German Studies

Innovation combined with a solid foundation in traditional approaches characterizes the program of study leading to the M.A. and Ph.D. degrees in German at UCI. Special emphasis is placed on integrating works of literature, philosophy, and art into pertinent cultural and theoretical contexts as well as on understanding literature in its aesthetic, social, and historical dimensions. UC Irvine has a decades-long reputation for excellence in the study of Critical Theory, having placed first in most rankings.

The program of German is particularly well represented in the field of modern German literature, philosophy, and cultural studies. There is strong research and teaching interest in the eighteenth century, the Age of Goethe, Classicism, Romanticism, Realism, and twentieth and twenty-first-century literature. Extensive coursework in Comparative Literature, Critical Theory, Feminist Studies, Visual Studies, and other related disciplines is available to all students in the German Graduate Program.

Students take an active part in the Department's intellectual life. Speakers from a large number of universities present papers at regular colloquia that offer occasion for intense discussion. Distinguished visiting professors and Department-organized conferenes bring new perspectives and impulses. The Goethe Institute in nearby Los Angeles also provides many special events, including visits by German writers, film presentations (in addition to the Department's regular offerings), and teachers' workshops.

The UCI Library contains more than 2 million volumes and supports work and research in many areas. Special collections include the Critical Theory Archive (with the papers of Jacques Derrida, J. Hillis Miller, and other prominent theorists), the Hans Waldmüller Thomas Mann Collection and the René Wellek library. Students and faculty also enjoy access to the entire University of California library system.



The graduate program in German includes both an M.A. and a Ph.D. program. Students may apply to either the M.A. program or the Ph.D. program, but only students applying to the Ph.D. program can be admitted with fellowship funding. Students with a B.A. may apply directly to the Ph.D. program and receive fellowship support, but their official advancement into the Ph.D. program is contingent upon successful completion of the M.A. before or during the second year of study. Students who already hold the M.A. degree are also encouraged to apply to the Ph.D. program.



A student arriving with a B.A. normally will require three years to complete course work for the Ph.D. degree and qualify for advancement to candidacy. A student arriving with an M.A. will normally require no more than two years to advance to candidacy. Most of the course work is done within the Department, but students are encouraged to broaden their studies by taking related courses in other departments in the School of Humanities. Students may combine graduate study in German with substantial course work in comparative literature, critical theory, feminist theory, or visual studies; other combinations of courses may be selected in consultation with the graduate advisor. Our innovative exam structure (involving course-syllabus development) and post-exam time line are designed both to expedite progress to degree and to enhance the professional training of our students.



Since the majority of Ph.D. candidates choose careers as teachers, the Department recognizes its obligation to offer preparatory experience. All candidates for the Ph.D. degree are required to teach at least one course in each of three quarters under the supervision of the German Language Program Director. The Department provides extensive opportunities for supervised teaching experience far exceeding that available to students in many other graduate programs. Innovative language pedagogy is applied with the full participation of graduate students. 


If we were to select any one point of pride, it would be our unusually strong academic placement record for our Ph.D. recipients. We feel this is a reflection of the quality of our program. 

A Ph.D. is a tremendous asset in the non-academic job market since it demonstrates to potential employers that a candidate has superior research and writing skills and a strong capacity for critical thinking in addition to deep areas of expertise.Those students who have chosen not to pursue careers in academia have found employment in technology, the import/export business, foreign service, international banking and international marketing. Some of our alumni currently hold diverse positions such as vice president of an international bank, civilian intelligence officer with the US Air Force, German wine merchant, US Army language instructor and owner/operator of a translation service.



The German Graduate Program supports its graduate students through fellowships and graduate teaching assistantships. All admitted Ph.D. applicants will receive a five-year funding package from the School of Humanities, which will consist of a combination of fellowship, TA-ship, and research assistantship support. This package will cover in-state fees and in many cases non-resident tuition, and health insurance. In addition to the school funding package, our program will nominate eligible applicants for additional UCI graduate recruitment fellowships. 



The initial offer and ongoing support of teaching assistantships are based upon the applicant's academic record and the continuing student's annual review by the faculty of the German Department. Teaching assistantships offer substantial fee remissions. For current Teaching assistantship pay and further information, please go to the Academic Student Employee Appointment Notifications site. Entering students are eligible to teach for eighteen quarters (six years).



Application to the program is electronic.

Online application requirements:

  • Please scan and upload one transcript from each college or university you have attended since high school. Please upload both the front and back sides of the transcript.
  • Three letters of recommendation must be uploaded electronically (Paper and hardcopy letters are not allowed)
  • Statement of Purpose
  • Personal History Statement
  • Writing sample in German or English or both
  • For European Applicants who are part of the Bologna process: Please submit Diploma Supplements with your transcripts.
Please also refer to the instructions for applications, and Frequently Asked Questions.

The application deadline is January 7 for the subsequent fall quarter. Admission can be granted for any quarter; however, only fall quarter applications are considered for fellowships and teaching assistantships.

If you are an applicant whose primary language is not English, you must demonstrate proficiency in English for admission consideration. This requirement, however, is waived automatically for applicants who have completed all of the requirements for their high school diploma, bachelors degree, or an advanced degree in a country where the primary and dominant language is English and English was the language of instruction of the school where the requirements were completed. Proficiency in English may be demonstrated by passing either the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) or International English Language Testing System (IELTS).

If English is not your primary language and you wish to establish eligibility for appointment as a teaching assistant, you must pass one of the following English proficiency exams: Test of Spoken English (TSE), Test of English as a Foreign Language Internet-based Testing (TOEFL-iBT), International English Language Testing System (IELTS), Spoken Proficiency English Assessment Kit (SPEAK) or Test of Oral English Proficiency (TOEP). For further details, please see English Language Proficiency for International TAs.

  • German Philosophy for Critical Theory
  • The German Novelle and/as Ereignis
  • A Literature of Risk
  • Culture in Ruins: German Literature and Film 1940-1950
  • Geben Sie Gedankenfreiheit! The History of German Freedom
  • Kleist and Christ
  • Creatureliness: Representation between Theology and History (Auerbach)
  • Goodness and Art: The German Tradition of Ethics and Aesthetics
  • World Travel and German Identities
  • Literatures of Mobility
  • Cultural Transnationalism
  • Carl Schmitt and the Frankfurt School
  • Sovereignty in Early Modern Europe
  • Pre- and Early Modern Lessons for the (Post) Modern Age
  • Nazi Culture and Exile Responses
  • Enlightenment and Anti-Enlightenment
  • Marxism and the 19th-Century Bildungsroman
  • Religion as a Category of Political Analysis
  • Ecological Approaches to the Language Curriculum
  • Language Teaching and Technology