Anyone wanting to study in Germany needs an adequate knowledge of German. International applicants must complete a language test before enrolling.
Courses at a German university are generally held in German. This means that, in order to be admitted to the course, you will need to complete a test to demonstrate your language skills. You can do this by taking one of two different language proficiency tests:
- the "Deutsche Sprachprüfung für den Hochschulzugang ausländischer Studienbewerber" (DSH - German language test for admission to university for international applicants)
- the German as a foreign language test (TestDaF)
You can complete the TestDaF in your home country. It is offered in Germany as well as over 90 countries around the world. Information on the test locations, dates and costs can be found at www.testdaf.de. You can only sit the DSH in Germany. The test is offered by a large number of universities. More information is available from the International Office at the relevant university. A fee is payable for both tests. The fee itself depends on the institution and the country in which the test is held.
How good is my German?
The Internet provides a range of opportunities for testing your German skills, such as on the Goethe-Institut's website. The Common European Framework of Reference provides more detailed information on the different levels.
Approval for study without sitting a German test
Anyone applying for an international course can generally enrol without having to demonstrate their proficiency in German. However, you will need to demonstrate your proficiency in another language, generally English. Exchange students who are only in Germany for one or two semesters are also not required to demonstrate their language proficiency at some universities. The relevant university's International Office will provide more information.
There are also other circumstances in which you don't have to sit a German language test. These include the following:
- if you completed your "Abitur" school leaving examination at a German-speaking school
- if you passed the Goethe-Institut's "Kleines or Großes Deutsches Sprachdiplom" (KDS or GDS) or the "Zentrale Oberstufenprüfung" (ZOP)
- if you have acquired the "Kultusministerkonferenz" (KMK) German "Sprachdiplom" (Level II)
German language skills are helpful
Regardless of whether you need it to be accepted in a course: if you speak German you will generally find life in Germany easier. While many people speak English, knowledge of German helps you feel comfortable in Germany and settle in more quickly.
The practical test: how much German do I need to know?