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Language requirements

Limited knowledge of German?

An overview of international courses, for which you require only limited German, if any, is available from the DAAD. Please note: Even for international courses, institutions frequently require students to demonstrate a certain level of proficiency in German when admitted or after a certain period of study.


German language test for higher education admission

To study in Germany you need an excellent knowledge of German. For admission, most higher education institutions in Germany require proficiency in German corresponding to the "German language test for higher education admission", known as the DSH, or an equivalent (= qualification of equal standing). Many institutions allow students to take the DSH directly at the institution (ask for dates). The different levels of the German language test for higher education admission, or DSH, has existed for some years. As a rule, the level one test (DSH-1) is intended for admission to preparatory Courses, while the level two test (DSH-2) is for admission to higher education courses of study (Ger. "Fachstudium") and the level 3 test (DSH-3) is required for admission to Interpreting and Translation study courses. In individual cases, higher education institutions can define the required DSH level for a certain subject at their discretion.


Equivalents for the DSH

Which certificates are considered as equivalent to the DSH certificate is regulated by guidelines. However, each university in Germany decides individually which German language skills are required for the study courses offered. The German language diploma DSD-II of the Ministers of Education and Cultural Affairs of Germany fulfils the entry requirements of all universities if all sections in the certificate were passed on level C1. If sections were passed on level B2, many universities accept the DSD-II diploma only as proof for the DSH examination or the preparatory German course (if offered). 

Generally speaking, institutions in German will also accept the intermediate German diploma (KDS) or the advanced German diploma (GDS) from the Goethe Institute, the central advanced examination (ZOP) from the Goethe Institute, a TestDaF with at least 4 points in all components or a pass in the assessment test. Always consult the institutions for details of the language proficiency they require to study the specific courses of your choice.

Applicants who have passed the Feststellungsprüfung do not need any additional German language certificates to study in Germany.



One language certificate that German institutions always accept alongside the DSH for admission is the TestDaF. In some cases, the TestDaF can be taken directly at the institutions. Note that different TestDaF grades may be required for different institutions and different subjects. The TestDaF Institute's website at contains information about the language requirements for higher education in Germany.


Learning German

For candidates whose foreign qualifications allow them direct admission to higher education in Germany but do not yet have the required proficiency in German, many institutions offer special German courses and/ or special language support. You must make a formal application to the institutions for these pre-study German courses and normally demonstrate a certain level of proficiency in German. Please note: Not all institutions in Germany offer a pre-study German course.

The database from the German as a Foreign Language Association (FaDaF) helps you to find providers of German courses throughout Germany. The FaDaF homepage provides a wealth of information about "German as a foreign language".

The DAAD homepage provides information about German language courses and examinations.

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