Academic quarter-hour

Often indicated by “c.t.” on schedules, this means that the class or event in question starts 15 minutes after the hour.

Alma mater

Latin: literally “nurturing mother”; one’s university


The word “alumni” comes from the Latin alere meaning to nourish, nurture, and care for. In the strictest sense, an alumnus (m) or an alumna (f) is a pupil or student of an institution or an educational establishment. The plural forms are “alumni” (m/mixed) and “alumnae” (f). In the English-speaking world, and increasingly in Germany too, “alumni” is used to refer to a university’s former students.

Different universities have different ways of defining exactly whom they count as alumni. TU Clausthal includes not only its graduates, exmatriculated students and doctorate holders, but also former professors, teachers, and academic as well as non-academic staff.

To an extent, the target audience for our alumni work also encompasses the current cohort of students, whom we regard as our “pre-alumni”.


Most professors have assistants on their staff, particularly to support their teaching work. Assistants conduct laboratory classes and tutorials as well as acting as advisors for students writing bachelor’s and master’s theses. Assistants are usually doctorate students.


AStA is short for Allgemeiner Studierendenausschuss, which means “general student committee” and denotes the executive arm of the student body: a kind of student cabinet. Its members are elected by the Student Parliament, which is in turn elected by the student body. The members of AStA are themselves students and represent the interests of all our students on the various bodies of the university.


From the Latin for “listening room”, an auditorium is a room or hall where lectures are held.

Auditorium maximum (Audimax)

Short for “auditorium maximum”, “audimax” refers to any university’s largest lecture hall. Clausthal’s Audimax is right in the Main Building This is where events like the welcoming ceremony for new students are held.


A bachelor’s is the first degree a person can acquire at a university. Within a multi-cycle degree structure, it is the first level which qualifies graduates for an occupation. The standard duration of bachelor’s programs at TU Clausthal is six semesters. Anyone who wants to take a bachelor’s degree program at TU Clausthal just needs a general university entrance qualification equivalent to an Abitur.


The term “BAföG” – short for dasBundesausbildungsförderungsgesetz – refers to Germany’s federal law on financial support for education and training, under which students can receive state support while they study. Read more on the BAföG information page. Half of each student’s BAföG funding is a grant, which does not need to be repaid, and the other half is an interest-free loan.

die Berufung

The appointment of a professor is referred to as a Berufung in German. The negotiations about salary, size of staff, research funding, etc. that precede the signing of a contract between the professor and the university are called Berufungsverhandlungen, i.e. professorship negotiations.


Cum tempore, often shortened to c.t., refers to the academic quarter-hour. If a start time is given as 10 Uhr c.t., for example, this means that the class or event begins at 10:15. Lectures are usually 90 minutes long but are scheduled in two-hour blocks so that people can easily get from one class to the next, even if they are taking place in different institutes. For instance, if a lecture is scheduled in the 8-10 block, starting at 8 Uhr c.t., then it begins at 8:15 and ends at 9:45. The opposite of c.t. is s.t., which indicates that the event or class starts on the hour.


The entirety of a university’s grounds are referred to as its campus. At TU Clausthal, the campus encompasses two main locations – the Feldgrabengebiet and the Tannenhöhe – as well as a number of institutes scattered throughout the town. Check out the campus map for more details.

Campus university

A university which has most of its institutes located close together is referred to as a campus university. TU Clausthal fits that description. At many universities in large cities, the various institutes are spread out across town, which makes it hard for students to move quickly between their classes. At a campus university, that problem does not arise.


“Colloquium” is a Latin word that refers to an academic discussion. At a colloquium, one of the university’s own academics or a guest speaker from another university will give a talk on their current research project.

Consecutive degree program

Consecutive degree programs are those which consist of a bachelor’s program plus at least an additional master’s program that builds on it.

That bachelor’s program is an undergraduate degree program, and the master’s is the follow-on postgraduate program. The bachelor’s and master’s are connected by subject matter, the latter building on what was learned in the former – unlike a non-consecutive master’s program or a mid-career master’s program.

About nine out of ten master’s degree programs are consecutive, mirroring the previous system in which a student would attain a Diplom or Magister degree at the end of a single program. The advantage of the new system, however, is that one bachelor’s degree can serve as the prerequisite for a number of different master’s degrees, so students don’t have to decide in their very first semester what they will specialize in for the whole of their studies.


The Dean of a faculty is like its CEO, as well as one of its professors. In the administrative hierarchy, the Deans are below the President’s Office and above the heads of the various institutes. The institutes of TU Clausthal are organized into three faculties, so our university has three Deans.


The academic paper which a doctorate student has to write in order to gain their degree is called a dissertation.


Once you have achieved a master’s degree, the next possible level for your university career would be to start doctorate studies. The process of gaining a doctorate degree, which entitles you to call yourself “Doctor”, is called promovieren or die Promotion in German. TU Clausthal awards the German doctorate titles Dr. rer. nat. and Dr. Ing., depending on whether your dissertation is in the natural sciences or in engineering.


Our student dormitories, or dorms for short, are large residential buildings managed by Student Services that are sited very close to the campus and offered for rent at student-friendly prices. As they are directly connected to the TU Clausthal servers, each dorm room has internet access with a minimum speed of 100 Mbps – most even rising to 1000 Mbps.  Clausthal has around 1,250 dorm places. This is a very high number in relation to the size of the student body, with the result that practically everyone who applies for a room or apartment will get one.

der Dozent, die Dozentin

Though the generic German term for a teacher is die Lehrerin or der Lehrer, all teachers at a university are referred to as Dozentinnen (f) and Dozenten (m). They are chiefly professors but also include a university’s tenured academic staff.


Signing up to a degree program is known as enrollment, or die Immatrikulation in German, and follows after a prospective student’s application for that program has been accepted.

Enrollment number

At enrollment, each student is issued with an enrollment number – referred to in German as die Matrikelnummer. This number is used for all internal administration, and students need to write theirs on, for example, every exam or test paper.


The conclusion of your studies and the associated administrative process of disenrolling from the university is known as “exmatriculation”.

die Fachschaft

The German word Fachschaft is used both to refer to the totality of students of a particular subject and, somewhat incorrectly, as shorthand for der Fachschaftsrat, the departmental student council which those students elect to represent them on the various bodies of the university. Many such councils also maintain collections of old test papers and oral-exams records to help students prepare for their exams.


The faculties of a university are basically its main divisions. Each faculty encompasses a number of institutes. TU Clausthal has three faculties.

die Habilitation

In many German systems, anyone wishing to apply for a professorship must first complete a post-doctorate degree known as a Habilitation. This academic procedure involves writing and defending a Habilitationsschrift, or professorial thesis, and qualifies the individual to teach independently in a particular field.

HiWi job

Known as HiWi jobs in German, student-assistant positions are open to those in about their third semester or above and involve such duties as correcting more junior students’ assignments and demonstrating the types of calculations they need to learn. The classes in which they give such demonstrations are called tutorials, so student assistants are also commonly known as tutors. Apart from earning them a wage, these jobs are an opportunity for tutors to consolidate their own learning and practice making presentations in a stress-free environment.

Read more on the HiWi jobs page.

Industrial placement

Usually 8 to 12 weeks long, a placement with an industrial enterprise that takes place during a course of study is known in German as das Praktikum (plural: die Praktika). The aim of an industrial placement is for students to acquire the fundamental knowledge and skills of a particular business and to familiarize themselves with the tasks and methods involved in different areas. Industrial placements are a compulsory part of the curriculum in many degree programs. In principle, however, students of any program can complete an industrial placement if they so wish. The Industrial Placements Office will be delighted to help you find a placement to suit you.


An institute brings together all the professors and academic staff working on various subjects within a particular field, like the Institute of Computer Science. Depending on its size, an institute may have internal subdivisions for different areas of its work.

die Kommilitonin, der Kommilitone

In German, you can refer to your fellow students or classmates as Kommilitoninnen (f)/Kommilitonen (m) or Studienkolleginnen(f)/Studienkollegen (m).


This type of class constitutes the core of the university’s teaching. A lecture is a presentation on a particular subject given by a teacher, most often a professor.

Master’s degree program

In many European countries, a master’s is the second degree that students can acquire by completing a program of study at university. The standard duration of master’s programs at TU Clausthal is four semesters. To start studying for a master’s degree, you need to have completed a suitable bachelor’s program and fulfill any other prerequisites that the program may entail.

die Mensa

The dining hall or cafeteria of a German university is called a Mensa. TU Clausthal’s is located near the center of the campus, no more than a 5 to 10-minute walk from even the most far-flung institutes. The menu changes on a daily basis, different dishes and sides can be combined according to customers’ tastes, and the prices are always low. And if you don’t need to get to class straight after lunch, the Mensa also has a café where you can enjoy a coffee or an ice-cream.

Mid-career (or additional/supplementary) degree programs

Degree programs are referred to as additional, supplementary, or mid-career if they serve to build on a degree – usually an undergraduate degree – that a student gained at some time in the past.

der Numerus clausus

This Latin phrase is used in German to signify a certain prerequisite, such as a minimum grade point average at high school, that applicants for a degree program need to fulfill in order to qualify for it. A numerus clausus is often established if a university cannot provide enough places for all the people applying for a particular program.  All the undergraduate programs at TU Clausthal, i.e. all those you can study straight after high school, are numerus clausus free.


The title “Professor” is an academic qualification awarded to university teachers.

die Promotion

The whole process of acquiring a doctorate degree and thus the right to use the title “Doctor” is referred to in German as promovieren or die Promotion.


Opposite of c.t.
Short for the Latin sine tempore, s.t. means that the academic quarter-hour does not apply – so an event scheduled to begin at 10Uhr s.t. will start at 10:00 precisely.


Scholarships are financial contributions to support people’s studies that usually do not need to be repaid. A wide range of non-profit organizations and companies provide scholarships, often in connection with some special commitment to a social cause or outstanding academic achievement. For more information, see the scholarships page.


The academic year is split into two halves: the winter semester runs from October to March, and the summer semester from April to September. The largest portion of each is the active semester, when classes take place – called die Vorlesungszeit (literally, “lecture time”) in German. The remainder of each semester is known as the semester break, or die vorlesungsfreie Zeit (literally, “lecture-free time”). It is not pure vacation time, though, since exams and industrial placements are held during the break.


Lectures and seminars are types of classes held at a university. In a seminar, students give presentations to share the results of work they have done. The topics are usually allocated by the supervising professor before the start of semester. A seminar is therefore a larger-scale version of the presentation format students will know from high school.


The Senate is a university’s highest elected decision-making body.

Student Services

Not a direct part of the university itself, Student Services is an institution that runs a variety of support facilities. Eastern Lower Saxony Student Services ( OstNiedersachsen) is responsible for TU Clausthal, along with nine other universities in the region. The facilities it provides include the dining hall and the student dorms. Student Services is also where you can submit your BAföG applications.

Read more on the Student Services page.

das Studium generale

Generalist classes for students of all subjects


Short for das Studierendenzentrum, previously das Studentenzentrum, the StuZ is a study center run by AStA that provides various facilities, such as photocopiers, for students to use. The StuZ building also houses a number of departmental student councils.


A tutorial is a type of class that brings together students in a small group to prepare for or follow up on the subject matter of a lecture. In tutorials, students will often do exercises set in connection with the lecture or discuss their home assignments. These classes are usually held by more senior students whom the university employs as student assistants – HiWis – for this purpose.