Graduate Program Requirements



Doctoral candidates must complete 51 hours of coursework (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 coursework.

Each student must take courses in the full range of German literature and culture, to be chosen in consultation with the graduate adviser. 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: Introduction to Middle High German Language and Literature (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: Seminar in Theories 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.

These rules regarding required courses to be taken at Washington University apply to students joining the department with a bachelor's degree. Students entering with a master's degree may already have fulfilled some of these requirements. The fulfillment of Washington University requirements with coursework completed elsewhere should be discussed with the Director of Graduate Studies who will make a determination.

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 six credits in another area of study. Of special interest are graduate offerings in art history, comparative literature, digital humanities, English, film & media studies, 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 exam serves the faculty as one important element in deciding whether the student will receive permission to proceed with his or her graduate studies. 

Comprehensive Examinations

Students taking comprehensive 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 at the end of the fourth year for students entering with a bachelor's and at the end of the second year for students entering with a master's, the comprehensive exams consist of two written essays. 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 advising team. 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.

Dissertation Proposal 

Within two months after passing the second comprehensive exam, the student is required to write a 10-15 page dissertation proposal and then to present it orally to his/her advising team.


Doctoral candidates are required to complete a minimum of six semesters and a maximum of eight semesters of mentored teaching experiences (or the equivalent) at Washington University under the guidance of the pedagogy specialist. 

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, Erin McGlothlin.

Have questions?

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

Contact Cecily Stewart Hawksworth