The graduate program in German is recognized internationally for its comprehensive coverage of German studies and the thorough preparation of candidates for its graduate degrees. The German program is consistently among the most highly rated in the country and is near the top of the list of North American institutions in number of total graduate degrees granted in German. Graduates teach in colleges and universities across the country and around the world, affirming the department's reputation and significance.

The department is the home of the quarterly Monatshefte, founded in 1899 and one of the leading peer-reviewed international scholarly journals in the field of German literature and culture. The Journal of Germanic Linguistics, journal of the Society for Germanic Linguistics, is also produced in the department. In addition, the department provides an editorial home for Diachronica, an international journal covering all aspects of historical and comparative linguistics. The Max Kade Institute for German-American Studies, founded in 1983, is an international center for research on German-American history, language, and culture. Its research and outreach missions aim to provide better understanding of how German-speaking immigrants to this country helped shape their new environment and how they have been shaped by it. The Center for German and European Studies (CGES), one of a handful of DAAD-sponsored centers in the US, is helping educate a new generation of experts on Germany and the new Europe across a wide variety of disciplines. It supports collaborative research and teaching of interdisciplinary and graduate seminars, and provides fellowships for graduate students interested in German and European studies.

The department 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. For details, see the program description on the department website or contact the graduate coordinator,

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. For details, see the program description on the department website or contact the graduate coordinator,

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 Department of German 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.

Fall Deadline January 2
Spring Deadline December 20
Summer Deadline The program does not admit in the summer.
GRE (Graduate Record Examinations) Required.
English Proficiency Test Every applicant whose native language is not English or whose undergraduate instruction was not in English must provide an English proficiency test score and meet the Graduate School minimum requirements (
Other Test(s) (e.g., GMAT, MCAT) n/a
Letters of Recommendation Required 3

Applicants are expected to demonstrate a strong record of prior and potential academic achievement in addition to excellent German language skills. Applicants with a B.A. in German must have a cumulative undergraduate GPA of at least 3.0 (on a 4.0 scale) on the equivalent of the last 60 semester credits and a GPA of at least 3.50 in German courses beyond the second-year level. Students with an M.A. in German must have a GPA in graduate work of at least 3.7 on a 4.0 scale. In special cases, applicants who do not fulfill the above expectations may be admitted on probation.

All applicants must submit official transcripts of all university course work (or equivalents, including study abroad), list of courses in progress, Graduate Record Exam (GRE) scores, a personal statement explaining the reasons for graduate study, a current c.v. or resume, a writing sample in German (5–15 pages), and three letters of recommendation that evaluate previous study and potential for graduate study. International applicants must also provide TOEFL, MELAB, or IELTS scores, a financial statement form included with the application materials, and, if applying for a teaching assistantship, a ten-minute recording with a sample of the applicant's spoken English.

Application to the UW–Madison Graduate School is an online procedure, with supporting documentation mailed to the Department of German. Applicants should contact the department early in the fall if they wish additional information. Visits to the UW–Madison campus are welcomed by faculty and graduate students.

Graduate School Resources

Resources to help you afford graduate study might include assistantships, fellowships, traineeships, and financial aid. Further funding information is available from the Graduate School. Be sure to check with your program for individual policies and restrictions related to funding.

Program Resources

Financial support is competitive. In general, the application deadline for financial support is January 2. Graduate applicants admitted to the program are eligible for a limited number of comprehensive multiyear financial guarantees. These include teaching and project assistantships as well as fellowships. In addition to university fellowships, the department may award a small number of distinguished fellowships, and offers a number of project assistantships, including research and editorial positions.

Minimum Graduate School Requirements

Review the Graduate School minimum academic progress and degree requirements, in addition to the program requirements listed below.

Major Requirements


Face to Face Evening/Weekend Online Hybrid Accelerated
Yes No No No No

Mode of Instruction Definitions


Minimum Credit Requirement 30 credits
Minimum Residence Credit Requirement 16 credits
Minimum Graduate Coursework Requirement Half of degree coursework (15 credits out of 30 total credits) must be completed graduate-level coursework; courses with the Graduate Level Coursework attribute are identified and searchable in the university's Course Guide (
Overall Graduate GPA Requirement 3.5 GPA required.
Other Grade Requirements If a student’s GPA falls below 3.50 in any given semester, the cumulative average by the end of the following full-time semester must be 3.50.

The grade of C is considered unsatisfactory in the Department of German: it is not counted in fulfilling the course requirements and may not be offset by a grade of A or AB in another course.

An incomplete received in the Fall Semester must be removed by the end of the following summer session. An incomplete received in the Spring Semester must be removed by the end of the following Fall Semester. An incomplete received in the summer session must be removed within six months. Failure to meet these deadlines constitutes unsatisfactory progress.
Assessments and Examinations Students entering the program at the M.A. level are required to take the Goethe Certificate C1 (German-language proficiency) during the first year of their studies.

At least one substantial course contribution written in German is required each year during the entire period of a student’s graduate coursework. This might be a paper or a lengthy take-home examination. If a student is taking only courses outside the department in a given year, the requirement will be waived for that year.

An M.A. examination with a written and oral component.
Language Requirements Please see "Assessments and Examinations" above.

Required COURSES

Required Courses
GERMAN 650 History of the German Language3
GERMAN 720 College Teaching of German1
GERMAN 722 Theory of Teaching German2
Select one of the following:3
German Literary Movements Since 1750
18th Century German Literature
19th Century German Literature
German Literature of the 20th and 21st Centuries

Two courses (6 cr) taken outside the department may count toward M.A. coursework.

Graduate School Policies

The Graduate School’s Academic Policies and Procedures provide essential information regarding general university policies. Program authority to set degree policies beyond the minimum required by the Graduate School lies with the degree program faculty. Policies set by the academic degree program can be found below.

Major-Specific Policies

Prior Coursework

Graduate Work from Other Institutions

Students are generally not allowed to count graduate coursework from other institutions. Coursework earned five or more years prior to admission to a master’s degree is not allowed to satisfy requirements.

UW–Madison Undergraduate

With program approval students are allowed no more than 7 credits of coursework numbered 600 or above taken as a UW undergraduate. In no case will coursework be considered that was earned five or more years prior to admission to a master’s degree is not allowed to satisfy requirements.

UW–Madison University Special

With program approval, students are allowed to count no more than 15 credits of coursework numbered 600 or above taken as a UW–Madison University Special student. Coursework earned five or more years prior to admission to a master’s degree is not allowed to satisfy requirements.


The Graduate School regularly reviews the record of any student who earned grades of BC, C, D, F, or Incomplete in a graduate course (300 or above), or grade of U in research credits. This review could result in academic probation with a hold on future enrollment or in being suspended from the Graduate School.

  1. Good standing (progressing according to standards; any funding guarantee remains in place).
  2. Probation (not progressing according to standards but permitted to enroll; loss of funding guarantee; specific plan with dates and deadlines in place in regard to removal of probationary status).
  3. Unsatisfactory progress (not progressing according to standards; not permitted to enroll, dismissal, leave of absence or change of advisor or program).

Students admitted on probation must maintain a GPA of at least 3.50 in graduate work done during each of their first two full-time semesters or the equivalent at this university, otherwise they will be dropped from the program. After performing satisfactorily during the probation period, students are expected to perform as well as students granted admission in full standing.


All incoming M.A. candidates are advised by the department graduate advisor (DGA) during the first year of study. M.A. candidates are expected to select (by mutual consent) their individual graduate advisor during the third semester of coursework. The individual graduate advisor is likely to be chair of the M.A. examination committee, the Ph.D. preliminary examination committee, and the dissertation committee.


15 credits

Time Constraints

The M.A. examination must be completed by the end of the fourth semester in the German program.

Grievances and appeals

These resources may be helpful in addressing your concerns:

Students should contact the department chair or program director with questions about grievances.


Financial support is competitive. The applications deadline for financial support is January 15. Graduate applicants admitted to the program are eligible for a limited number of comprehensive multi-year financial guarantees. In addition to university fellowships, the department may award a small number of Distinguished Fellowships, and offers an unusually large and varied number of teaching and project assistantships.

Graduate School Resources

Take advantage of the Graduate School's professional development resources to build skills, thrive academically, and launch your career. 

  1. Selects and/or utilizes the most appropriate methodologies and practices.
  2. Evaluates or synthesizes information pertaining to questions or challenges in the field of study.
  3. Communicates clearly in ways appropriate to the field of study.
  4. Recognizes and practices principles of effective foreign language teaching.
  5. Recognizes and applies principles of ethical and professional conduct.
  6. Articulates, critiques, or elaborates the theories, research methods, and approaches to inquiry or schools of practice in the field of study.
  7. Identifies sources and assembles evidence pertaining to questions or challenges in the field of study.
  8. Demonstrates understanding of the primary field of study in a historical, social or global context.

Faculty:  Professors Chavez, Gross, Louden, Mani, Potter, and Vanderwal Taylor; Associate Professors Calomino, Eldridge, Klocke, Moedersheim; Assistant Professors Li, Somers, Stern, and Yudkoff; Faculty Associates Larson-Guenette and Schueller