Required Coursework

The PhD program requires 30 hours of coursework at the 5000-level or above.  If you have a completed MA degree, you may be able to apply up to 21 hours towards this requirement (see Transfer Credit paragraph).  Thesis hours do not count toward the required 30 hours, and cannot be used as transfer credit. You can access course listings for each semester through the student portal or the GSLL webpage.

To ensure that you obtain advanced knowledge of the German Studies field, research methodology, and teaching pedagogy, the following courses are required of all German PhD students:

1. GRMN 5010: Theory and Practice of German Studies:  This course provides a graduate-level introduction to German Studies, with emphasis on theoretical approaches and current trends in German Studies. Special attention will be given to developing the tools necessary for advanced criticism: close-reading skills, mastery of critical terminology, and training in a range of theoretical approaches. The main goals of this course are (1) to introduce students to critical approaches to literature/art/film and recent theoretical trends in German literary and cultural studies, (2) to give students the opportunity to deepen interpretive skills through close reading and discussion of representative texts, and (3) to encourage students to explore theoretical approaches to literary and cultural material. GRMN 5010 is typically offered in the spring.

2. GRMN 5020: Applied Linguistics and Foreign Language Teaching:  This course surveys foreign language teaching methods and second language acquisition research, and provides a knowledge of aspects of German linguistics that are important for teaching German. GRMN 5020 is typically offered in the fall.

3. One course with significant pre-1900 content:  To ensure that you have graduate-level knowledge of German intellectual and literary history from 1750 to the present, you will take at least one course that focuses on pre-twentieth-century content. 

4. Secondary concentration:  As a German Studies PhD student, you will develop an interdisciplinary area of concentration.  This secondary field will consist of at least 6 credit hours.  You will design this concentration in close consultation with your faculty mentor and comprehensive examination and dissertation advisor, and with the approval of the graduate associate chair.  Some examples of interdisciplinary concentrations might include (but are not limited to):  critical thought, political science, philosophy, history, comparative literature, gender studies, film studies, Russian studies, Jewish studies, women’s studies, geography, environmental studies, economics, international affairs.

5. Foreign language requirement: In addition to demonstrating a high level of proficiency in German, you must demonstrate moderate proficiency in an additional foreign language.  You can do this by fulfilling one of the following requirements either before or after enrolling at CU-Boulder:

  • Completing a fourth-semester (second-semester sophomore) college language course with a grade of “pass”;
  • Completing a proficiency exam administered at CU; or
  • Presenting other evidence of moderate proficiency to the Graduate Associate Chair.

Students should consult with the Graduate Associate Chair at the beginning of their first semester to discuss procedures. This requirement must be fulfilled before or during the semester in which the student advances to candidacy.

6. Academic preparation: If you have gaps in your academic preparation, the department may require you to take additional courses.  

7. Petitions Requesting Exceptions Graduate students may, for one reason or another, feel the need to petition for an exception to a departmental requirement. Such requests should be made to the Graduate Director in person or in writing explaining the reasons justifying an exception from the requirement. The Graduate Director will, if appropriate, consult with the student’s advisor, or, if the student does not have chosen an advisor yet, with the head of the program. Students can expect to receive a decision within two weeks of their request. The decision will be communicated to the student in writing.



Recommended Coursework

1. Internships:  We strongly encourage you to complete at least one internship during your doctoral studies.  Three hours of internship credit can count toward the 30 required hours of coursework for the PhD.  Our graduate students have completed internships with businesses, non-profit agencies, and schools, and at locations including Colorado, Germany, and Washington, DC.  Internship offerings vary by semester.  To enroll in a graduate internship, please see the Associate Chair for Graduate Studies. International students are required to take internships for a letter grade (not pass/fail, no credit, etc.). 

2. Graduate exchange opportunities: We recommend that you spend one academic year abroad during your doctoral studies, on either a CU graduate exchange or an exchange funded by an agency such as the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) or the Fulbright Commission.  For more information concerning DAAD, Fulbright, and other grants, please see our scholarships and grants page. 

In partnership with CU’s Office of International Education, our department offers funded graduate exchanges at the University of Göttingen and the University of Regensburg.  These exchanges offer matriculation at the host institution for one academic year (10 months), plus a monthly stipend for living expenses.  One position is offered per year at each institution.  To qualify for an exchange, you must demonstrate fluency in German and evidence of superior academic work. 

If you are interested in either program, you should notify the Graduate Associate Chair by February 1 for study abroad the following academic year and formally apply by February 15.  You can obtain application materials and further information about these study abroad programs from the Office of International Education, (303) 492-7741 or

3. Independent study (GRMN 7900):  To ensure that you develop a coherent focus for your comprehensive examinations and dissertation, or to fill in gaps in your academic preparation, you may elect to pursue independent study while in our program.  We will allow you to take a maximum of two independent studies (six credits total) during your coursework; if you wish to take more than two independent studies, you must have the approval of the Associate Chair for Graduate Studies.

To enroll in an independent study, fill out an Independent Study Contract form in consultation with the faculty member sponsoring your independent study.  On the form, you and your faculty sponsor will specify the course of study and the method by which he or she will evaluate your work. After the department chair approves the contract, a staff member will enroll you in the course. If you wish to take an independent study as part of your secondary concentration, you should work with that department and with the GSLL Graduate Associate Chair to fill out the contract and register for the course.

4. Graduate Certificate Programs: We also encourage you to consider completing a graduate certificate program at CU.  GSLL offers a Critical Theory Graduate Certificate.  Visit our graduate certificates webpage for information on other graduate certificates at CU.


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