Application tips: The English requirement

Illustration of a piece of paper on a sandy yellow background. "TOEFL," "IELTS," and "Cambridge ESOL" are written on the paper. Next to the paper are a smartphone, pen, plant and other notebooks.

Need to take an English test for admission to the MPP, MIA or MDS? 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 2022 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. Should this be the case, we require an officially stamped letter from your university stating that the language of instruction of your entire study programme was English. After you procure this proof, simply add it along with your application. If it fulfills our requirements, we’ll automatically waive the test for you!

You can also 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 for the MDS, MIA and MPP programmes:

  • TOEFL | PBT: 600 | CBT: 250 | iBT: 100 (writing: 25)
  • Cambridge ESOL | CPE (C2): C | CAE (C1): B
  • IELTS | overall score: 7.0, writing: 7.0
  • Duolingo English Test | 125

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. These tests tend to be technical. Even if you are fluent in English, do take out some time to prep for it. 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 2022, 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.


Next up in the series: tips for your letters of reference.

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