German and German Studies Major and Minor

We offer a broadly conceived German studies program which encourages a comparative study of the German language and culture through its linguistic and literary history, systems of thought, institutions, political configurations, and arts and sciences.

Curriculum & Courses

Course offerings serve students with particular interests in German literature, literary theory and criticism as well as those interested in studying German and German-speaking cultures from the perspective of communication arts, film, history, history of ideas, history of art and architecture, history of religion, institutions, linguistics, mass media, philosophy, politics, urban anthropology, and folklore. Majors choose between a literature concentration or a German studies concentration, and thorough knowledge of German is a common goal for both. The objective of our language instruction is to teach students communicative skills that would enable them to function effectively in authentic conditions of language use, and to speak and write in idiomatic German. Major components of all German courses are the examination of issues that underline the cosmopolitanism as well as the specificity and complexity of contemporary German culture. We encourage many German majors to take courses in interdisciplinary areas, such as comparative literature, history, political science, philosophy, music, and feminist and gender studies, where they read works of criticism in these areas in the original German.

  • Major Requirements

    The Department of German and German Studies offers a major and a minor. A German major consists of 10 credits. After completing GERM H002 (or its equivalent), the German major normally requires:

    • two intermediate German courses (GERM H101 and GERM H102);

    • seven courses at the 200 and 300 level

    • either one semester of Senior Conference (GERM H399) for majors opting to write a German senior thesis or an additional 300 level seminar in German for double majors writing a senior essay instead of a senior thesis.

    Students who place out of 101 and 102 and begin their studies at the 200 level are still required to take 10 credits to fulfill the major requirements. Two of the seven courses at the 200 or 300 level could be non-German credit in the broader area of German Studies with the approval of the department.

    The Department of German and German Studies offers writing attentive and writing intensive courses. Majors are required to take two writing attentive courses to help them develop critical writing skills and the ability to analyze literary texts in their historical and cultural contexts.

    All German majors must take at least one 200 and one 300 level course in the Bi-Co German Department. For students studying abroad for one semester, up to four courses may count toward the major. For students studying abroad for an entire academic year, up to six courses may count toward the major. Approval from the department is required for awarding credits from abroad.

    Senior Thesis Project

    A senior thesis project is required for all German majors. There are four options available to German majors and double majors to serve as meaningful capstones to their studies:

    1. A senior thesis (around 40 pages) in German.

    2. A combined thesis (40 + pages) written in English for double majors in a related discipline with a strong German Studies component. A combined thesis has to be approved by the department.

    3. A senior essay (20 pages) for double majors, which grows out of a research paper produced in a 300 level seminar. Students pursing this option will not take the Senior Conference and instead will take an additional 300 level seminar.

    4. A project, which may be either a 15-20-minute film or an exhibition with a portfolio and summary in German. The content of the project and portfolio should be equivalent to a 40-page research paper in German.

    Senior Thesis Presentation

    At the conclusion of their senior year, all majors are expected to participate in a public presentation of their thesis projects. Minors are invited and encouraged to present on a project they have done in their upper-level German coursework.

    Senior Project Learning Goals

    In writing the senior thesis, the student should:

    • conceive a theoretically informed and well-designed research project

    • apply the language skills to research and evaluate primary and secondary materials

    • utilize the analytical and methodological skills to produce an innovative and critically astute thesis

    • hone analytical and expository writing skills through all stages of composing the thesis project

    Assessment of Senior Thesis

    The quality of the thesis is evaluated on the basis of the following criteria:

    • originality of topic

    • mastery of analysis (ability to perform a critical analysis of texts or cultural phenomena)

    • familiarity with primary and secondary literature

    • creative application of relevant theoretical discourses

    • clarity of writing


    Any student whose grade point average in the major at the end of their senior year is 3.8 or higher qualifies for departmental honors. Students who have completed a thesis and whose major grade point average at the end of the senior year is 3.6 or higher, but not 3.8, are eligible to be discussed as candidates for departmental honors. A student in this range of eligibility must be sponsored by at least one faculty member with whom she has done coursework, and at least one other faculty member must read some of the student's advanced work and agree on the excellence of the work in order for departmental honors to be awarded. If there is a sharp difference of opinion, additional readers will serve as needed.

  • Minor Requirements

    A minor in German and German Studies consists of six credits. To minor, students are normally required to take:

    • two Intermediate German courses (GERM H101 and GERM H102)

    • four German courses at the 200 and 300 level

    If students are placed at the 200 level, they must take additional German courses at and above 200 level to fulfill the 6-credit requirement.

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