The German Major
About the Major
Our majors receive comprehensive language training as well as extensive exposure to German history, politics and culture. Our language courses at the 100-, 200-, and 300-level emphasize student participation and communication along with skills development in reading, writing, and listening comprehension. Cultural topics and authentic texts are introduced already in the first semester, and students at the 300-level and above are intensively engaged with the analysis and discussion of German short stories, poetry, plays, novels, films, philosophical treatises, historical writing and journalism.
Upper-division courses generally have a thematic focus, with topics ranging from “Business German,” to “Children and Youth in the Third Reich,” to “Marx, Nietzsche, and Freud.” Survey courses like “Masterpieces of Modern German Literature” and “Germany Today” provide students with a broader perspective on German political, intellectual, and cultural traditions.
- Majors or second majors are required to complete 25 credit hours of upper level courses (300 and 400), at least 12 of which are on the 400-level.
- With the exception of 340, 341, and 342, only courses taught in German will count toward the major.
- Students with extensive preparation prior to coming to Washington University can place directly into the 300-level.
Students interested in studying German may declare German as their major or second major. Some popular combinations are German and Economics or Business, German and IPH, German and Pre-Med, German and International & Area Studies, and German and English.
The German Minor
- Students who intend to minor in German must complete 16 upper level credits in courses taught in German (300 and 400 level).
- At least 3 of these units must be at the 400 level.
- With the exception of 340, 341, and 342, only courses taught in German will count toward the minor.
All undergraduates who wish to enroll in 400-level German courses (except German 402, 403D, 404, and 408D) must take German 340C with its 1-unit discussion section, 340D, OR German 341 and its 1-unit discussion section, 341D OR German 342 and its 1-unit discussion section, 342D. 340C, 341, and 342 will only count toward the major or minor if taken with the discussion section in German. Admission to 400-level courses (except German 402, 403D, 404, and 408D) without completion of 340C/340D or 341/341D or 342/342D is by departmental permission only.
Senior Thesis in German, Distinction in German, and Latin Honors in German
Students who wish to receive departmental Distinction in German and/or Latin Honors in German will write a senior thesis and must sign up for German 497/498 (with departmental permission) in addition to the 25 credits required for the major (for a total of 30 credit hours). Applications for admission to write a senior thesis must be submitted within one week after the first week of classes in the first semester of the student's senior year. Applications and guidelines can be downloaded here.
Recent senior theses in German:
- Noah Slaughter, “Narrating the Self: Language, Narrative, and Self-Creation in Robert Walser’s Jakob von Gunten and Robert Musil’s Die Verwirrungen des Zöglings Törleß” (2022)
- Emma Deutschmann, “From Deutschamerikaner to German American: German in St. Louis Public and Parochial Elementary Schools before World War I” (2022)