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Proof of Language Proficiency

Attending lectures, participating in seminars, conducting a case study or writing a term paper: studying abroad successfully is only possible if you have the necessary language proficiency. This is why the University of Mannheim assesses whether students applying for a study place abroad have a sufficient command of the language of instruction used at the respective partner university. This is done through standardized proofs of language proficiency. The international partner universities also expect students to have a certain level of language proficiency in order for them to not be hindered in their studies. And some partner university have special requirements. We will gladly answer any questions about these.

Since there are a lot of important details when it comes to this topic, you should read the following information very carefully.

To apply for an exchange program at the University of Mannheim, you will need a proof of your language proficiency that meets the requirements listed here and is no more than two years old. Make sure you make an appointment to take the test in due time!

General questions regarding your proof of language proficiency

  • What level of language proficiency do I need in general?

    The primary purpose of studying abroad is not to learn the local language, but to participate successfully in a program of study at a university abroad. To be able to follow your courses from the beginning and without any major difficulties, you need to have a good command of the language of instruction (and not necessarily the language of the country.)

    You can use the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages for self-assessment. It is divided into six levels from the beginner level (A1/A2) to the average level (B1/B2) and the proficient level (C1/C2).

    To be able to successfully complete your period of study abroad and pass exams, a proficiency level of at least B2 is usually the minimum requirement. However, this may be differ depending on the partner university. So pleasecheck the requirements for all universities carefully – you will find them in the partner university database. If your level is lower than B2 for the language of instruction, please feel free to seek advice – particularly in the case of less frequently spoken languages such as Italian, it may still be possible to apply for some universities.

    • How can I improve my language skills?

      There are a number of different ways to improve or brush up on your language skills:

      • language courses of the Studium Generale: The Studium Generale offers a wide variety of courses. There are courses that take place during the semester, crash courses on weekends or during the semester break, grammar or conversation courses. For English, there are also TOEFL preparation courses.
      • language courses abroad: Probably the most effective and fun way to learn a language is through an intensive course abroad during the semester break. It’s worth the investment! By staying abroad, you have no choice but to immediately apply what you have learned. Most language schools offer fun activities to balance out the workload of the courses and give you the opportunity to use your newly acquired skills. Courses like these are offered both by universities and private language schools. You can find more information on language courses worldwide on the websites of the DAAD and the Fachverband Deutscher Sprachreise-Veranstalter (both websites available in German only). Of course, you can also research language schools in a city of your liking online and compare the services offered by the different programs.
      • after having received a study place abroad:  Many partner universities offer language courses themselves, either before or during the semester. You will receive information on these courses directly from the host university after you’ve been allocated a study place. Also check the partner university’s website. Yet, please keep in mind that the participation in these courses will have no effect on your level of language proficiency for the application.

      Tip: To brush up on your language skills, use the TANDEM program of the University of Mannheim. The idea is for students with different native languages to pair up to practice their spoken language skills in the respective foreign language. For example, one of the tandem partners might speak German, the other one Spanish. You can meet whenever you like and switch between the two languages, so that both of you can practice your conversational skills in a relaxed atmosphere and without any pressure.

    • How can I provide proof of my language proficiency for studying abroad?

      The University of Mannheim accepts different types of proofs of language proficiency for an application for a stay abroad. Since your current level of proficiency must be evaluated, language certificates must generally not be older than two years by the application deadline (cut-off date). Please also note that other requirements may apply for an application abroad than for your application for admission at the University of Mannheim!

      • The most commonly used proof of language proficiency is the so called “Language Certificate“ of the University of Mannheim. Tests to obtain the certificate are offered by the Studium Generale, for example.
      • However, some partner universities require special, internationally standardized tests such as the TOEFL or the IELTS for English. These tests are more complex and expensive than the Mannheim Language Certificate. In particular, universities overseas tend to require these special proofs of language proficiency.

      For English: If you have already taken the TOEFL or IELTS and it is still valid, you can submit this test instead of the Language Certificate.

      In the section below, you can find an overview of all potential proofs of language proficiency that may be required for your application for a study place abroad.

    • Where do I find out which kind of proof and which level of proficiency is required specifically for my preferred university?

      The type of proof of language proficiency and any minimum levels required are listed in the database of partner universities. This is where you can find the language of instruction for any partner university and which type of proof of language proficiency usually satisfies the requirements.

      If there are no special requirements regarding the level of language proficiency, the regular minimum requirements for the usual tests apply:

      • for the Language Certificate (all languages) B2 in all categories
      • for the TOEFL (English) a total score of 80 points (at least 20 in each category)
      • for the IELTS (English) a total score of 6.5 (and at least 6.0 in each category)

      Please contact the study abroad advisor of the respective host country if you do not reach the minimum score in each category. Even if your level is lower than B2 please feel free to seek advice – particularly in the case of less frequently spoken languages such as Italian, it may still be possible to apply for some universities.

      Please note: You do not need to search directly on the websites of the partner universities, because often separate conditions apply to the exchange programmes, which are communicated to us by the partner universities. The indications provided in the database are based on the latest information available from the individual partner universities and are therefore subject to change.

    • Do I need proof of language proficiency for the language of instruction only or also for the official language?

      At partner universities with rare official languages (e.g. in Scandinavia, Eastern Europe or Asia), the language of instruction usually is English. As a rule, these institutions only require you to be proficient in the language of instruction. In most cases, you do not have to prove that you have basic knowledge of the country’s official language. 

      The language of instruction can be found in the database of partner universities. Any special requirements can be found when you click on the icon for detailed information.

    • What does it mean when two languages of instruction are indicated?

      Some universities have different languages of instruction, for example if part of the courses is held in English and the other in the country’s official language. In these cases, you should check yourself whether there are enough courses available in the language you are proficient in. Please read the “further information” section in the database, here you will find comments if there are any special aspects concerning the course offer at the respective university.

      So, for example, if the courses offered in English are sufficient for your needs, you only need a proof of English to apply.

      If you are proficient in both languages and are planning to study in both languages, many partner universities would like to see a proof of language proficiency for each of them. For overseas universities, it is mandatory that you submit proof of both languages of instruction when applying for a study place abroad. For Europe, you should ideally do this as well, but formally, proof of your main language will be sufficient at the time of your study abroad application for European universities. However, many universities will ask for both proofs at a later stage during the admission process, so it is your responsibility to also have a proof for the second language at hand by this time at the latest, to ensure that you can be admitted for courses in both languages.

    • How old may my proof of language proficiency be?

      When selecting its students for the exchange programs, the University of Mannheim must check the current status of your language skills on behalf of the partner universities. The following therefore applies: By the application date for the exchange programs at the University of Mannheim, the certificate must not be older than exactly two years (application date = deadline). If your certificate has both an issue date and a test date, the date of the test date applies.

      Some partner universities don’t deem this policy strict enough and you may be asked to take another (more up to date) language test. We have indicated known cases of this in the “further information” section in the database of partner universities.

      Sometimes, however, we only find out about this at short notice. Therefore, our recommendation is: If your certificate is already one or two years old at the time on the application deadline, be prepared to take a (more up-to-date) language test at short notice after you have been accepted.

    • When do I have to start taking care of my proof of language proficiency?

      Appointments for the most common language tests (Language Certificate, TOEFL, IELTS) are often fully booked weeks in advance. Some test centers also take a number of weeks to score the test and send you the results.

      We therefore recommend making an appointment for the respective test two to three months prior to the application deadline.

      You do not have to take your test at the Studium Generale Mannheim. You can take the tests anywhere in Germany at any institute that offers them.

    • Can I apply without submitting a proof of language proficiency? Can I submit my proof of language proficiency at a later date?

      Applications without a valid proof of language proficiency will not be accepted. There is no general option to submit proof at a later time.

      However, for some deadlines, it is possible to hand in a preliminary alternative proof of language proficiency, if it is among the accepted proofs of language proficiency (for example a Language Certificate instead of a TOEFL). Yet, this does not apply to all deadlines! Make sure to carefully read the current application instructions for your deadline so that you are aware of special conditions like this.

      For students in the bachelor's program in Business Administration:

      Due to the different application process for the mandatory semester abroad in this program, students submit their proof of language proficiency only after having been allocated a study place abroad.

    • I am a native speaker, do I have to submit a proof of language proficiency?

      If you consider yourself a native speaker, please contact the International Office well in advance of the application deadline to check the language test requirements for your desired destinations.

      The reason for this is that many partner universities have strict language requirements for exchange students. Therefore, you may still need to take an up-to-date language test.

      Usually, native speakers do not need to submit a language certificate provided the following two conditions are met:

      • You hold citizenship of a country whose official language you want to provide proof of ....


      • ...you can provide evidence of a university entrance qualification or a Bachelor's degree from a country which also has this as an official language.

      Please contact us in any case. Without prior examination by the International Office, there is a risk that you will not be admitted to the selection procedure.

    • What do I need to consider if I am a foreign or non-European national?

      For further information please see the page about special requirements for international degree-seeking students.

    Proofs of language proficiency accepted by the University of Mannheim for exchange programs:

    • Language Certificate of the University of Mannheim (for all languages)

      The Language Certificate is the standard proof of language proficiency of the University of Mannheim for all languages and all exchange programs that don’t require a specific test (such as TOEFL or IELTS). It was developed by the University of Mannheim based on the levels of the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages and is the most affordable alternative to other language tests.

      The form is only available in English but can be used for all other languages.  Fill out the header and bring the form with you to your test appointment.

      Where can I obtain the Language Certificate?

      • Students studying the respective language as a major or minor subject can ask their teacher at the English and American Studies or Romance Studies department to fill out the form. Students in the bachelor's program in Business Administration can obtain their Language Certificates as part of their foreign language competencies module (FSK). For them, the language certificate will be issued after the completion of the corresponding FSK-courses.
      • Other students can take a language assessment test with the Studium Generale for a fee of EUR 45. The written part of the test takes one hour and serves to assess your writing and reading skills. In addition, your listening comprehension and verbal skills will be assessed through a ten minute conversation. You should plan on spending about two to three hours on the entire testing process. You will receive your Language Certificate on the same day or the day after. For information about registering for the test please visit the website of the Studium Generale.

      As an alternative, you can also have the Language Certificate filled out by other recognized language institutes or schools that offer language assessment tests and have an official stamp (see, for example, DAAD Language Certificate below). However, you are likely to be charged more at commercial language schools compared to the Studium Generale. It is often possible to recieve a University of Mannheim Language Certificate  upon request: Fill out the header and bring the form with you to your test appointment. Request to have the rest of the form filled out with your test results.

    • TOEFL iBT (for English)

      The TOEFL iBT (Test of English as a Foreign Language) is the most widely accepted proof of language proficiency in North America and Asia, but is also usually recognized as proof for English language proficiency worldwide. The abbreviation iBT stands for internet-based TOEFL, since the test is administered through a web-based system in certified test centers all over the world several times a month. The test focuses mostly on language skills in the academic field. Reading and listening comprehension as well as writing and verbal skills are evaluated, On the official TOEFL website, you can register online and by credit card payment and read about the testing process. There are also preparatory courses available at the Studium Generale in Mannheim.

      Tips for the TOEFL test:

      • Like the IELTS test, the TOEFL is very expensive. At present, the fee is about USD 260. If you have limited funds available, consider applying exclusively for partner universities that accept the Language Certificate.
      • You are not bound to take the TOEFL in the test center in Mannheim. Test appointments in other cities or even abroad are available to you, as well. Yet, we recommend making an appointment early on!
      • Due to the coronavirus pandemic, a lot of test centers are still closed. Therefore, the TOEFL Home Edition is available, which allows you to take the test from your home under certain conditions. Please check on the website to see if you meet these conditions. 
      • Please only use the TOEFL iBT for your study abroad application and not the TOEFL Essentials!
      • MyBest Scores are usually not accepted for exchange programs.

      You can download your TOEFL results online as a PDF document approximately eight to ten days after the completion of the test. With this Test Taker Score Report, you can apply for an exchange program.

      Important: If you take a new TOEFL test, please use the institutional code 7261 (and if possible also the department code 99), so the University of Mannheim can verify your results.


      Please note:

      Most partner universities accept a TOEFL with a score of at least 80 from 120 points. You should score ideally 20 points in each category. Please contact the study abroad advisor of the respective host country if you do not reach the recommended minimum score in each category (your result will still be accepted by many partner universities). However, some partner universities require a higher minimum score in the subcategories and in the overall score. Further information can be found at the respective university listed in our database of partner universities.

    • IELTS Academic (for English)

      Unlike the TOEFL, the IELTS Academic (International English Language Testing System) is more common for universities in the Commonwealth. For example, all universities in Australia and New Zealand accept the IELTS. However, many institutions accept both tests. The fee is about the same as for the TOEFL, i.e. around USD 250. If you have limited funds available, consider applying exclusively for partner universities that accept the Language Certificate.

      The IELTS has four sections (reading and listening comprehension, as well as verbal and written skills) and assesses above all practical knowledge of English as is needed for work, studying and everyday life. As opposed to the TOEFL, which takes place entirely online, there is an examiner present for the oral part of the IELTS test. We recommend registering for the IELTS early on, as test appointments are often fully booked in advance and evaluation and scoring take some time. Further information on registering and preparing for the test can be found on the websites of the British Council in Berlin and the online IELTS preparation course. The German American Institute (DAI) Heidelberg also offers preparatory materials.


      Most partner universities accept an IELTS Academic with a total score of at least 6.5. You should score at least 6.0 points in each category. Please contact the study abroad advisor of the respective host country if you do not reach the recommended minimum score in each category. Some partner universities require a higher total score. Further information can be found in the database of partner universities.

    • Duolingo Test (for English)

      The Duolingo Test with a total score of at least 115 is accepted as proof of your English proficiency instead of a Language Certificate from the University of Mannheim, e.g. if you cannot get an appointment for a Language Certificate in time. In our experience, partner universities which accept the language certificate also accept Duolingo test results. Please check your potential host universities in the database of partner universities.  If Duolingo or the language certificate is listed there you may submit Duolingo results. It is also possible to submit Duolingo results for some application deadlines instead of a TOEFL or IELTS certificate (submitted later).

      Unfortunately, since April 2024, the Duolingo tests are no longer recognized as a valid language test by the Dutch Immigration Department (IND) and therefore cannot be submitted as proof of language proficiency when applying to a Dutch partner university.

      Further information on registration and preparation can be found on the Duolingo English Test website. Please also note the important information on the equipment rules.

    • Cambridge ESOL Examinations (for English)

      The Cambridge certificate (Certificate in Advanced English, Certificate of Proficiency in English, Cambridge First Certificate in English) is widely accepted instead of the Language Certificate at European partner universities. Partner universities overseas, however, rarely accept the Cambridge certificate.

    • DAAD Language Certificate (for all languages)

      The DAAD language certificate is also acceptable in place of a language certificate. For English, this test can be taken at the DAI Heidelberg or DAI Tübingen.

      It is often possible to recieve a University of Mannheim Language Certificate upon request: Fill out the header and bring the form with you to your test appointment. Request to have the rest of the form filled out with your test results. The language certificate has a somewhat clearer format than the DAAD Certificate. It shouldn't be a problem to also have a language certificate filled out for you by your testing center.

      Studium Generale can fill out a DAAD Certificate for any of the languages which they assess, should you need this format. The procedure is the same as for the language certificate.

    • Other accepted proofs of language proficiency (for French, Spanish, Italian)

      Provided that you have reached the respective required level of language proficiency and the test is no longer than two years ago, the following language tests can be submitted instead of a Language Certificate. All tests can be aligned with the levels of the European Framework of Reference for Languages. The International Office is happy to advise you on any questions regarding the tests.


      DELF (Diplôme d'Etudes en Langue Française)

      DALF (Diplôme Approfondi de Langue Française)

      TCF (Test de la Connaissance du Français)

      TEF (Test d’Évaluation de Français)

      Tip: If you have reached a certain level of French in your German secondary school (Gymnasium, Leistungskurs oder „erhöhtes Niveau“), many schools issue a French-German certificate together with the German graduation diploma (Abitur) pursuant to an “agreement by the German and French governments dated 4 November 1988". The University of Mannheim and the French universities normally accept this certificate as proof of language proficiency.

      Requirements: It should not be older than two years by the application deadline, as for the selection process your current language abilities need to be assessed (if this is not the case, please hand in a Language Certificate or similar). Furthermore, the certificate or the Abitur diploma have to indicate the level reached according to the European Framework of Reference for Languages (e.g. B2). Please do always submit the certificate together with your Abitur diploma. Your Abitur diploma does not need to be translated. Please find here an example for this certificate.

      If you have questions, please contact Ms. Bach at the International Office (exchange coordinator for France, see below).

      Applicants with a German-French Abitur please contact as well Ms. Bach to check if this can be used for the application.



      DELE (Diplomas de Español como Lengua Extranjera)

      SIELE (Servicio Internacional de Evaluación de la Lengua Española)



      CELI (Certificado di Conoscenza della Lingua Italiana)

      CILS (Certificato d' Italiano como Lingua Straniera)


    • Further alternatives (for all languages)

      In addition to the proofs of language proficiency listed above, other language certificates may be accepted as an alternative to the Language Certificate if they:

      • reflect your current level of knowledge and are not older than two years at the time of application (cut-off date),
      • are based on the levels of the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages,
      • are issued on the basis of a language test designed for this purpose and the test was conducted under supervision. A mere confirmation of participation in a language course does not suffice!
      • The achievement of a level of the Framework must be indicated clearly.
      • The document must be issued in English (or in the national language, for example French, in the case of applications to non-English speaking programs).

      Please feel free to send us your proof of language proficiency in advance to check if it can be accepted and contact us with any questions.


      Other alternatives will NOT be accepted.

      Every year, more then 1,500 students apply for the exchange programs offered by the University of Mannheim. In order to be able to process these applications fairly and swiftly, we need to be able to easily compare the applicants’ language skills. Only the alternatives listed above fulfill this requirement. Furthermore, the international partner universities demand that certain criteria regarding the proof of language proficiency are met.

      Therefore, confirmations of the participation in language courses, scores in the Abitur, international school or university diplomas, GMAT scores, certificates of stays abroad etc. can not be accepted. Thank you for your understanding.

    We are happy to help you: