Degrees & Requirements

Graduate Degrees and Requirements

The graduate program, consistently rated one of the top ten in the country, has a flexible curriculum based on advanced work in such areas as literary history, genre study, hermeneutics, bibliography and intellectual history.

For a complete set of departmental rules governing the course of study for the M.A. and PhD., students should consult the German Department Blue Book.

Master of Arts (30 credits)

Candidates must take eight graduate courses (24 credits) plus 6 hours of Non-Topical Research and are encouraged to follow a balanced program, ranging from the Middle Ages to the present. Up to two courses (approved in advance by the Director of Graduate Studies) may be taken outside the department. Any plan to seek credit for courses taken while on an exchange program abroad must be agreed upon beforehand by the Director of Graduate Studies and the Dean of Graduate Arts and Sciences.

Other requirements for the degree include:  proficiency in Middle High German, demonstrated by a passing grade in GERM 5100 or some departmentally approved equivalent;  an examination (based on the department's M.A. reading list), normally taken in the third semester, consisting of a three-hour written part and a one-hour oral part, the latter to include a short prepared talk in German; an M. A. thesis, on a topic approved by the Director of Graduate Studies and by the faculty member who agrees to supervise its writing.

Terminal M.A. students may substitute a departmental survey course in Medieval and Early Modern Literature for proficiency in Middle HIgh German.

Master of Teaching in German

For students interested in pursuing a high school teaching career, there are two options in conjunction with the Curry School of Education: a 5-year program, in which the student gets a B.A. in German and a Master of Teaching, and a 15-month program, the post-graduate Master of Teaching. For more information, please contact Alicia Belozerco, Curry School of Education, Ruffner Hall or Sybil Scholz, German Department.

Doctor of Philosophy

After completion of the M.A., the student must receive departmental permission to proceed before beginning work on the doctorate. Permission to proceed is a decision arrived at in a meeting of all faculty members, and is based on class work, the M.A. examination, and general performance in the teacher training program. At least eight graduate courses (24 credits) are required beyond the M.A. degree. As in the case of the Master's Program, one course may be taken outside the department if desired (with departmental approval). Specialization that prepares for a dissertation is encouraged. Periodic evaluation of the teaching performance of graduate instructors forms an integral part of the evaluation of the candidate's progress in the program. Normally each student teaches a total of three full years before receiving the doctorate. Each semester a Ph.D. student normally teaches a five-day elementary German course and enrolls in three graduate courses. Candidates generally complete the eight courses in three semesters: three courses each in the first two semesters and two in the last.

The Ph.D. qualifying exam takes place at the end of the last semester of course work, either early in December or in April. Doctoral candidates must choose three special fields for their qualifying examinations; a major author, a genre (poetry, novel, drama, or Novelle/Erzählung) and a historical period (medieval, romantic, post-war, etc.). A topic in literary theory, however, may be substituted for a genre. In the first semester as a Ph.D. candidate, the student will submit a proposed reading list in all three areas to a committee of three faculty members (appointed by the chair after consultation with the student). Generally, the head of the committee will be the student's dissertation advisor. By the end of the second semester after the M.A., all three parts of the list must be in final form.  Any substantial variants from established guidelines must be approved by a vote of the departmental faculty.

For the Ph.D. a reading knowledge of French is required-or another language, if approved by the chair and the student's committee, and this requirement must be fulfilled before the Ph.D. examination. Reading knowledge is demonstrated either by passing a literature course on the college level with a grade of B or better, or by passing a written examination administered by the respective departments. Students should study French during the summer, since language study does not count as a graduate course. The Ph.D. qualifying examination consists of three written examinations-or a period, a genre, and a major author-plus a two-hour oral which includes a 15-minute critical presentation. The oral follows the written exam within two weeks, and the overall examination is graded as distinguished, passing, or failing. In the case of a failure, the student may be granted another opportunity to take the examination within the following two semesters. All course work and the language requirement, however, must be completed before the examination can be taken. The Ph.D. dissertation should normally be a book-length manuscript suitable for publication. Under special circumstances the department has accepted three publishable articles instead. For the dissertation defense, one committee member is selected from outside the department. The continuation of financial support from year to year in the department is contingent upon satisfactory progress toward a degree.