As a basic principle, studying at Freie Universität Berlin requires that a candidate has a certificate of general higher education entrance qualification (Abitur) or a subject-specific higher education entrance qualification (fachgebundene Hochschulreife) that qualifies him or her to enter the desired program.
The certificate of eligibility to study at a university of applied sciences (Fachhochschulreife, sometimes also called “Fachabitur”) entitles its bearer to study in a program offered by a university of applied sciences (Fachhochschule, abbreviated FH), not at a university. For details on the extensive range of programs offered by the universities of applied sciences in the Berlin/Brandenburg area, please see the website entitled “Studieren in Berlin und Brandenburg” (in German).
A preliminary degree (Vordiplom) from a university of applied sciences also does not entitle the bearer to study at Freie Universität Berlin. In the state of Berlin, a student who holds a “Fachabitur” and studies at a university of applied sciences is not considered to have earned a certificate of general higher education entrance qualification until he or she completes the university of applied sciences program, either by earning a Diplom degree or the degree of Bachelor FH. At the same time, university of applied sciences graduates who apply for the first semester of an undergraduate university program (such as a bachelor’s degree program) are considered applicants for a second academic program, and for programs with restrictions on admissions (impacted programs), these candidates compete with each other for a small percentage of the available study placements.
The sole body responsible for deciding whether a candidate who holds subject-specific higher education entrance qualification (fachgebundene Hochschulreife) from a different state in Germany can study in Berlin and what programs are open to that candidate is the
Senatsverwaltung für Bildung, Jugend und Wissenschaft
http://www.berlin.de/sen/bwf (in German)
Prospective applicants who are interested in commencing an academic program without first having earned higher education entrance qualifications (Abitur), but hold professional qualifications, may be eligible to apply to study at Freie Universität Berlin if certain prerequisites are met. This option is open especially to prospective applicants who have longer periods of professional experience and wish to deepen and expand their knowledge in their field.
For detailed information, please see Higher education entrance for those with professional qualifications.
The “alternative route” (zweiter Bildungsweg) is the term used for educational options that allow those who have not earned the desired school diploma in the normal course of their school careers the opportunity to earn school diplomas after the fact.
For information on educational options offered under the alternative route in Berlin, please visit the website of the Berlin education server (in German).