Germanic Languages and Literatures

Germanic Languages and Literatures offers a diverse and challenging program of study in the language, literature and culture of the German-speaking countries. In this program, students engage in intensive study of the German language and explore German literature and culture, from the Middle Ages to the present. They also have the opportunity to learn business German and to study the politics and culture of contemporary Germany.

Our six-semester language core curriculum aims to provide students with the linguistic and cultural skills needed to communicate effectively in a German language environment. Beginning (100-level) courses combine intensive interactive classroom activities with at-home preparation and reinforcement activities (following a “flipped-classroom” approach) to enable students to rapidly acquire the basics of German vocabulary and grammar. Intermediate (200-level) courses are designed to expand and deepen students’ understanding of German society and culture while furthering the development of speaking, writing, listening, and reading skills. Both 100- and 200-level courses work toward the completion of large chapter projects, which prepare students to communicate in various modalities in real-life scenarios. In advanced (300-level) language courses, students refine their core skills, acquire new knowledge of complex grammatical structures, and improve their ability to express sophisticated ideas orally and in writing.

In Washington University's German program, students take courses from internationally recognized faculty members who are leaders in their fields and who have been recognized for their expertise in undergraduate teaching. Faculty areas of interest include medieval through 21st-century literature, history, film and media, translation, German-Jewish studies, music and sound studies, narrative theory, second-language acquisition, and gender studies. All German classes are small, thus facilitating lively faculty-student interaction. Our collection of contemporary German literature, housed in Olin Library, is the largest in North America and attracts many visiting scholars to our campus.

Students of German can choose among several study abroad programs, and they can take advantage of an array of cocurricular activities, including film series, the national German honor society Delta Phi Alpha, lectures by guest speakers, and readings by visiting authors. Many German students also elect to share their interest in German with the next generation of students by assisting with our annual German Day, which is hosted for high school students from Missouri and Illinois.

A degree in German prepares students for a wide range of future pursuits, including graduate study in such fields as German studies, language education, comparative literature and art history. Students frequently combine a degree in German with another major in the college and, upon graduation, earn advanced degrees in law, medicine, economics, business, engineering, environmental studies, and international and area studies. Our graduates pursue work in diverse fields, from academia to international banking and from diplomacy to publishing.

Contact Info

Contact:Benjamin L. Locke