Study without A-Levels

Have you decided to do vocational training after your final exams and are now thinking about studying in order to continue your education or to reorient yourself? In this case, you don't  always need A-levels, because under certain conditions you are also entitled to a university entrance qualification without A-levels. Because you decide what your educational journey will look like!

Did you know …

Every German university now offers a degree programme without requiring A-levels. You can study full-time or part-time at a distance learning university to realise your career goals. You can choose from about 8,000 out of 18,000 degree programmes. Over 50,000 people in Germany are already taking advantage of these programmes. In 2015, an estimated 6,200 professional students successfully completed their studies. Most of them enrolled in a Bachelor's degree programme at a university of applied sciences.  

Admission possibilities for studying without A-levels

Without A-levels, you have several options for admission to a university or university of applied sciences. For example, your professional experience or a state-recognised advanced education can qualify you for a degree programme just as much as the A-levels. You can also pave the way to a university by taking a special exam. 

University admission for professionally qualified persons

If you have successfully completed vocational training and have several years of work experience, you have the possibility to start a degree programme. In the majority of cases, two years of training and three years of work experience are required. However, you cannot freely choose the degree programme you wish to study. For you to be able to study with vocational training, the chosen degree programme must be a good match for your learned profession. The decision about the thematic match is taken by the respective university. 


You would like to study without A-levels? Find out now how you can realise your plans at IU.

If you have already completed vocational training and want to reorient yourself in another field, you also have the option of studying without A-levels. However, you must first meet certain admission requirements. Depending on the federal state in which you wish to study, you may also need to take additional exams. 

On the one hand, you may be required to take an entrance exam. This is usually a written or oral test. The university wants to determine whether you meet the general requirements for a degree programme. To prove your basic knowledge of the main school subjects, you must complete tasks in the areas of Mathematics, German and English. Furthermore, the university also tests your subject-specific knowledge and your general knowledge. To prepare for the exam, you can attend specially offered preparation courses. This will refresh your basic knowledge. That way, even those who have not been to school for a long time will have the opportunity to start studying. Once you have passed the exam, you will be eligible to study at the university. However, you should be prepared for any additional subject tests you may need to be accepted for a degree programme. 

On the other hand, you can also qualify to study without a higher education entrance qualification by taking a trial programme. The trial study programme replaces an entrance exam and is even required by some universities for applicants without A-levels. You study for one to two semesters on a trial basis. You have to pass all the regular examinations and collect so-called credits. After this period, if you have achieved a minimum number of credits, you have successfully completed the trial phase. You can then continue your studies as usual. The credits you have collected remain with you and are credited to your studies.  

Admission with advanced vocational training

A second option for studying without an A-levels is to prove that you have completed advanced vocational training. This is a state examination that allows you to qualify, for example as a technician, educator or business administrator. In this case, the same admission requirements apply to you as to persons with A-levels. This gives you direct access to universities and universities of applied sciences. Among other things, you can also study with a master craftsmen's certificate. 

With the aptitude exam for talented students

The aptitude exam for talented students is an alternative to catching up on your A-levels at night school. After you have successfully passed the exam, you can apply to study programmes nationwide. This also includes degree programmes with restricted admissions, such as medicine. 

The aptitude exam for talented students is based on the requirements of the general higher education entrance qualification. To pass the exam, you need to prepare yourself. Unlike an entrance exam, there are no preparatory courses. To take the exam, you must also meet certain requirements: You must be at least 25 years old, have completed vocational training and have at least five years of work experience.  

If you want to take an aptitude exam for talented students, you must contact the relevant state Ministry of Education. Universities do not offer this examination. Please also note: You can only take an aptitude exam for talented students in the federal state in which you reside.  

Distance learning in Germany or abroad

It is also possible to complete a degree programme without A-levels as a distance learning. Distance learning without level A is particularly well suited to part-time further education. Students who study without A-levels usually already have a permanent job. Thanks to distance learning, they can easily extend their qualifications in parallel with their job, even without A-levels. If this is an option for you, you can find out more about it directly from your chosen distance learning university. Similar to normal studies without a university entrance qualification, the prerequisite is usually an advanced education or vocational training and several years of work experience.  

You can also complete a distance learning programme at a foreign university. If you want to study in an English-speaking country, you have to pass the TOEFL test as a prerequisite. This test assesses your English language skills. However, the financial costs of studying abroad are not to be underestimated. The course will probably cost several thousand euros, as you will have to pay up to 1,000 euros just for an online course. You will then have to take an exam at the German location of the foreign university. You can also find out more about distance learning abroad without A-levels at these locations. 

Regulations of the federal states

Education in Germany is regulated independently by each federal state. For this reason, different conditions are imposed on applicants without A-levels, depending on the country. Nevertheless, there is some overlapping in the requirements for admission to university studies. 

Persons who have completed advanced further training have a general university entrance qualification in every federal state. Only in Hamburg, Saxony, Rhineland-Palatinate, Baden-Württemberg and Bavaria is a prior counselling interview necessary in this case. 

Vocationally qualified students have a subject-specific higher education entrance qualification in every federal state. An aptitude test before the start of studies is necessary for all federal states except Lower Saxony, Brandenburg and Rhineland-Palatinate

The trial study programme is offered in more than half of the federal states. In the federal states of Schleswig-Holstein and Bremen, you can only take a trial programme if you have been employed for five years after completing your vocational training. In Thuringia and Saarland, such a trial period is possible after a counselling interview. In Hamburg, North Rhine-Westphalia and Bavaria, you also qualify for admission to university studies after completing a trial period. 

Another distinctive feature in a few federal states is the advance quota for vocationally qualified persons in the allocation of university places. This feature exists in Hamburg, Brandenburg and Hesse. The advance quota ensures that a small proportion of the university places are allocated to persons without A-levels. 

Exception for Master's degree

In the states of Bavaria and Thuringia, those with vocational qualifications also have the possibility to start a Master's programme directly, even if they do not have a Bachelor’s degree. However, you can only take advantage of this offer for a continuing education programme. In the case of normal degree programmes, you cannot immediately start at the Master's level.  

Crediting vocational competencies towards the degree programme

During your vocational training and work, you already acquire a great deal of subject-specific knowledge. You can further apply the acquired skills to your studies. The Higher Education Act states that your acquired vocational skills are eligible for credits towards your studies to a certain extent. 

You can therefore compensate up to 50 per cent of your studies with vocational training. This shortens the duration of your studies enormously. For example, you can start your studies directly in a higher semester or in a more advanced degree programme. Alternatively, you can also complete your studies within the standard period of study. In this case, the workload during your studies will be lower. This is particularly beneficial for people who study alongside their job. 

The percentage of your studies that you can compensate will be determined by the university. The prerequisite for this is that your professional competencies are equivalent to your studies in terms of content and level. For example, the university will recognise an advanced training course. However, this does not mean that the competencies you acquired in this course will be recognised and credited. In an individual counselling interview at the university, you will find out more about how your previous knowledge can be taken into account. 


With sufficient work experience and additional qualifications, you can also start studying a degree programme without an A-levels. After passing an entrance examination or a successful trial course, you can be accepted by the universities for a degree programme. However, you should take the guidelines of the respective federal states into account when considering the corresponding admission requirements. In addition, your previously acquired knowledge will benefit you when you study after completing your vocational training. This reduces the time and effort required to complete your studies and brings you a step closer to your dream career. For advice on the topic of studying without an A-levels, you can contact the student advisory services of the universities. 

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