Learn­ing a lan­guage and lan­guage re­quire­ments

Photo: Lucas Adrian

Language is one of the most important elements of well-being and success when entering a new culture. If you come to Berlin, we recommend that you improve your German skills before you leave. Humboldt-Universität can help you with this.

In Berlin, many people also speak English and other languages, but German is still often needed in everyday life. For many courses, knowledge of German is a prerequisite.

Learning German

Humboldt-Universität offers its members various options for learning languages:

Students who want to take a course in German or other languages during the semester can register online on the Language Centre website. These courses fill up quickly.

To register, students need an enrolment number, which can be found on their admission letter, student ID or confirmation for programme exchange students. The relevant language level is determined in advance through an online placement test.

Applicants who have already been admitted to study at the HU can take the DSH German language test for university admission via the Language Centre. External participants can only register in exceptional cases. The DSH exam takes place four times a year, before the start of the winter and summer semesters, and consists of a written and an oral exam.

The Language Centre offers intensive German courses (100 hours) for HU exchange students in March and September. There are also intensive courses in English, French, Italian and Spanish for Humboldt students.

Humboldt-Universität provides German language training in collaboration with the Philip Schwartz Initiative of the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation. Please contact our representative for refugee researchers and students:

Humboldt-Universität can only provide language courses for its own university members. Refugee researchers and students generally do not have this status. However, occasionally the university has funds to run courses that support language and professional skills. If you are interested, please contact

Employees can only take part in language courses for professional reasons. To do this, the supervisor must confirm the business necessity (e.g. in the form of a short email from the supervisor to the responsible team in the Language Centre).

Perhaps you want to start learning German before your stay in Berlin? Then these are possible first resources:

Language requirements

At Humboldt-Universität, German language skills are required at different levels, depending on the programme and level of study. The undergraduate courses (Bachelor and “Staatsexamen”) are in German. The language of instruction varies for master's programmes. Doctoral degrees and research stays can usually be carried out in English.

All undergraduate courses (Bachelor and “Staatsexamen”) at Humboldt-Universität are in German. For the application, German language skills at C1 level1 are required to be able to take the DSH if admitted. Detailed information about language certificates and equivalents to the DSH can be found on the bachelor's application website. Unfortunately, we do not offer preparatory German courses for applicants who are applying to study at Humboldt-Universität.

  1. Competence level according to the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages 

Different language skills are required for master's degree programmes. In some master's programmes, English is the language of instruction. The linguistic and technical entry requirements are set out in the access and admission regulations (ZZR) for each master's degree programme under “Special skills” in the course catalogue. The ZZR regulates which language skills in English, German and/or other foreign languages are required and which language certificates are accepted for the application for each master’s degree programme. If the ZZR does not list any different language requirements regarding German skills, proof of German language proficiency at C1 level is required for the application. Please read the master's application website for further details.

If you do not have a direct university entrance qualification based on your educational qualifications and are initially applying for a pre-university course (Studienkolleg), German language skills at B2 level are required. For the course with a focus on economics, English language skills at level B1 must also be demonstrated.

These language requirements apply to students who come to HU for one or two semesters as part of an exchange programme. What’s more, with Berlin Perspectives, exchange students have access to English-language opportunities specially tailored to them.

The Humboldt International Campus combines a variety of short-term programmes. You can find out which language the different courses are in and which language level is expected in the overview of the Humboldt International Campus.

Doctoral studies and research stays are generally available in English. The decision and agreement regarding the language of the doctoral studies is made within the Faculty. You can find out more from the designated contacts in the Faculties. You can find more information on the Doctoral Candidates' Portal.


For students

For researchers