Is knowledge of the German language necessary to study in Germany?

To be given the opportunity to complete studies in Germany, you have to be able to provide sufficient evidence to show that you are able to speak German or English so well that you are able to study in that language. Many courses teach in both German and English at least for the first few semesters of a course.

The proof has to be official language certification unless your native language is English or German or you have successfully completed a German or English oral programme. Universities do not necessarily expect you to be able to speak as well as a native speaker.

Study in Germany

Currently, around 245,000 overseas students are enrolled in German universities, most of whom originate from non- German or non-English speaking nations. Universities are quite prepared to welcome 2nd language speakers into their classrooms. The professors and lecturers often originate from a country that doesn’t have either German or English as a native language.

The German language certificates accepted in Germany

There are 5 German language certificates & tests which are accepted by German universities which are:

Goethe-Zertifikat C2, TestDaF (TDN 3, 4 or 5),DSD II which is Deutsches Sprachdiplom Stufe II), DSH II or III which is Deutsche Sprachprüfung für den Hochschulzugang and telc Deutsch C1 Hochschule which is the European Language Certificate.

All 5 of them are accepted equally as proof of a person’s language level. However, each university may choose the minimum result required in each of the language tests depending on the course program. Usually, each German university requires you to present proof that you have reached upper-intermediate or advanced language skills in German which are B2/C1 if you wish to undertake studies in the German language.

So that applicants know how good their spoken German is, German universities make use of terms in use by the Council of Europe in the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR). There are six levels which are A1 and 2, B1 and 2, C1 and 2.

A1 shows that a student is just a beginner while C2 is the highest of the language levels. B2 is considered to be the upper intermediate level.

The best certificate for preparing to commence studies in Germany when you are from another country is one of the following:

  • TestDaF
  • Goethe-Zertifikat C2
  • telc Deutsch C1 Hochschule

Some universities may not accept a certificate if it is 2 or more years old. 

Getting the DSH certificate is considered to be the better choice if you are actually in Germany as it appears to be the easiest to pass.

If you have graduated from a German high school abroad that has official accreditation and have passed the German International Abitur you may be allowed to jump a step when getting a language certificate because the German International Abitur is equivalent to obtaining a language certificate.

If you need to apply for a visa to study in Germany you will be required to show proof of your German language proficiency or that you intend to enrol in a language course once in Germany.