Major Requirements: German

The German Studies Major is broadly humanistic and cross-cultural.  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.  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.


The major requires German 210 (Advanced Intermediate German) or its equivalent, German 315 and 316 (German Cultural History), and a minimum of five further German courses. Three of these must be courses in German culture and literature, conducted in German. Majors are advised to broaden their knowledge of other European languages and cultures and to supplement their German program with courses in European history, politics, economics, and the arts.

All majors must complete two courses of German cultural history which survey the field conceptually and historically. In addition, they take a minimum of five advanced German courses of their choice. We welcome our students’ diverse specializations within the field, most often expressed in their thesis work, by special topics courses, and by their individually designed topics for their comprehensive exams.

The Department faculty will help majors develop individual reading lists as they prepare for a Comprehensive Examination administered during each student’s final semester.

Senior Comprehensive Exams

Our senior comprehensive exams consist of three sections: a broadly conceived set of identifications which range through German cultural and social history, a section that requires close analysis of selected materials, and a section with essay questions which address very specific issues within the student’s field of specialization.


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 and visual materials. Students completing a thesis will usually register for a senior thesis course at the 400 level for each of their final two semesters.