About the PhD Program

About the PhD Program in German Studies

The PhD in German Studies provides extensive training in German culture and history in various media. The program aims to educate future German Studies teachers and scholars. A concept-based curriculum is focused on genres, media, methodologies, and themes, among other categories. This approach to German speaking cultures reflects current trends in the teaching and research of cultural texts in various media, offering students appropriate coursework to acquire the knowledge and the analytical skills necessary for the assessment and the interpretation of these cultural texts.  The program has foci on Film and Media Studies, Austrian Studies, Gender and Sexuality Studies, German-Jewish Studies, Disability Studies, History of Science, and Postcolonial Studies.

 At the conclusion of the program students will be able to:

  • identify important artists, genres, epochs and media
  • demonstrate knowledge of major texts, events, trends, and concepts in German-speaking cultures
  •  apply important scholarly methodologies and theories used in literary and media studies
  •  analyze sophisticated cultural texts in various media
  •  demonstrate knowledge of teaching methodologies in German language and/or culture at the university level
  •  demonstrate the ability to independently plan and execute a substantial, significant, and original research project that conforms to disciplinary standards

What can you do with a PhD degree in German Studies?

The majority of students who graduate from the department of German Studies with a PhD obtain university teaching positions. Our students have been extremely successful in obtaining competitive positions and embarking on rewarding careers in academia.

What are the requirements for a PhD in German Studies?

To receive a PhD in German Studies, students must complete 135 graduate credits and successfully pass the Ph.D Exam. For general rules see the UC Graduate School website. PhD-students typically pursue 3 semesters of course work before advancing to candidacy and completing an independent research project.

Course Requirements:

  • Practicum Teaching (GRMN 7030)
  • One Research Seminar (GRMN 8051)
  •  The Focus: Media 1 Seminar (GRMN 8011)
  • The Focus: Topics 1 Seminar (GRMN 8011)
  • Doctoral Research (GRMN 9091/92)
  • Approved elective courses to fulfill credit hour requirements

Candidacy Exams

The Candidacy Exam tests the student's knowledge of primary and scholarly works in three areas of specialization, including the proposed dissertation research field.

In preparation for the exam, PhD students may sign up for 12 credits of "Independent Readings" with their dissertation chair and committee members prior to or during the semester in which they are scheduled to take the exam. Student and advisors will meet regularly during this period to discuss progress toward the exam and to compile the individualized reading lists.

PhD students select a dissertation advisor and at least one additional member of the dissertation committee at least one semester prior to the candidacy exam.

Ph.D. Exam Reading List

The candidacy exam is based upon three reading lists: (1) a Dissertation Research List is compiled by the student in close cooperation with the dissertation advisor and consists of approximately 40 titles pertinent to the dissertation, which should include primary as well as secondary sources; (2) two Field Lists, which are compiled by the student in close cooperation and with approval of members of the faculty other than the dissertation advisor in areas that are distinct from the dissertation topic; each list consists of 30 relevant titles. One Field List should concentrate on a literary/cultural epoch (for example: Baroque, Romanticism, Classicism, Expressionism). The other field list should focus either on an author / a film director, or genre (for example: lyric, drama, novella). The chosen fields have to be mutually exclusive (for example: if you choose the poet Andreas Gryphius as an author in one Field List exam you can’t write in the other Field List exam about Baroque lyric; or if your dissertation list is about Weimar film, you can’t write the Field List exams on 20th century culture, Bertolt Brecht, or Expressionist film).

With these three written exams the German Department wants PhD candidates to get deeper insights in or understanding of clearly defined research areas and to broaden their spectrum of relevant knowledge in the field of German Studies, moving beyond their PhD related research.  

Written Exams

Students write a take-home exam on each of the three lists over two subsequent weekends. On the first weekend, students will receive three questions about their dissertation list and they will need to answer one of them. Students will receive their exam at the scheduled time and will have from Friday morning (10am) to Monday afternoon (3pm) to complete it. On the second weekend, students will receive three questions, of which they must answer one, for each of their two field lists (ie. 6 questions, two answers total). This exam will also take place from 10am Friday to 3pm Monday.

Oral Exams

A week after completion of the written exams, the student and all examiners meet for an oral exam, the purpose of which it is to provide feedback on the written exam and to discuss dissertation plans.

Dissertation Proposal

Three months after the oral examination the student submits a proposal to the committee for detailed discussion. The proposal includes a) a general description of the dissertation project, b) an outline of individual chapters, c) a timetable; the document should have a length of between 10 and 15 pages. PhD students who have successfully passed their qualifying exams sign up for 1-12 credits per semester (in consultation with the Graduate Director) of Doctoral Research with their thesis advisor.

PhD Defense

A 2-hour oral defense of the candidate's completed PhD dissertation, to be scheduled only with approval of the PhD advisor. Typically, the candidate will present a 20-minute lecture about the dissertation project, followed by a question and answer session.