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Administrative Unit:German
College/School: College of Letters & Science
Admitting Plans:M.A., Ph.D.
Degrees Offered:M.A., Ph.D.
Minors and Certificates:Doctoral Minor

Faculty: Professors Vanderwal Taylor (chair), Adler, Chavez, Gross, Howell, James, Kluge, Louden, Potter, Salmons, Silberman; Associate Professors Calomino, Mani, Moedersheim; Assistant Professors Eldridge, Hollander, Klocke, Li; Faculty Associate Schueller


The graduate program in the Department of German is recognized internationally for its comprehensive coverage of German studies and the thorough preparation of candidates for its graduate degrees. The department 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.

Of the approximately 40 candidates who completed the Ph.D. in the department after 2003, 80 percent hold teaching and/or research positions at universities and colleges in the United States, Europe, and other countries. Others have careers in university administration, publishing, or government agencies.

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 Wisconsin Workshop, an annual symposium organized by the department each fall since 1969, provides a forum for in-depth scholarly discussion on current literary and cultural topics. Speakers include Madison faculty and invited scholars from North American universities and from abroad. The proceedings are regularly published in book form. The department offers additional symposia and conferences each year on a variety of topics in linguistics, literary and cultural studies, German-American studies, pedagogy and second language acquisition, contemporary German artists, and Dutch language, literature, and culture.

The department's Roundtable lecture series provides a forum for current research presentations and discussions, as do additional colloquia and workshops, and readings and performances by authors and poets. Every year, the department hosts distinguished exchange professors and visiting scholars from Europe as part of its extensive national and international scholarly network. Graduate students are encouraged to take advantage of numerous opportunities for studying and conducting research in German-speaking countries and the Netherlands.

The university provides outstanding research facilities in the area of German studies. The Memorial Library contains one of the best German research collections in the country; the library of the Wisconsin State Historical Society is renowned especially for its German-American holdings. Further, the department maintains its own Reading Room, a "Handbibliothek" with several thousand volumes of primary and secondary literature, for the benefit of faculty and graduate students.

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 secretary, mkmears@wisc.edu.

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 Web site or contact the graduate secretary, mkmears@wisc.edu.

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.

Financial Support 

Financial support is competitive. In general, the application deadline for financial support is December 20. Graduate applicants admitted to the program are eligible for a limited number of comprehensive multi-year 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.

External Doctoral Minor 

The department offers an external doctoral minor. Doctoral students outside the department may obtain a minor in German by taking three graduate-level courses, at least two of them at the 600 level or above.

Interested students should consult with the graduate secretary mkmears@wisc.edu, and have the minor plan approved by the chair.


Admission to the graduate program in German is highly competitive. Although most entering graduate students complete their undergraduate work at North American universities and colleges, a small number of international students regularly join the department.

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.

For more information: Graduate Secretary, Department of German, 818 Van Hise Hall, 1220 Linden Drive, Madison, WI 53706-1557; 608-262-4628; fax 608-262-7949; mkmears@wisc.edu; german@mailplus.wisc.edu; german.lss.wisc.edu.