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), only for TAs
  • One Research Seminar (GRMN 8051)
  • The Focus: Media 1 Seminar (GRMN 8011)
  • The Focus: Topics 1 Seminar (GRMN 8013)
  • 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 6 credits of "PhD Prep" 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.

The candidacy exam is based upon the following parts that the student needs to hand in four weeks before the exam dates:

  • 2 syllabi potentially stemming from TAing (1 undergraduate, 1 graduate content). The syllabi have to include the typical sections (syllabi, grading, materials, learning outcomes and so forth). They have to be accompanied by a written reflection.
  • Either one long research paper, potentially intended for publication (possibly stemming from the research seminar they have to take) or a photo essay / art work or other cultural artifact that sets up an argument in a form deviating from standard academic text. 
  • One practical project (cultural programming or creative project) accompanied by a written reflection.
  • Dissertation proposal; minimum 15 pages.

Oral Exam

Four weeks after the student has handed in her / his / their material the student and all examiners meet for a 2-hour oral exam, the purpose of which it is to provide feedback on the syllabi, the research paper or art work, the practical project and to discuss dissertation plans.

Dissertation Proposal

Three months after the oral examination the student submits the final proposal to the committee for detailed discussion with all committee members.  The defense of the proposal will be a 2-hour oral discussion of the submitted proposal. The student organizes the meeting with the whole committee. 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 minimum 25 pages. PhD students who have successfully passed their qualifying exams sign up for 1-12 credits per semester (in consultation with the Director of Graduate Studies) 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.