Martin Schultz left high school without diploma after failing 11th grade twice, however many people consider him for chancellor office.

Is it possible to have any nonelected position in the executive branch without high school diploma? Are ministers required to have completed higher education degrees? What about entry level positions in public administration? Would Mr. Schultz be the only government official without diploma among few hundred thousands civil servants?

  • Is it possible to have any position in the executive branch without high school diploma? Obviously, yes.
    – Bregalad
    Jul 3, 2017 at 14:52
  • @Bregalad, good point, I edited the question
    – user14816
    Jul 3, 2017 at 14:53
  • 3
    Abraham Lincoln is widely considered the US' best president and near unanimously included in the top three. He did not attend high school, much less graduate. He did pass the bar exam and become a lawyer. Anyway, my point is that formal education is not the mark of a person. That's not to say that Schultz should be chancellor, just that his diploma status should not in and of itself be disqualifying.
    – Brythan
    Jul 3, 2017 at 19:40
  • 1
    That's a sneaky sneaky way to ask the question… You're not asking if he would be the only civil servant without a diploma, for he would not be a civil servant. But you still want to compare him to civil servant. “Government official” is doing much of the work here but there is a simple split, in many countries, between people who work for the government, must fulfil a number of professional requirement and remain independent on the one hand and people who are elected for office and only have to fulfil minimal requirements like age and citizenship on the other.
    – Relaxed
    Jul 4, 2017 at 9:01
  • Schultz is in the latter category and the vote ultimately decides whether he should be chancellor or not. That's all there is to it.
    – Relaxed
    Jul 4, 2017 at 9:01

1 Answer 1


Is it possible to have any position in the executive branch without high school diploma? Are ministers required to have completed higher education degrees?

No, a specific level of education is no formal requirement for either the German Chancellor nor the Ministers. There are in fact almost no formal requirements for being elected as chancellor or being appointed as minister. Article 62 of the German Basic Law (constitution-equivalent) says the chancellor is whoever the parliament elects:

(1) The Federal Chancellor shall be elected by the Bundestag without debate on the proposal of the Federal President.

(2) The person who receives the votes of a majority of the Members of the Bundestag shall be elected. The person elected shall be appointed by the Federal President.

Curiously, Article 54, about the election of the German President, includes the following phrase:

Any German who is entitled to vote in Bundestag elections and has attained the age of forty may be elected.

while a similar phrase is lacking from Article 62. So theoretically not even citizenship, age or voting rights are required.

The appointment of Ministers is described in Article 64 which just says:

Federal Ministers shall be appointed and dismissed by the Federal President upon the proposal of the Federal Chancellor.

Again, no prerequisites at all. So the chancellor can propose whoever he/she wants, and the president will usually oblige (in theory... in practice the minister posts are handed out as bargain chips during the coalition negotiations).

The only limitation is Article 66, which says that the Chancellor and the Ministers must not have any other jobs:

Neither the Federal Chancellor nor a Federal Minister may hold any other salaried office, or engage in any trade or profession, or belong to the management or, without the consent of the Bundestag, to the supervisory board of an enterprise conducted for profit.

What about entry level positions in public administration?

There are four career progression paths in the German public administration with different educational prerequisites:

  • "Einfacher Dienst" ("simple service") - requires a "Hauptschulabschluss", the lowest educational degree in the German school system
  • "Mittlerer Dienst" ("medium service") - requires a vocational education
  • "Gehobener Dienst" ("elevated service") - requires a bachelor-level college degree
  • "Höherer Dienst" - ("higher service") requires a master-level college degree

Martin Schulz never went to college, but completed an apprenticeship as bookseller in 1977, so he would theoretically qualify for the "Mittlerer Dienst".

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