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German Studies

Germany has emerged as the strongest economy in Europe, and the State of Michigan has especially deep economic ties to Germany: Thus German is one of the most important languages for business and engineering. German is also centrally important for gaining a first-hand, fundamental knowledge of the aesthetic, philosophical, and scientific foundations of modern thought. By a wide margin, German is the most frequently required or recommended academic language.

At every level of our language program, we strive to appeal to the cognitive abilities and intellectual curiosity of our students. Our language courses focus systematically on the development of all four basic language skills (listening, speaking, reading, and writing), while emphasizing context and meaning at all levels and in all spheres of the language acquisition process. It is fundamental to our program that all language courses encourage students to explore other world-views and learn to think critically about culture.

Students who enter U-M with a background in the German language are strongly urged to continue their study of the language without interruption during their first and second years.

First- and Second-Year Language Program

The goals for the first two years of language study include increasing the level of proficiency in beginning and intermediate language students and meeting the needs and interests of the majority of students so they will find the language requirement stimulating and useful. We believe that language learning is and should be enjoyable and stimulating, and we hope that our courses live up to this. Components of our program designed to make learning efficient and enjoyable include:

  • emphasis on engaging activities for pair and group work
  • creative projects (e.g., a final video project instead of a final exam in third-semester German; final role plays in first-year courses)
  • interesting and challenging readings
  • flexible resources for self-study, including interactive (and fun!) online grammar, online videos, and self-quizzes recapitulating chapter contents in first-year courses
  • two levels of review courses to help ease the transition from high school to college German
  • Kothe-Hildner prizes, awarded each semester for the best final role play in second-semester German, the best final video in third-semester German, and the best essay in fourth-semester German

Our special topics courses (GERMAN 232) are meant to provide an introduction to the discourse and substance of various disciplines in German and thus become stepping stones to coursework outside of the German major proper. These special topics include courses on German politics and economics, history, music, art, anthropology, film, engineering, and mathematical and scientific German. Upon completion of the fourth-term course, students are strongly encouraged to pursue an internship or study abroad in Germany. The German department and the Office of International Programs provide extensive assistance to students interested in doing this: students who go abroad each year come back excited about their experience and speak excellent German.

Upper-Level German Program

Intermediate and advanced courses are designed both to enhance language skills and to explore central issues in all areas of German Studies. These courses are open not just to majors and minors but also to all students who meet prerequisites regardless of concentration area. The upper-level German program integrates language learning with a wide array of students' academic interests. Course topics include:

  • Business German
  • Literature, Art, and Music
  • Film
  • German for Engineers
  • History and Society (including a course on soccer)
  • Tutoring German in middle and high schools
Additionally, we have small class sizes for courses taught in German (15-20 students); cross-listed courses taught in English can be used to fill requirements in more than a single major.

German Major/Minor

A German major demonstrates intercultural competence in the age of globalization.

  • The German undergraduate program at U-M is one of the largest in the country with more than 200 majors and minors.
  • More than 80% of our majors are double majors and still graduate within four years.
  • Students enrolled in Engineering, Business, Music, and other U-M schools can pursue German as a minor.
  • Many students fulfill requirements for a German major or minor wholly or in part through study- or work-abroad programs.