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Doctor of Philosophy Degree in German Studies

Program Description

The Rutgers Ph.D. Program in German Studies offers a vibrant five-year program of study that supports cross-disciplinary work in the humanities. Students receive a strong grounding in the German, Austrian, and Swiss literary traditions, and are additionally encouraged to pursue literary theory, film studies, philosophy, women's and gender studies, history, and art history as these relate to German-language culture. The faculty, which has published widely in all periods from the 18th century to the present, seeks to guide students through the array of choices. Since Rutgers is part of the Inter-University Doctoral Consortium, students who have completed one year of coursework at Rutgers are also free to take up to two classes at a partner institution, including Princeton University, Columbia University, New York University, the CUNY Graduate Center, New School University, Fordham University, Stony Brook University, and Teachers College at Columbia University.

In the past few years dissertations have focused on subjects like transnational narratives and the 'poetics of return'; postcolonial communities in Musil; Alexander Kluge and the Berliner Schule of filmmakers; post-wall national identity and the trope of exile in German film; Hubert Fichte; Hermann Kant and East German politics; the doll in German culture; Magnus Hirschfeld and the Third Sex movement in Weimar Germany; the post-war literature of expulsion (Vertreibungsliteratur); and contemporary representations of alterity in minor literatures within Germany. Recent graduates of the program have received job offers from the University of Wyoming, Jawaharlal Nehru University, Kutztown University, Austin College, and positions at the Goethe Institute London, and the DAAD.

In addition to research, the program emphasizes pedagogical training. A variety of seminars at the Rutgers World Languages Institute, a special course in pedagogy, and bi-annual teacher training days help prepare graduate students for the classroom. A voluntary apprenticeship program with the professors also enables students to teach classes other than those with which they have experience. Rutgers' proximity to New York City allows graduate students to use the city's resources for teaching: they host excursions for undergraduates to German cultural events in Manhattan and Brooklyn and integrate these into their courses.

Workshops with the graduate director and visitors sensitize students to professional life in academia. In recent years these workshops have dealt with topics such as conference abstracts and presentations, scholarship applications, the job market and the MLA, and careers in German publishing. As part of their professional development the graduate students regularly host conferences and workshops. Topics have included intermediality, minority identity in the Habsburg Empire, silence, Ostalgie, and violence. Conferences are being planned on economics and literature as well as on architecture and film. Click here to learn more about our Graduate Student Conferences.

Degree Requirements

A minimum of 48 credits in course work with a G.P.A. of 3.5 or better and a minimum of 24 credits in research, for a total of 72 credits. Not more than six credits may be earned in Independent Study courses (16:470:601 or 602). No more than four courses (12 credits) may be transferred for prior graduate work done at another institution. M.A. students are strongly encouraged, and Ph.D. students are required to take one literary theory course (the latter must be approved by the Graduate Director if it is outside the German Department).

  • Demonstrated proficiency in a foreign language by successful completion of a foreign language examination (offered 4 times a year).
  • At the department's discretion, students may be required to take extra language courses in order to attain the necessary level of fluency.
  • Successful completion of the written and oral qualifying examinations.
  • A doctoral thesis.
  • Successful defense of the thesis.

The 30 credits taken toward a Rutgers M.A. or the maximum of 12 transfer credits are included in the 48 course credits towards a Ph.D. For transcripts from a foreign university, please consult the Graduate Director (a special form on the Graduate School-New Brunswick website must be completed listing the four courses and their Rutgers equivalents and submitted to the Graduate School via the Graduate Director).

Once admitted to Ph.D. candidacy, registration for research credits is required until completion of the dissertation. Students who live near campus (i.e. within the metropolitan area New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania) are required to register for three research credits per semester. Students not living near campus are required to register for one research credit per semester. The maximum load of research credits is 12 credits per term.

The Ph.D. Qualifying Examination. A successful examination requires the signatures of four faculty members. Three faculty members must be members of a student’s graduate program. The fourth faculty member may be either a member of the student’s graduate program or an outside member.


Learn about our other graduate programs:

Master of Arts Degree in German Literature

M.A.T. in German

Contact Us

Academic Building

Academic Building
15 Seminary Pl.
4th Floor
New Brunswick, NJ 08901

p  848-932-7781
f   732-932-7125 
elizabeth.dewolfe@rutgers.edu