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University of Pittsburgh

Degree requirements


phdThe Department of German Studies offers a PhD program that includes the MA degree as a required step toward the PhD. The program trains future scholars in German Studies and prepares them to be competitive on the national job market. It encourages interdisciplinary work and students are required to pursue a certificate or related area in programs such as Cultural Studies, Film Studies, West-European Studies, Gender, Sexuality, and Women's Studies, or in another related area.

Requirements for the Master’s Degree

The Master of Arts normally takes two years of study. The 30 credits required include nine graduate seminars, at least six taken within the department, and a 3-credit MA project (between 35 and 50 pages long). All teaching assistants/fellows must successfully pass German 2970 as a basis for continuing financial support as a teaching assistant or fellow.

In addition, all entering students must enroll in German 2110, “Introduction to Literary and Cultural Theory.” In addition to the satisfactory completion of courses, students must demonstrate a high level of proficiency in writing both in German and English by submitting for departmental approval at least one paper written in German and one paper written in English by the time of the preliminary evaluation. They must also demonstrate reading proficiency in an additional language by the end of their last term of study.

Requirements for the PhD

The requirements for the PhD consist of:

  1. at least 72 credits of course work
  2. a language requirement
  3. the PhD comprehensive examination
  4. the dissertation prospectus
  5. the dissertation
  6. the completion of a certificate program or approved work in a related area.

Specific details are:

  • minimum 72 credits of course work, broken down as follows:

    • 30 credits from the MA
    • at least 12 seminars total (for students entering Pitt with an MA from another institution) / at least 18 seminars total (for students entering Pitt with a BA—seminars taken at the MA level count towards this requirement)
  • of these seminars, at least 6 seminars (for students with an MA from another institution) / at least 12 seminars (for students entering Pitt with a BA) should be taken in the German department.
  • at least 6 of the above seminars should be in certificate-related courses (see below).
    • at least 2/3 of the seminars taken must be taken for a letter grade;
  • Language requirement: High level of oral proficiency in German (superior on OPI scale, 3 on ILR scale); reading knowledge of another language;
  • Comprehensive Examination: A written examination, evaluated by a committee of 3 faculty members. Demonstrates the student’s foundation in German culture from the Enlightenment to the present, as well as the student’s ability to situate a specific focus within this larger context. The PhD comprehensive examination needs to be completed with an average grade of A-. The examination may be retaken only one time and needs to be retaken by the next academic term. Before completing the PhD comprehensive examination, students have to submit to their examination committee two research/seminar papers that demonstrate their scholarly potential;
  • Dissertation Prospectus: 10-15 pages, submitted in the semester following the comprehensive examination. After approval by the doctoral committee, students are admitted to PhD candidacy, after which the student meets annually with the dissertation committee;
  • Dissertation Defense: The dissertation must be approved by the dissertation committee after a public oral defense; and
  • Completion of a certificate program or work in a related area (at least 18 credits). Approved certificates include Cultural Studies, Film Studies, and Women Studies, and West-European Studies, and other related areas can be defined by the student in consultation with the Director of Graduate Studies (for example, a recently developed area of concentration is Philosophy and Literature).