Bielefeld University was one of the first universities in Germany to adopt a consecutive degree structure, a tiered structure. Two types of degree are offered in the Bachelor phase: the Bachelor of Arts and the Bachelor of Science. A Master's programme can be pursued directly after completion of a Bachelor’s degree. Students can also begin their career as early as after the Bachelor's degree, which is the first degree with professional qualification. Students who wish to work in the teaching profession need a Master of Education to teach at a school. The path to a doctorate is also flexible: in addition to the path via Bachelor's and Master's degrees, there is also the option of starting a doctorate straight after the Bachelor's degree. This study model guarantees flexible learning in higher education in line with the demands of today’s world.
The study programme at Bielefeld University promotes active study across disciplinary and national boundaries. It promotes the concept that students can best develop subject knowledge, scientific skills and methodological competence through self-directed questioning and independent examination of different positions. The lecturers support the students and are offered opportunities for further qualification themselves.
The aim of the Bachelor’s degree is to provide an academic qualification that will enable graduates to successfully enter the job market in various professional fields. Additional elective modules in certain degree programmes allow students to shape their personal profile, according to their individual interests and particular study goals. The almost limitless combinations of core and minor subjects reflects the emphasis on developing individual student profiles. Only the regulations for teacher-training degrees and subject-related considerations restrict this flexibility of choice in some areas. The Bachelor's programme is concluded with a "Bachelor of Arts (B.A.)" or a "Bachelor of Science (B.Sc.)".
In addition, the Faculty of Law also offers a degree programme that has not been converted to the new study structure. Students can still attain a First State Examination ("Staatsexamen"), among other qualifications.
Depending on the type of programme offered, the Master's programmes at Bielefeld University will expand upon (in part interdisciplinary) or offer deeper specialization of the previous Bachelor's programme. These degree programmes will qualify students in a Master of Arts (M.A.) or Master of Science (M.Sc.).
Depending on the desired teaching position, students choose a study programme which corresponds to the different school types at Bachelor level (Bachelor of Arts or Bachelor of Science), which must then be followed by a Master of Education (M.Ed.) to qualify for the desired area of teaching.
The doctorate is a further academic qualification that generally follows on from the Master's degree. A topic is worked on intensively within the framework of a doctoral thesis. A doctorate is awarded at the end of the programme.