Germanic Studies B.A.

If you'd like to make German a significant part of your undergraduate education, you might consider the B.A. offered by the Department of Germanic Studies. The department offers a diversified program with a rich tradition, featuring courses with faculty who are innovative, enterprising, and recognized internationally in their fields.

The degree features courses in German language acquisition; literature, film and media; philosophy, culture and the history of ideas; and linguistics and philology of the languages of several countries, with an emphasis on Germany and on its neighbors to the south, Austria and Switzerland.

The Department of Germanic Studies offers minors in Dutch, German, Norwegian, and Yiddish languages and cultures, with additional strong offerings on medieval Scandinavian culture. You can also earn a certificate in Dutch or Business German.

Whether your interests lie in the culture and history of Germany or in a mix of Germanic languages, you will find an exceptional array of course options. A Germanic Studies minor can be completed entirely in English or with a mixture of Germanic languages.


Getting started

Your starting point with German is determining your first course of language study. Students with prior knowledge of the language will take the online placement exam unless they already have German credits on their transcript from the AP exam, International Baccalaureate courses,  or previously completed college courses. 

Tracks and concentrations

The department offers three areas of concentration: Literature and Media; Thought and Culture; and Linguistics.

When pursuing the Germanic Studies major, you choose two of three common gateway courses to prepare for in-depth study in these areas of concentration. The core courses also give you the opportunity to work closely with fellow majors.

  • GER-G 332 Introduction to German Literature and Media. Provides the basic tools for the analysis of literature, film and media. Conducted in German
  • GER-G 334 Introduction to German Thought and Culture. General introduction to German philosophical and cultural traditions from the Middle Ages to the present. This course emphasizes important events in German cultural history and provides the intellectual concepts that lend meaning to those events. Conducted in German
  • GER-E 336 Introduction to the Structure of Germanic Languages. This course examines the comparative linguistic structure of modern Germanic languages. It does not require specific background in general linguistics or knowledge of a particular language other than English. Conducted in English,

Contact the academic advisor to discuss your options.

Upper level coursework

The Germanic Studies major consists of 30 credit hours at or above the 200 level. The degree gives you flexibility in choosing your courses, and permits nine credit hours in Germanic Studies taught in English or another Germanic language.

Students majoring in Germanic Studies will find demanding yet flexible programs in modern literary and cultural studies, medieval philology, and theoretical linguistics, as well as instruction in three modern languages besides German.

The upper level curriculum offers a variety of topics and approaches to the study of linguistics, film, literature, and cultures of the German world from the Middle Ages to the present. Courses with a business component are also taught.

Commonly pursued majors, minors and certificates

Your major represents about one quarter of your degree requirements. With the help of your academic advisor, you may be able to combine several areas of interest with additional majors, minors, or certificates.

The eight most common majors paired with German are Linguistics, Economics, History, International Studies, Philosophy, Biology, Psychology, and Political Science.

Frequently completed minors include Business, Linguistics, Dutch, Norwegian, Yiddish, and History.

The department also works with the School of Education to prepare students who wish to qualify for teacher certification.

Enhance your major

Working with faculty

When pursuing a degree in Germanic Studies, you have the opportunity to work with faculty who have expertise and experience in the field. Take advantage of office hours to talk with your instructors about your performance in class, assignments, the content of readings, and how the course helps you work toward your goals.

You can get involved in research as early as your first year. Many incoming first-year students apply to the Arts and Sciences Undergraduate Research Experience (ASURE) program. ASURE students experience project-based learning enhanced by a community of supportive faculty and peers. Choose an ASURE path in the arts and humanities, social and historical studies, or natural and mathematical sciences. Consider joining one that will deepen your skills and knowledge in an area related to your major or a different one to become a more well-rounded thinker. 

Campus resources that can enhance your independent study and research interests include:


The Departmental Honors Program in German is designed for students who wish to take advantage of an academic challenge beyond the requirements of the major. It provides highly motivated students with the opportunity for tutorial instruction and independent research during their junior and senior years.

Students may apply directly to the program by contacting the Germanic Studies Director of Undergraduate Studies. Any German major with a grade point average of at least 3.5 in German and a 3.3 GPA overall may apply for admission to the honors program. You should have the recommendation of one of your instructors in a German course above GER-G 250.

In addition to regular course work towards a major in German, honors students complete honors tutorials and an honors thesis. Honors work is guided and approved by the honors advisor. Honors thesis guidelines are available.

High achieving students may be recognized for Academic Excellence in the College of Arts and Sciences, or be eligible for admission to the Hutton Honors College.

Undergraduate scholarships and awards

The Germanic Studies Department offers three scholarships to German undergraduate students:

  • Elmer O. Wooley Prize
  • Salz Family Award
  • William Goodwin Scholarship

Each year the department nominates outstanding majors and minors to Delta Phi Alpha, the German honors society.

Other options for scholarships and awards include:


Internships offer you a chance to develop both technical and transferable skills while making vital professional contacts with others in the field. Many students begin exploring internship opportunities, including overseas study programs with internships, as early as their first year.

Opportunities relevant to the Germanic Studies Department can be found through these and other organizations:

Learn more about internships, including the possibility or receiving credit, through the Walter Center for Career Achievement, where you'll find many resources for both domestic and international internships.

Foreign language study

Many German majors study more than one foreign language. As one of the premier institutions in the U.S. for the study of languages, IU Bloomington offers courses and resources in over 80 languages.

To practice German language skills outside the classroom, consider participating in Kaffeestunde, a coffee hour for casual conversation meets Wednesdays from 3:30 to 4:45 in the Germanic Studies Department on the third floor of the Global and International Studies building. The department hosts an active German House and Stammtisch learn more at their Facebook site.

Undergraduates also run their own German Club.

Here is a sampling of language study resources available to students at IU Bloomington:

Overseas study

Study abroad is an important part of undergraduate education in an increasingly interconnected world. Germanic Studies students often pursue language study and other coursework through the following study abroad programs offered through the Office of Overseas Study:

  • Berlin, Germany, summer program taught in English
  • Berlin-CIEE, semester program
  • Berlin-IES, semester program
  • Freiburg-IU, academic year program, semester program
  • Freiburg-IES, academic year program, semester program
  • Graz, Austria, summer program
  • Vienna-IES, Austria, academic year program, semester program
  • Vienna-IES Music, summer program
  • Vienna-IES Psychology, summer program

IU has opened its Europe Global Gateway Office in Berlin with which the department maintains strong connections.

The College of Arts and Sciences also directly hosts a variety of study abroad programs, some even featuring IU faculty, that might be right for you. Learn more about study abroad opportunities and locations through conversation with Germanic Studies faculty, your academic advisor, and through the Office of Overseas Study.

Student groups

Becoming a member of a student group is a good way to make connections between your coursework and co-curricular activities.

The German Club is run by undergraduates in the program and is a good way to meet others in the department.

You might also consider clubs coinciding with professional, personal, or other academic interests:

The Global Living Learning Center is one of several Living Learning Centers on campus. It integrates formal and informal residential learning for motivated undergraduates with international interests, regardless of academic discipline or major.

There are almost 200 student associations for international and multicultural interests. Explore beINvolved to connect with any of the 750+ student organizations that already exist, or to start a new one. 

Volunteer opportunities

There are numerous opportunities for volunteer engagement, allowing you to give back to the local community while developing useful job skills. The organizations below can help you connect with others from the university and beyond

Sign up to receive weekly emails from the Bloomington Volunteer Network to learn about local opportunities and organizations.

Professional organizations

Use the Indiana University Library system to search for Associations Unlimited, an online directory of associations, professional societies, non-profit organizations, and much more.

A list of professional associations is also available on the website of Walter Center for Career Achievement.

Build your skills

Through the major

The major in Germanic Studies provides you with a set of skills and qualities that are relevant and transferable to many areas of study and work. These include:

  • Intercultural competence: The ability to discern substantial connections between cultures, question assumptions, and entertain multiple perspectives on cultures that are linguistically and historically distinct
  • Germanic Language proficiency: Language proficiency at the B2 level in in the Common European Framework of Reference (CEFR) for Languages. B2 is upper intermediate for an independent language user who can produce clear texts in the target language, understand complex texts, and interact with native speakers without strain for either party
  • Linguistic Knowledge: Knowledge of at least one aspect of the structure of Germanic language (phonology, morphology, syntax, history, social-historical linguistics)
  • Critical thinking: Capable of using interpretive, analytic, and argumentative critical thinking skills in order to understand and characterize texts, sounds, and/or images in at least one period or problem in Germanic cultural, literary, or intellectual history
  • Historical contexts: Ability to analyze how past cultural developments influence current affairs in the Germanic cultural zone and in contemporary transnational relationships
  • Mentorship and Learning Community: Opportunity to benefit from a culture of intellectual exchange within the undergraduate cohort of Germanic Studies majors and minors as well as through mentoring relationships with faculty members in the department
  • Overseas Experience: Exposure to an overseas study and/or internship experience 

Through a College of Arts and Sciences degree

Your coursework provides many opportunities to develop the following five foundational skills that will serve you well in every career path:  

  • Question critically
  • Think logically
  • Communicate clearly
  • Act creatively
  • Live ethically

These foundational skills will aid you in landing your first job and advancing professionally throughout your working life. Not only are these the skills that employers say they value most in the workplace, they provide the best preparation for lifelong success in a world of complexity, uncertainty, and change.

Skills desired by employers

Each year, the National Association of Colleges and Employers asks employers what key skills and qualities they are looking for in recent college graduates.

The following are some of the most commonly desired attributes across many employment sectors:

  • Problem-solving skills
  • Ability to work in a team
  • Written and verbal communication skills
  • Leadership skills
  • Strong work ethic
  • Analytical and quantitative skills
  • Ability to take Initiative
  • Being detail oriented
  • Demonstrating adaptability
  • Technical skills relevant to the field
  • Interpersonal skills
  • Computer skills
  • Organizational ability

As you explore various career fields, pay attention to specific job descriptions and requirements. If there are areas where your skills or knowledge are lacking, talk with your academic advisor and career coach about how you can develop in those areas while you are at Indiana University.

Your academic advisor and career coach can also help you find ways to strengthen and deepen the knowledge you already have, becoming more prepared for whatever path you select after College.

Launch your career

Plan your search

A good starting point for exploring your career options is an appointment with your career coach.

The Walter Center for Career Achievement offers job search resources, career courses, job fairs, information about internships and full-time jobs, and help with social media networking through professional organizations. Get advice about how to write your resume, ask for letters of recommendation from faculty and workplace supervisors, and prepare for job interviews, too.

Explore and enroll in Career Communities to learn more about industries relevant to your interests. These offer unique information about each field, including alumni spotlights, opportunities and resources, and in-person events.

Maximize your career preparation with a career course. Germanic Studies majors should consider enrolling in ASCS-Q296 College to Career II: Navigate Your Arts and Sciences Experience. The section dedicated to Arts and Humanities provides the opportunity for you to explore the relationship between your field of study and life after graduation, while developing an academic and career development plan for post-collegiate success. If you are considering continuing your studies after graduation, you may wish to enroll instead in the section dedicated to graduate school preparation. Regardless of the section you select, you will leave the class with your resume, a cover letter or personal statement, and a LinkedIn profile ready to go!

The job market

The employment outlook is positive for students with a degree in Germanic Studies. Studies have shown that students with a degree in German significantly enhance their prospects on the job market. 

Germanic Studies majors take their education in many directions, whether moving directly into a career or going on to graduate or professional studies. Initial and long-term destinations for graduates include positions in many job sectors: federal and state government, military or civil service, non-governmental organizations, non-profits, the cooperative job sector, education, research and policy think tanks, banking and business.

German majors can become researchers, information analysts, linguists, policy advisors, educators, translators, tourism advisors, businesspersons, security personnel, journalists, or aid workers, among many other options. Want to see where your fellow majors go right after graduating from IU? Check out the Walter Center’s First Destinations survey!

Need more ideas? The Occupational Outlook Handbook from the Bureau of Labor Statistics offers career information about hundreds of occupations.

Talk with faculty, the academic advisorcareer coach and other students to gain insights into the career paths taken by graduates of the Department of Germanic Studies.

Post-graduate short-term experiences

The beginning of your post-graduate career might be an ideal time to explore an international internship or other short-term experience through organizations such as these:

Find international English teaching jobs through organizations such as:

Fellowships for post-graduate study

Fellowships are temporary opportunities to conduct research, work in a field, or fund your education. Most opportunities can be found through universities, non-profits, and government organizations.

Resources for finding fellowships include:

Graduate and professional study

When applying to graduate or professional schools, you'll need letters of recommendation from faculty members who are familiar with your work. Make a practice of attending office hours early in your academic career to get to know your professors and discuss your options for advanced study in the field.

A German major will also prepare you for entry into graduate programs in a wide variety of fields, such as area studies, foreign languages and literatures, history, politics, religious studies, international studies, or business.

With careful planning, and in consultation with the Health Professions and Prelaw Center, you could also prepare to enter law school, medical school, or other professional programs.

Students who pursue graduate studies in German have gone into careers with top academic and research institutions, the United Nations, World Bank, non-governmental organizations, media, private entrepreneurship, and the military and intelligence communities.

Here are examples of graduate programs offered at IU:

Alumni connections

Keep in touch through the Germanic Studies Alumni Newsletters.

The College of Arts and Sciences has thousands of active alumni. Check out the College Luminaries program, which connects students with the College's most influential, successful, and inspiring alumni.

Join the Walter Center Success Network to remain in touch, network directly with College of Arts and Sciences Alumni, and let others know where your path takes you.

Is it for you?

The Germanic Studies major attracts students from a variety of backgrounds and interests. They typically have some of the following qualities:

  • Aspire to develop proficiency in German or another Germanic language
  • Interest in the language and culture of Germany or other countries in the Germanic cultural zone (such as Switzerland and Austria)
  • Appreciation for the diversity of world cultures
  • Affinity for learning new languages and linguistic structures
  • Wish to make overseas study a significant part of their undergraduate education
  • Intellectual curiosity and imagination
  • Desire to learn more about the largest economy in the European Union

Learn more

Contact the Germanic Studies academic advisor and schedule an appointment to explore your options. Complete information about the requirements of the major can be found in the College of Arts and Sciences Bulletin.



Department website
Advisor email address