University Glossary:
This is how to study


The semester is a central concept in higher education and plays an important role in studies. This article takes a closer look at the concept of the semester, explains its meaning, and covers various aspects surrounding the topic.

What is a Semester?

The semester is a fixed period of time in the academic year during which lectures, seminars, practicals and other courses take place. There are two types of semesters: the summer semester and the winter semester. At Munich Business School, the summer semester begins in February and ends in August, while the winter semester begins in September and ends in February.  At other universities in Germany, the summer semester usually begins in April and ends in September, while the winter semester lasts from October to March.

Duration and structure of the Semester

A semester extends over a fixed period of time and follows a clearly defined structure. This structure enables students to plan their course of study and organize their academic activities accordingly.

  • The lecture period forms the central part of the semester. During this phase, regular courses such as lectures, seminars and exercises take place. Students attend these events to learn new content, familiarize themselves with the subject knowledge, and actively participate in discussions and group work. The lecture period offers students the opportunity to ask their questions, clarify ambiguities and seek dialog with lecturers and fellow students.
  • The lecture period is followed by the lecture-free period. No regular courses are scheduled during this period. Students can use this time to deepen the learning material, to deal more intensively with certain topics, to read literature, to advance research projects or to complete internships. The lecture-free period offers a certain degree of flexibility and allows students to shape their individual learning process and set their own priorities.
  • Finally, the examination period follows, in which students must demonstrate the knowledge and skills they have learned. This includes written exams, oral exams, presentations, term papers or projects. Exam time is challenging because students must apply their knowledge effectively and perform well in a limited amount of time. Good preparation during the semester is crucial to successfully passing the exams.

The structure of the semester not only provides students with a clear time orientation, but also enables them to create a balanced study schedule. The lecture period offers the opportunity to learn in direct contact with the lecturers and fellow students and to deepen the subject matter. During the lecture-free period, students can develop their individual learning behavior, pursue their own projects or complete internships. The examination period marks the end of the semester and allows students to demonstrate the knowledge and skills they have acquired.

Semester times at German Universities

The exact semester times can vary depending on the federal state and university. There are fixed dates for the beginning and end of a semester, as well as for the lecture-free period and examination periods. Students should therefore find out about the specific semester times of their university in good time in order to plan their course of study.

Term Description
Semester A semester is a period of time that usually refers to an academic year (i.e. two semesters). Within a semester there are different phases, such as lecture period, examination period and lecture-free period.
Lecture period The lecture period is the period during which regular courses are held. During the lecture period, lecturers hold lectures and conduct seminars or exercises.
Examination period The examination period is the period during which examinations can be taken. The examination period usually follows the lecture period and is the last section of a semester.
Lecture-free period The lecture-free period is the period between semesters without regular courses. During this time, students can continue their work on projects, complete internships, or write their term papers.

Flow of a typical Semester

A semester usually begins with enrollment or matriculation, during which students choose their courses and create their schedule. During the semester, students attend lectures, participate in seminars, complete internships, and earn credits such as written exams or term papers. Examinations are held at the end of the semester to measure students' learning progress.

Meaning and function of the Semester in the study program

The semester serves as an organizational unit and enables structured planning and execution of the studies. It offers students the opportunity to deal with the content of the courses, to deepen the learning material and to prepare for exams. The semester also creates a framework for exchange with fellow students and the development of social and professional skills.


The semester is a central unit of study that determines the course and organization of the academic year. It comprises various phases such as the lecture period, the lecture-free period and the examination period. But what exactly does the semester mean? How is it structured and how long does it last? In this article, we provide detailed answers to frequently asked questions about semesters. Learn more about the duration and structure of the semester, the typical schedule, compulsory attendance and enrollment. We also clarify whether it is possible to change programs or courses during the semester.

What are the Semester times at German Universities?

The exact semester times can vary slightly depending on the federal state and university. As a rule, however, there are fixed dates for the beginning and end of a semester as well as for the lecture-free period and the examination periods. These dates are announced by the universities in good time and are available in the study plans and on the universities' websites.

It is important that students inform themselves about the specific semester times of their university, as this forms the basis for planning their course of study. By knowing the semester times, students can create their schedule, select courses, and prepare for their exams in a timely manner. It is advisable to check the official calendar of the university or to ask the student advisor or the responsible examination office for the exact semester times.

How long is a Semester?

A semester usually has a duration of about five to six months. However, the exact time frame can vary depending on the university and the course of study. In Germany, there are two types of semesters: the summer semester and the winter semester. The summer semester usually starts in April and ends in September, while the winter semester lasts from October to March.

It is important to note that the semester is divided into different phases, such as the lecture period, the non-lecture period, and the exam period. These phases each have different durations and activities. During the lecture period, regular courses take place, the lecture-free period is for independent study and exam preparation, and the exam period is for performance assessments. However, the exact schedule for these phases varies from university to university.

What is a typical schedule like during the Semester?

A schedule of classes during the semester varies depending on the program of study, semester of study, and individual student preferences. A typical schedule usually contains a combination of lectures, seminars, and tutorials that cover the curriculum of the particular degree program.

The schedule is created individually by students, who select their courses and classes based on their interests, major areas of study, and the recommended plan of study. Lecture times may be scheduled on different days of the week and at different times of the day. Some students prefer a compressed schedule of classes on specific days, while others spread their classes throughout the week.

When creating a schedule, students should ensure that there is no overlap between courses and that sufficient time is allotted for breaks, independent study, and exam preparation. Exact schedule requirements and recommendations may vary from college to college. It is advisable to follow the requirements of the university and the recommendations of the student advisor.

Is there mandatory attendance during the Semester?

Required attendance during the semester varies by university, program, and individual courses. Some courses and seminars may require mandatory attendance, while others allow for voluntary participation.

It is important that students are aware of and comply with the respective attendance policies of their college and their specific courses. This may be found in the course regulations, module handbooks, or information provided by instructors. Attendance-required courses can be used to encourage direct interaction between students and instructors, to facilitate small group interaction, and to encourage active participation in the learning process.

Even if attendance is not formally required, it is still advisable to attend classes regularly. Direct contact with instructors and fellow students provides opportunities to ask questions, engage in discussions, and better understand the subject matter. Regular attendance also allows students to benefit from additional information and materials that may not be included in lecture materials.

It is important to be aware that good attendance during the semester not only helps students understand the material, but also helps them prepare for exams and actively participate in their studies. It is therefore advisable to arrange your schedule in such a way that there is sufficient time to attend classes and to follow up on what you have learned.

Do I have to re-enroll for each Semester?

Yes, in most cases, students must re-enroll for each semester to continue their enrollment and maintain their degree eligibility. However, exact enrollment deadlines and procedures may vary by college and program.

It is important to know and adhere to enrollment deadlines in advance to ensure that your enrollment is renewed in a timely manner. Enrollment is usually handled through the Registrar's Office or the appropriate university enrollment office. Students must submit required documents such as proof of exams passed, payment receipts for semester fees, and other required documents.

Enrollment for each semester allows students to track their progress, document their achievements, and maintain official student status. They gain access to college facilities, libraries, online resources, and other benefits associated with enrollment. In addition, enrollment is a requirement for students to participate in classes, exams, and other study-related activities.

It is important to follow the respective enrollment deadlines and procedures of one's university in order to avoid possible consequences such as losing one's place or delays in the course of studies.

Can I change my major or courses during the Semester?

Changing programs or courses during the semester is usually possible, but certain conditions and deadlines may apply. The exact regulations for this vary from university to university and may be specified in the study regulations or study guidelines.

If a student wishes to change programs, he or she must usually follow the admission requirements and deadlines for the desired program. It may be necessary to submit an application for a change of degree program and, if necessary, additional documents such as certificates or letters of motivation. The decision to change programs of study rests with the university and depends on a number of factors such as the availability of places and the student's suitability.

Changing individual courses within the semester may also be possible, but is often subject to certain deadlines and availability. Generally, students can adjust their courses and enroll in other courses within a specific deadline at the beginning of the semester. It is important to know and follow the deadlines and procedures of your own university.

Changing programs or courses during the semester should be carefully planned and coordinated with the appropriate university officials. It is advisable to contact the academic advising or enrollment office well in advance to find out the exact conditions and procedures for changing programs or courses.

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