Language requirements

Language requirements

RSM CEMS Language Requirements

When applying for the International Management/CEMS programme, you are required to provide proof of proficiency in at least three languages. These languages are:

  • English
  • CEMS language
  • Third language

Below you can find explanations of the minimum required level for these languages, and how to provide the correct documentation for each language.

  • Below is an overview of the IM/CEMS language requirements that must be met at the time of applying for the programme. 

    The levels indicated are the minimum requirements. If your level is higher than required at the time of application for the CEMS and third language, you may receive extra points during the selection.

    The levels A, B and C refer to the Common European Framework of Reference (CEFR)



    RSM entry requirement

    Evidence accepted (minimum requirement)


    C1 (oral&written)

    • You are a native English speaker from the USA, UK, Canada, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand or South Africa and have had formal education in English (a passport alone is not proof of language proficiency)
    • Your undergraduate (bachelor) programme or master was taught completely in the English language in one of the following countries: USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa or within the EU/EEA.
    • You can present a formal course/test results at C1 level taken at any accredited research university  within the European Union
    • TOEFL iBT: minimum overall score of 100 with minimum sub-scores of 22 for reading, listening and speaking and 24 for writing
    • IELTS Academic test: minimum overall score of 7.0 with minimum sub scores of 6.5
    • Cambridge certificate of proficiency in English (CPE): minimum grade C 
    • Cambridge English Advanced (CAE): minimum grade B 
    • Cambridge English Business certificate (BEC): minimum grade B 

    CEMS language

    B1 (oral&written)


    You need to have completed the B1 level and be ready to enter a B2 level class (for example B1.2; B1.1 is NOT sufficient).


    Third language

    A2 (oral&written)


    Please note that you need to have completed the A2 level and be ready to enter a B1 level class (for example A2.2; A2.1 is NOT sufficient).


  • CEMS languages are the dominant national languages spoken in the countries of the CEMS partner universities, including a few other important languages from countries with large business communities. The CEMS languages are: Arabic, Bengali, Cantonese, Czech/Slovak, Danish, Dutch/Afrikaans, Farsi/Tajik, Finnish, French, German, Greek, Hebrew, Hindi/Urdu, Hungarian, Indonesian/Malay, Irish, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Mandarin, Norwegian, Polish, Portuguese, Romanian, Russian, Serbo-Croat (Bosnian, Croatian, Serbian, Montenegrin), Spanish, Swedish, Tagalog, Tamil, Thai, Turkish and Vietnamese.

  • The third language may be another CEMS language or any other language.

    Languages that are very similar to your chosen CEMS language, however, may not be submitted as third language. Thus, combinations such as the following are not possible:

    • Bosnian/Croatian/Serbian/Montenegrin/Slovenian
    • Czech/Slovak
    • Danish/Swedish/Norwegian
    • Danish/Faroese
    • Dutch/Flemish/Frisian/Afrikaans
    • German/Luxembourgischer
    • Russian/Ukrainian/Belarusian
    • Russian/Kazak
    • Spanish/Catalan
  • When applying for the programme you will need to demonstrate your language proficiency in all three languages by providing formal evidence; for example a diploma from secondary and/or university education in that particular language or a test/course result from a CEMS accredited language test or cultural institute

    All proof must be handed in by the application deadline of 31 January in the Online Application Form (OLAF).

    Secondary education documents as proof: You can use your high school diploma as proof of your mother tongue, if you completed your studies in that language. Language courses taken as a part of your secondary education can be used as proof for the Third language, but only if they were a part of your final exams. 

    On all European language test results or course certificates that you submit as evidence, the minimum required CEFR level for that language must be clearly indicated (with the exception of secondary school or higher education diplomas in which the entire education was completed in the target language). They must also meet the validity requirements set by CEMS (see section 'Validity of language certificates).

    For the standardized English tests both overall and sub score requirements must be met. All sub scores must meet the minimum requirements within one exam, meaning that scores of two exams may not be combined to reach sufficient scores from different categories of the exam. 

    If you are currently studying at the Erasmus University and need a language course or assessment for the application, we recommend for you to use the services of the Language & Training Centre (LTC)*. This centre offers courses and/or assessment tests for example in Chinese, Dutch, (Business) English, French, German, Russian and Spanish at different levels. For French and German courses the LTC cooperates with Alliance Française Rotterdam and Goethe Institut Rotterdam. These institutes follow their own application procedures.

    RSM accepts some forms of proof for entry that are NOT accepted as evidence for the CEMS exit requirements. *Assessment tests from the Language & Training Centre (LTC) at Erasmus University, as well as LTC course certificates, are accepted by RSM for entry to the programme, but not necessarily by CEMS upon completion of the master.

  • If you use one of standardized tests as proof of your English proficiency, RSM will verify your scores during the evaluation of your application. Therefore you should always upload a copy of your score report in the Online Application Form (OLAF).

    TOEFL scores can be verified online. Therefore you should request the tests center to send your score report to RSM. The institutional code of RSM is 0798 and for Erasmus University 7199 (you can use either). Scores are verifiable for 2 years.

    IELTS scores are verified online using the TRF code marked on the score report. Scores are verifiable for 5 years. 

    In order for RSM to verify your Cambridge score online, you need to add your Cambridge candidate ID number and secret number to your application with your score report. If you do not have the candidate ID and secret number, you must contact the authorized examination centre where the examination was originally taken. Please note that RSM can not verify test scores taken before 2005.

  • The following periods of validity apply for accredited language certificates and exams. The reference date for these periods of validity is the first day of the beginning of the programme (1 September, 2019):

    • C2 - (language evidence at C-level remains valid in perpetuity)
    • C1 - (language evidence at C-level remains valid in perpetuity)
    • B2 - 5 years (may not be older than 1 September 2014)
    • B1 - 2 years (may not be older than 1 September 2017)
    • A2 - 2 years (may not be older than 1 September 2017)

    Example: in order for a student to be able to use an accredited B2 language certificate towards CEMS graduation, that certificate may not be older than 5 years calculating from the first day of the start of the IM/CEMS programme. 

  • Students applying for ESADE or HEC Paris as their exchange school are given preference in the selection for these exchange destinations if they have submitted Spanish or French, respectively, as their CEMS language.

    We further suggest that students applying for the University of St.Gallen, University of Cologne or WU in Vienna as an exchange destination submit German as their CEMS language. Similarly, students applying for Louvain School of Management as their exchange school are advised to submit French as their CEMS language.

  • Please refer to the table below for full details on acceptable forms of language evidence for CEMS exit requirements:


    CEMS exit requirement

    Evidence accepted 


    C1 (oral&written)

    Entry requirement, successful completion of the compulsory Business Communication Skill Seminar (BCSS) during Term 1, and successful completion of the MSc International Management home degree

    CEMS language

    B2 (oral&written)

    • Secondary or university education completely taught in that language
    • Test for Management and Business Communication (MBC) (B2 oral/B1 written)
    • CEMS-accredited language course and/or test at a CEMS school (B2 or higher, oral and written)
    • CEMS-accredited commercial tests (B2 or higher, oral and written)

    Third language

    B1 (oral&written)

    • Secondary or university education completely taught in that language
    • Test for Management and Business Communication (MBC) (B1 or higher, oral/written)
    • CEMS-accredited language course and/or test at a CEMS school (B1 or higher, oral/written)
    • CEMS-accredited commercial tests (B1 or higher, oral/written)

    The entry and exit requirements for English are nearly identical. In order to qualify for the exit requirements for the CEMS language you may need to improve the language level with which you entered the programme (e.g. B1 -> B2).

    Certain tests (such as intake tests and university language centre placement tests) are accepted by RSM for entry, but are NOT accepted by CEMS for exit. Therefore in some cases you may need to take a course or a higher-level exam simply to provide formal evidence that you meet the CEMS exit requirement.

    Important note about the third language: Officially, students may meet the third language CEMS exit requirement in the form of a "CEMS-accredited elementary-level language course." RSM also abides by the same rule, bearing in mind that CEMS defines an "elementary level" as A1, A2, and B1. As RSM requires proficiency at A2 level for the third language from the outset, we require a minimum B1 oral and written level for the third language towards CEMS graduation.