Center for Graduate Studies

German language requirements

If you intend to write your doctoral thesis at UW and conduct its defense in German, you must be able to show that your command of German is at least at level 2 of the German Language Proficiency Test for University Admission (DSH) or of the TestDaF (German as a Foreign Language Test). The doctoral degree regulations of many subjects at UW also allow English as the language for the thesis and defense. The matter should be clarified in the first instance with your future supervisor, whose consent must be obtained for use of a language other than German.

Unless they have the written permission of their examinations board to write and defend their thesis in a foreign language, doctoral students and applicants who are not native speakers of German and who did not graduate at a German speaking university or institute must, by the end of the fourth semester of their doctoral program, provide evidence of proficiency in German in the form of the DSH level 2 certificate or its equivalent.

TestDaf can be taken in Germany and at authorized centers worldwide. Further information on centers and examination dates is available at TestDaF Institute.

Applicants who intend to take the DSH test at UW must – along with evidence of their admission to a doctoral program – provide evidence of proficiency in German (C1 level certificate of the European Framework of Reference for Languages).

The DSH test is held twice a year at UW (March/September). Information on exact dates can be obtained from the International Office or the web pages of UW's Language Learning Institute (LLI). An entrance fee (currently €150) is charged to partly cover costs.

German language courses open to doctoral students at UW

A limited number of international doctoral students at UW can attend German courses provided by the Language Learning Institute (LLI). A fee of €500 per semester is charged to partly cover costs. As these are full-time courses, the matter should first be discussed with your supervisor.

Regular intensive German courses are offered by the LLI throughout the year, progressing from levels A1 & A2 (elementary) to B1 & B2 (intermediate). Placement at a specific level is on the basis of a test held at the beginning of the course. The courses are 40 weeks long with at least 20 hours teaching per week.

Family members can attend these German courses for a maximum of 2 semesters.

For information on summer language schools at German universities, as well as on publicly funded and private German language courses in the Wuppertal region, contact the International Office.

Applicants who have gained one of the following qualifications are exempted from the DSH test:

  • language certificate of the Standing Conference of State Education Ministers (Kultusministerkonferenz), level II;
  • German Central Advanced Level Examination (Zentrale Oberstufenprüfung);
  • language certificate of the Goethe Institute, level I or II (Grosses/Kleines Sprachdiplom);
  • telc German C1 university (telc Deutsch C1 Hochschule)
  • DAF German as a Foreign Language Test (TestDaf) with grade 4 pass in all sections. TestDaf ( can be taken in Germany or at authorized centers abroad.

For doctoral students who have been exempted from the DSH test, UW also provides specialist German language courses. These courses are voluntary and free of charge (see below).

German language courses for doctoral students

The Language Learning Institute (LLI) offers German language courses specifically for international doctoral students already enrolled at UW. These 2-4 hour weekly courses run parallel to the doctoral program and are free of charge. As well as general language skills, specialist subject skills are taught, and for this purpose students are placed in groups as follows:

  • German for economics
  • German for science and engineering
  • German for humanities and social sciences.

Courses are offered according to demand for groups of 5 upward. Timing is flexible.

Registration: If you are definitely interested, please contact Wolfgang Holtschneider-Seuthe at the Language Learning Institute (LLI).
Tel.: +49-202 439-2120
e-mail: holt[at]

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