University of Wisconsin–Madison

German Graduate Program

Welcome to the German Graduate Program

Located within GNS, the German Graduate Program is a place of lively and collegial intellectual exchange. The program is especially strong in its breadth: our students complete coursework in literary studies, linguistics, and second language acquisition before specializing. Graduate students participate in interdisciplinary training and professional development through close mentoring relationships with faculty members, many of whom have been recognized with national or international awards in their research fields. Despite the difficult Humanities job market, the program continues to place graduate students in competitive positions, and we work with UW initiatives and other groups to mentor students for careers beyond academia. The program is also home to dynamic and committed teachers: a number of faculty and graduate students have been honored by the university for excellence in teaching. Faculty and graduate students present regularly at national and international conferences (for which our students receive financial support), in addition to the Wisconsin Workshop and German and Dutch Graduate Student Association conferences organized annually by the program that bring together scholars at all levels and across disciplines for in-depth discussion and collaboration.

The German Graduate Program offers curricula leading to the master of arts and the doctor of philosophy degrees in German.

The M.A. degree in German requires 30 credits of course work at the graduate level (10 courses) approved by the graduate advisor and the Masters examination.

The Ph.D. requires an additional eight courses (24 credits) for a total of 18 courses (54 credits) [for students entering with an M.A. from another institution: a total of 12 courses/36 credits, of which up to two can be transfer courses as allowed by graduate advisor], an external doctoral minor, proof of proficiency in another foreign language, and a preliminary qualifying exam in preparation for writing a Ph.D. thesis. Students must pass the Goethe Certificate C1 (German-language proficiency) before advancing to the doctoral preliminary examination.

The department offers a broadly inclusive and flexible curriculum in the entire range of medieval through contemporary literature and culture, a full spectrum of linguistics and philology, and a program in Dutch language, literature, and culture. The program is unsurpassed in comprehensive representation of the entire field of the study of German through individual faculty members’ specializations and research publications, including: early modern and medieval studies; film and media studies; multicultural literature and cosmopolitanism; Gegenwartsliteratur; literary and cultural theory; Holocaust studies; poetics, stylistics, and narratology; 18th-century studies; literature in its sociocultural context; literary and cultural theory; Dutch literature and linguistics; historical and synchronic linguistics; applied linguistics, second language acquisition, and foreign language education. Offerings include interdisciplinary areas such as literature and other arts (especially image/text, visual culture, and literature/music), German-Americana, literature and philosophy, and German–Jewish relations.

Graduate students are encouraged to pursue inter- and multidisciplinary work beyond the German Program in such areas as art history, communication arts/cinema, comparative literature, history, linguistics, musicology, Scandinavian studies, visual studies, and women and gender studies. The department cooperates closely with the interdepartmental programs in European studies, medieval studies, Jewish studies, and second language acquisition.  For more information and details on degrees, please contact our Graduate Coordinator.

Deadline for financial funding consideration is January 2nd if you are applying for Fall admission

A. Admission with full standing requires:

1. Students with a B.A. in German
Undergraduate cumulative GPA of at least 3.0 on a 4.0 scale on the equivalent of the last 60 semester hours and GPA in German courses beyond the second-year level of at least 3.5 on a 4.0 scale.

2. Students with an M.A. in German
GPA in graduate work of at least 3.7 on a 4.0 scale.
Note: In evaluating German Zeugnissesehr gut will be considered 4.0, gut 3.5, andbefriedigend 3.0. Coursework from abroad will not be considered without appropriate documentation and consultation with the Department and the Graduate School after such work has been completed.

3. Deficiencies: Students granted regular admission with deficiencies will be required to make up all deficiencies, both undergraduate and graduate, above and beyond the required course work of the graduate program.

4. Students admitted for work toward the Ph.D. who do not have the M.A. degree but who have substantial coursework past the B.A. level are required to take the M.A. examination no later than the end of the second week of the second full-time semester of study in the program.

B. Probationary admission is possible under the following circumstances:

1. Students with a B.A. in German who have an undergraduate cumulative GPA of at least 2.75 on a 4.0 scale and GPA in German courses beyond the second-year level of at least 3.0 on a 4.0 scale.

2. Students with an M.A. in German who have a GPA in graduate work of at least 3.0 on a 4.0 scale.

Note: Students admitted on probation cannot receive financial support until removed from probation.

Deadline for financial funding consideration is January 2nd if you are applying for Fall admission.

1. You must apply electronically at the website of the UW Graduate School. You will be required to pay an application fee to the Graduate School before your application becomes active with our Department. Instructions are here:

2. “Statement of Purpose” , also called “Reasons for Graduate Study” This should be approximately 1-3 pages in length explaining your scholarly interests in Germanic Studies. (Please follow the instructions found with the electronic application regarding uploads.)

3. Upload copies of all official transcripts from all institutions attended.

4. GRE scores. Scores should be no older than five years. All applicants should take the GRE exam if they wish to be considered for financial support by the German Dept. International applicants should take the GRE exam if they find themselves exempt from taking the TOEFL.

5. Three letters of recommendation. Please follow the instructions found with the electronic application regarding how to have letters uploaded by your recommenders.

6. Upload resumé or curriculum vitae. This should include any academic honors, distinctions, teaching experience, and publications you may have. (Please follow the instructions found with the electronic application regarding uploads.)

7. Upload list of any German courses currently in progress at the time of this application if they do not appear on transcript(s).

8. Upload writing sample in German. This can be a brief sample of something previously written and should be approximately 5-15 pages in length.

Note: All materials should be uploaded to electronic application.  Nothing is sent to Department.

Please contact Mark Mears, the Graduate Coordinator, at or ph: (608)262-6764 if you have any questions about the application process.

International applicants must also provide the following in addition to the checklist above:

9. Upload copies of official documentation of all courses taken and grades received (called transcripts in the U.S.) from each undergraduate or postgraduate institution.

10. Upload copies of official certification of degrees and dates granted.

11. Official TOEFL or MELAB scores. Every applicant whose native language is not English, or whose undergraduate instruction was not in English, must provide an English proficiency test score. Your score is considered too old, and will not be accepted, if it is more than 2 years old from the start of your admission term. Country of citizenship does not exempt applicants from this requirement. Language of instruction at the college or university level, and how recent it has been, are the determining factors in meeting this requirement.
Applicants are exempt if:

  • English is the exclusive language of instruction at the undergraduate institution; or
  • they have earned a degree from a regionally accredited U.S. college or university not more than 5 years prior to the anticipated semester of enrollment; or
  • they have completed at least two full-time semesters of graded course work, exclusive of ESL courses, in a U.S. college or university, or at an institution outside the U.S. where English is the exclusive language of instruction, not more than 5 years prior to the anticipated semester of enrollment.

12. GRE scores are required f you do not submit TOEFL scores.  Have testing service send scores to UW-Madison.

13. A 10-minute recording with spoken English sample (non-native english speakers only).  Email to Mark Mears as audio file.

Note: All materials should be uploaded to electronic application.  Nothing is sent to Department except recording of spoken English.

Please contact the Graduate Coordinator if you have any questions about the application process.

Financial support is competitive. Please note the applications deadline for financial support is January 2nd. Fellowships, TA-ships and most PA-ships include in- and out-of-state tuition waivers. In addition, TA-ships held in the spring semester provide a tuition waiver for the summer session. Financial support also comes with access to health insurance at much-reduced cost. A teaching assistant typically is responsible for one section of beginning or intermediate German each semester with either 4 or 5 contact hours a week, depending on level. There are opportunities for teaching third-year courses and for summer TA-ships, as well as financial support for graduate student travel to conferences and research facilities.

Selected Graduate Courses offered by the Department of German (2010-2016): 

For current course offerings, please see the Course Guide of the University of Wisconsin-Madison (select the current term); generally, graduate courses are those numbered 600 and above.

German Literature / Culture

  • Bertolt Brecht and Beyond
  • Comparative World Literature
  • Deutsche Literatur und Kultur des 18. Jahrhunderts
  • Deutsche Literatur und Kultur des 19. Jahrhunderts
  • Deutsche Literatur und Kultur des 20. und 21. Jahrhunderts
  • Emblem, Allegory, Symbol
  • German Film
  • Geschichte in neusten Familienromanen von Frauen
  • Historicizing the GDR (Interdisciplinary CGES Seminar)
  • Hölderlin, Kleist, Büchner
  • Kafka and the Kafkaesque
  • Kafka und Benjamin
  • Kosmopolitismus in deutschsprachiger Literatur
  • Philosophie und Film
  • Literatur als Sprache
  • Memory Discourses and Postwar German Cinema (Interdisciplinary CGES Seminar)
  • Mimesis and Realisms
  • Nachbilder der DDR/Afterimages of the GDR
  • Novellen des 19. Jahrhunderts
  • Text and Image / Literature and Photography
  • The Global Book: World Literature in the World Market
  • Theorie und Praxis des deutschen Theaters
  • Translationality as Transformation and Transfer
  • Transnational Perspectives on German Studies (Interdisciplinary CGES Seminar) 

Germanic Linguistics

  • Comparative and Historical Grammar of the Old Germanic Languages
  • Contemporary German: Phonology of German
  • Dialectology
  • Dialects in Middle-High German (1250-1450)
  • Early New High German
  • German Dialect Syntax
  • German Phonetics and Phonology
  • Germanic Immigrant Languages in Wisconsin
  • Germanic Languages and Migration (Interdisciplinary CGES Seminar)
  • Historical German Syntax
  • Historical Linguistics
  • History of the German Language
  • Introduction to Middle High German
  • Language Development of Trilinguals in Berlin
  • North Sea Germanic
  • Old Germanic Languages: Gothic
  • Old Germanic Languages: Old Saxon
  • Old High German
  • Palæography of Medieval and Early Modern German
  • Pennsylvania German Language and Culture
  • Problems in Comparative German Linguistics
  • Sociohistorical Linguistics
  • The German Language in America
  • The Morphology of German
  • The Sociolinguistics of German

Second Language Acquisition

  • Beliefs and Motivation in Second Language Learning and Teaching
  • Collaborative Teaching and Learning
  • College Teaching of German/Theory of Teaching German
  • Crosscultural Understanding and Authentic Materials
  • Foreign Language Writing
  • Hot topics, hot seat: Language Program Direction
  • The L1 in Foreign Language Learning and Teaching
  • Language Evidence
  • Motivations, Perceptions, and Attitudes in SLA
  • Pragmatics in Foreign Language Learning/Teaching
  • Reception in FL Instruction: Theory/Practice
  • Resistance and Subversion in FL Teaching & Learning
  • The Speaking Ecology of a Foreign Language Classroom
  • The Study Abroad Experience

Dutch Literature / Culture

  • De multikulturele Samenleving
  • Dutch Tolerance and Multiculturalism
  • Immigratie/Emigratie in de Lage Landen
  • Lage landen of hoog water?
  • Nieuw Amsterdam/ Nieuw York
  • Occupation, Holocaust, Memory” in Dutch Literature