European Credit Transfer System

What is ECTS?

The European Community Course Credit Transfer System, ECTS, was developed by the European Commission to provide common procedures to guarantee academic recognition for foreign-exchange programs at the university level. It provides a way of measuring and comparing academic achievements and transferring them from one institution to another throughout the European Union to allow students to study their chosen subject in another country.

How does ECTS work?

The ECTS is a decentralized system based on the principles of mutual trust and confidence between the participating institutions of higher education. Guidelines pertaining to the ECTS system concerning information on courses available, agreement between the home and host institutions and the use of credits to assess the student's performance are set out to reinforce these principles.

Each ECTS department outlines the courses it offers not only in terms of content, but also in terms of credits awarded for each course.

Allocation of credits to courses

The ECTS is a credit system based on student workload. This involves lectures, work placements and self-study and includes all the work required to prepare for examinations.

The basic allocation of academic credits in the ECTS is 60 credits per year of study (e.g. 30 credits per semester or 20 credits per term). The 60 credit points can be distributed among one main subject or one main subject and one or two subsidiary subjects. It is important that no special courses are set up for ECTS purposes because all ECTS courses are ordinary courses offered by the participating institutions and as such are followed by home students as part of their regular degree programme.

The allocation of credits for individual courses is left to the discretion of the participating institutions. Elective subjects that form an integral part of a student’s course of study receive full academic credit. Elective subjects that do not form an integral part of a student’s course of study receive less academic credit. These may, however, be included in the “transcript of records”. 
Credits are awarded only when the course has been completed and all course requirements have been fulfilled.

Students participating in the ECTS will receive full credit for all academic work successfully completed at the ECTS partner institutions. This, therefore, means they will be able to transfer these credits from one participating institution to another as long as there is prior agreement between the institutions involved.

ECTS students

All students of the participating departments who wish to take part in the ECTS system may do so if their home institution agrees and if sufficient places are available. Most students participating in the ECTS scheme will go to a single host institution in a EU Member State and study there for a limited period of time and then return to their home institution. However, some students may wish to stay at the host institution and finish their degree there or some may decide to proceed to a third institution to continue their studies. In each of these three cases, students are required to comply with the legal requirements of the country and institution where they wish to take their degree examinations.

Credit transfer will take place upon the student’s return to his/her home institution only if he/she has successfully completed the programme of studies previously agreed upon between his/her home and host institutions. The student will then continue his/her course of study at his/her home institution without any loss of time or credit. If, on the other hand, a student decides to stay at the host institution and continue his/her degree there, he/she may have to adapt his/her course of study according to the legal, institutional, and departmental rules of that country, institution and department.

Each participating department will select students to receive student mobility grants provided by the European commission. Students may only be awarded grants if they fulfil the general conditions of eligibility for the Socrates grant, which are:

  • Students must be citizens of one of the EU Member States or citizens of one of the EFTA countries or recognised by an EU Member State or an EFTA country as having the official status of refugee/stateless person or permanent resident. With regards to EFTA nationals, students are eligible when they are moving within the framework of a Socrates programme from their respective home country to another EU Member State. EFTA nationals registered as students in a ECTS participating institution in other EFTA countries or in EU Member States are only eligible for participation in the ECTS if they have established a right of permanent residence.
  • Students will not be required to pay tuition fees at the host institution. The student may, however, be required to continue to pay tuition fees at his/her home institution during his/her period of study in another country. 
    The national grant/loan to which a student may be entitled for while studying at his/her home institution may not be discontinued, interrupted or reduced while that student is studying in another EU Member State and is receiving a Socrates grant.
  • The period of study in another country should not last less than three months or more than one year. If a student wishes to take part in an ERASMUS exchange beyond 12 months, this is possible but there is no ERASMUS funding. The student will not pay tuition fees and is given assistance with accommodation.
  • Students in their first year are not eligible to receive a SOCRATES grant.

Conversion of Grades

German GradeECTS Grade
1,0 – 1,5A
HERVORRAGEND – ausgezeichnete Leistungen und nur wenige unbedeutende FehlerEXCELLENT – outstanding performance with only a few minor errors
1,6 – 2,0B
SEHR GUT – überdurchschnittliche Leistungen, aber einige FehlerVERY GOOD – above average performance, but with some errors
2,1 – 2,5C
GUT – insgesamt gute und solide Arbeit, jedoch mit einigen grundlegenden FehlernGOOD – generally good solid work, but with a number of notable errors
2,6 – 3,5D
BEFRIEDIGEND – mittelmäßig, jedoch deutliche MängelSATISFACTORY – fair, but with significant shortcomings
3,6 – 4,0E
AUSREICHEND – die gezeigten Leistungen entsprechen den MindestanforderungenSUFFICIENT – performance meets the minimum requirements
NICHT BESTANDEN – es sind Verbesserungen erforderlich, bevor die Leistungen anerkannt werden könnenFAIL – some more work is required before the credit can be awarded
NICHT BESTANDEN – es sind erhebliche Verbesserungen erforderlichFAIL – considerable further work is required