German Language Tests for PhD Applications |
FindAPhD Weekly PhD Newsletter | JOIN NOW FindAPhD Weekly PhD Newsletter | JOIN NOW

German Language Tests for PhD Applications

Written by Mark Bennett

There are two tests which determine the level of proficiency in German:

  • TestDaF test of German as a foreign language
  • The "Deutsche Sprachprüfung für den Hochschulzugang ausländischer Studienbewerber" (DSH)

Both tests are equivalent and recognised by all universities in Germany. The main difference is that the DSH exam is only available at universities in Germany, and most often only at the university where you have applied or hold an offer of admission. The TestDaF is the only German language test you can take from your home country.

The TestDaF examination is centrally developed and rated by the TestDaF Institute based in Hagen, Germany. The test in available six times a year at accredited test centres in over 90 countries throughout the world and in Germany.

The DSH and TestDaF test consists of four parts: listening comprehension, reading comprehension, oral expression and written expression. Only those who already have a good level of German should take the test. For the TestDaF, you will be attributed a proficiency level:

  • TestDaF-Niveaustufe 5 (TDN 5 TestDaF level 5)
  • TestDaF-Niveaustufe 4 (TDN 4 TestDaF level 4)
  • TestDaF-Niveaustufe 3 (TDN 3 TestDaF level 3)

TDN 4 is often the minimum level required for university admission in Germany.

The fees for the exams vary across the centres and the countries in which these centres are. For example, the TestDaF in Germany costs €195, while the DSH (only possible in Germany) costs between approx. €70 and €150. For more information about the TestDaf, consult their website. For more information about DSH, consult your individual university.

Language Tests for PhD Study

You may need to take a language test to apply for a PhD abroad as an international student. Our guides explain recognised tests in English, German, French and other languages.

Read more
PhD Study in Switzerland – A Guide for 2022

Switzerland is home to some of Europe's most respected and most international universities for doctoral study. Our guide explains Swiss PhD fees, funding applications and more.

Read more
PhD Study in Germany – A Guide for 2023

German universities invented the modern PhD. Now, they offer excellent research opportunities that charge no tuition fees to doctoral students of any nationality. Our guide explains what you need to know to study a PhD in Germany!

Read more
PhD Study in Austria - A Guide for 2022

Austria is home to some of Europe's most historic universities, offering innovative (and affordable) PhD programmes that combine individual research with structured training. Our guide covers PhD fees, applications, student visas and funding opportunities.

Read more

Last Updated: 01 November 2022