Proof of Language Proficiency - Study in Germany for Free (2023)

Why Do I Need to Prove My Foreign Language Skills When Applying for a Place at a German Higher Education?

Good command of German and/or English language is an essential factor for your overall success in your academic studies in Germany.

Teaching lessons at the German higher education institutions are primarily delivered in a German language.

There are also international academic studies available, which, due to their international format, tent to cover lessons in an English language. However, these programmes often come in a combination with teachings in a German or further foreign language.

For that reason, higher education providers in Germany always require from their foreign study applicants, to prove that they’ve an acknowledged language certificate for attesting their competence in such foreign languages.

Which Are the German Language Requirements for University Studies in Germany?

You cannot participate in an academic study course in Germany, without a sufficient command in German if such a study course covers lessons entirely or partially taught in a country’s native language.

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To prove your competence in the German language, for such academic studies you need to present a certificate for passing a recognized German language test. If not, you must have an educational certificate of completing a recognized study program taught in such a language.

An international study program in Germany, compared to other study courses, commonly requires a very basic command of German language or no command at all. This is because most of the international study courses in Germany are covered by the English language, as a language of instruction.

German Language Skills for Bachelor’s Degree Studies

To participate in a Bachelor study programme in Germany taught in German language, you must attest that you’ve skills in such language of minimum C1 level of CEFR or DSH II.


German Language Skills for Master’s Degree Studies

Participation in a Master’s German study programme requires knowledge of the German language of a DSH I or DSH II level.

German Language Skills for Doctoral Degree Studies

There are no common German language requirements, you may encounter as a foreign candidate for a doctoral study degree in Germany.

German language requirements for taking up a Doctoral study course in Germany are autonomously regulated by admission regulations of the respective educational provider.

Which Are the Accepted Certificates to Prove German Language Skills for University Studies in Germany?

Top Recognized Certificates by German Higher Education Institutions, as a Proof of German Language Proficiency of c1 Level of CEFR Are:

  • DSH Certificate (Level 2-above).
  • TestDaF Certificate (Minimum 4 points in 4 of its sections).
  • GDS Certificate (C2 Level-above).
  • Language Certificate of the Education Ministers’ Conference (Level 2 with C2 in each of its sections).

Further Recognized Certificates as a Proof of German Language Are:

  • German University Entrance Qualification “Abitur”.
  • The Assessment Exam Certificate “Feststellungsprüfungszeugnis”.
  • Certificate of a Goethe-Institute Test. Proof of passing any of the following Goethe-Institute tests:
    • New Goethe Certificate C2 Examination: Major German Language Diploma.
    • Any Previous Minor/Major German Language Tests.
    • Goethe Institute Central Advanced Language Test (until 2011).
    • Goethe-Zertifikat C2: Großes Deutsches Sprachdiplom Examination (since 2012).
  • telcDeutsch C1 Hochschule Certification (which is equivalent to TestDaF).
  • telc Deutch B1 Certification (accepted only by colleges of arts and music).
  • Österreichisches Sprachdiplom (ÖSD Zertifikat C1).
  • Certificates of Completing an Academic Study Degree in Germany Abroad (accepted not by all German higher education institutions).

Accepted Language Certificates for a Study Course Requiring a German Language of Level DSH I Are:

  • DSH Certificate (Level 1-above).
  • TestDaF Certificate (Minimum total 14 points).
  • GDS Certificate (C1 Level-above).
  • Certificate of passing the telcDeutsch C1 Hochschule.
  • UNIcert III.
  • Language Certificate of the Education Ministers’ Conference (Level 2 with C1 in each of its sections).

Foreign Educational Certificates Through Which You May Get an Exemption from the German Language Requirement to Commence Academic Studies in Germany Are:

  • German Language Attestation in the French Diplôme Du Baccalauréat. This is a high school diploma obtained by completing a bilingual German-French branch of a secondary school.
  • US Advanced Placement Exam (AP Exam) in the German Language.
  • School Leaving Certificate in Upper Level Secondary Education of the German-Speaking Community of the Kingdom of Belgium.
  • Secondary School-Leaving Certificates from the Grand Duchy of Luxemburg.
  • Diplomas from Secondary Schools in the Autonomous Province Bozen-South Tyrol (Italy). This is relevant if German is the language of Instruction.
  • School-Leaving Certificate from the German Language International Section of the Liceo Gimnasiale “Luigi Galvani“ (Bologna, Italy).
  • Bilingual German-Irish Secondary School Leaving Certificate from the St. Kilian German School in Dublin (Ireland).
  • University Degree Obtained by a Higher Education Institution in Germany (relevant only if you’re applying for postgraduate studies in Germany).

What Are the English Language Requirements for University Studies in Germany?

Studying for an international academic study programme in Germany suggests having a very good command of the English language, for a full participation in the lessons and other study course’s activities.

Every higher education institution in Germany has its own requirements as regards of non-English speakers’ language proficiency in English.

A non-international study program in Germany usually calls for a very basic command of English, or only a proficient German language.

Which Are the Recognized English Language Certificates for University Studies in Germany?

Commonly accepted English language certificates as a proof of your proficiency in English language for academic studies in Germany are:

  • Educational Certificate of an English-Speaking School. You must have completed at least 5 (B1) /6 (B2) schooling years in a school whose main language of instruction was English.
  • IELTS Scores. You must have scored in the IELTS at least 4.5 (B1) or 5.0 (B2).
  • Cambridge English Certificates. Any of the following, depending on the higher education institution’s requirement:
    • B1 Preliminary (rarely).
    • B2 First.
    • C1 Advanced.
    • C2 Proficiency.
  • TOEFL Scores. Evidence of having scored 450 (B1)/500 (B2) points in the PbT – paper based test, 130 (B1)/170 (B2) in CbT- computer based test, and 60 (B1)/80 (B2) in IbT-internet based test, when passing TOEFL.
  • UNIcert® minimum I (B1) or II (B2).
  • TOEIC certificate.
  • University Entrance Qualifications obtained in an English-speaking country.
  • University Degree obtained with a higher education of an English-speaking country.

Recognized Language Tests by German Higher Education Institutions

If you cannot prove your competence in German or English language by other educational certificates, you must sit a language test to obtain a recognized certificate of the respective language.

What Is The DSH Test?

“A DeutscheSprachprüfung für denHochschulzugang (DSH) test” stands for a standardized language examination that examines your German language competencies as a foreigner taking up a study course with a German as a language of instruction.

Test DSH Certificate (Level II – III) is the top accepted certificate by the Germany higher education institutions, as a proof of German language proficiency for admission in studies.

DSH Test is comprised of 2 sections:

  • Oral exam (30%).
  • Written exam (70%).

DSH offers certification for the following levels of German language proficiency:

  • Basic German – A (1, 2).
  • Intermediate German – B1 (DSH1).
  • Advanced German – C1 (DSH2) and C2 (DSH3).

See for more at the official webpage of the DSH Test.

What Is a TestDaF?

“TestDaF” it’s a uniform examination that evaluates German language command, of foreigner’s applying for a study place in a higher education institution in Germany. TestDaF is founded and centrally maintained by the “TestDaF Institute” in Hagen, Germany. There are 80 foreign countries where you can find licensed TestDaF Centres.

TestDaF Certificate (4×4) is recognized by the most German higher educations, as a proof of German language skills.

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TestDaF has 4 sections:

  • Reading exam.
  • Writing exam.
  • Listening exam.
  • Speaking exam.

TestDaF provides examinations and certificates for the 3-5 levels “Niveaustufe” in 4 sections, equal to the CEFR B2.1 – C1.3 levels:

  • TDN 3
  • TDN 4
  • TDN 5

See for more on the official webpage of the TestDaF.

What Is the Großes Deutsches Sprachdiplom (GDS) Test?

“Major German Language Diploma (GDS) test” it’s an examination that assesses exceptionally advanced German language competencies of non- native German speakers, equivalent to the CEFR, C2 level.

The Goethe-Zertifikat C2: Großes Deutsches Sprachdiplom(GDS) is commonly listed amongst accepted certificates for university admission by the German academic institutions.

Despite in the Germany, a GDS test can be taken at any Goethe Institute center in a foreign country.

See for more on the official webpage of the Goethe-Institute.

What Is the Deutsches Sprachdiplom der Kultusministerkonferenz (DSD) Test?

“The German Language Diploma (DSD) of the Education Minister’s Conference” it’s an educational program offering certification of German language skills for non-native German speakers. The test requires prior participation in studies for certain years in a German language course.

You cannot partake in a DSD preparatory course, if you don’t have a command in the German language competence of at least EQF, A2 level.

A DSD II Certificate it’s largely acknowledged by German higher education institutions as a proof of advanced German language skills, equivalent to the CEFR, C2 level.

DSD I Certificate it’s a certificate accepted as proof of German language proficiency, equivalent to B2/C1 CEFR levels for admission in a “Studienkolleg” in Germany.

The DSD examination has 4 sections:

  • Writing.
  • Reading.
  • Listening.
  • Speaking.

The DSD consist of two mandatory parts:

  • DSD I test.
  • DSD II test.

See for more on the webpage of the Conference of Education Ministers.

What is a telc Test?

“The telc test” it’s a standardized CEFR-based examination of a telc gGmbH offering examination and certification for German language skills for non-native German speakers.

Telc test also offers certification in 9 other foreign languages, and for different uses.

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Telc German C1 University certificate is commonly recognized as a proof of sufficient German skills for academic studies in Germany.

See for more at the telc language tests webpage.

What Is the TOEFL® Test?

“TOEFL® test” is an ETS® (Educational Testing Service) standardized test that assesses non-native English speakers’ ability to communicate in the English language.

TOEFL scores are commonly accepted amongst many worlds’ higher education institutions, as a proof of English language proficiency for enrollment in academic studies. Every institution has its own requirements regarding the minimum accepted TOEFL scores for admission.

The test consists of 4 parts, with total 120 available scores, distributed as follows:

  • Listening (0-30).
  • Reading (0-30).
  • Speaking (0-30).
  • Writing (0-30).

TOEFL Scores are valid for no longer than 2 years.

For more see the TOEFL’s official webpage.

What Is the IELTSTM Academic Test?

“IELTS Academic” is one of two IELTS tests evaluating non-native English speakers’ command in Academic English language for participation in an undergraduate or postgraduate course.

IELTS test results are commonly accepted by the German higher education as proof of English language proficiency for studying.

The test consists of 4 sections:

  • Listening.
  • Academic writing.
  • Academic reading.
  • Speaking.

IELTS scores are not valid for more than 2 years.

See for more on the official IELTS webpage.

What Is the Cambridge English Test?

“Cambridge English Tests” are Cambridge University’s CEFR-based examinations evaluating English language skills for taking up academic studies in an English language amongst non-native English speakers.

Cambridge English certificates are for the following levels of the English language proficiency:

  • B1 Preliminary – the former Cambridge English Preliminary (PET) is a certificate through which you attest that you’ve a basic command in English language for daily communication.
  • B2 First – the former Cambridge English First (CEF) is a certificate showing that you possess sufficient competence in English language for studying, living and working in an English-speaking state.
  • C1 Advanced – the former Cambridge English Advanced (CEA) is a certificate that proves you’ve advanced English language skills for studying, working and living in an English-speaking country.
  • C2 Proficiency – the former Cambridge English Proficiency (CEP) is a certificate that confirms you possess expert English language skills.

See for more at the official webpage of the Cambridge Assessment.

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What Is the UNIcert® Test?

“UNIcert® test” it’s a German CEFR-based exam operated by the Association of Language Centres (AKS), Language Teaching Institutes and Institutes of Foreign Languages. It evaluates English language skills for educational purposes of the non-native English speakers.

There’re 4 levels of proficiency that UNIcert examines:

  • UNIcert® Basis (A2)
  • UNIcert® I (B1)
  • UNIcert® II (B2)
  • UNIcert® III (C1)
  • UNIcert® IV (C2)

For more you can see the official webpage of the UNIcert®.

What is the TOEIC® Test?

“TOEIC® Test” it’s a standardized test, run by the ETS® (Educational Testing Service) that examines non-English language speakers’ competence in English language in the workplace.

Few German universities accept decent TOEIC scores as a proof of English language proficiency for academic studies.

TOEIC test consists of the following parts:

  • Listening and Reading.
  • Speaking and Writing.

See for more on the official webpage of the TOEIC.

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