skip to content

Faculty of InternationalSample Institute

Proficiency of the German Language

Knowledge of German required for taking up a course of study, preparatory German language courses, basic knowledge, prerequisites for attending a course

Knowledge of the German language required for taking up a course of study

A good command of German is one of the most important prerequisites a foreign applicant has to meet if one wants to carry out his/her studies successfully. The German language examination for foreign students applying for admission to a German University (DSH) serves the purpose of determining whether a foreign applicant has the proficiency of German required for taking up a course of study. The basis for the DSH examination applied at the University of Cologne is provided by examination regulations passed on December 15, 2014 (Ordnung der Universität zu Köln für die Deutsche Sprachprüfung für den Hochschulzugang vom 15. Dez. 2014) which are based on a framework of examination regulations for the German language examination for studying at a German University (RO-DT) - (Decision of the German Rectors Conference - HRK - dated May 11, 2011 and of the German standing conference of Ministers of Education and Culture - KMK - dated November 17, 2011).

Preparatory Language Courses

The department "German as a Foreign Language" offers preparatory German language courses for foreign applicants whose knowledge of German is not yet sufficient in order to take up their studies. These courses will prepare these applicants for the DSH examination.

You will find further information on the DSH on the corresponding page.

Basic knowledge and prerequisites for attending a course

Only foreign applicants who have registered at the University of Cologne (student card) are entitled to attend preparatory German language courses.

Information on the application process can be found here.


In order to be admitted to the preparatory German language courses, applicants have to give proof of their knowledge of German. As proof of the required level may serve:

  • Certificate C1 (Goethe-Institute)
  • TESTDAF with level 3 in all 4 components of the examination,
  • telc Deutsch B2
  • onSET-Deutsch with level B2.

Other certificates, confirmations, and certificates of attendance cannot be recognized.  

Please note:

All certificates submitted must have been obtained in the past two years in order to be recognized.
On the basis of the result of the entry examination taking place in the first week, it will be decided whether the student can attend a preparatory German language course. Students who have not achieved the minimal number of points required for the lowest level are not allowed to attend a preparatory German language course.

Preparatory German language courses are only available for those foreign applicants who wish to take up a course of study at the University of Cologne. Applicants who are only interested in learning the German language or improving their proficiency of German are recommended to attend the International Cologne Summer Language Courses or the International Cologne Winter Language Courses.