German Studies

Division of Humanities

The major program in German Studies is designed to meet the needs of four types of students: those who intend to continue the study of German in graduate school and want to enter the teaching profession; those who want to be proficient in a second language for work in international relations or commerce; those who major in another field and use language study to support their research in that field; and those for whom German serves as the basis of a broad liberal education, in much the same way a major in English serves this purpose for many students.

The program offers an integrated curriculum of German culture from the beginning of the Holy Roman Empire to the fall of the Berlin Wall. Images of daily life and German civilization as portrayed in films, music, art, literature, and drama focus language acquisition and create the basis for seven courses on major themes and questions about German culture. Students will encounter the figures of Luther, Goethe, Nietzsche, Mozart, Thomas Mann, Kafka, or Rilke in many of the courses, but all courses will promote a broad understanding of literary values, critical analysis, and appreciation of cultural traditions.

A unique feature of the program is the immersion stay of a minimum of six weeks in Germany, Austria, or Switzerland required of all majors. A true beginner can become sufficiently proficient in the language to major in German and to take up residence in one of these countries where some recent majors are currently employed or studying.

While the major in German Studies prepares students for the study of language and literature in graduate school and the teaching profession, it is also intended for those with cultural, social, political, or economic interests. German serves as a solid basis for a broad liberal education and proficiency in the language can provide research opportunities in many scientific fields and further careers in government, international relations, music, drama, the fine arts, or commerce.


Ian Wilson (chair), Christina Svendsen

Recommended First-Year/Sophomore Preparation

Students considering a major in German Studies are encouraged to plan their academic program to include as wide a distribution of courses as possible regardless of their professional or vocational objectives. Prospective majors should consider taking courses in literature, history, philosophy, and the fine arts.

German Studies Courses

Course Descriptions