Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin

Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin | Studies | Counselling Services | Leaflets and FAQ | Studying if you have professional experience but no German university admission qualification (Abitur)

Studying if you have professional experience but no German university admission qualification (Abitur)

In Berlin, those with professional qualifications who do not have a German university admission qualification (Abitur) can, under certain conditions, receive a university education. If you are not sure whether you can apply for a degree with your professional qualifications, you can use the information compiled below to get an initial overview. Status: November 2022

Under certain conditions you can study in the state of Berlin as a professionally qualified person without a German university admission qualification (Abitur), following the regulations of § 11 of the Berlin Higher Education Act.

Use esra, the study orientation portal of Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, to test whether you meet the requirements: esra – ohne Abi studieren

Please note: You cannot study at Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin with the advanced technical college certificate (Fachhochschulreife).

Different admission requirements apply in other German federal states. You can find an overview of these on the online study guide for professionally trained.

Please note: All Bachelor degree courses at Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin are run in German. All non-German native speakers must show evidence that their command of German is at least on the C1 level according the Common European Frame of Reference.

Section 11 Berlin Higher Education Act (BerlHG)

Parapraph 1: General university entrance qualification

If you have

  1. completed professional development training (Aufstiegsfortbildung) in accordance with the German Trades Code (Handwerksordnung), the German Vocational Training Act (Berufsbildungsgesetz) or comparable German national or regional provisions, including a Master Craftsman’s Certificate (Meister*in), the Chamber of Crafts and Skilled Trades (HWK) continuing vocational training qualifications in business administration (Betriebswirt*in HWK) or state certification in business administration or commerce (staatlich geprüfte*r Wirtschaftsfachwirt*in, Industriefachwirt*in or Handelsfachwirt*in) or
  2. a qualification from a state or state-recognised technical college (Fachschule), within the meaning of Section 34 of the Schools Act, or comparable training in Germany, or a comparable German qualification, e.g. a technical college qualification as a state-certified technician (staatlich geprüfte*r Techniker*in), state-certified (European) business administrator (staatlich Fgeprüfte*r Betriebswirt*in / Europabetriebswirt*in), state-certified kindergarten teacher (staatlich geprüfte*r Erzieher*in) or remedial therapist (Heilerziehungspfleger*in) or
  3. acquired a qualification for nautical or technical ship service (nautischer/technischer Schiffsdienst) that is comparable to the further training mentioned under part 1 or
  4. a qualification equivalent to the advanced training courses described in part 1 on the basis of an advanced training programme regulated by German state law for professions in the medical sector, in geriatric care and in the health care sector as well as in the social care or pedagogical area (according to the list of advanced training qualifications, whose holders have a university admission qualification based on the decision of the Conference of Ministers of Education),

you have the right to apply to your free choice of any undergraduate programme at a university (General qualification for admission to an institution of higher education). You can choose any area of study.

Please note: Some subjects require you to meet additional admission requirements, see the course catalogue.

Parapraph 2: Subject-related entrance qualification

If you have completed a course of vocational training regulated by German national or state law lasting at least two years in a professional field related to that of your intended course, you have the right to register for a university undergraduate programme relating to your existing vocational qualification (subject-related entrance qualification). In esra – ohne Abi studieren you can check out which subjects can be studied by which vocational qualification.

The subject must be sufficiently close to the desired core subject (Kernfach, in a combined bachelor's degree with and without teaching option) or mono subject (Monofach, in single bachelor's degree or state examination). The choice of the second subject (Zweitfach) in a combined bachelor's degree is therefore free. If you want to study teaching at elementary schools, your qualification only needs to be close to one of the three majors.

Please note: Some subjects require you to meet additional admission requirements, see the course catalogue.

Parapraph 3: Subject-related entrance qualification with admission exam

If you have completed a course of vocational training regulated by German national or state law lasting at least two years in a professional field related to that of your intended degree course
want a field of study that is not related to the training, then you have to take an admission exam first, in order to prove the ability to study the desired degree course. If you pass the exam, you will receive the university admission qualification for the desired degree course.

Information on the admission exam:

The exam is taking place once a year in the beginning of June at the joint preparatory college (Studienkolleg) of the Freie Universität Berlin (FU) and the Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin (HU).

Also, the Studienkolleg offers preparatory courses every winter term, if there are enough registrations. Sample papers of last year’s exams as well as further information about the preparatory courses can be found on the website of the Studienkolleg.

To register for the admission exam in June please contact us between March and 16 May using the contact form. Please always choose "Studium ohne Abitur" ("Studying without Abitur") in the subject line and also state your desired degree course when making your initial inquiry. You will receive an application form from us as well as additional information about which documents you need to send us by e-mail so that you can tan take the exam.

Parapraph 4: Change of university

If you have already started your studies in another federal state and want to switch to another university and if you have

  1. successfully studied for at least one year and
  2. obtained admission for the current course of study on the basis of a professional qualification (and not on the basis of an advanced technical college certificate, or Fachhochschulreife),

you can continue your studies in a similar degree course at Humboldt-Universität (applying for a higher semester).

If, on the other hand, you would like to start another degree course, the admission requirements as described above apply (paragraph 1, 2 or 3).

Note: The regulations for university access for professionally qualified people differ from federal state to federal state. The Qualification Check of the Center for Higher Education Development provides an overview.

Parapraph 5: Training abroad

It is irrelevant whether the required professional qualification was acquired in Germany or abroad. Thus, if you have completed vocational training abroad that

  1. is recognized in Germany and
  2. meets the requirements of Section 11 (1) or (2) or (3) BerlHG,

you can apply at Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin.

Information on the topic of recognition, in particular on comparable German qualifications, on recognition procedures and on the responsible bodies can be found here:

Frequently asked questions

Where do I find information on the degree courses at Humboldt-Universität?

The current course catalogue is being updated for every application period. There you can see what study options we currently have and whether a course has admission restrictions or not. With a click on your subject you will find a description of the course. Here you will find information on possible combinations, any special admission requirements, study content and language skills.

Please also follow the links contained therein to more detailed information: to the study regulations (Studienordnungen) with the module descriptions and to the annotated university calendar (Vorlesungsverzeichnis). This way you can see what content is covered in the course – the best way to find out whether it actually fits your ideas.

And: Perhaps you would like attend a lecture on a trial basis? You can find these in the university calendar. At the end of the course description, you will find the contact details for the Course Advisory Service if you have further questions on the subject of study.

You can find more information in our leaflets on frequently asked questions about bachelor’s and master’s degrees, teacher training, beginning studies, part-time studies, etc.

How do I apply?

Completed vocational training is the basis for your application: You are applying as a professionally qualified person without a high school diploma (Abitur). First of all, use the study orientation tool esra to check which applicant group you belong to according to Section 11 BerlHG. Find out more about the applicant groups in our handout (in German only).

You apply via the online application portal at There you have to register in a first step, in the second step you can create your application for the desired course. This is only possible within the binding application deadlines.

As a professionally qualified person without an Abitur, select the option "Studieren ohne Abitur" when specifying your university entrance qualification. In addition, you must indicate to which case group of Section 11 BerlHG you belong, i. e. whether you meet the requirements for a general ("§ 11 Abs. 1 BerlHG") or subject-related university entrance qualification with ("§ 11 Abs. 3 BerlHG") or without an entrance exam ("§ 11 Abs. 2 BerlHG"), whether you are planning to change universities ("§ 11 Abs. 4 BerlHG") or whether you completed your professional training abroad ("§11 Abs. 5 BerlHG").

The documents mentioned under the menu item "Nachweise" ("proof") must be received by Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin by the end of the deadline. Please look at everything carefully so that you don't forget anything and don't send in too much.

If you want to hand in your documents personally on the last day of the deadline, please use the night mailbox.

How many applications can I submit?

You can apply to several universities and colleges. You can submit one application to Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin within an application period if you do not have a general university entrance qualification (see Section 11 (1) BerlHG), i.e. if your entrance qualification is subject-specific.

Otherwise, you can submit up to three applications for degree courses with restricted admission within an application period at the HU, one of which for a higher semester; additionally, you can also submit one application for a course without restricted admission.

Important: If you belong to the group of applicants in accordance with Section 11 (5) BerlHG (training abroad), but also fulfill the requirements of Section 11 (1), you also belong to the latter group and can submit up to four applications in total, as explained above.

What do I have to consider when applying and which documents do I need?

All basic requirements for the form and conditions of an application as a professionally qualified person are regulated in the interdisciplinary statutes for the regulation of admission, study and examination at the Humboldt University in Berlin (ZSP-HU).

  • You can only submit one application for admission or enrollment in an application period if you do not belong to the group of applicants in accordance with Section 11 (1) BerlHG, regardless of whether you are applying for a degree program with or without admission (cf. Section 21 paragraph 2 sentence 7 ZSP-HU). Important: If you belong to the group of applicants in accordance with Section 11 (5) BerlHG (training abroad), but also fulfill the requirements of Section 11 (1), you also belong to the latter group.
  • There are special admission requirements for some courses (see course catalogue). These include e.g. the subject of sports science and some of the foreign-language philologies (e.g. English, American Studies, French). Please note that the special admission requirements must be met and proven at the time of application. The form of submission (copy, original, etc.) will be displayed to you in the online application portal after the application has been created, under "Nachweise".
  • You can prove your completed vocational training or advanced training / further training / technical school training with the test certificate. The certificate of completion of the vocational school is not sufficient as proof. The form of submission will be displayed to you in the online application portal after the application has been created, under "Nachweise".
Can I apply as a professionally qualified person according to Section 11 BerlHG if I have both my high school diploma and vocational training?

No, that is not allowed. Applicants who want to claim a higher education entrance qualification according to Section 11 BerlHG may not have any other higher education entrance qualification.

If you already have a general or subject-related university entrance qualification or have already completed a university degree, you must always base your application on this (§10 BerlHG).

Can I apply with an advanced technical college certificate ("Fachabi")?

In Berlin, the Fachhochschulreife (“Fachabi”) only entitles you to study at (technical) colleges, not at universities. Here you will find an overview of the regulations in all federal states of Germany for studying on the basis of professional qualification.

If, on the other hand, you do have a professional qualification according to Section 11 BerlHG in addition to your advanced technical college certificate, the latter represents your university entrance qualification, on the basis of which you can also apply to universities in Berlin. In this case, the college entrance qualification does not “prevent” your access authorization.

How often can I take the entrance exam?

You can take the entrance exam once a year in two subjects that are assigned to the desired core or mono subject; if you want to study teaching at primary schools, you will also only be examined in two subjects (according to the table on the examination subjects of the entrance examination).

If you fail one of the two examination subjects, you can take the examination for this one subject again in the following year.

In order to be able to take part in the entrance exam at the preparatory college, please register with the admissions office of the HU, as described in the segment on Section 11 Para. 3 BerlHG above.

What are my chances of getting a place on the degree course?

That cannot be answered in general.

A quota of 8% per degree course is reserved for those with professional qualifications. Your chances of getting a place on the course depend on how many places are available for the desired place and how many applicants apply for this place in the respective application period.

If the quota is not exhausted, all applicants who have applied in due time and form and who meet the admission requirements will get a place on the course. If the quota is exhausted, a ranking list is created within the quota. This means that you only compete with the other professionally qualified people within the quota. The grade of your professional qualification is relevant for this (not waiting semesters!).

In the NC table you can see how many study places were available in the last selection process for professionally qualified people in the respective subjects and how many applicants got a place. (NC stands for "numerus clausus", indicating restricted admission.)

Can I work while studying?

Yes, from the university's point of view that is possible. If you would like to work part-time and/or have family commitments, you may apply to study part-time.

If you already know before you start your studies that you intend to study part-time, state this and the extent of the part-time study in your enrollment application.

If you want to decide on this model at a later point in time, submit the application form for part-time studies to the enrollment office. Please note the relevant application deadlines and, before you make your decision, it is best to clarify with the relevant course advisor how you can structure your studies under your very specific personal circumstances.

If you need a residence permit, please contact the responsible institution for more information on employment and working on the side.

Who can support me with my questions?

Counselling Service

The General Counselling Service can assist you in the decision-making process, with study issues, and in planning your educational career.

Course Advisory Services

For questions about subject content, focal points, course enrollment, etc.: There is subject-specific Course Advisory Service at the faculties or institutes for each course. You can find the responsible subject advisors via the course catalogue.

Student Advisory Services

If you would like to talk to students directly: Many faculties/institutes have a student advisory service where you can find out something about the respective course from a student's point of view.

Family Support Centre

The Family Support Centre supports students and employees with families with questions about the compatibility of studies and family and/or work. If you have any questions or problems with childcare, caring for relatives, organizing emergency care or organizing your studies, you've come to the right place. You can get advice by e-mail or telephone from the Family Support Centre.

Disability Advisory Service

If you would like to get information or advice on the topics of compensation for disadvantages/reasonable adjustments and other support services for (prospective) students with disabilities and/or chronic illnesses, you can contact the Commissioner for students with disabilities.

Employment Agency

"And what can I do with that later?" – You can contact the Employment Agency with these and similar questions on the subject of fields of activity and developments on the labour market. The Berufenet database (in German) can also be helpful.

Info event: Ohne Abi studieren – (wie) geht das? (Studying without an Abitur – (how) does that work?)

Can I study at HU without a high school diploma? What do I need for this? The Counselling Service looks into these questions and more in a zoom event. With the opportunity to ask questions.

Next date: 18 October 2023, 5 p.m. to 6:30 p.m., registrations possible from September.

Note: The presentation will be held in German.


Via our contact form (simply select "Studying without Abitur" as the topic).

Further Information

Beruflich qualifiziert studieren?! (Brochure of the Federal Institute for Vocational Training) (in German)

Handout of the Admission office on the application process (in German)

Study guide for professionally qualified persons with regulations of the federal states (in German)

Studienkolleg – admission exam and preparatory courses (for applications according to Section 11 (3) BerlHG)

Information according to EU-DSGVO


When contacting facilities of the study department, personal data are partly collected and processed. The processing of personal data, such as the name, address, e-mail address, or telephone number shall always be in line with the General Data Protection Regulation (EU-DSGVO) and in accordance with the Berlin Data Protection Act (BlnDSG). Further information on this, your rights and options can be found at