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German is the medium of instruction for the majority of degree courses offered by German universities. Consequently, fluency in the German language is indispensable, and prospective students will need to submit proof of their German proficiency before enrolment.

Applicants for full degree courses conducted exclusively in German must pass a language proficiency test known as the "Deutsche Sprachprüfung für den Hochschulzugang" (DSH), before they can matriculate themselves. This is to prove that these applicants are sufficiently proficient in the German language, so they can easily and without difficulty follow the lectures and seminars conducted in German.

The DSH exam is held twice annually at universities all over Germany, shortly before the start of the lecture period in October and April. It can only be retaken once. It will take someone with no previous knowledge of the language roughly 10 - 12 months of intensive courses to reach the required level of proficiency (approximately 1000 hours of German lessons). Many universities offer special DSH-preparatory courses for advanced learners of German as a Foreign Language.

Whereas the DSH can only be taken in Germany, it is possible to gain proof of the compulsory language proficiency here in Singapore as well. This involves taking a standardized called "Test Deutsch als Fremdsprache", better known by its abbreviation TestDaF (for more information please go to http://www.testdaf.de).
TestDaF is offered in collaboration between the Goethe-Institut Singapore and the NUS Centre for Language Studies and is carried out twice a year, in April and November (application deadline roughly four weeks prior to test).
Those who score the highest level (Niveaustufe 5) in all four parts are automatically exempted from taking the DSH. So are those with respective Goethe-Institut advanced language certificates (Zentrale Oberstufenprüfung, Kleines Deutsches Sprachdiplom, Großes Deutsches Sprachdiplom) or the “Deutsches Sprachdiplom der Kultusministerkonferenz – Zweite Stufe”.

International degree programmes taught either exclusively or partly in English, seldom require applicants to pass the DSH (exceptions apply). In fact, many programmes conducted fully in English do not require any previous knowledge of German at all, however, the respective universities will in most cases offer either compulsory or optional German language classes to successful applicants. So don’t despair if you are not fluent in German, yet! However, excellent English language skills are a must, and good TOEFL or IELTS test results need to be submitted with the application forms.

Even though a small percentage of German universities insist that applicants from Singapore submit a TOEFL or IELTS result slip, the majority will readily exempt Singaporeans from this requirement due to the fact that the Singapore education system uses English as the medium of instruction on all levels, from kindergarten all the way up to university.

The level of German required for those international degree programmes using both English and German as medium of instruction, depends on the individual degree course. In some cases, no previous knowledge of German is required, in other cases a basic foundation of about 240 hours of German language instruction may be called for and in other cases again, the minimum level required is the Zertifikat Deutsch (ZD) which requires about 400 to 600 hours of German.

The language requirements for shorter study stays (eg an exchange programme or summer school) are not subject to any particular requirements. However, a basic knowledge of the German language is always helpful, even though it might not necessarily be required. Neither is a knowledge of German generally prescribed for those undertaking doctoral or research work in Germany.

While proficiency in German may not be an admission requirement for many of the international degree courses nowadays offered by German universities, a basic working knowledge of the language is strongly recommended nevertheless.

While still in Singapore, you may want to consider joining one of the excellent German language classes at the Goethe-Institut, which offers weekly three-hour classes on all levels, from beginners to advanced. To find out more detailed information on types of courses, term dates, pricing etc. go to http://www.goethe.de/singapur. To find out more about the 16 Goethe-Institutes within Germany, please go to http://www.goethe.de
Many universities and commercial language schools also offer German courses for prospective students.

By the way: The subject ‘German as a Foreign Language’ can also be pursued at the following institutions in Singapore: MOELC, National Junior College, Nanyang Polytechnic, Ngee Ann Polytechnic, Singapore Polytechnic, NUS and NTU. And did you know that Kinokuniya has a large selection of German books?

Some more interesting facts about the German language:

  • With approximately 100 million native speakers primarily in Germany, Austria and Switzerland, German is the most widely spoken first language in Europe
  • German is the second-most commonly used scientific language; 18 % of the world’s books are published in German. It is also the most commonly used language on the internet after English
  • German is part of the Indo-Germanic language family and thus has common roots with English – that’s why German words such as ‘Finger’, ‘Arm’, ‘Hand’, ‘Haus’, ‘Maus’ etc sound so familiar!
  • Germany is an important trading partner for Singapore. Some 600 German companies are present in Singapore, many of which sponsor language courses for their staff.

Click here for more detailed information regarding ‘learning German’.


uni-deutsch.de − German for Academic and Professional Purposes

  • uni-deutsch.de is the online professional German language training program for academic and professional purposes consisting of the two modules „Studienvorbereitung“ and „Fachsprachen“

    What does uni-deutsch.de offer?
  • preparation targeted towards established university entrance level examinations (e.g.:TestDaF)
  • authentic materials for everyday life in the university, research, and technical science areas
  • exercises for all communication skills as well as learning and working strategies
  • a wealth of learning resources, such as an electronic dictionary, online grammer references, an electronic tutor, grammar animations and other learning tools

  • Who can use uni-deutsch.de?
  • all intermediate and advanced level learners in order to prepare for the university entrance level examinations
  • all non-native speakers who want to improve their general and technical language knowledge
  • all non-native scientists who wish to prepare for a research stay in Germany


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