Language requirements

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The following information is applicable to the autumn semester 2017 and spring semester 2018 intakes. Updated information regarding applications for the autumn semester 2018 will be published here until October 2017.

The language of instruction of many Master's degree programmes is English. Some programmes offer course work in English and German. A few programmes are predominantly taught in German.

Who needs a language certificate?

The formal language requirements for each Master's degree programme are set out in the section on application documents.

Candidates who must acquire more than 30 credits out of the Bachelor's degree programmes as an additional study requirement, must hand in a recognised German language certificate, level C1 according to the Common European Framework of Reference for languages before lectures commence.

When does the language certificate have to be submitted?

Candidates must be in command of the necessary language skills required for the Master's degree programme they choose and must provide a recognised certificate from the following list at the latest before lectures commence. It is recommended to submit a language certificate at the time of application if already available.  

Recognised language certificates

The following list contains all recognised language certificates for admission to a Master's degree programme (Article 32 para 5 of the Ordinance on Admission to Studying at ETH Zurich, Article 4 para 1 of the Directive Admission to Master's degree programmes and article 17 of the directive ' Teaching languages of Bachelor's and Master's degree programmes and continuing education programmes'). Other certificates or certificates with lower grades/scores are not recognised.

Recognised English certificates

CEFR Level Required minimum C1 Required minimum C2
IELTS Academic 7.0 8.0
* TOEFL Internet-based 100 ** 110
Cambridge Proficiency (CPE) grade C grade C
Cambridge Advanced (CAE) grade B CAE not recognised as level C2

* TOEFL Score Reports are accepted only if sent to us by ETS. Please note that we receive score reports 6-8 weeks after the test date at the earliest.

** A TOEFL score of 100 is the target value; applicants who achieve a score of at least 98 do not need to retake the test.

Note: TOEFL paper-based scores are not recognised.

Recognised German certificates (level C1)

  • Goethe-Zertifikat C1 with a grade of at least "gut"
  • Goethe-Zertifikat C2 (all exam sections must be passed), or ZOP, KDS, GDS
  • TestDaF ab Niveau 4 in allen Teilprüfungen
  • Österreichisches Sprachdiplom C1 Oberstufe Deutsch with a grade of at least "gut bestanden"
  • DSH-3 (nur die registrierte ® Deutsche Sprachprüfung für den Hochschulzugang ausländischer Studienbewerber)
  • KMK II (Deutsches Sprachdiplom der Kultusministerkonferenz – Zweite Stufe) with at least C1 in each examination part

The following candidates are exempted from providing proof of their language skills:

  1. persons whose declared mother tongue is the same as the language of instruction of their chosen Master's degree programme; or
  2. persons who have obtained a Bachelor's degree taught in the language required by their chosen Master's degree programme within one of the following countries:
    for ENGLISH: Australia, Ireland, Canada, New Zealand, UK, and USA;
    for GERMAN: Germany, Austria, Switzerland, and Liechtenstein.
    This applies only to degrees that were awarded by a university in the relevant country (no satellite campuses or international branch campuses in other countries, no correspondence course degrees, no joint- or double-degrees with institutions in other countries); or
  3. holders of a Swiss matriculation certificate (gymnasiale Matura; applies to English and German, level C1 only); or
  4. holders of a Bachelor's degree from ETH Zurich (applies to English and German, level C1 only); or
  5. holders of a Bachelor's degree from EPF Lausanne (applies to English level C1 only).
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