Outside the US

Sabine Dippel sabine at hlrz24.zam.kfa-juelich.de
Tue Feb 20 03:21:46 EST 1996

In article <47095.frest001 at maroon.tc.umn.edu>, frest001 at MAROON.TC.UMN.EDU 
("Joy Frestedt") writes:
|> Fascinating, to find out that things are so different in other places.  
|> Ms. Sarah J. Rickard and Sabine and others, can you please tell me what 
|> your "grad school" equivalent (i.e. "working on your PhD") is like outside 
|> of the US?  Do you have classes, programs, journal clubs, seminars, etc.?
|> Please do comment on "jobs, careers etc."  I really find it helpful to 
|> know how other women scientists around the globe live.  This information 
|> can really put things into perspective.  Thanks for the info if you can 
|> find the time!

|> Viva la difference (especially the young vs old differences)!
|> Joy
|> Joy L Frestedt, PhD candidate
|> Pathobiology program, Lab Med and Path
|> University of Minnesota Medical School
|> Box 86 UMHC
|> Minneapolis, MN 55455
|> (612)625-5676
|> frest001 at maroon.tc.umn.edu

Okay, I'll try to describe the German system - the post might get somewhat
lengthy, though. Besides, I have quite good connections to France - if there
are no French out there who might explain it better than me, I might comment on
their system some time later, too. 

Let me start with the "little difference" in high school. Germany to my 
knowledge is the only country where you have to attend school for 13 years if 
you want to go to University (if you do not plan to attend University, you 
can get away with 9 or 10 years, and then get a very solid training for a job,
which lasts 3 years and is a combination of work and 1-2 days of school per 
week). This one extra year does not mean we learn more in high school - 
German schools usually only have classes in the morning, except for an 
occasional class or two in the afternoon. I think you can imagine what
childcare related problems arise from this for German women who want to or 
have to work full-time.

In University, there is no such thing as the "general education" part in 
American colleges. You select a major and a minor right away, in the sciences
the choice of the minor is usually restrictred to other sciences, maths and
informatics, and then you go ahead. There are no bachelors degrees in 
Germany - you either get a masters or nothing. This lasts usually 5-6 years
in the natural sciences, ended by a 6 - 12 months long work on a masters 
thesis and final exams - in some subjects just oral, in some written and 

If, having finished your masters, you decide to go on and get a PhD (which
in chemistry is inevitable - you won't get a job in industry without one, 
in other subjects, it is really a matter of choice if you "feel like it" 
or not, at least if you want to work in industry), you do not have to take
any more classes etc. You usually get a TA, do some undergraduate teaching
(correct homework, supervise lab classes, etc.) and just do the research 
you need to do for your thesis. That's all. It takes between 2 and 4 (very 
seldom 5) years to complete it. If, like me, you are in a research center 
and not in a university, you do not even have to teach (though I would not
mind it, I liked teaching a lot when I still was a student). 

Well, I think that sums up the differences in the educational system. 
Oh, I forgot one more difference - in german universities you do not have
to pay tuition - you just have to make your living somehow, and there are
also some government helps available. However, they are discussing about 
changing that.

Maybe some other time I will comment on the working environment - there 
are some things to be said about Germany - some good, but most not so nice.


| Sabine Dippel     | e-mail: s.dippel at kfa-juelich.de                | 
| HLRZ              | phone : [++49] (2461) 61-2318                  | 
| KFA Juelich       | fax   : [++49] (2461) 61-2430                  | 
| 52425 Juelich     | WWW   : http://w3.hlrz.kfa-juelich.de/~sabine/ | 
| Germany           |                                                | 

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