Department of German
- Devin A. Fore
Director of Undergraduate Studies
- Thomas Y. Levin
- Johannes Wankhammer
Director of Graduate Studies
- Brigid Doherty
- Nikolaus Wegmann
- Devin A. Fore
- Nikolaus Wegmann
- Brigid Doherty
- Thomas Y. Levin
- Barbara N. Nagel
- Sara S. Poor
- Joel B. Lande
- Johannes Wankhammer
- James W. Rankin
- Adam Oberlin
- Anja F. Lemke
- Juliane Rebentisch
- Joseph W. Vogl
Information and Departmental Plan of Study
Incoming students with previous experience in German will be placed into the appropriate level of the sequence by means of an online proficiency test administered prior to course registration. Make-up tests will take place during orientation week.
Students with some knowledge of German but without SAT Subject or AP test scores must have their proficiency measured by the online placement test administered by the Registrar. Sophomores and upper-level students may take the test as well, but must do so according to the test's availability during Orientation as indicated by the Registrar.
A student who took the SAT ST German (or German "with listening") or the AP German exam in 2020 or 2021 must take the departmental placement exam. Test scores of SAT ST 760 or AP 5 from years prior to 2020 will satisfy the A.B. language requirement and be eligible for placement in 200- or 300-level courses, as well as participation in the Summer Work Program and the Berlin Consortium.
The requirement for admission to the German Department is a satisfactory working knowledge of German demonstrated by the completion of GER 107, an SAT Subject Test score of 760, a 5 on the Advanced Placement test, or successful completion of the Department Proficiency Exam. Students considering majoring in German are encouraged to contact the director of undergraduate studies at any point to discuss a plan of study.
Qualified students may begin departmental work in the sophomore year under the following plan:
- Recommended introductory courses: GER 207, 208, 209, 210, or 211;
- Independent work beginning in the second sophomore term;
- Meetings with the director of undergraduate studies for individual discussion of the student's plan of study and independent work.
This plan permits students to devote themselves to their major interest before their junior year. They can advance when ready and as swiftly as possible. An early start gives students a wider choice of courses and seminars in their junior and senior years and enables them to start work on the senior thesis before their final year at Princeton.
Program of Study
The department offers six areas of concentration, or tracks, within the major, each requiring a total of nine departmental courses (GER 300 and eight additional courses as specified below):
1. German Literature
This track focuses on the major periods and forms of German literature with emphasis on literary and historical analysis. Students will satisfy the general University requirement of eight departmental courses by taking a minimum of five courses in the department (at least three of which should be 300-level courses) and a maximum of three cognate courses in related humanities departments and other disciplines such as philosophy and religion.
2. German Philosophy and Intellectual History
This track concentrates on philosophy, political and cultural theory, or particular intellectual movements and epochs in German-speaking contexts. Students are required to take a minimum of five courses in the German department (at least three of which should be 300-level courses) and a maximum of three relevant cognate courses in history, European cultural studies, or philosophy.
3. Media and Aesthetics
Designed for students who wish to focus on art, film, dance, music, sound technology, and/or media theory broadly conceived, this track requires a minimum of five courses in the German department (at least three of which should be 300-level courses), and a maximum of three relevant cognate courses in art and archaeology, film, music, philosophy, European cultural studies, architecture, and the Program in Visual Arts.
4. German Linguistics
This track concentrates on the history and structure of the German language. Majors who select this track are required to take the following courses: LIN 201 Introduction to Language and Linguistics or a comparable course in linguistics, GER 505 History of the German Language, and either GER 506 Second Language Acquisition and Pedagogy or GER 316, with the same title. In addition, students will take at least three courses in German literature and culture and two cognate courses pertaining to linguistics.
5. The Study of Two Literatures
This plan of study normally consists of five upper-level courses in the German department (at least three of which should be 300-level courses), and three upper-level courses in a second literature. Students who have not completed the language preparation for the second literature may enroll in this track provided that they satisfy that language requirement during the junior year.
6. Joint Program in German Culture and Politics
In cooperation with the Department of Politics, students may combine a concentration in German intellectual history with a concentration in German/European politics and/or political theory. In this track, four courses will be taken in the German department (at least two of which should be 300-level courses) and four cognate courses in German/European politics or political theory will be taken in the Department of Politics (at least two of which should be 300-level courses). Recommended departmental courses are GER 207, 208, 211, 306, 307, 309, and 324. Recommended cognates in politics include POL 210, 230, 240, and 385. The senior thesis may focus on any political topic with a substantive German-related component. Upon graduation, a letter will be issued by the German department certifying completion of a program in German cultural studies with a concentration in politics.
For areas 1 to 5, at least three, and for area 6, at least two of the departmentals should be courses taught in German. For areas 1 to 5, one of these three may be a course taught in English for which there is an appropriate German-language component. This option is available for all courses taught in the German department, but also for some courses in other departments. Students should consult with the course instructor regarding the German-language component at the beginning of the semester and submit the agreed-upon plan to the director of undergraduate studies for approval by the end of the second week of classes.
Independent reading, the junior year seminar, the junior year essay, and the senior thesis constitute the student's total independent work, which is spread over the four upper-level terms. These elements can be profitably linked with departmental courses. Students will consult with the director of undergraduate studies under whose guidance they will develop their individual program. During the first term of the junior year, students are required to take the Junior Seminar GER 300, which serves as an intensive workshop of research and writing skills, as an introduction to a wide range of approaches and methods, and as an incubator for the spring term junior paper, an essay of approximately 4,000 words on a subject in German philosophy, art, media, linguistics, literature, or politics. This essay, as well as the senior thesis, may be written in German or English. In late April of the junior year students should discuss plans for their senior theses with the director of undergraduate studies.
During senior year students will write a thesis on a subject approved by their thesis adviser. By the end of the fourth week of the first senior term, students will submit to their advisers a tentative outline of the proposed thesis. Further progress reports (as announced by the department) are required. Five weeks before the departmental examination, students must deliver to their advisor and to the director of undergraduate studies a copy of the thesis (signed and in PDF format). The title page must show the student's name and class numerals, the department in which the student is enrolled, the name of the adviser, and the month and year of presentation. First and second readers will return written reports to students in advance of the departmental exam. After the departmental exam and upon approval of the thesis, students must submit one electronic copy of the thesis (PDF format) for the department archive. Students will receive a message from the office of the dean of the college during the spring term concerning the electronic submission of the senior thesis to the library.
Senior Departmental Examination
The departmental examination will be oral, based on the thesis and the student's course of study. At least one-fourth of the approximately hour-long exam will be conducted in German. Students should come prepared to give a 5-10 minute presentation about the argument of their thesis and its contribution to the state of research in its field.
Study and Work Abroad
It is strongly recommended that students spend some time in a German-speaking country. This can be done through various programs including the Berlin Consortium for German Studies, the Princeton-in-Munich study abroad program, and the department's Summer Work Program.
Berlin Study Abroad Program
Through the Berlin Consortium for German Studies, of which Princeton University is a member, Princeton undergraduates are eligible to spend either one semester or an entire academic year studying abroad at the Freie Universität Berlin for full Princeton academic credit. Students will pay normal Princeton tuition, and those on financial aid will continue to receive aid during their study abroad. Departmental students who would like to enroll in this or any other overseas study program may do so, provided they present an acceptable plan of study that includes fulfillment of the departmental requirements for the junior seminar and the independent work and their application is approved by the Faculty Committee on Examinations and Standing. Early consultation with the director of undergraduate studies is strongly encouraged. Applications for the Berlin program are due in early October for the spring term and in early March for the following academic year. For application forms and additional information, contact the director of undergraduate studies or the Office of International Programs at (609) 258-5524.
Princeton-in-Munich Study Abroad Programs
We offer two programs for study in Munich, Germany: (1) Students enrolled in GER 102, 1025, or 105 may apply to take GER 105G or 107G in Munich; 2) Students enrolled in GER 107 or a 200 or 300 level seminar taught in German, or who have placed out of the language sequence, are eligible to apply to GER 3XXG in Munich. GER 105G and 107G are taught as a special month-long summer course at the Goethe-Institute in collaboration with Princeton instructors and are partially subsidized by the University and the German Department. GER 3XXG, whose topic varies from summer to summer, is taught by a Princeton professor. Successful completion of 107G in Munich satisfies the University's language requirement and qualifies students for upper-level courses in German, the Summer Work Program (potentially even that same summer), and the Berlin Consortium. Successful completion of 3XXG reduces the number of required German language courses by one for those pursuing the major or a certificate. Interested students should consult with the director of undergraduate studies.
The Summer Work Program
For over 60 years, the German Department’s Summer Work Program(SWP) has opened up academic and professional opportunities for countless Princeton undergraduates. The SWP arranges internships in a wide range of fields: arts and culture, business and finance, STEM, computer science, government, policy, law, and medicine. Students have interned at the Bundestag, UNESCO World Heritage sites, Max Planck Institutes, and major corporations. They work at art galleries and hospitals, conduct research in fields ranging from neuroscience to migration studies, and support refugees. Students also have rewarding experiences in interdisciplinary projects.
The SWP is committed to working with each student individually. An integral part of the German department, the program provides detailed guidance on writing German resumes, cover letters, and professional emails. Students are matched with internships based on their language proficiencies, academic and professional aspirations, extracurricular interests, and specific skills. Some of our most popular internships were initially established for a particular student with a unique set of qualifications and goals.
Organizing these opportunities is a truly collaborative effort. The SWP works in conjunction with the Princeton Alumni Association of Germany, partners at host organizations, and colleagues at German universities. Thanks to the generosity of our donors, we provide financial support to students whose internships are unpaid.
An information session is held early in the fall semester. German majors and students with a high level of German proficiency are more likely to be qualified for certain positions. However, German proficiency is not required and students from all academic fields are encouraged to apply.
For the most up-to-date information about the application process, eligibility, and internship offerings, please visit the SWP website.
Certificate in Language and Culture
The Department of German offers students an opportunity to do sustained work in German language, literature, philosophy, art, and media while majoring in another department, leading to a certificate in German Language and Culture. Certificate students can choose from the broad range of course offerings taught in both English and German. Classes extend from the middle ages to the contemporary moment, introduce diverse disciplinary perspectives including art history and philosophy, and engage with multiple critical paradigms, such as gender and media studies. Through vibrant classroom discussions and close advising relationships, the certificate program engages students who wish to advance their command of the German language and deepen their understanding of German culture.
The certificate program is open to undergraduates in all departments. Students are encouraged to consult with the director of undergraduate studies as early as their first or sophomore year to plan a program of study but should not hesitate to reach out to the director of undergraduate studies about joining the certificate program at a later date.
- Four courses at the 200 level or higher, at least two of which must be at the 300 level or higher. All courses must be taken for a grade (not PDF).
- Evidence of substantial upper-level coursework in German. This requirement will be satisfied if three of the four courses taken for the certificate were conducted in German, or if two were taught in German and one was conducted in English with a substantial German-language component. This option is available for all courses taught in the German department as well as courses in other departments cross-listed with German. Students should consult with the course instructor regarding the German-language component at the beginning of the semester and submit the agreed-upon plan to the director of undergraduate studies in German for approval by the end of the second week of classes.
Independent Work Requirement:
There are three ways to fulfill the Independent Work requirement:
- A substantial paper (15-20 pages if in English, 10-15 pages if in German; may be a revised version of a paper written for one of the four required courses)
- A chapter from the senior thesis principally devoted to a German-related topic
- An additional 300-level class taught in German.
If you are interested in completing the certificate, you are encouraged to contact the director of undergraduate studies to discuss your plan of study. . Qualified students can sign up for the certificate on the German department website at german.princeton.edu/department/forms/certificate-program-application.
Preparation for Graduate Study
Departmental students who intend to pursue graduate studies in German are reminded that most graduate schools require a reading knowledge of a second modern language, and, possibly, Latin. Students are therefore advised to prepare themselves as undergraduates to meet these requirements.
The Language Program
The normal program for beginners consists of GER 101, 102, 105, and 107. Students with a grade of A in 101 may apply for a special intensive second-term course, 102-5, that combines GER 102 and 105.
It is possible to start the study of German at Princeton and fulfill the entire language requirement in one calendar year through the Munich Study Abroad Program (see above): 101 (Fall term), 102-5 (Spring term), 107G (summer study immediately following 102-5). German 105G is also offered through the Munich program.
Successful completion of 107, 107G, or immediate assignment to a higher-level course satisfies the degree requirement and qualifies the student for all advanced courses, for departmental concentration, and for participation in the Berlin Consortium and the Summer Work Abroad program. All questions concerning placement, course changes, failures, summer study, or other matters related to any of the department's undergraduate courses should be referred to the director of undergraduate studies.
Areas of Study
The department offers courses in:
- German language and culture: 101, 102, 1025, 105, 105G, 107, 107G, 207, 208;
- German literature: 209, 301, 303, 305, 321, 323, 324, 325, 340, 362;
- German philosophy and intellectual history: 210, 302, 306, 307, 309, 332;
- Media and aesthetics (lectures/seminars are in English unless otherwise noted): 211, 308, 337, 370, 371, 373;
- Germanic and European literatures in translation: 320;
- Germanic linguistics: for relevant graduate courses open to undergraduates by permission, consult the German department's listing online.