M.A. Degree Requirements

Course Work

Successful completion of a minimum of 12 courses (48 credits) at the 500 or 600 level. At least 10 of these (40 credits) must be in German (GER). A student may take up to 2 (8 credits) of these 12 graduate courses from other programs, if the courses are related to their research projects and with approval from the Graduate Advisor. Nine of the GER courses must be graded (and the total graduate GPA must remain 3.3 or higher), including six required core courses:

  • GER 690 – Literary Studies
  • GER 621 – Narrative: Texts, Contexts, Theory
  • GER 622 – Drama: Texts, Contexts, Theory
  • GER 623 – Lyric: Texts, Contexts, Theory
  • GER 624 – Critical and Philosophical Prose
  • GER 625 – Translations/Transformations






In addition to these 48 credits, students must also complete the following 22 credits of coursework:

  • GER 610 (Wrk: Teaching Methods, graded, 4 credits) -- to be taken in the Fall of their first year.
  • GER 609 pedagogy (6 credits) – a 1-credit course taken in each of the six quarters. Students enroll in 1 credit hour of GER 609 Pedagogy with the Language Coordinator for each term in which they are instructors of record for language courses on the 100, 200, or 300 level, or with the faculty member in the Department of German and Scandinavian who is teaching a course for which they are discussion leaders. GER 609 Pedagogy credit cannot be granted for courses taught in other departments for which graduate students in German are discussion leaders. Where appropriate, GER 609 Pedagogy credit may be granted for relevant teaching experience in other settings at the discretion of the Director of Graduate Studies
  • GER 601 (3 credits) – a 1-credit advising tutorial in the second quarter (see mentoring section), and a 1-credit Portfolio Paper advising tutorial during each of two quarters between the second and fourth quarter (see #5 below).*
  • GER 503 or 605 (9 credits) – tutorials to prepare the M.A. Thesis or M.A. Papers (see section below). The Graduate School requires that a student be registered for at least 3 graduate credits during the term s/he receives the degree. If a student completes a thesis during this final term, registration must include 3 credits of GER 503 (Thesis).

Students must be enrolled for a minimum of 2 regularly scheduled GER graduate courses, or graduate courses in other departments or programs, according to these M.A. degree requirements, plus 1 credit of GER 609 pedagogy for each term of a GTF appointment.

*Students must submit an approved Independent Study Agreement for GER 503, 601, 605 each time they enroll for these (repeatable) courses.


Incoming students will meet with the Director of Graduate Studies (DGS) twice during the first term—once in the beginning, once towards the end—to discuss program requirements and general questions about graduate study in the department. As part of the second meeting the DGS assigns each student a faculty mentor for the subsequent term (Winter), with whom the student will register for 1 credit of GER 601. This mentor will meet with the student 4 times during Winter term, to develop a personal reading list, and engage him/her in intellectual exchange. The mentor will help the student assemble a committee which may, but need not, include the mentor him/herself. The initial two members of the student’s committee should be determined by the beginning of Spring term. During the Spring Conversation, both of these faculty members will meet with the student to discuss the student’s submitted statement (see section on Spring Conversation below).

Professional training beyond coursework & teaching

Each year the Department offers a broad variety of lectures, conferences, and workshops. These extracurricular events are essential for the professional training of our graduate students, who are therefore expected to attend.

Spring conversation

By the end of week 2 of Spring term, all first-year M.A. students will submit to their committee and the DGS a “Spring Conversation Starter” (SCS). This written piece of about 2 pages need not follow a fixed format but will describe the student’s intellectual activity over the past year and sketch a possible path for the coming year. Areas to touch on include the student’s intellectual interests and ambitions (longstanding or newly discovered), important intellectual experiences of the past year, discovery of particular authors or works during that time, reports on conferences or other public events they attended and/or to which they contributed, their plans for remaining coursework, portfolio paper experiences, the status of their thesis project and what they hope to achieve in the coming year, plans for, or reflections on, possibilities beyond graduation. By week 5 students will meet with their assigned mentor and the suggested second committee member to discuss the SCS. The DGS may participate in these meetings as needed.

Portfolio papers

Two papers from amongst the substantial research papers written during the first three terms of study must be revised under tutorial supervision (GER 601) and, once approved by the professor directing the tutorial, submitted as "Portfolio" papers. Portfolio papers will be about 25-28 pages in length; the revision process aims to expand the depth of the original research paper and enhance the overall argumentation. The purpose of this requirement is twofold: to enhance scholarly research and writing skills, and to enable students to prepare accomplished writing samples for future use. The first revised paper must be submitted by the end of the Spring term of the first year. The second paper must be submitted by the end of the Fall term of the second year. In each case, the revisions are to be undertaken in the context of a GER 601 tutorial with the professor with whom the paper was originally written (except with approval of the Graduate Advisor). Students must submit an outline of their argument for the professor’s approval before revising each portfolio paper. 

Note: Students must make at least one public presentation of their research (such as reading a 20 minute paper) at a joint graduate-student colloquium (normally during Winter term of the second year of study) or at an approved conference.

foreign language requirement

Students must satisfy the Graduate School Requirement for competence in one other foreign language and the German and Scandinavian Department Requirement for competence in two foreign languages. To satisfy the latter requirement, M.A. students have to demonstrate reading proficiency (or better) in a language other than English or German. They may satisfy this requirement either by passing two years (or the equivalent) of college-level language work, or by passing a graduate-level reading knowledge course (for languages in which such a course is offered).

Reading list

Between Winter term of their first year (see “Mentoring” above) and the end of Winter term of the second year, each student compiles a personalized reading list. This list is comprised of selections from the M.A. Core Reading List, course readings, and texts chosen by the student by virtue of personal predilection. Sustained contact and discussion with mentors, committee members, and other faculty members is essential in shaping each student’s list. The list ultimately serves as the basis for the written and oral M.A. examinations. Students need to obtain final approval of their reading list from all committee members and are responsible for submitting the reading list (signed by all committee members) to the Director of Graduate Studies by March 31 of their second year. Here’s a link to the reading list.

M.A. Thesis or papers

Students must submit and, at the final oral examination, successfully defend their M.A. Thesis (ca. 50-60 pages in length) or two M.A. Papers (25-30 pages each). Both thesis and M.A. papers may be based on portfolio papers, but must show further research and a broad scope. The thesis or M.A. papers will be written under the guidance of the student’s examination committee. General requirements for the thesis and information on style are found in the “Thesis and Dissertation Style and Policy Manual” that may be downloaded from the Graduate School website. The thesis is usually written in English, but students may petition the Graduate School for permission to write it in German. Students who choose the M.A. papers option may write one of their papers in German.


Examination Committee: The committee is composed of three tenure-related departmental faculty members that the student will have begun to identify starting in Spring of their first year. If the student is writing an M.A. thesis, the committee must include the thesis adviser (who will also be the director of the written and oral examination) and two additional faculty members. If the student is writing two M.A. papers, the committee consists of the advisers of each of the two papers and one additional faculty member, for a total of three members; the student chooses one of the M.A. paper advisers as the director of the written and oral examination. 

  • Written Examination:
    Each student must successfully complete the final written examination. The student will respond to one question from each of the following areas: one genre across different periods; one specific period; and one or more theoretical frameworks or philosophical discussions. The director of the written examination will advise the student as to the range of genres, periods, and theoretical frameworks covered by the questions. Responses are expected to be drawn from both the reading list and the student’s completed coursework. The exam will have two questions per category of which one must be answered; the student will be allowed to take the exam home and complete it within eight  (8) hours. The examination is administered during the sixth week of the spring quarter of the second year. 
  • Oral Examination: 
    Within two weeks of the written exam, the student takes a final 60-90 minute oral examination. Questions will pertain to the final written exam, the reading list, and the M.A. thesis or papers. The examiners will approve the M.A. thesis or papers only upon the student’s successful completion of the oral exam. Examiners' comments will be available, for viewing only, in each student’s file soon after the completion of the exam.
important deadlines fo the second year in the m.a. program
  • October 15 – Director of thesis (or first M.A. paper) chosen and one-page proposal/outline approved.
  • End of week 5 of Winter Term – Approved first M.A. paper due. Director of second M.A. paper approves outline. Rough draft of thesis due.
  • February 15 – Rough draft of second M.A. paper due. Selection of all M.A. committee members finalized; individual reading list and examination areas to be developed in consultation with the committee.
  • March 31 – Approved thesis/second M.A. paper due. Reading list finalized, portfolio papers complete.