German language proficiency
Sound German language skills are essential for your academic success at Universität Hamburg
All applicants who have not acquired their higher education entrance eligibility at a German-language institution must prove sufficient knowledge of the German language before they can study at Universität Hamburg.
It is therefore necessary to submit proof of sufficient German language skills with the application for enrollment within the enrollment deadline.
Please plan and prepare for your German examinations well before you apply!
Deutsche Sprachprüfung für den Hochschulzugang (DSH)
The German language exam to assess whether applicants are eligible to apply to a university, the Deutsche Sprachprüfung für den Hochschulzugang (DSH), is conducted by German universities and tests listening comprehension, written expression, reading comprehension, academic language, and oral expression. The written and oral components of the DSH language exam are given on different exam dates. Examinees who pass the DSH exam components are placed at levels DSH 1 (57% +), DSH 2 (67% +), and DSH 3 (82% +). Examinees placed at DSH 2 demonstrate sufficient German skills to study at Universität Hamburg. Please see the current DSH exam regulations from 3 September 2015 for detailed information about the exam and its individual components (Sections 10 und 11).
Click on the link below for a list of university exam centers in Germany recognized by the German Rectors' Conference (HRK) and the German and a Foreign Language Association:
- Registered DSH exam regulations at German universities and Studienkollegs (PDF, in German only)
At Universität Hamburg, you can take the DSH language exam at the University Language Center.
All universities in Germany offer different exam dates.
The dates and the link for registration for the exam at the University Language Center of Universität Hamburg can be found on the website of the Language Center of Universität Hamburg. Results enabling examinees to take the oral exam are announced roughly two weeks following the written exam.
Fees for the DSH vary from university to university and can range from €0 to €250. At the University Language Center of Universität Hamburg, internal candidates do not have to pay any fees. External candidates must pay €150 to take the exam.
Test of German as a foreign language (TestDaF )
The TestDaF (test of German as a foreign language) certificate is recognized throughout Germany. It consists of four parts: reading comprehension, listening comprehension, writing skills, and oral expression. All parts of the exam passed are accorded a point level of either 3, 4, or 5. You need an overall score of 15 points, with three parts achieving at least level 4 and one at least level 3, to prove sufficient German proficiency for studying at Universität Hamburg.
There are about 450 test centers worldwide where the TestDaF exam is offered. In Hamburg, you can register for the exam at seven different test centers.
TestDaF exams are held six times a year. If you want to start studying in the winter semester, we recommend that you prepare for the June TestDaF date (exam registration period commences in April). Summer semester applicants are advised to take the exam in November of the year prior application (exam registration commences in September).
Hint: Ensure you have an additional "emergency" exam date option for retaking the TestDaF! Only by adhering to the above dates will you have an additional opportunity to sit the test before classes start.
The costs for the TestDaF exam vary depending on the country. You can find out the costs for the country in which you would like to take the TestDaF at the test center, at the TestDaF institute or when you register online.
In Germany the TestDaF costs € 195 (as of January 2021).
Accepted language certificates
Universität Hamburg accepts all of the following language certificates as proof of German proficiency—provided they do not date back more than three years:
- Sprachdiplom Stufe II der Kultusministerkonferenz (level II German-language certificate of the Standing Conference of the Ministers of Education and Cultural Affairs of the Länder in the Federal Republic of Germany, KMK)
- Deutsche Sprachprüfung für den Hochschulzugang (level DSH-2 or DSH-3 of the German-language proficiency exam required for admission to German universities)
- Test Deutsch als Fremdsprache für ausländische Studienbewerber, TestDaF (test of German as a foreign language) with a total result of TDN 15 from at least three parts passed at level 4 and one part passed at least at level 3.
- Zeugnis der Prüfung zur Feststellung der Eignung ausländischer Studienbewerber für die Aufnahme eines Studiums an Hochschulen in der Bundesrepublik Deutschland (Studienkolleg academic aptitude certificate for foreign applicants to German universities).
- Successful participation in the pre-semester preparatory course at Studienkolleg in Hamburg with a grade “gut” (“good”) or better in the subject German.
- German language proficiency as recognized by bilateral agreements or other agreements made by the KMK (Standing Conference of the Ministers of Education and Cultural Affairs of the Länder in the Federal Republic of Germany) or HRK (German Rectors’ Conference)
- Goethe-Zertifikat C1 or Goethe-Zertifikat C2 (advanced German language skills certificate).
- Deutsche Sprachprüfung II (German language exam II) at the Munich Institute of Languages and Interpreting (SDI).
- telc language certificates "telc Deutsch C1 Hochschule" or "telc Deutsch C1" or "telc Deutsch C2"
- Österreichisches Sprachdiplom ÖSD (Austrian German-Language Diploma): "ÖSD C1 Oberstufe Deutsch" or "ÖSD C2 Wirtschaftssprache"
- A degree of a German-language degree program completed in a country where German is an official language
- A certificate of a German higher education institution attesting that the applicant was officially registered as a degree-seeking student and studied successfully a German language program for at least one year at this institution (this does not apply to visiting international students)
- UNIcert German language certificates: level "UNIcert III" or level "UNIcert IV"
Preparatory German courses
... in and around Hamburg
Universität Hamburg provides no preparatory German courses for prospective students. For German courses offered by other institutions in Hamburg, please visit the Hamburg course platform WISY (enter the desired language course level, e.g., B2).
For information on preparatoy German language courses offered at German universities, please check the language and short courses database of the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD).
You can prepare for language exams even before your arrival in Hamburg. Many TestDaF centers worldwide offer a variety of preparatory courses, for example, the Goethe-Institut.
German language exams at Universität Hamburg's language center
Deutsche Sprachprüfung für den Hochschulzugang (DSH)
The dates of the DSH exams can be found on the website of the Language Center of Universität Hamburg (in German only).
The deadline for registering for the DSH exam at the Language Center as well as the link to the registration form are published on the website of the Language Center of Universität Hamburg.
How to prepare
For detailed information on how to prepare for both DSH examination and TestDaF, please note the following lecture by Dr. Nils Bernstein, Universität Hamburg's language center:
- Fit fürs Sprachzertifikat: TestDaF und DSH (in German only)