Graduate Program Requirements

For students entering Fall 2022 and after, please see the Bulletin for your admin year program requirements.
For students entering before Fall 2022, please contact the German DGS for program requirements.


Doctoral candidates must complete 51 hours of courses (including 36 master's-level credits) home-based in German. Students who complete interdisciplinary graduate certificates will be required to enroll in additional units as specified by the certificate-granting department or program. Students may not exceed 72 hours of courses.

Each student must take courses in the full range of German literature and culture, to be chosen in consultation with the director of graduate studies. The following courses are required (exceptions are only possible upon review by the Graduate Committee):

  • German 453: Theories of Literary and Cultural Analysis (3 units)
  • German 456: History of the German Language (3 units)
  • German 457: Introduction to Linguistics and the Structure of German (3 units)
  • German 5051: Introduction to the Teaching of German (1 unit)
  • German 5052: Teaching Practicum (1 unit)
  • German 5053: Theory and Practice of Foreign Language Pedagogy (2 units)
  • German 5061: Apprenticeship in the Teaching of Literature and Culture I (1 unit)
  • German 5062: Apprenticeship in the Teaching of Literature and Culture II (1 unit)

In addition, students are required to take one additional course in German literature prior to 1700.

The fulfillment of Washington University requirements with graduate-level courses completed elsewhere should be discussed with the director of graduate studies, who will make a determination about the transfer of credits.

Interdisciplinary Studies

Graduate students may wish to take courses in areas other than German. With this in mind, the program is designed so that PhD candidates may take a total of 12 credits in other areas; exchange students pursuing a master's degree may take three credits in another area of study. Of special interest are graduate offerings in art history, comparative literature, digital humanities, English, film & media studies, Jewish studies, higher education administration, history, music, philosophy, romance languages, and/or women, gender, and sexuality studies.


Master’s Examination

Students who enter with a bachelor's degree must complete an oral and written master’s examination at the end of their second year. A student's performance in both the oral and the written exams servesthe faculty as one important element for deciding whether the student will receive permission to proceed with his or her graduate studies. 

Qualifying Examinations and Dissertation Prospectus

Students taking qualifying exams should display general knowledge and understanding of the primary materials, historical contexts, scholarly questions, and theoretical frameworks that are likely to drive their future dissertations. Usually taken in the fourth year for students entering with a bachelor's degree and in the third yearfor students entering with a master's degree, the qualifying exam process consists of four phases:

  • Phase 1: development of a bibliography for the exams;
  • Phase 2: preparation for and completion of two exams, each of which consists of a written portion and an oral portion;
  • Phase 3: creation and defense of a dissertation prospectus;
  • Phase 4: preparation and circulation of dissertation abstract and filing of Title, Scope and Procedure Form (the latter of which must be submitted to the Graduate School no later than at the end of the fourth year of graduate study)

In the first exam, the student is required to situate his/her primary materials and their author(s) in their respective historical contexts and periods, with specific points of emphasis to be determined together with his/her exam committee. The second exam serves to frame the student’s primary materials in theoretical terms; it is meant to discuss in general terms the methodological approaches for the planned dissertation.


Doctoral candidates are required to complete a minimum of six semesters of MTEs (or the equivalent) within the German department in order to be eligible for the degree; some students may have the opportunity to complete additional MTEs in other departments. Most of our students (particularly students who do not enter with an MA in German and with experience teaching German at the university level) will complete eight semesters of MTEs (the maximum allowable number) in order to prepare themselves for the rigorous demands of the job market in German.

The German Department of Washington University provides graduate students with exceptional training and mentoring for their teaching both here at Washington University and in their future careers. Our students have an opportunity to assist with and teach a wide variety of courses, including introductory through advanced German, as well as courses in Comparative Literature, Women, Gender and Sexuality Studies, and Film and Media Studies. At the beginning of their teaching experience, students work in close collaboration with the Foreign Language Pedagogy specialist, as well as other faculty members, who serve in a variety of capacities as mentors and advisers. As they gain more experience and prove themselves, students have the opportunity to teach their own courses under the supervision of a faculty mentor.

As part of their training, all graduate students take a series of 1-2 unit seminars that facilitate and reinforce their development as teachers over the course of their graduate studies. These courses familiarize students with current and past strategies and theories of second language acquisition, with available materials on the market today and with the practices and approaches of German-language programs around the country. A unique, two-semester apprenticeship allows advanced graduate students to observe literature and culture classes taught by professors in the German Department as well as professors in other departments, to teach model classes themselves, and to develop draft syllabi.

For more information about our pedagogy program for graduate students, please contact our Director of Graduate Studies, Kurt Beals.

Have questions?

If you have further questions about requirements, please contact our academic coordinator.

Jacque MacMillan