Graduate Studies


One of the leading graduate programs nationally and internationally, German Studies at Cornell offers a flexible and rigorous course of study that draws on the expertise of faculty members from both the Department of German Studies and a variety of units in the College of Arts and Sciences and other schools (including Comparative Literature; Performing and Media Arts; Philosophy; History; Government; Music; and Architecture, Art & Planning). The German Studies faculty has a strong interest in literary, cultural, and intellectual history, philosophy, literary theory, gender studies, Jewish studies, visual studies, film & media studies, and music. Members of the faculty are also affiliated with the Medieval Studies Program, the Program of Jewish Studies,  the Visual Studies Program, Media Studies, and the Department of Comparative Literature.

Students are encouraged to pursue their academic interests by exploring a variety of disciplinary and theoretical approaches. Cornell’s unique field system, which fosters close cooperation among scholars working on related topics across departments and schools, is key to supporting our students’ cross-disciplinary research in German Studies. Advanced graduate students regularly share their research-in-progress in colloquium series organized each semester by the Institute for German Cultural Studies. Students also organize yearly conferences that provide a venue for showcasing past and current work and typically draw participants from North America and Europe.

Courses of Study

Our program is designed to grant students considerable freedom in tailoring their studies to their academic interests. Graduate students work closely with a Special Committee of their choice that advises them and administers the examinations required for an advanced degree. The Graduate School permits any combination of major and minor subjects approved by the candidate's Special Committee.

To allow for maximum flexibility in their studies students are expected to complete a minimum number of required courses, including:

  • five of the anchor courses taught by a faculty member in the Department of German Studies in the following four areas of German culture: Middle Ages through the Reformation; the Baroque through the end of the eighteenth century; the nineteenth century; the twentieth century;
  • a course in language pedagogy offered by the department every fall;
  • course work required to demonstrate proficiency in a language other than German relevant to the student’s field of concentration.

Graduate Admissions

Students encouraged to apply include undergraduates who have completed a German major as well as individuals who have majored in Humanities or Social Sciences and have a strong interest in German Studies. Fluency in the German language is required. 

We require a writing sample (in either German or English, ca. 25 double-spaced pages); transcripts; at least two letters of recommendation. Students whose native language is not English must also submit TOEFL scores. Submission of GRE scores is not required.
The application process must be done on-line through the Graduate School and must be completed by January 2. Cornell University expects all applicants to complete their application materials without the use of paid agents, credentials services, or other paid professional assistance. The use of such services violates University policy, and may lead to the rejection of application materials, the revocation of an admissions offer, cancellation of admission, or involuntary withdrawal from the University. 

Financial Aid:

Incoming graduate students are offered a standard package that includes two years of full fellowship support and three years of Teaching Assistantships in beginning language and literature courses and in the First-Year Seminar Writing Program sponsored by Cornell’s Knight Institute. The package also includes four years of summer funding. Apprentice teaching is considered an essential part of the graduate program in German. 

In addition to the guaranteed financial support students can also apply for a number of fellowships that will give them the opportunity for study abroad. They include: one exchange fellowship with the Humboldt University in Berlin, Cornell-Heidelberg Exchange Fellowships, German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD)Fellowships, and Fulbright Program fellowships administered through the Einaudi Center for International Studies.

More information on graduate fellowships, travel grants, and financial aid is available from the Institute for European Studies and the Graduate School.

Library Facilities

The Cornell Libraries have more than 7.8 million volumes, including extensive holdings in all periods and aspects of Germanic studies. Of special interest are the Bopp Philological Collection, the Zarncke Collection of medieval through eighteenth-century texts (including substantial Luther and Lessing collections), the Witchcraft Collection, the Loewy Masonic Collection, and the Fiske Icelandic Collection.

The library actively collaborates with faculty in German Studies on projects such as the digital collection of video conversations between Heiner Müller and Alexander Kluge and Signale: Modern German Letters, Cultures, and Thought, a print + electronic monographic series published under the joint imprint of Cornell University Library and Cornell University Press.

Graduate Student Association

Pandaemonium Germanicum (PG) is the association of graduate students in German Studies. The purposes and goals of PG are as follows:

  1. To foster the social and intellectual environment of graduate students in the Department of German Studies.
  2. To represent the interests and concerns of graduate students in the department of German Studies in matters concerning department policy and decision making.
  3. To participate in the social and intellectual life of the university.
  4. To promote a critical understanding of German Studies.
  5. To address and support the professional development of future academics in the discipline of German Studies.

All current graduate students in the Department of German Studies at Cornell University are eligible for membership. Active participation is voluntary. 

Graduate Student Handbook

Current graduate students should be sure to review the graduate student handbook frequently.