Dear Prospective Student,
Welcome to the Department of German at Berkeley! We built this website, in part, to answer your questions about our program. If you have further queries, please do not hesitate to contact any faculty member or graduate student who happens to work in your area of interest. You may also direct your questions to
By means of introduction, let us briefly highlight a few distinguishing features of our department:
Our department is small enough to offer individually tailored courses of study and big enough to foster a community of scholars and collaborative projects among students and faculty.
Present members of the faculty have been honored with five Guggenheims, several Alexander von Humboldt Fellowships, Getty Fellowships, a Humboldt Research Prize, and grants from the NEH (National Endowment for the Humanities) and the ACLS (American Council of Learned Societies), among numerous other awards.
In 1993, our students were the first in the US to organize an annual graduate conference in German studies, and they have not missed a year since then. Graduate students are fully engaged in the intellectual life of the department, teach language as well as literature courses, and participate in departmental committees.
Coverage and Focus
Even though our seminars emphasize cutting-edge research, we also offer, on a regular basis, three period seminars (early, classical and modern German literature) that focus on close readings of canonical texts. Regardless of specialization, students will thus be able to position their dissertation topics in larger historical traditions.
Excellent Pedagogy Program
We provide thorough professional training for teaching language and literature, based on the latest theories in second language acquisition. We strongly believe in the unity of learning and teaching.
We encourage our students to be fully active in the profession, present papers at conferences, write reviews and articles, and organize symposia, workshops, and reading groups.
Preparation for the Job Market
Committed to helping students secure appointments in academia, the department organizes workshops on all aspects of the academic job market, reviewing letters of application, conducting mock interviews, and helping with follow-up advising on questions of professional practice and ethics.
Connections to German-speaking Universities
Our department maintains international partnerships with universities in Berlin, Munich, Hamburg, Cologne, Konstanz, Zurich, Vienna and other cities. Most doctoral students spend at least one year at a German-speaking university and engage in international collaborations.
We study German texts in the broader horizon of the humanities and social sciences, including film and media, history and philosophy, linguistics and psychology. Students can add a Designated Emphasis in Film and Media; New Media; Women, Gender and Sexuality; Critical Theory among others.
Wealth of Resources
We have a sizable departmental library that holds more than 5,000 volumes, a DVD collection, and several computer stations. The library also serves as a meeting place for research groups and social activities. The university library with ca. 12 million volumes is one of the largest in the US.
Location and Environment
We are lucky enough to be situated in an area of rare natural beauty, pleasant climate, and enormous cultural riches, including a film archive and art museum on campus, and the vibrant cultural life of San Francisco a mere 30 minutes away by subway.
In addition to fellowships and teaching appointments that cover tuition and cost-of-living expenses, there are several opportunities for extra financial support in the form of research assistantships, summer teaching, conference travel, and other grants. All graduate students at Berkeley receive a year-long dissertation completion fellowship after taking their qualifying exam. Most of our students also successfully apply for grants from DAAD, Social Science Research Council, and Fulbright for study in German-speaking countries.
We are proud of the almost one hundred Berkeley PhDs presently teaching German language, literature and culture at universities across the country: Brandeis University, Brigham Young University, Georgia Tech, the University of Arizona, the University of Chicago, the University of Cincinnati, the University of Illinois at Chicago, the University of New Mexico, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, the University of Virginia, the University of Washington, Washington University, as well as numerous colleges and other educational institutions. Non-academic employers, including those in the tech industry, also seek out our PhD students.
We hope that this information will help you in your decision to join us soon. To apply for admission with full financial support, click here. The deadline for your online application is December 15. Admitted students will be invited to come to campus for a visit.
With warm wishes,
The Department of German