German History Graduate Programs

A Master of Arts degree in German history, also called German or Germanic studies, is an interdisciplinary program that includes historical explorations of language, the arts and sciences, as well as politics and democracy. This article will discuss some of the courses commonly offered in a program like this. Schools offering American History degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Master of Arts in German History Program Overview

German history or Germanic studies programs consist of liberal arts classes that can include intellectual, philosophical, theatrical, artistic, political, and linguistic histories of Germany and German-speaking countries. Potential applicants should be prepared to prove demonstrable German language and/or cultural knowledge proficiency, and depending on enrollment levels, can typically expect to complete their programs within two years. Often, these programs require students to complete between 30 and 45 credit hours of graduate-level coursework in a wide variety of topics, the choice of which is often up to the student, as long as certain core courses are completed. Following are samples of some common courses from which Germanic studies students may choose.

German Literature

Germanic studies in literature can feature a variety of works from German and non-German authors. Students have opportunities to delve into literary theories and the practice of literary analysis. Along with theory and analysis, coursework may challenge students to ask and answer the question of what quantifies a title as ''literary.'' Works may include familiar German and Austrian authors of note, like E.T.A. Hoffman, Rilke, Grimm, and Kafka. Some coursework may require a certain level of German language proficiency.

Gender, Sexuality, and Feminism

Coursework in gender, sexuality, and feminism can cover queer theory, black feminism, and the marginalization of female writers. The examination of ethnicity as it relates to the conception of whiteness in Germanic studies and the implications of those concepts on ethnic women, queer studies, and gender studies are applicable discussion points. Within the context of modern Europe, students may also analyze the definition of ''women's writing'' and how the very notion of ''women's writing'' may influence gender and sexuality studies.

Language Acquisition and Communication

This course applies research used to understand the processes of learning and teaching a second language. Theoretical principles of language acquisition are likely reviewed. Students may also examine classroom practices as they apply to learning to communicate in another language verbally and in writing.


In the realm of Germanic studies, poetry classes may cover works from both the past and present, from classics to the age of the internet. Monika Rinck, Mara Genschel, and Thomas Kling are some of the poets whose works may be the focal point of poetry coursework. Various approaches to literary criticism may be discussed, including formalism and structuralism.


Studies in Germanic culture can range from the Middle Ages to the present. Topics can cover music, film, literature, and theatre. Aside from the arts, gender, national identity, social identity, and how various peoples manage to integrate cultures while keeping separate cultural identities are all potential areas of investigation. Historical works as well as people and events of significance and how they have influenced the idea and meaning of culture in Germany are the general subject matter.

Authority and Governance

The study of power and democracy as they relate to German studies can include readings and discussions on world wars, politics, and military ambition. The impact of the arts and sciences on these topics may also be considered. Writers and filmmakers may be as much a part of the conversation as politics and technology.

Fairy Tales

The history and function of fairy tales are typical points of discussion in German fairy tale courses. Students may read from the Brothers Grimm, Hans Christian Andersen, and Brentano as sources of inspiration, exploration, and critical analysis. Comparative studies of fairy tales and folk tales and historical and moral perspectives of both may also be a part of the course.


While Franz Kafka may be mentioned in other German studies coursework, it is not uncommon to find Kafka as a central figure in graduate-level coursework. Along with his influence on contemporary writers, the modernist themes of Kafka's own writing will likely be explored in depth. Within this exploration, the history of adaptations of his work in the mediums of puppetry, film, and opera can be included.

Jewish Literature

Emigration and literature and the notion of German-Jewish literature are possible focal points of Jewish literature and German studies courses. Possible discussion points are Yiddish literature and its stylistic influence on modern works, as well as how ancient traditions are preserved in the written word. Potential readings may include Paul Celan, Behuda Amichai, Philip Roth, and Art Spiegelman.

German history master's degree programs embrace studies in ethnicity, the idea of German identity, the political and geographic history of Germany and German speaking countries, as well as the artistic legacy of Germany. Degree programs in Germanic studies can also include language studies and the linguistic history and pedagogy of German.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

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