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German Studies: Graduate Programs



The Department of German Studies is a tenure-granting academic unit housed within the College of Humanities and the School of International Languages, Literatures, and Cultures. It offers a Bachelor of Arts in German Studies, a Master of Arts in German Studies, and a joint binational Ph.D. in Transcultural German Studies. By fostering awareness of cultural, literary, and linguistic practices of German-speaking countries and communities, the Department serves the overall mission of the University of Arizona by preparing students to be critically thoughtful and linguistically competent citizens of local, national, and global communities.

Mission, role, and scope

The Department’s mission is to enable students to become adept speakers of German and to increase their critical awareness of German-speaking countries and cultures through the study of a wide variety of literary and other cultural texts and practices.

The Department actively partakes in the University of Arizona’s mission to “provide a comprehensive, high-quality education that engages our students in discovery” and to empower our graduates “to be leaders in solving complex societal problems” (University of Arizona web site). It helps to fulfill the institution’s mission to be a world-class, student-centered, land-grant university. In keeping with the goal, stated in the “Never Settle” Strategic Plan, to “provide students with a dynamic educational experience,” the Department offers students quality learning and research opportunities at both the undergraduate and graduate levels of instruction.

Major goals or strategic directions for the next five years

  1. Engaging in nationally and internationally recognized research in the area of Transcultural German Studies (and its cultural, literary, and applied linguistic subfields);
  2. Strengthening the department’s MA program and its unique international Ph.D. Program in Transcultural German Studies (offered with the University of Leipzig, Germany) by attracting high quality graduate students and external funding;
  3. Strengthening the department’s solid and growing undergraduate program by preparing students for transcultural interaction with the German-speaking world at political, economic and cultural levels;
  4. Contributing to general education by preparing students for transcultural communication in a globalized world;
  5. Contributing to teacher training, study abroad programs, interdisciplinary programs, and other degree programs at graduate and undergraduate levels; and
  6. Contributing to the needs of the Southwest region, the nation and international communities through outreach activities related to articulation with K-12 education, to border studies, multilingualism, in addition to a plethora of other activities the Department sponsors.

Doctoral Program

The Joint International Ph.D. Program in Transcultural German Studies at the University of Arizona and the University of Leipzig is a program without precedent in the United States, designed for students who aspire to academic careers (in research, administration, government service and/or consultancy) throughout the humanities and social sciences. It integrates the strengths of an American Research I university and a major German university (specifically, the Herder Institute for German as a Foreign Language at the University of Leipzig).

Students in the Transcultural German Studies Ph.D. program choose to specialize in either German Literary-Cultural Studies or Second Language Acquisition and Teaching (SLAT)/Applied Linguistics. Students with an emphasis on SLAT/Applied Linguistics complete an internal minor in German Literary-Cultural Studies.

M.A. Program

Our M.A. Program in German Studies has focused primarily on two emphases: 1) Literature and Culture, or 2) Pedagogy, Literature, and Culture. A number of new emphases have been designed and approved in the last years (see section on change in response to findings).

Expected Learning Outcomes: 

Graduates of our doctoral program are expected to be able to:

produce publishable research (articles and monographs) on topics relevant to German Studies and related fields,

  • articulate a complex program of future research, and its relevance and rationale for the public good, as well as the good of the discipline,
  • communicate and write at advanced proficiency levels in both German and English, and to be able to research effectively in a third language of relevance to German Studies,
  • to be intimately familiar with the institutional features, professional responsibilities and market-dynamics of German Studies as a life-long profession, both in the US and in German-speaking countries,
  • teach a variety of literature/culture and language courses at the undergraduate and graduate levels,
  • be a scholarly interlocutor (specialist) in three to four intensive domains of research, while being conversant as a generalist in German Studies,
  • be an effective and collegial contributor to a potential hiring department or institution

Graduates of our M.A. program are expected to be able to:

  • effectively make the transition from undergraduate studies and to cultivate a professional identity in a German Studies-related field,
  • demonstrate extensive familiarity with German literary and cultural history, in preparation for teaching and research responsibilities in a tertiary, secondary, or primary institution of learning,
  • demonstrate B2-level proficiency in all domains of language practice (in German) in accordance with the Common European Frameworks of Reference for Language,
  • articulate a professional plan and vision, with the assistance of the Department’s intensive mentoring and professional development program,
  • demonstrate excellence as a foreign language teacher and as a colleague in a team of teachers

Outcomes for graduate students who select the pedagogy option or are employed as teaching assistants

All graduate students who teach in the department are observed once or twice per semester by the Director of the Basic Language Program and/or an assistant of the director. After classroom observation, the teaching is discussed, evaluated, and assessed collaboratively with the GAT, and suggestions for improvements are given. In the first semester of teaching, GATs’ classes are also video-taped, observed, discussed, and evaluated by peers within the breakout session of the course on teaching methodology (GER 579).

  • Student participation
  • Interaction / communication
  • Teacher’s class preparation
  • Class structure / progression
  • Transitions
  • Task variation
  • Teacher’s adaptation to students’ level
  • Clarity of instructions
  • Clarity of explanations
  • Appropriateness of error correction
  • Target language proficiency
  • Supportive materials / media
  • Homework assignments
Assessment Activities: 

Regular or Recurring Activities

  • Assessment of graduate students’ academic potential and productivity (in terms of authored/co-authored publications and conference presentations)
  • Assessment of graduate students’ teaching skills through:
    • Classroom observations and reports by the Basic Language Program Director or the Coordinator of the 300-level courses or assistants (see attached observation report form)
    • GATs’ course evaluation scores
    • GATs’ awards for excellence in teaching  
  • Assessment of graduate students’ advanced German language proficiency through:
    • The Goethe B2 Certificate examination
    • The Goethe C1 Certificate examination
    • Performance in term papers
    • Performance in M.A. examination
    • Performance in Comprehensive Ph.D. examination

Other Asessment Activities

Because the Department houses a relatively small community of Masters and Doctoral students at a given time, we are able to pursue assessment of our program’s learning objectives through a combination of intensive narrative feedback, small seminar exchanges, directed independent studies, and professional development workshops that respond to students’ changing needs from semester to semester. Three of our eight faculty hold official supervisory roles vis-à-vis graduate advising (Director of Graduate Studies, Director of the Basic Language Program, Supervisor of Secondary Language Certification Program), and all of our faculty participate in the assessment of students’ written research, presentation skills, teaching excellence, advanced foreign language learning, and professional development.

Masters Students must pass a written and oral examination in the fourth semester of coursework that demonstrates their research capacities in three intensive areas of German Studies (say New German Cinema, German-Jewish relations, and teaching intercultural competence) as well as demonstrating philological breadth by analytically contextualizing literary works and cultural products in their appropriate production context and discursive moment. In consultation with their three examiners, Masters Students produce a list of 60 works (in four periods from 800-2014 CE, and in three thematic areas of their choosing) about which they must demonstrate contextual and textual knowledge, both in English and German. Students pursuing Secondary Teaching Certification must in addition complete an intensively supervised student-teaching semester at a local public secondary school.

Doctoral Students are mentored and assessed on their progress toward degree on a regular basis by faculty at the Herder Institute in Leipzig and in the Department of German Studies in Tucson. In the first semester of their studies, newly admitted students complete a Qualifying Exercise, which is comprised of an assessment the individual student’s progress in the seminar Approaches to German Studies, as well as of the student’s research project (5000 words approximately) completed during that seminar. Qualifying Exercise in the First Semester: Three faculty members are appointed by the Director of Graduate Studies to adjudicate this research paper, in order to determine the student’s strengths and weaknesses as a writer and researcher. At the beginning of his or her second semester of coursework, each doctoral student receives a 2-page narrative assessment detailing the Qualifying Exercise Committee’s feedback. This ensures both that the student is able to make use of the remaining four semesters before his/her comprehensive examinations to address necessary areas in their professional and scholarly development, and that the departmental faculty have a formal opportunity to exchange views with one another on the new student’s progress.

Team-Mentoring of Graduate Students: It is a regular part of our Departmental Meeting’s Executive Session to collaboratively reflect on each student’s progress and needs, and how to best partner them towards their degree and future career expectations.

The Executive Session discussions about current students, the Qualifying Exercise narratives, and informal daily conversations with students help us in structuring weekly intensive and hands-on professional development workshops on topics ranging from building an academic CV, applying for summer funding, shaping your teaching portfolio, writing a letter of introduction, close-reading the job information list, and being proactive about seeking appropriate letters of recommendation.

The first semester of doctoral work is a tone-setting moment, in which Departmental expectations for students’ progress to degree is communicated. The faculty use a combination of 1) professional development workshops, 2) Ger 508: Approaches to German Studies, and 3) GER 579: Issues and Methods in Postsecondary Foreign Language Teaching and Learning to make sure that the demands of advanced academic professionalism are clearly articulated.

In Leipzig, in their second year of post-M.A. coursework, doctoral students are required to present original research in German, and to co-teach with a faculty member in the Herder Institut. It is during this second year of coursework that students are expected to complete and finalize the reading lists for their comprehensive examination, which takes place in the fifth semester of coursework.

Preparing for the Comprehensive Examination: Upon returning to Tucson for their 5th semester, doctoral students make final preparations for their Comprehensive Examination, which is held at the end of the fifth semester. It is both extensive and intensive in nature. The CE tests the student’s critical abilities, knowledge, and methodology in four intensive thematic areas and serves to ensure the student has adequate preparation and ability to carry out dissertation-level research.

Rationale of the Comprehensive Examination: The Comprehensive Examination is meant to be prospective, in that it prepares students for their research work as dissertators and as future junior faculty.  The Comprehensive Examination focuses on four topics (three in the major area and one in the minor area), which are reflected in the reading list that the candidate compiles in consultation with his or her committee members. In advance of the CE the candidate prepares a reading list organized according to four topics, reflecting the candidate’s research foci. This list represents a comprehensive, extensive survey of the pertinent scholarship on the topic specified.

Rational of the Dissertation Prospectus. The Dissertation Prospectus is designed to 1) facilitate candidates' ability to shape their dissertation project in concert and consultation with their advising faculty 2) develop a collaborative, proactive, realistic plan for Progress to Degree, 3) provide candidates with a document with which to secure dissertation and Fulbright or DAAD fellowships and intramural scholarships, as well as strengthen their dossiers for any upcoming job searches.

Upon completion of their Comprehensive Exams in the fifth semester, doctoral candidates (“ABD’s”) prepare a Dissertation Prospectus and present it at the following semester’s Prospectus Conference, which is scheduled once a semester in the 10th-12th week by the Director of Graduate Studies. The conference is a forum in which students share their ideas with any faculty and colleagues who are able to attend, and receive suggestions as they continue to research and write their dissertation. Following the conference, the Dissertation Committee meets in closed session without the candidate to discuss potential feedback.

These are our guidelines for the Dissertation Prospectus:

Statement of Thesis: What is the critical question you wish to study and what is its relevance to, or significance in, German Studies? State clearly and concisely how you conceive this question and how you suppose it can be best addressed and researched.

Scholarly Context: What work has, and has not, been done in this field and on this problem? Discuss relevant scholarship critically. It is not necessary to criticize specific shortcomings in the extant scholarship, but only to show show what are understood to be the merits and limitations of relevant works. How do you propose to develop, challenge, or depart from existing positions or themes in the critical and secondary literature? Have scholars in other fields developed concepts of potential interest to the topic?

Method and Theory: Outline an approach to the subject. If the conception has theoretical and methodological aspects, discuss them critically and extensively. Feel free to acknowledge aspects that are particularly complex, and about which you could use feedback. If IRB / Human Subjects approval is necessary, all materials for that application must be documented in the Prospectus, so that you an pursue approval immediately after the Conference.

Sources: Give an account of the sources you have already consulted for the subject. Stress primary sources, the difficulties they present, their location (print, manuscript, or any other form), and their accessibility. Identify the principal libraries and repositories, as well as other locations and persons. Do not overlook unpublished doctoral or master's research. Provide in the bibliography at least 25 initial sources that you have already consulted substantively for your research. Note additional sources that you know will be essential for your work, but which you have not yet had occasion to consult.

Bibliography: List the primary and secondary sources used to develop the prospectus.

Preparation for the Dissertation Prospectus Conference

A month before the Conference, candidates will submit a 15-20 page written prospectus to their advisor, who will distribute it to the Director of Graduate Studies and other interested faculty. This forms the basis for the Conference presentation. The prospectus should include a select bibliography of works (at least 25) on which the subsequent research is to be based.

Prospectus Conference: Conferences last between 45-60 minutes per candidate. In the first 30 minutes, the candidate present his/her prospectus, and the remaining 15-30 minutes are reserved for questions from the audience.

Progress Colloquium: Upon completing the dissertation prospectus Conference, the candidate and the Director of Graduate Studies will schedule a “Progress Colloquium” in which the candidate will report to his/her colleagues on research and writing progress. This event is to be schedule for no later than nine months after the Dissertation Conference.

Progress to Degree: The Director of Graduate Studies reviews the student’s schedule to Degree (as represented in the Prospectus) each semester. Acceptable changes are considered in consultation with the dissertation adviser, the Department Head, and the student, after which the change of schedule will be appended to the dissertator’s on-file Prospectus.

Assessment Findings: 

Indicators of graduate student productivity

Selection of publications authored and co-authored by graduate students:

  • Badstübner, T., & Ecke, P. (2009). Students’ expectations, motivations, target language use, and perceived learning progress in a summer study abroad program in Germany. Die Unterrichtspraxis: Teaching German, 42(1), 41-49. (Badstübner was an MA student in German Studies and a Ph.D. student in SLAT with Minor in German Studies.
  • Ecke, P. & Ganz, A. (in press). Student analytics as part of the longitudinal evaluation of language programs. In N. Mills & J. Norris (Eds.), Innovation and accountability in foreign language program evaluation. (Ganz is a Ph.D. student in Transcultural German Studies.)
  • Ecke, P., & Möhring, J. (in preparation). Development of lexical fluency during short-term study abroad: An empirical study. (Möhring is a Ph.D. student in Transcultural German Studies.)
  • Ganz, A., Walker, R., Eby, A., & Ecke, P. (2011, March). The German undergraduate curriculum: Does it fit students’ interests and needs? Arizona Language Association, Phoenix College, Phoenix, AZ. (Ganz is a Ph.D. student in Transcultural German Studies; Eby and Walker were M.A. students in German Studies
  • Möhring, J., & Wallner, F. (2013): Wortschatzlisten auf dem Prüfstand. In: Bergerová, Hana; Schmidt, Marek und Schuppener, Georg (Hrsg.): Aussiger Beiträge 7, 2013
  • Schwalm, M., & Nicholl, J. trans. (2012). Fragments of Memory: Excerpts from Zafer Şenocak’s Zungenentfernung.” Transit 8.1. (Schwalm and Nicholl are doctoral and MA students in German Studies respectively.)

Selection of single-authored publications and presentations resulting from students’ work in GER/SLAT courses taught by German Studies faculty:

  • Göbel, C. (2005). Review of De Cilla, R., Krumm, H.-J. & Wodak, R. (Hg.) (2003): Die Kosten der Mehrsprachigkeit: Globalisierung und sprachliche Vielfalt. [The Cost of Multilingualism: Globalisation and Linguistic Diversity]. München: Iudicium.  Zeitschrift für Interkulturellen Fremdsprachenunterricht, 10(1), 4pp. (Göbel was a M.A. student in German Studies) GER 592
  • Lipinski, S. (2011). A frequency analysis of vocabulary in three first-year textbooks of German. Die Unterrichtspraxis / Teaching German, 43(2), 167-174. (Lipinski was a Ph.D. student in Transcultural German Studies.) GER 580
  • Möhring, J. (2013): Rezension zu: Quasthoff, Hallsteinsdóttir et al. (2011): Frequency Dictionary German / Häufigkeitswörterbuch Deutsch. In: Zeitschrift Deutsch als Fremdsprache, 4. GER 580
  • O’Donnell Christoffersen, K. (2012, March). How native speaker ratings measure up: A comparative analysis of lexical, syntactic and grammatical measures of proficiency. Poster presented at the Georgetown University Roundtable on Language & Linguistics. (O’Donnell Christoffersen is a Ph.D. student in SLAT.) GER/SLAT 587

Indicators of graduate students’ quality of teaching

The following graduate students received the Outstanding Graduate Assistant in Teaching (GAT) Award (2007-2013):

2013                Kacy Peckenpaugh (Ph.D., SLAT and German)

2013                Mostert, Charles (M.A., German)

2012                Nicholl, Jessica (M.A., German)

2011                Walker, Rachel (M.A., German)

2010                Gagum, Kyung Lee (M.A., German)

2009                Raba, Emily  (M.A., German)

2007                Jenison, Kathleen (M.A., German)

      2007                Ostertag, Veronica (Ph.D., SLAT and German)

       Indicators of advanced levels of German language proficiency

  • All our graduate students successfully passed the B2 Goethe Certificate examination. Most of our graduate students passed the C1 Goethe Certificate or another standard examination demonstrating C1 proficiency at the CEFR scale.
Change in Response to Findings: 

Consistently, the faculty engage our doctoral and masters’ students in shaping and co-defining the professional development and mentoring needs of the department’s graduate program, and our faculty members foster an environment in which colleagues and graduate students alike are actively invited to share ideas about ways to improve our curricular and professional offerings.

Doctoral Program

The Departmental Faculty have, over the seven years of the doctoral program’s existence, collaboratively responded to many of the challenges that arise from administering a bi-continental, inter-institutional doctoral program. Along with maintaining strong relations with the faculty and administrative staff of the Herder Institute in Leipzig, it has been necessary for our Department to be particularly proactive in preventing attrition of various kinds. We have found that a dual degree program makes it easier for students, despite intensive mentoring, to stray from progress to degree (whether due to familial circumstances or the conditions and circumstances of working in two degree-granting institutions at once.

In response to this gradual realization since 2010, we have implemented a very specific set of requirements for Dissertation Progress and preparation for the academic job market, including a regularly scheduled Dissertation Prospectus and Progress Colloquium. In the development of this new “progress-to-degree” structure, we were happy to have 100% support from current doctoral students, who report that this more intensive structure will help them maintain closer correspondence with the normative time requirements of the program (5 semesters plus two years for dissertating).

M.A. program

The following new emphases have been designed and approved in the years indicated below:

2013    Translation Studies (11 courses with 9 units dedicated to Translation Studies theory and praxis)

2012    Journalism (11 courses primarily in literature and culture, including 9 units in the School of Journalism)

2012    Collaborative Governance (11 courses primarily in literature and culture, including 3 courses in the School of Government and Public Policy)

2012    Business Administration (11 courses primarily in literature and culture, including 9 units in the Eller College of Management)

2012    Management Information Systems (11 courses primarily in literature and culture, including 9 units in the Eller College of management)

2012    Marketing (33 units primarily in literature and culture, including 9 units in the Eller College of Management)

2011    Pedagogy Emphasis with Secondary Teaching Certification (five semesters, in conjunction with the College of Education)

As an example, the new Translation Studies emphasis in our M.A. program can be traced directly to inquiries received from current students and applicants about the possibility of increased engagement with translation as a profession, practice, and mode of textual analysis.

Updated date: Fri, 12/20/2013 - 16:49