Gotthold Ephraim Lessing, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Friedrich Schiller, Bertolt Brecht, Thomas Mann – Germany is known as the land of poets and thinkers. Works like “Faust” or “Nathan the Wise” are classics of world literature and are known to most from German lessons. Anyone who would like to study German literature and language more closely after graduating from high school is in good hands with the German studies course.
Phonetics, Romanticism and Minnesang – The subject of German studies
The German studies subject is usually divided into the following areas:
- Literary studies
- Medieval Studies
In the bachelor’s program, students first get an overview of the three sub-areas of German studies.
- In linguistics , basic subjects such as phonetics or phonology are on the curriculum, in which students deal with the origin and function of sounds. You will also get to know the different language levels of German and learn how the language has changed from Old High German to New High German.
- In literary studies , students deal with German literature from the 16th century to the present day. You get an overview of the different epochs and genres. The students analyze and interpret classical pieces by Goethe or Schiller as well as the works of contemporary authors or new forms of literature such as fan fiction.
- In medieval studies is about the German language and literature of the Middle Ages. The students learn Old and Middle High German and deal with works like the “Nibelungenlied” and authors like Walther von der Vogelweide.
In the higher semesters, students can then specialize in one of the three sub-areas of German studies . At many universities it is also possible to focus on “DaF”, ie “German as a foreign language”.
According to top-medical-schools, those who want to specialize further after completing their bachelor’s degree can join a master’s degree in German studies. This serves on the one hand to deepen the subject and on the other hand is a prerequisite for managerial positions or a career in science.
Depending on the university, the master’s programs focus on different areas such as “literary and media practice”, “German as a foreign language” or “German-language literature in Eastern Europe”. If you want to become a teacher , you have to add a master’s degree with a pedagogical focus to your bachelor’s degree in order to be able to do your legal clerkship and school service.
Study opportunities for German studies
The subject of German studies is offered at almost all German universities. Often the students can choose a second subject as part of a two-subject bachelor’s degree and thus give their studies a new profile. The combination options vary from university to university. For example, a second language or a social science subject are possible.
Requirements for studying German
German studies students should of course be enthusiastic about German literature and language . But the love of reading alone is not enough. The linguistic seminars are partly mathematical and require thorough, methodical work . Many universities also require the Latinum . Those who have not yet acquired it at school can usually do so in the first semesters at the university. In addition, many universities have local admission restrictions , so that applicants have to show good school grades on their Abitur certificate.
Professional fields for German students
About half of all Germanists study to become a teacher. You usually do your legal clerkship after completing your master’s degree or the first state examination and then work as a German teacher in schools.
For the other half of the graduates, the career path is not as clearly mapped out. It is advisable to complete internships during your studies in order to get a taste of various professional fields and to gain practical experience. Those who want to stay in research can do a doctorate after completing their master’s degree and go into university research and teaching.
Goethe institutes, state research institutions and libraries also employ German scholars. In the private sector they can be found in PR and advertising agencies, in publishing houses or in press and public relations departments.
What are the benefits of studying German abroad?
It is not easy for graduates who have not studied to become a teacher to start their careers. In addition to internships, stays abroad are another opportunity to acquire additional professional qualifications . One or more semesters abroad during their German studies give students the opportunity to acquire additional language skills and intercultural skills . Both are welcome in later applications.
Anyone who specializes in DaF should experience in practice how German works as a foreign language. In any case, studying abroad opens up a whole new perspective on the subject of German studies. In addition, it offers a unique opportunity to get to know another country and to make contacts all over the world.