It is generally more structured and offers students a clearly defined teaching and learning environment. The main study period, on the other hand, requires students to be more proactive and independent. The demands become higher and students are expected to be able to independently plan projects, conduct research and handle complex tasks.
  • Academic freedom and personal responsibility: During the undergraduate studies, students often have fewer choices and must adhere to a prescribed curriculum. Advanced study, on the other hand, offers more freedom to choose concentrations, electives, and research projects. Students have more leeway to pursue their individual interests and strengths and shape their studies accordingly.
  • Supervision and support by lecturers and tutors: In the undergraduate program, students often have regular contact persons available to assist them with questions and problems. Lecturers and tutors accompany students through the basic courses and are available for individual consultation. In the advanced studies, students are expected to show more initiative and find solutions on their own. Supervision by lecturers and tutors may still take place, but is usually less intensive.

The transition from Basic Studies (undergraduate) and Main Study (graduate)

The transition from undergraduate to graduate study represents an important milestone for many students. It marks the completion of an initial phase of study and the entry into a new, more challenging phase. During this transition, students must prepare for the new demands and challenges of the major. This includes selecting majors and electives, identifying research interests, and planning the senior thesis. It is important that students learn about the requirements of the major early on and seek assistance from academic advisors or mentors as appropriate. In addition, the transition from undergraduate to graduate study is a time for students to reflect on and, if necessary, adjust their personal and professional goals. They can further develop their interests and passions and make conscious choices about specific career paths or specializations.


What is Basic Studies and Main Study?

The basic study and the main study are terms used in connection with studies at universities. The basic study period usually refers to the first part of a study program, in which basic knowledge and skills are taught. It lays the foundation for more advanced studies. The main study, on the other hand, is the advanced part of the study, in which a specialization and deepening in certain subject areas takes place.

What is the difference between Basic Studies and Main Study?

The difference between the basic studies and the main studies lies mainly in the focus of the content, the freedom to choose courses and topics, the supervision and the objectives. In the basic studies, basic knowledge and skills are taught in various subject areas, while the main studies allow for specialization and in-depth study in specific areas of focus. In addition, there is often greater freedom of choice in the selection of courses and topics in the major. Supervision in the basic studies is often provided by lecturers and tutors, while in the main studies lecturers are available to provide support, especially for final theses. The Hauptstudium usually prepares students for entry into a profession or for further research, while the Grundstudium lays the foundation for the Hauptstudium.

Is the undergraduate degree equivalent to a bachelor's degree?

In most cases, undergraduate studies are also considered the first part of a bachelor's degree. The bachelor's degree usually includes both the basic studies and the main studies. The basic studies lay the fundamental foundation for the main studies and enable students to acquire basic knowledge and skills in various subject areas. The main study period is then used for specialization and in-depth study in a particular subject area. It should be noted, however, that the designations and structures of degree programs may vary by university and country. Therefore, it is important to observe the specific regulations and designations of the respective study program and university.

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