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Preparations Before Arrival

Language prerequisites

It is highly recommended for foreign applicants for a place of study in a German-taught study course to attend a German language course before leaving their home country. Sometimes these are offered by the home university or the German cultural institutions (e.g. the Goethe-Institut, the DAAD) in the home country. The addresses of such institutions can be obtained from German embassies and consulates.

Furthermore, the Deutsch-Uni Online is a webportal for learning German. The DUO German courses offer all the necessary knowledge - covering language, knowledge about culture and everyday life, and subject-specific skills. Also, you can check or train your German Grammar (structured according to the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages) with the Deutsch Akademie.


German Before Starting University

A good knowledge of German is essential for German-taught study courses in higher education at  Bielefeld University. Basically, all parts of these courses (lectures, practical exercises, and seminars) are taught in German, and all applicants with foreign university entrance qualifications who wish to graduate with a degree from Bielefeld University  will have to provide proof of the necessary language proficiency.

Nevertheless, a range of study courses, that are mostly taught in English, request different language requirements. A list of study courses can be found here.

Starting in the winter semester 2007/08, Bielefeld University has introduced a new procedure for testing language proficiency in German. As a result, Bielefeld University has set up the TestDaF-Zentrum Bielefeld in a joint venture with the bibis language institute. The DSH-certificate is of course still valid as a language proof.


Knowledge of German for Enrolling in Higher Education Courses

Regretfully, applicants with no basic knowledge of German will not be accepted for enrollment in German-taught higher education courses at  Bielefeld University (except for English-taught study courses which are named in the list above). Applicants are expected to have already learned sufficient basic German (preferably beyond the level of the Zertifikat Deutsch) in their home country. If you have not gained a Zertifikat Deutsch, you must provide proof that you have attended German courses for at least 800 hours.

Important note: Bielefeld University does not offer language courses for so-called "beginners," in other words, for applicants who do not yet speak any German at all, and who want to pursue a German-taught study course.

As a study applicant, you may be allowed to enter a higher education course directly if you have good enough grades on your TestDaF Certificate (Level 4 in all four subtests = 4 x 4 or overall 16 points and Level 4 in writing) or you have a Level-2 DSH Certificate. Exceptions to this rule are available for the following subjects: Mathematics, British and American Studies (M.A.) and Inter-American Studies (M.A.), and Art and Music. For these subjects, you will need only a Level-3 TestDaF Certificate (Level 3 in all four subtests = 4 x 3) or a Level-1 DSH Certificate. For exceptions please click here. If you choose a combination of two subjects, you will have to qualify for the subject requiring the highest TestDaF or DSH grades.

If you don't have a DSH or TestDaF Certificate, you can present one of the following qualifications:

  • Kleines Deutsches Sprachdiplom,
  • Großes Deutsches Sprachdiplom,
  • Deutsches Sprachdiplom der Kultusministerkonferenz (KMK) der Stufe II, (mit Niveau C1 auf zwei von 4 Teilgebieten - insbesondere die schriftliche Teilkomponente),
  • Zentrale Oberstufenprüfung (ZOP) of the Goethe Institute,
  • Feststellungsprüfung from Studienkolleg,
  • School-leaving qualifications from a German-language secondary school in a foreign country,
  • German-language Diploma of higher education (eg Bachelor) from a German-language University,
  • Proof of at least ten years of attending a school in Germany or school-leaving qualifications after 10. class of a German-language school.

Students in some master-courses or in "International Tracks" (Sociology, Intelligent Systems, Informatics in the Natural Sciences) don't need a German knowledge certificate. Please find a list here. PhD students may gain exemption from examination in German by applying to the Dean of their faculty. Guest students visiting Bielefeld for only a short time do not need to provide proof of knowledge of German.

Nevertheless, a basic knowledge of German is a plus!


If You Are Not Proficient Enough in German: Enrolment in a German Course

If you have a basic knowledge of German, but your German language qualifications are not good enough for a German-taught higher education course, you may enrol as a student in the language course at the university. To gain admission, you will need a Zertifikat Deutsch als Fremdsprache or a proof of at least 800 hours of accomplished German classes. The preparatory language courses for higher education studies are provided by the bibis language institute in cooperation with Bielefeld University . You can enrol in the language course at the beginning of any semester. For the winter semester, enrolment may be postponed until the end of October for participants arriving late or those on waiting lists. A similar ruling applies for the summer semester.


Information on Language Courses

Precondition for attending the university language course assured by bibis is the acceptance through uni-assist (for Bachelor's study courses) or through Bielefeld University (for Master's study courses, PhD).

Depending on your individual language proficiency, courses last for 200 or 400 hours, that is, 10 or 20 weeks. The 10-week course (200 hours) costs 655 Euro; the 20-week course (400 hours) 1,310 Euro. TestDaF exam at bibis costs 175 Euro (as at November 2012).

Alongside admittance through the Bielefeld University, you will have to submit the following:

  • A completed bibis online application form
  • Proof of payment (or part payment) of the course fee to bibis

Participants will be enrolled as students at Bielefeld University only after registering for the language course. This will grant them the status of enrolled students for one semester.

If you have any questions on the language courses or on the language proficiency tests, please get in touch with the bibis language institute. If you have any further questions you can obtain information from the International Office of Bielefeld University (former Akademisches Auslandsamt) or for application and enrolment into the language course from the Studierendensekretariat.


German While Studying at the University

If you want to improve your German while studying at Bielefeld University, you may be interested in PunktUm.

International students (Bachelor's, Master's, and PhD) visiting this site can click on "Sprechen und Schreiben an der Universität" where they will find courses and workshops open to students from all faculties. These courses are specially designed to help you with both the subject-related and the language demands of your study course.

Guest scientists as well as graduate students attending the English-language Graduate Schools or Graduate Colleges can also find beginners' and intermediate-level courses under the heading "Deutschkurse" .

For further information and registration, please visit the PunktUm Office in Room C3-226 at Bielefeld University.


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