FAQ

Do you have a Master's program?

We have no freestanding M.A. program in German Studies, and students will not be admitted for M.A. work alone. Students earn an M.A. degree as they progress toward their Ph.D. Michigan's Rackham School of Graduate Studies requires 24 graduate credits, including 6 in a cognate field, for the M.A.

What do the majority of graduates do with their degrees?

The majority of students that have completed the Ph.D. program with the Department of Germanic Languages and Literatures become college professors. We have placed faculty at outstanding institutions such as Princeton, Brown, Duke, Minnesota, UCLA, and North Carolina, among many others.

How long does it take to get a Ph.D. at Michigan?

Students are expected to complete course work as pre-candidates in the first two or three, years of study. The preliminary examination, which qualifies students to write the dissertation, must be taken before the end of the third year of study. After advancing to candidacy, students are encouraged to complete dissertation research and writing in accord with the demands of their research topics. Ideally, students will complete all requirements for the Ph.D. within five to six years.

Do you offer opportunities for studying abroad?

The Department participates in a graduate exchange program with the Freie Universität in Berlin. Students will generally have finished their preliminary exams before they go abroad, and the year in Berlin is fully funded. 

Do you offer training for new Graduate Student Instructors?

Yes, all new Graduate Student Instructors are required to attend a week-long orientation during the week before the start of the Fall semester, for which they also receive academic credit. Additionally, all new Graduate Student Instructors are required to enroll in German 531 "Teaching Methods" during the Fall term of their first year of teaching.

What is a typical course load for a first-year student?

Most students take three courses per term (9 credits). Graduate Student Instructors are required to enroll for a minimum of two courses (6 credits).

Does the University have a graduate student union?

Yes. Our Graduate Employees Organization is the second-oldest graduate employees' union in the nation. GEO represents approximately 1,600 Graduate Student Instructors (GSIs) and Graduate Student Staff Assistants (GSSAs) at the University of Michigan. They negotiate the contract that determines wages, working conditions, health benefits, and tuition waivers.

Do you accept students for the Winter term?

We accept students wishing to enroll either in the Fall or in the Winter term. However, applications and supporting documents for both terms need to reach the Department by January 10th. The department will also consider out-of-season applications on an exceptional basis.

Is it possible to be accepted into your program without taking the GRE?

We require the GRE (General Record Examination) of all applicants. The Educational Testing Service (ETS) administers this test.

Are international students eligible for fellowship aid?

Yes, all students admitted to our program will receive a five-year funding package.

When will admission decisions be made?

The departmental Executive Committee strives to review all applications as quickly as possible, while ensuring that each file is read with all appropriate care and deliberation. This can be a time-consuming process, and we appreciate your patience. All applicants will be mailed letters notifying them of our decision during the month of March at the latest.

Do international students have to submit TOEFL scores?

International students who have obtained a degree from an institution where the language of instruction is English are exempt from the TOEFL.

If accepted, can I defer enrollment?

Deferred enrollment is considered on a case-by-case basis. Students wishing to defer should submit a request to the Department.

When writing the statement of purpose, what information should be included?

The statement of purpose should provide a clear and concise message about your research interests; we would also like to hear with which faculty members you envision studying, and why. While your statement should touch briefly on your intellectual background, we are looking for a focused essay that primarily addresses your research interests.

Which box do I check on the application to enroll for the Ph.D. degree?

Please check only the box for the doctoral program, since we usually do not admit candidates for an M.A. degree only.

What part of my application is most important?

The entire application is important. The departmental Executive Committee carefully reviews each student's GRE scores, transcripts, letters of recommendation, writing sample, and the statement of purpose. Applicants should be careful to solicit letters of recommendation whenever possible from professors who are able to speak to their academic accomplishments and promise. Writing samples should likewise provide evidence of the applicant's aptitude for scholarly research. Samples may be written either in German or in English.

When should I take the GRE?

It is advisable to take the GRE no later than November so that the score report is available by the January application deadline. To avoid possible delays, applicants should be sure to record the GRE scores in section 25 of the application.

What type of fellowship aid is offered by the Department?

The Department of Germanic Languages & Literatures offers all students admitted to the Ph.D. program a minimum of five years of financial support. Additional funding is available through a number of sources, such as Graduate School and other fellowships. Funding packages will usually consist of some combination of fellowship support and Graduate Student Instructorships, which include full tuition waivers, a stipend, and optional health insurance coverage. Provision of each year of funding is always conditional upon satisfactory progress toward the degree and satisfactory fulfillment of teaching obligations. There is no need to apply separately for departmental funding.

How many required courses will I have to take for the Ph. D. in German Studies?

The goal of our graduate program is to train scholars who will be able to practice radical interdisciplinarity. By radical interdisciplinarity, we mean work across and beyond traditional disciplinary boundaries that is guided by faculty with deep methodological training and experience not only in language and literature, but in other fields as well. Our department is unusual in having been able to incorporate such a wide array of interdisciplinary expertise into its own faculty.   

In addition to training in German Studies proper, members of the Department hold advanced degrees in History, Comparative Literature, Political Science, Film Studies, Linguistics, Sociology, Philosophy, Business, and Music.  Most are jointly appointed in the corresponding units.  One of the largest in the country, Michigan's graduate program offers outstanding training not only in literature and literary theory, but also in German history, politics, film, philosophy, music, gender studies, sociology, art and architecture, and – a newly emerging strength – Turkish-German culture.

Faculty and students at Michigan are engaged in a lively, interdisciplinary dialogue ranging across the humanities, the social sciences, and the professions that nevertheless coheres as a curriculum, due to the faculty's shared interest in historical, cultural, and aesthetic questions.  Traditionally, departments of "language and literature" have sought to provide rigorous training in literary criticism, literary history, and linguistics.  We are strong in all these areas, but we are also able to incorporate these more traditional approaches into a broader vision of German Studies that includes the social sciences and the professions.  Seminars offered in the different areas of German Studies cover a wide array of historical and theoretical concerns across the disciplines while also emphasizing the distinct textual and analytical skills required for this kind of work, from close textual reading through film analysis to the study of architectural form.

Thus our program is able to offer a sustained reflection on the literary in relation to other disciplines and modes of representation. We take it for granted that the term "German Studies" should refer to both high culture and popular culture. We also remain committed to full historical coverage of German culture from the Middle Ages to the present.

Where's information for students who juggle parenting/elder care, study, & work?

The Students with Children website is here: http://www.studentswithchildren.umich.edu.

This site is dedicated to the needs of students at U-M who juggle parenting/elder care, study, and work. Resources include child care, financial assistance, social support, housing, and health care information. The website was created by the former Committee on Student Parent Issues (COSPI) and is maintained by the Work/Life Resource Center, http://www.hr.umich.edu/worklife/.