German Department Learning Goals

The German department serves three interrelated, sometimes overlapping constituencies: all our courses, taught in German or in English, enhance students’ critical reasoning skills and cross-cultural awareness.

Our sequence of language courses (ranging from beginners to the advanced intermediate level) develops linguistic proficiency and cross-cultural competency that enables our students to interact with native speakers in an informed and culturally sensitive manner.  Our language program thus prepares students for a broad range of opportunities (such as study abroad, internships, fellowships, and employment in or interaction with the German-speaking world).

The German Studies Major is broadly humanistic, cross-cultural, and inclusive.  Our students are required to develop German language skills at the advanced intermediate level (at the minimum) and cultural literacy skills for a critical understanding of the literary, historical, and cultural traditions of the German-speaking countries: The Federal Republic of Germany, Austria, and Switzerland, as well as Belgium, Liechtenstein, and Luxembourg.  The department offers effective preparation for graduate study in German literature and language while also opening up a broad range of interdisciplinary perspectives and opportunities.

Our English courses, open to all students regardless of preparation, focus in particular on developing students’ ability to engage critically with unfamiliar materials through close readings; on exposing them to a broad range of different perspectives; and on enhancing their skills in written and oral expression.

All majors must complete German 210 (or its equivalent), German 315 and 316 (two courses of German cultural history which survey the field conceptually and historically), and German 495 (Senior Research Seminar), and a minimum of four further German courses of their choice, two of which must be courses in German culture and literature conducted in German. We welcome our students’ diverse specializations within the field, most often expressed in their thesis work, as well as in their independent research projects within many of our courses.

Students must fulfill the Comprehensive Exam requirement with German 495: Senior Research Seminar in the Fall semester of their senior year. 

German majors have the option of writing a thesis on a topic of their choice: under the supervision of a member of the German department faculty, they conduct research or engage in an in-depth analysis of a particular thematic issue or corpus of textual, visual, and performance materials.

The success of our program is documented by the percentage of our majors who are accepted to leading graduate school programs; teach or take jobs in a German-speaking country; win domestic or international scholarships (such as Fulbright, Kellogg, German Academic Exchange Service etc.).  Likewise, many students who did not major in German but who took a substantial number of courses in our department have historically excelled at gaining major scholarships (including Rhodes, Marshall, Watson etc.).