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 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.

Please consult the table below for key information about this degree program’s admissions requirements. The program may have more detailed admissions requirements, which can be found below the table or on the program’s website.

Graduate admissions is a two-step process between academic programs and the Graduate School. Applicants must meet the minimum requirements of the Graduate School as well as the program(s). Once you have researched the graduate program(s) you are interested in, apply online.

Fall Deadline January 2
Spring Deadline The program does not admit in the spring.
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 (https://grad.wisc.edu/apply/requirements/#english-proficiency).
Other Test(s) (e.g., GMAT, MCAT) n/a
Letters of Recommendation Required 3

Re-entry students will need to contact the program before applying for admission.

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

Find information about funding on the program website.

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

Accelerated: Accelerated programs are offered at a fast pace that condenses the time to completion. Students typically take enough credits aimed at completing the program in a year or two.

Evening/Weekend: ​Courses meet on the UW–Madison campus only in evenings and/or on weekends to accommodate typical business schedules.  Students have the advantages of face-to-face courses with the flexibility to keep work and other life commitments.

Face-to-Face: Courses typically meet during weekdays on the UW-Madison Campus.

Hybrid: These programs combine face-to-face and online learning formats.  Contact the program for more specific information.

Online: These programs are offered 100% online.  Some programs may require an on-campus orientation or residency experience, but the courses will be facilitated in an online format.


Minimum Credit Requirement 51 credits
Minimum Residence Credit Requirement 32 credits
Minimum Graduate Coursework Requirement 26 credits must be graduate-level coursework. Details can be found in the Graduate School’s Minimum Graduate Coursework (50%) policy (https://policy.wisc.edu/library/UW-1244).
Overall Graduate GPA Requirement 3.5 GPA required for courses taken in the department; 3.00 GPA for work done in the minor.
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 unless they are a native German speaker.

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 oral preliminary examination and a dissertation proposal must be completed after all required Ph.D. coursework.
Language Requirements In addition to German students must demonstrate reading knowledge in a second foreign language, equivalent to at least four semesters of college work in that language, before proceeding to the preliminary examination.
Graduate School Breadth Requirement All doctoral students are required to complete a doctoral minor or graduate/professional certificate.

Required COURSES

Students who completed the M.A. in German at UW–Madison

Students who completed the M.A. in German at the UW–Madison must complete 8 additional GERMAN courses numbered 500 and above for a total of 24 credits, 6 dissertator credits (GERMAN 990 or GERMAN 991), and a minimum 9 credits of a doctoral minor or graduate/professional certificate. For the Minimum Credit Requirement, some credits from the M.A. count toward the Ph.D. to total to at least 51. For the Minimum Residence Credit Requirement, students may count courses taken while in the M.A. program, but must complete at least 19 more credits in residence as a PhD student.

German M.A. Requirements30
Additional German 500+ courses24
GNS 700 may also count toward this requirement.
Dissertator credits6
Individual Research in Literature
Individual Research Linguistics and Germanic Philology
Doctoral Minor or Graduate/Professional Certificate9

Students with an outside M.A.

Students who completed the M.A. in German at the UW–Madison must complete 12 GERMAN courses numbered 500 and above for a total of 36 credits, 6 dissertator credits (GERMAN 990 or GERMAN 991), and a minimum 9 credits of a doctoral minor or graduate/professional certificate.

Of the 12 GERMAN courses, two (6 cr) may be transferred from previous work, if suitable, including the teaching assistant training program and its academic component (GERMAN 720 College Teaching of German/GERMAN 722 Theory of Teaching German).

German 500+ courses36
GNS 700 may also count toward this requirement.
Dissertator credits6
Individual Research in Literature
Individual Research Linguistics and Germanic Philology
Doctoral Minor or Graduate/Professional Certificate9

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 ten years or more prior to admission to a doctoral degree is not allowed to satisfy requirements.

UW–Madison Undergraduate

No credits from a UW–Madison undergraduate degree are allowed to count toward the Ph.D. degree.

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 ten years or more prior to admission to a doctoral degree is not allowed to satisfy requirements.


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.

Current students should refer to the Graduate School's Probation policy.


Students joining the program with an M.A. degree will either be advised by the department graduate advisor (DGA) and choose their individual advisor before the end of their second semester of coursework in consultation with the DGA, or be assigned an individual advisor when they enter the program. The individual advisor will be the chair of the Ph.D. preliminary examination committee and the dissertation committee.


15 credits

Time Limits

Ph.D. candidates should take the two-hour oral preliminary examination no sooner than upon completion of the second semester of the Ph.D. coursework and may take it no later than three weeks after the beginning of the fifth full-time semester (or its equivalent) after the M.A.

A candidate for a doctoral degree who fails to take the final oral examination and deposit the dissertation within five years after passing the preliminary examination may be required to take another preliminary examination and to be admitted to candidacy a second time.

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. They may also contact the L&S Academic Divisional Associate Deans, the L&S Associate Dean for Teaching and Learning Administration, or the L&S Director of Human Resources.



Graduate School Resources

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

  1. Articulates research problems, potentials, and limits with respect to theory, knowledge, or practice within the field of study.
  2. Formulates ideas, concepts, designs, and/or techniques beyond the current boundaries of knowledge within the field of study.
  3. Creates research and scholarship that makes a substantive contribution.
  4. Communicates complex ideas in a clear and understandable manner.
  5. Recognizes and practices principles of effective foreign language teaching and program coordination.
  6. Has adequate German language skills to function effectively in a professional capacity consistent with a Ph.D. in the field.
  7. Fosters ethical and professional conduct.
  8. Functions well at professional conferences: presents research, engages in professional dialogue.

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