Application tips: The English requirement

Need to take an English test for admission? Here’s what to keep in mind.

English proficiency is one of our more clear-cut admissions requirements – you must meet the standards we set. But don’t let an English test bring you down! With enough preparation and time, we know you can do it.

Good news! You can submit your results after you apply

Haven’t taken an English exam yet? Or maybe you’re experiencing delays? You can apply without English test results and submit them later at no disadvantage. This means you also have some extra time to prepare. Until you fulfill the English proficiency requirement, however, any offer of admission will only be conditional. You can submit your results by 1 June 2021 at the latest, so please plan accordingly.

Meeting the English requirements

Because all courses at the Hertie School are in English, all students must have advanced English language skills to start their studies. Unless you are a native speaker of English, you must submit test results as proof of proficiency. We do also accept full undergraduate degrees taught in English – but not master’s degrees – as fulfilments of our language requirement. You can describe your particular situation and background in the “Skills” section of the online application portal. If you’re unsure of whether you need to take an English test, reach out to us at grad-admissions[at]hertie-school[dot]org.

We accept the following English tests and minimum scores:

  • TOEFL | PBT: 600 | CBT: 250 | iBT: 100
  • Cambridge ESOL | CPE (C2): C | CAE (C1): B
  • IELTS | overall score: 7.0, writing: 7.0

While we encourage all applicants to take an in-person exam, we understand that in these truly exceptional circumstances, this might be difficult or impossible to do. Fortunately, we accept two at-home options: the TOEFL iBT Special Home Edition exam and the Duolingo English test.

Preparing for the exam

Which test to take is entirely up to you. But we have two pieces of advice:

  1. Take the test seriously and prepare well. English proficiency is at the very foundation of your application and is the most basic requirement for admission.
  2. Don’t leave it to the last minute. If you’re accepted but aren’t able to meet the English requirements by 1 June 2021, your admission will be affected.

Perhaps your English is excellent, and this formality seems a little bothersome. At the Hertie School, we want all students to succeed, and that starts with reading, writing and speaking in English at a very high level. So it’s important for us to know each student is up to that standard. Otherwise, participating in classes, writing papers – all the things you’ll do here on a regular basis – will be very difficult. English is also the lingua franca among students and faculty, so it’s an essential part of student life.  

Start thinking about it now

Making it through a four-hour English exam is a feat of concentration. So do take the requirement seriously, prepare well for the test, and don’t start scrambling to get your scores only in May! After putting time and energy into an excellent application, you should devote the same effort to your English test.

If you have any additional questions about English tests, reach out to us at grad-admissions[at]hertie-school[dot]org.


Check out our previous posts in the application tips series. Take a more detailed look at our admissions requirements and apply via our online application portal today!

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