Study without a
High School Diploma

Is that possible?
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Studying without a high school diploma - fairy tale or reality?

Studying without a high school diploma is a reality for many Germans. Although a high school diploma is usually required to study, it is not the only option. You can also study in a roundabout way. Find out how here!

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University entrance qualification - What is it?

If you have the high school diploma in your pocket, then you have the so-called university entrance qualification. This simply means that you are able and permitted to study. The word university is used as a collective term for all universities, universities of applied sciences and academies where you can study.

But not only a high school diploma is considered a university entrance qualification! You can also gain access to higher education without a high school diploma in alternative ways.

University access at a glance

In summary, the following degrees, some with additional aptitudes, lead to the following degrees:

Degree Additional eligibility University admission
High school diploma - University entrance qualification
Subject-related university entrance qualification - Subject-related university entrance qualification, only subject-related courses of study
Fachabitur - Subject-related university entrance qualification
Mittlere Reife Completion of a technical school or a technical academy general university access with counseling interview or similar
No school-leaving qualification - -
Vocational training (min. 2 years) Min. 3 years of work experience or master craftsman's examination or an equivalent vocational training examination Subject-linked university entrance, after passing the regular examinations in the first two semesters or similar

Study without high school diploma - How does it work?

The possibility of studying without a high school diploma opens up a wide range of educational opportunities for those who do not have a traditional school leaving certificate. In Germany, there are various ways to gain access to higher education without having completed a high school diploma. These alternatives, such as vocational qualifications or a successfully completed aptitude test, enable people to pursue their academic goals and illustrate the increasing diversity of educational pathways in modern society.


How to study with an apprenticeship without a high school diploma

You can study without a high school diploma in a few different ways. A lucrative route for those already in employment can be via their vocational training.

As an alternative to the 3 years of professional experience, a master craftsman's examination or equivalent further training with subsequent examination such as technician and business administrator also counts. This then provides interested parties with general university access, which is equivalent to the high school diploma.

At MBS, only a pre-study counseling interview is required for admission to the desired course of study. However, such requirements vary greatly between the universities, as each establishes its own regulations. However, such requirements often apply to high school graduates as well.

You have no vocational training? No problem! Without training, you can also gain admission to a university.


Munich Business School offers the Pre-Bachelor International Business Program as an optimal preparation for the Bachelor's Program, which guarantees you Business Studies at MBS without a high school diploma.

You can expect these challenges
during your studies

Academic challenges Demanding courses, complex subjects and the pressure to achieve good grades can present academic hurdles.
Time Management Organizing time effectively can be difficult, especially when taking multiple courses or when students are working simultaneously. Time management is crucial to meet the demands of study.
Financial burden The cost of tuition, living expenses, course materials and other expenses can be a financial burden. Students may have difficulty meeting their financial obligations.
Internship and work experience It may be challenging to find relevant internships or work experience, especially in highly competitive industries.
Personal challenges Personal problems such as stress, anxiety, personal crises or health problems can have a negative impact on study.
Social adjustment Students moving to a new city or country may find it difficult to integrate socially and make new friends.
Technological challenges Especially in online courses or in study programs that require digital technologies, technical problems or a lack of digital literacy could pose challenges.
Workload A heavy workload due to various obligations such as study, work and personal commitments can lead to stress and exhaustion.
Loss of motivation At certain stages of study, motivation could wane, especially when students are faced with difficulties or when the study does not meet expectations.
Considering dropping out Some students may consider dropping out of their studies or changing subjects, especially if they are faced with several challenges at the same time.

It's important to emphasize that these hurdles are usually surmountable, and many colleges offer support services, including counseling, tutoring, financial aid and more. Seeking help in a timely manner, whether through communication with faculty, academic advisors or other support services, can help students overcome challenges and successfully navigate their studies.

Second path of education - Catch up on high school diploma!

If none of this applies to you, then you can always take the second educational path. What is the second educational path?

You can easily catch up on your high school diploma. Often this is offered at night schools, which is why you can even do it while working.

Once you have earned your high school diploma this way, it is considered a full-fledged high school diploma. This gives you the same general access to higher education as anyone else with a high school diploma and you can study anything you want throughout Germany, provided you are admitted.

How does the second educational path work?

These are the basic steps of the second educational path in Germany:

  1.  Preparation: Before embarking on the second educational path, it is advisable to thoroughly prepare for the desired qualification. This can be done through self-study, evening classes, distance learning or special preparatory courses. Studying for the high school diploma usually takes at least 3 years, but this depends entirely on prior knowledge and can therefore take as little as 1 year.
  2. External examination: In order to obtain the university entrance qualification, one usually has to take an external examination. This involves a written and oral examination in the subjects German, mathematics and a third foreign language.

However, the exact requirements, prerequisites and options may vary depending on the federal state and educational institution.

What problems can arise on the way to study without a high school diploma?

Getting into study without a high school diploma can come with some challenges and potential problems, aside from the additional qualifications often required as mentioned earlier. Here are some possible difficulties that may arise:

Higher barriers to student funding: In some cases, those without a high school diploma may have difficulty applying for student funding opportunities, as certain grants or scholarships may be tied to formal educational qualifications.

Limited choice of courses: Not all degree courses are open to people without a high school diploma. The choice of courses may be more limited and it may be more difficult to gain access to certain subjects.

It is important to emphasize that these potential problems are not insurmountable. There are various routes and programs that allow people without a high school diploma to gain access to study, including study qualifying examinations, work experience or further education. It is advisable to find out about the specific requirements of your chosen university and course and seek advice from academic advisors if necessary.

Prerequisites - Studying with and without high school diploma

The requirements of studying without a high school diploma don't look that much different than the requirements with a high school diploma. The following graphic shows the difference:


It is important to note that in Germany, responsibility for education lies at state level. Due to this fact, education systems vary, and accordingly, the requirements associated with a specific educational qualification often differ from state to state.

Study without High School Diploma in Bavaria

University admission without high school diploma in Bavaria differs in some aspects from the regulations in other German states. The federal states have the autonomy to set their own regulations for university access without high school diploma, and therefore the requirements and conditions may vary from state to state. Here are some differences that may occur in Bavaria compared to other states:

  • Subject-related higher education entrance qualification: In Bavaria, access to studies with a subject-related higher education entrance qualification is possible if there is completed vocational training and relevant work experience. This is not possible in this form in all federal states.
  • Master craftsman's certificate: Bavaria allows access to studies for persons with a master craftsman's certificate or a comparable qualification, such as certain advanced training courses. This is not the case in all federal states, and recognition of master craftsman degrees may vary. Prospective students who wish to study through a master craftsman's certificate or similar qualification in a trade, for example, must schedule an advising session at the desired university in Bavaria in order to enroll in a vocationally related degree program.
  • Age regulations: Some states have age regulations that allow university admission without a high school diploma, while other states do not. For example, Bavaria has age regulations for certain courses of study. For example, guest studies or guest auditor studies at most universities are possible from the age of 50 and do not always require a high school diploma.
  • Studienkollegs: A Studienkolleg is an institution specifically designed to prepare foreign applicants for university studies in Germany. If you have acquired a comparable qualification abroad, the Studienkolleg in Bavaria can be a way to meet the requirements for university study. The structure and requirements of Studienkollegs can vary from state to state.
  • Vocational qualifications: The recognition of professional qualifications and the requirements for these qualifications may vary from state to state.  In Bavaria, one must have at least 2 years of vocational training and 3 years of work experience. In order to then enroll in a degree program related to the subject, prospective students must often pass some type of trial course or examination.

Since the regulations for admission to higher education without a high school diploma are federally regulated in Germany, prospective students who do not have a traditional school education with a high school diploma should check the specific requirements and conditions in the federal state in which they wish to study. The respective universities and the relevant authorities in the federal states can provide detailed information and advice on admission requirements.

What can be achieved at MBS with a university entrance qualification without a high school diploma?

After the pre-bachelor program or even without the program, you can study Bachelor International Business at Munich Business School with a university entrance qualification without a high school diploma. However, this degree program is more than just a classic study of business administration. What makes it special is the prospect of the best career opportunities abroad, which come about through the following advantages of the MBS degree program:

  • International
  • Innovative and Digital
  • Well-founded and customizable
  • Practical and personal


Can you become successful without a high school diploma?

Yes, you can. In fact, there are many successful people who never graduated from high school. From Charles Dickens to Quentin Tarantino to Henry Ford, many famous and rich personalities didn't even have a high school diploma in their pockets and yet they became successful.

But if you still want to catch up on your high school diploma or even study without a high school diploma, you can always do that. There are different ways to achieve this:

  • Take the second educational path and earn your high school diploma
  • Study with a "Fachabi" or "Fachgebundener Hochschulreife
  • Study after vocational training and with work experience
  • Study after vocational training and master craftsman's examination or similar examination
  • Study after graduating from a technical school or technical academy

So without a high school diploma, you can definitely become successful in your studies and afterwards.

Is a good secondary school diploma better than a bad high school diploma?

Of course, it always depends on what you want to do professionally with this degree. Basically, a high school diploma takes longer than a secondary school diploma, you learn more and therefore it is often more prestigious. But a good degree is always more impressive than, or at least not as daunting as, a bad degree of any kind.

Good grades show commitment and perseverance, which is what any company or college is looking for. Poor grades, on the other hand, can come about for many reasons, but usually make the future employing company or university suspect laziness or even little intelligence, which is something no one wants to convey about themselves.

Ultimately, everyone must decide for themselves. However, if you still want to get a good high school diploma or to study without a high school diploma, then there are several ways to do this.

For example, you can get a specialized high school diploma or a specialized university entrance qualification and thus study without a high school diploma. But also an apprenticeship can help you to study without high school diploma or with a bad high school diploma. Learn more in the text above!

Is a vocational baccalaureate worse than a High School diploma?

No, not fundamentally. The difference between the two is simply the focus. The goal of a high school diploma is to teach you as much knowledge as possible so that you can then freely choose your further educational path from all the offers. A vocational baccalaureate, on the other hand, trains you in a specific subject that you have chosen in advance, so that you get as much insight into the subject as possible.

Thus, your choice is narrowed down after the Fachabitur. You can either continue studying your subject or a very similar subject at a university or you can look for a profession that suits your subject.

However, if you know exactly what you want early on, a specialized baccalaureate can save you a lot of unnecessary learning and hopefully bring you more joy in learning than the conventional high school diploma. In the end, you have to choose a field of study anyway. The only question is when you do it.

Can you study with a bad high school diploma?

Yes, absolutely. However, depending on the choice of studies, this is either somewhat easier or more difficult to achieve.

There are subjects that do not have an NC. Which means that you simply have to have a high school diploma to qualify for them, no matter how good or bad that high school diploma is. Roughly speaking, the NC indicates the final grade that interested students must meet or exceed in order to be admitted immediately. If this does not exist, then you do not have to meet any expectations in this regard.

However, if your desired field of study has an NC, then you have to expect waiting semesters. Waiting semesters are the semesters in which you prepare for a course of study. This means that you must not study another subject, but actually wait to be admitted. The rule of thumb is usually: the longer you wait, the higher the chance of being admitted. But as always, it takes a bit of luck, and of course it also depends on the state and the university.

Otherwise, you can also secure a place at university by other means. For example, you can do a vocational training and ultimately start a specialized study without high school diploma. More possibilities are explained in the text above.

Enthusiastic? Apply without any obligation!

Study opportunities at Munich Business School

At Munich Business School, we offer a variety of bachelor's and master's degree programs tailored to your individual interests and career goals. Discover our practice-oriented degree programs that enable you to gain in-depth knowledge and prepare you for a successful career.

International Business
International Business
International Business
International Business
All Masterprograms
All Masterprograms
Full time & Part time
Full time & Part time

Would you like to find out more?

Studienberater MBS: Christine Heber, M.A.
Program Advisor, Bachelor International Business Christine Heber, M.A. +49 (0)89 547678-272
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