Contact information

Graduate Academy Heidelberg University

Service Point

Im Neuenheimer Feld 370
Room 3
69120 Heidelberg

Telephone Icon 17x17 +49 (0) 6221 / 54 - 19765


Walk-in office hours

Monday: 10 am to 12 pm
Tuesday: 2 pm to 4 pm
Wednesday: 10 am to 12 pm
Thursday: 10 am to 12 pm and 2 pm to 4 pm
and by appointment

Outside of our office hours you can reach us by telephone or email.

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Language requirements for international doctoral candidates


Language requirements –
general information

In most cases, the primary language used at Heidelberg University is German; however, the University offers an increasing number of courses and services in English. Depending on the research field, many researchers and labs also work in both German and English. Therefore, you will need very good German or English language skills in order to carry out your doctoral studies at the University and to successfully:

  • communicate with your supervisor and your research group,
  • write your dissertation,
  • defend your thesis.
Important – German language skills
Even if you plan to write your dissertation in English, we strongly recommend that you learn some German in order to master daily life more easily and to increase your chances on the employment market in Germany after completing your doctoral studies.

When planning your doctoral studies, please make sure to take into account any additional time you might need to improve your language skills.


The language of your dissertation

The doctoral regulations of each faculty determine the languages in which a dissertation may be written. In many subject areas, the languages permitted are German, English and French.

If you would like to write in a language not specified in the doctoral regulations, you must receive the permission of both your supervisor and the Dean of your faculty. In most cases, the deciding factor is whether both the supervision and the evaluation of your dissertation can be carried out successfully in the chosen language.

Further information:
► All doctoral regulations



If you choose not to write your dissertation and defend your thesis in German, you do not necessarily have to demonstrate proficiency in German in order to enroll at the University. To be exempt from the German language proficiency requirement (refer to the paragraph "Exemption from the DSH-2 German language exam" below), you must submit written confirmation from your supervisor (or in some cases from the doctoral committee of your faculty) that you are carrying out your doctoral studies in a language other than German with your application for admission Externer Inhalt (in the section "International students: Information, forms and fact sheets") / enrollment to the University.


The doctoral regulations also set down what other, if any, language proficiencies (e.g. Latin or other ancient languages) you must have in order to be admitted as a doctoral candidate to the faculty.


If proficiency in other languages is required for admission to the faculty, please include any relevant certificates or documentation in your application for admission.


Proof of German language proficiency

If you are writing your dissertation in German, you will need to demonstrate your proficiency in German if you wish to enroll at the University.

To demonstrate your German proficiency, you can take the German language exam DSH-2 "Deutsche Sprachprüfung für den Hochschulzugang - Stufe 2" after applying for admission to the University.

Further information:
► DSH (Deutsche Sprachprüfung für den Hochschulzugang / Examination of German language proficiency required for admission to universities) Externer Inhalt


Exemption from the DSH-2 German language exam

You can be exempted from the DSH-2 exam if you submit one of the following certificates with your application for admission:

  • the "Deutsche Sprachdiplom der Kultusministerkonferenz – Zweite Stufe",
  • the "telc Deutsch C1 Hochschule"
  • the registered "Deutsche Sprachprüfung für den Hochschulzugang (DSH) - Stufe 2"
  • the Goethe certificate C2, issued after 1 January 2012,
  • the TestDaF ("Test Deutsch als Fremdsprache") with results of at least TDN 4 on all individual sections,
  • the certificate from the "Feststellungsprüfung" (Prüfung zur Feststellung der Eignung ausländischer Studienbewerber für die Aufnahme eines Studiums an Hochschulen der Bundesrepublik Deutschland),
  • a certificate according to a bilateral agreement with another country.


Language courses

The Graduate Academy cooperates with the Internationales Studienzentrum (ISZ) to offer German courses for international doctoral candidates.

German courses at Heidelberg University

The courses are held every semester beginning in either mid-April or mid-October. You can register online about one month before the courses begin:
► Graduate Academy seminar program

German courses at private language schools

There is a list of private language schools offering German courses on the website of the Welcome Centre:
► List of private language schools  Adobe



When planning your doctoral studies, please make sure to take into account any additional time you might need to improve your language skills.


Other languages

You can take courses in languages other than German at the University’s central language laboratory (Zentrales Sprachlabor – ZSL).

Central language laboratory (Zentrales Sprachlabor – ZSL)

Information about the courses, the fees and the schedules is available here:
► Central language laboratory Externer Inhalt



When planning your doctoral studies, please make sure to take into account any additional time you might need to improve your language skills.


Language services in German and English

The Graduate Academy offers language support services to doctoral candidates who are not writing their dissertations in their native language.
You can submit one of your own texts of not more than 3.000 words in German or English. A native speaker will proofread it for grammar, spelling, punctuation, and conventions of the respective language and comment on strategies to improve your written language skills.

More information:
► Text- und Sprachberatung für internationale Doktoranden (in German)
► Academic Writing Support (for English texts)


Web Administrator: Eric Herbst
Latest Revision: 2023-10-05
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