I completed my honours degree last year at university. To my knowledge, the German education system does not have a comparable degree (an additional year of research culminating in a thesis which may be undertaken after completion of the Bachelor degree given if your marks were good enough).

What would I call this in German? Ehren? Would someone know what I meant if I said Honours?

Also what is the correct term for the thesis? Dissertation is for PhDs and Aufsatz is way to general I think. I know the term Bachelor-Arbeit, could I say Honours-Arbeit?

I am writing to a publishing company in Germany and I want to make sure I use the right terms.

  • I don't know of a proper German equivalent. I commonly see people advertising their degree around me as BSc (Hons), so would expect any German company with a bit of international standing should have an idea about the English original. – tofro Mar 28 '16 at 9:33
  • What you write in your first paragraph is not what "honours degree" means in the UK. Which country are you talking about? – fdb Mar 28 '16 at 11:37
  • If a normal Bachelor’s degree doesn’t include a thesis in your country, your Honors degree may compare well to a German/European Bachelor degree which is awarded after a three to four-year programme with a median workload of 4500–7200 hours depending on country and college/university. – Crissov Mar 28 '16 at 13:22
  • 7
    Don't try to use a German word for something that doesn't exist in this way in Germany. Use the English word and explain, just like you did above. There's "Diplomarbeit" and "Doktorarbeit", so I'd use some generic compound with "-arbeit", e.g. "Abschlussarbeit". Again, explain what it is for. – dirkt Mar 28 '16 at 16:09
  • de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bachelor I am not sure about which "Honour" is meant in this question, but here are some explained in German. – Iris Apr 4 '16 at 12:38

Regarding academic degrees from different, non-aligned education systems, an explanation or description is usually better than a translation. Honours (or honors) in particular should never be translated as Ehren- or even ehrenhalber (e.h., eh.), because that’s an honorary degree (Latin: honoris causa, h.c., hc.) which is always awarded without a thesis, sometimes even without requiring formal studies.

The spelling with ou and the Wikpedia article suggest that the OP acquired his degree in the UK or a Commonwealth country, but not the US. Inside the EU (so including England, Wales, Scotland, Ireland, Malta), the Bologna Process should require the issuing university to supply the diploma with an explanation and the degree should be comparable by workload, acquired skills and difficulty to other European degrees.

Bachelor programmes at a German Universität (or Fachhochschule) usually include a mandatory thesis concluding a three-year study programme (6 semesters, 180 ECTS credit points of median 30 hours workload each), rarely longer (at most 8 semesters, 210 or 240 CPs). A British Honours degree after a Bachelor programme seems therefore comparable.

If it’s unusual – an actual honour – to write a thesis at a certain university, and this may be well known to the prospective employer, an applicant should stress that their qualification is at least comparable to that of a German student. Anyone working in human resources who knows about such differences between academic systems should be familiar with the English term, so a translation isn’t needed – after all, we’re using anglicisms Bachelor and Master now (instead of direct Romanisms like Magister, Diplom, Ingenieur). Some may even be rejecting applicants with just an Ordinary / Pass / General degree, because they’re considered too inferior. German HR departments are often quite keen on titles, diplomas and certificates; Austrian ones even more so – at least so I’ve heard.

An Australian Honours degree as part of a four-year programme may be harder (And necessary) to explain in Europe. I remember briefly meeting an Aussie complaining about this. One should stress the selective, competitive and research aspects of the degree. If one still wanted a translation, I’ll offer these:

  • Bachelorabschluss mit Auszeichnung – stresses the grades (possibly A and B class)
  • Abschluss mit Forschungssemester – stresses the increased length and research aspect
  • Bachelor mit Forschungsschwerpunkt – emphasises the research aspect

The title of the thesis (Abschlussarbeit or Bachelorarbeit) can – often should – be part of a job application and by its mere existence indicates that one was successfully written.

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