Germany – home to beautiful castles, picturesque landscapes, and a thriving academic scene – has long been a top destination for international students. However, before packing your bags and embarking on a new academic adventure in Germany, it’s important to know that one significant hurdle you may face is the German language barrier.

With over 95% of the German population speaking German, international students must demonstrate proficiency in the language, especially if they plan to pursue degree programs taught in German. But don’t worry, as challenging as it may seem, there are various language tests available that can help you achieve your language proficiency goals.

So, if you’re an international student looking to study in Germany or simply want to improve your German language skills, stay tuned! By the end of this article, you’ll have a better understanding of the language requirements required in Germany and the options available to you to help you achieve your language goals.

Language Proficiency Tests Needed in Germany

In Germany, most undergraduate studies are conducted in the German language with only a handful of English-track programs offered. As for degree-seeking graduate students, you’ll have plenty of options –either you pursue a degree in English, in German, or a combination of English/German. Whichever you decide,  here is the list of tests you need to know:

German Language Tests for International Students

Aspiring international students are likely to be required to prove they have a solid command of the German language. There are a variety of language tests that can demonstrate your proficiency in German, but it can be difficult to choose the right one. In this article, we’ll take a closer look at three of the most widely recognized German language tests: TestDaF, DSH, and telc Deutsch.

1. TestDaF – Test Deutsch als Fremdsprache

The TestDaF is a standardized German language proficiency exam that most German universities require from non-native speakers. This exam measures your German language proficiency in reading, writing, listening, and speaking, with scores ranging from TDN 3 to TDN 5. Most German universities require a minimum score of TDN 4 for admissions. This is one of the most used language tests in Germany.

Moreover, TestDaF is offered six times a year and can be taken in either an online or paper-based format. Talking about the cost and fees, the reported test fee is around €205 to €210. For applicants, it is essential to schedule your exam at a convenient time before your desired application deadline to avoid any discrepancies.

Hence, over 200 universities in Germany such as the Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich and the Free University of Berlin recognize the TestDaF, making it a valuable certification for international students who wish to pursue higher education opportunities in the country.

2. DSH – German Language University Entrance Examination

DSH is another language proficiency exam for non-native German speakers aiming to study at German universities. Unlike the TestDaF, the DSH is a university-specific test that measures German language skills needed for university studies. The exam tests proficiency in reading, listening, writing, and speaking, and consists of three levels: DSH-(1-2-3).

The minimum DSH score required for admission into a German university is typically DSH-2, though some universities may accept lower scores. This language test required in Germany is often offered with tuition fees ranging from €300 to €800, whereas the exam itself costs around €160.

While the TestDaF is recognized by more universities, the DSH may be a better option if you know the specific university you want to attend, like the University of Konstanz

3. telc Deutsch Exam

Last on our list is the telc Deutsch standardized exam, which like others also assesses the same set of skills of reading and writing etc. The cost of the telc Deutsch exam varies depending on the level you take and the location where you take it, but it generally ranges from €100 – €200 and consists of a total of six levels where level B2 is often required by reputed universities like University of Bremen and Bayreuth.

Achieving a high score on the telc Deutsch exam can greatly increase your chances of being admitted to a German university, so it’s worth investing the time and effort to prepare for and take the test.

English Language Tests for International Students

Now, let’s discuss the English proficiency tests that are accepted by most German universities. These English language tests are the most popular and widely accepted not just in Germany but also in several different countries.

1. IELTS – International English Language Testing System

IELTS is a globally recognized test that assesses your reading, listening, speaking, and writing abilities and assigns a band score between 0 to 9. With a band score of 6.5 or higher, you’re all set to apply for admission to universities in Germany.

The test is administered in person worldwide, and the fees vary depending on the location. With its reputation across German universities like the Free University of Berlin and LMU Munich for accurately assessing language proficiency, the IELTS is an excellent option for those who want to prove their English proficiency and open doors to international opportunities.

2. TOEFL – Test of English as a Foreign Language

Next up is TOEFL, a widely recognized English language test recognized by thousands of universities around the globe making it a popular choice among international students seeking to study abroad. Like IELTS, TOEFL evaluates proficiency in the same skill sets. But, unlike IELTS, TOEFL has a score range of 0-120 where a good and recognizable score is considered 80 or higher which helps you stand out from the crowd.

3. DET – Duolingo English Test

Lastly, Duolingo is an online affordable English language proficiency test that is becoming increasingly popular for admissions into universities like the University of Trier, in recent years. It assesses proficiency in reading, listening, speaking, and writing through a combination of multiple-choice questions, listening exercises, and speaking tasks. Scores range from 10-160, with scores of 105 or higher generally required for university admissions.


While it may seem like just another hurdle to jump, it’s important to remember that language proficiency is a key factor in a successful admission at a German university. By following our guide and taking the right language test needed, you can easily master a new language and achieve your academic and personal milestones.


We hope this article was informative and helpful. Planning to study in Germany? check out our Study in Germany Page for more valuable tips and insightful articles! You can also search our Available Programs in Europe for courses that are currently accepting international students!

About the Author: Hyun Lee

Hi! I am Hyun, and I am the founder at Global Scholarships. I've received a full-tuition scholarship at Birmingham-Southern College and a $1,000 Burger King Scholarship for my undergraduate degree and was offered a fully funded scholarship consisting of tuition, living stipend, and health insurance for computer science Ph.D. program at North Carolina State University. You can read more about my scholarship journey here. If you are interested, you can follow me on Linkedin where I regularly write about scholarship opportunities.

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