NEPS – National Educational Panel Study, stage 5

In modern knowledge-based societies, education is a key prerequisite for economic growth and well-being as well as for coping with new demands in a rapidly changing, globalised world. The National Educational Panel Study (NEPS) is conducted for the Federal Republic of Germany to find out more about the acquisition of education and its consequences for individual lives, to describe and analyse central educational processes and pathways across the entire lifespan. The National Educational Panel Study is located at the Leibniz Institute for Educational Trajectories e.V. (LIfBi) at Otto-Friedrich University Bamberg. NEPS represents an interdisciplinary, German-wide network of excellence, its coordination and administration is chaired by Prof. Dr. Hans-Günther Roßbach.

Project Description

The National Educational Panel Study (NEPS) targets an assessment of longitudinal data on competence development, educational processes, decisions in education and returns on investment in education in formal, non-formal and informal contexts across the entire lifespan. It is therefore necessary to assess developments not only at kindergarten or the general education system level but to include vocational education and training, higher education and even what happens after leaving the education system.

The structure of stages in life is reflected in the NEPS structure. DIPF | Leibniz Institute for Research and Information in Education and the University of Tübingen (Prof. Dr. Ulrich Trautwein) are in charge of stage 5 “Upper Secondary Education and Transition to Tertiary Education, Vocational Training or the Labour Market".

In the German education system, the upper secondary school level of grammar schools builds a bridge between general education and universities. School leavers acquiring “Abitur” formally obtain a higher education entry qualification that provides access to all existing study courses at all universities in Germany. Hence, the upper secondary school level must deal with complex demands: it is not only responsible for general education and science propaedeutics but by granting a higher education entry qualification, the schools also certifies a general ability to study at a university.

NEPS provides a framework for monitoring educational pathways of upper secondary level graduates in a longitudinal perspective. So far, studies on “Abitur” and the transition to university respectively vocational education have not addressed the aspect of teaching scientific thought and action at school to a sufficient degree of depth, hence the focus of the study. Central aspects targeted by stage 5 are:

  • How does a competence specific (subject specific) competence development proceed in upper secondary school levels or different school types (e.g. grammar schools with a general education vs vocational education focus)?
  • How important are subject specific and science propaedeutic competencies in comparison to comprehensive ones (i.e. cognitive skills, critical thinking, problem solving skills, teamwork, media competencies, learning strategies) for a successful entry to higher education respectively vocational education and training and subsequent professional success?


The National Educational Panel Study (NEPS) is carried out at the Leibniz Institute for  Educational Trajectories e.V. (LIfBi)  at Otto-Friedrich-Universität Bamberg. NEPS stands for an interdisciplinary, nationwide  network of excellence involving more than 20 universities and non-university research institutions, coordinated and administered by Prof. Dr. Hans-Günther Roßbach.

In stage 5, DIPF cooperates with Eberhard Karls Universität Tübingen (Prof. Dr. Ulrich Trautwein).


Wagner, W., Kramer, J., Trautwein, U., Lüdtke, O., Nagy, G., Jonkmann, K., Maaz, K., Meixner, S. & Schilling, J. (2011). Upper secondary education in academic school tracks and the transition from school to postsecondary education and the job market. In H.-P. Blossfeld, H.-G. Roßbach & J. von Maurice (Eds.), Education as a Lifelong Process. The German National Educational Panel Study (NEPS) (Zeitschrift für Erziehungswissenschaft, Special Issue), 233-249.


Project Management

Prof. Dr. Kai Maaz

Project Team

Project Details

Current project
Areas of focus
Department: Educational Governance
Unit: Educational Monitoring and Reporting
Education Sectors: Extracurricular Learning, Primary and Secondary Education
10/2010 – 12/2022
External funding
Contact: Michaela Kropf, Officer