Minimum Requirement: English language proficiency

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The selection committee needs evidence of your language level to ensure you can follow complex lectures and communicate well in oral and written form. Students who do not have the required level won't be able to follow lectures, complete homework and seminar papers, or pass oral exams and thus won't be able to complete our program.

How to provide proof of English language proficiency

Direct fulfillment of the requirement

  • Sending one of the following language proficiency tests and having attained at least the following minimum scores:
CEFR/TELC Level >= at least B2 in all categories or higher (compare to IELTS and TOEFL scores and subscores)
IELTS >= Overall band 6.5 + B2 (*with a minimum subscore of 6.0 for Listening, Comprehension, Speaking, Writing)
TOEFL: IBT >= 90 (*with a minimum subscore of 20 for Reading, Listening, Speaking, Writing), PBT >= 575, CBT >= 230
Cambridge >= CAE or CPE
*of course, the overall minimum level has to be reached, too

In general English Proficiency tests need to have scores for these categories: Reading, Listening, Speaking, Writing!

Please contact us if you have an international English proficiency test that does not appear on this list e.g., the online version of the tests above.

We might also accept the following evidence - please state your case in a separate letter:

  • Native English speaker (evidenced by a copy of your ID or passport of a country with English as one of its official languages)
  • Living/studying in an English-speaking country (AUS, NZ, GB, USA) for 3 years or longer (evidenced by an official document, e.g. a confirmation letter by your company or university)

The following documents can not replace an international English proficiency test:

  • Your medium of instruction was English
  • English courses within your degree without an internationally accepted certificate
  • Short exchanges or visits in English-speaking countries
  • Essays or papers written in the English language
  • Old English proficiency test scores (older than 2 years, please contact us)
  • Highschool English Courses

We can not consider candidates for this program who

  • Hand in a language proficiency test with a score below the levels listed above
  • Apply without a language proficiency test
  • Apply without a separate letter stating why you do not need an English proficiency test

Common questions regarding English Language Proficiency

I have a language certificate that is not listed on the website, can I send this as proof?

Please understand that we can only consider internationally established certificates that tested these categories: Reading, Listening, Speaking, Writing. Please research yourself and check the comparability to IELTS and TOEFL. English certificates from local language schools and universities cannot be verified and thus are rejected. Only the language certificates listed above with sufficiently high scores will immediately lead to the fulfillment of the required language proficiency.

You may send a language certificate that is not listed. However, it is the selection committee's decision, whether it is equal to the certificates listed above. We recommend you provide information about the certificate and state your reasoning. Check with us before applying and provide enough information.

I am a native English speaker. Do I still have to send a certificate?

Provide an extra letter instead of a test and provide a passport copy.

If you were born and/or are living in a country with English as one of its official languages, you do not have to provide further evidence. In this case, please submit a copy of your ID or passport. This might also apply if you have been studying or working in such a country for a long time. In this case, you can submit a confirmation such as a letter from your company or university. We still recommend you to provide additional proof of language proficiency using one of the English language certificates listed above.

My previous degree was fully taught in English. Is this sufficient proof?

No. However, if your degree was obtained in a country with English as one of its official languages (e.g. Australia, New Zealand, UK, USA ...), and your certificate/transcript states that English was the medium of instruction throughout your entire degree (3+ years), and your university attests that all modules were taught and assessed in English, the selection committee may accept this as proof of proficiency. However, the selection committee will decide on a case to case basis depending on the country, institution, and use of English in your application. Please provide a document created by you, stating why you are not submitting an English Proficiency Test. We recommend you to provide proof of language proficiency using one of the English language certificates listed above.

Online English Certificates

This year we will also accept English certificates that are tested online, see list of accepted tests above. However, please be aware that the chosen certificate has the regular test curriculum and provides the same level of detail regarding the certificate scores. Furthermore, ensure that the online version of the English certificate states all four individual scores (Listening, Reading, Writing, Speaking) as well as the overall score. For example, the "TOEFL iBT Special Home Edition" provides these scores and fulfills the above-stated requirements. If you are doubtful about a specific online English certificate, please contact the IAS team.

Also notice, that when you apply with an online English certificate:

  • Do not use screenshots of the web-page with your test results.
  • Do not merely provide web links to the test results.
  • University entry tests are not sufficient, an English certificate listed on this page is required.

These are not sufficient, only use the official test results certificate such as a PDF that is provided to you or scan the certificate that you received by post from the testing centre.

I have a TOEFL certificate. What is the institution code of Universität Hamburg?

Short corona pandemic notice: please do not send us the TOEFL certificate through ETS. Nobody is in the office right now.

We do not have a special code anymore. Please do not send us TOEFL certificates through ETS.

If you do not add a copy to your pdf application, your application will be rejected (even if the original arrives in time, somewhere in the Department of Informatics).