PhD Program in German Studies/Literature

Requirements for the PhD Program in German Studies/Literature

1. Course work: 

Students take 4 courses per term for 2 years, with a total of 16 courses required; 3 of those courses may be audited. Students should consult with the Director of Graduate Study (DGS), who must approve each schedule. 

Over the course of the first two years of study, one of the term papers for credit courses should be developed into a research paper (‘publishable ’ paper). In addition, one or two of the courses taken for credit may be Directed Readings under the supervision of a faculty member, with the approval of the DGS. 

Up to 2 credits may be awarded for prior work done at the graduate level, provided the student’s first-year record at Yale is very good and courses taken for credit at Yale are not less than 12.
The German Literature Track: 4 courses may be taken outside the department.
The German Studies Track: 7 courses may be taken outside the department. There should be some coherence in the choice of outside courses.

2. Languages:

In the third semester of study, students are required to give evidence of a reading knowledge of one language (other than their native language) that is highly relevant to the study of German literature and culture. The department strongly recommends French, but other languages may possibly be approved on consultation with the DGS. It is possible to fulfill this requirement by taking a language exam in the relevant department, by taking a reading course with a resulting grade of A, or by way of other measures of experience such as studying in another country.

Students who are not native speakers of German must pass a written and oral examination in German. A departmental examination, both written and oral, will be administered in the second term of study, so that there will be ample time for improvement, should that prove necessary.

3. Teaching:

Students are expected to begin teaching in the third year of study, while preparing for the oral examination. It is strongly advised that they teach at least one additional year: if, for instance, they hold a fellowship for study abroad during the 4th year, they should teach during the 5th year. With regard to the two years of teaching, the expectation is that students accept a minimum of three terms of German language teaching assigned by the Director of the Language Program. If there is a compelling reason why such a program proves impossible or inadvisable, students may petition their adviser and the Director of Graduate Studies. For students in the combined German-Film program: teaching will be split between German and Film.

4. The Oral Examination: 

The Qualifying Examination assesses the students’ knowledge and understanding of the discipline and their skills and ability to carry out research projects. The examination is divided into two parts. Students should pass Part I at the beginning or in the middle of the fifth term (September or October), and Part II at the beginning of the sixth term of study (February). 

Part I. Comprehensive examination. Three sections of examination in German literary history are intended to give students an overview of the field: 

1. Medieval through Baroque; 
2. 1750 – 1880; 
3. 1880 – present. 

Each section is 30 min. long. Reading lists are compiled by students from a departmental list in consultation with DGS and faculty. 
The preparation of readings should begin in the summer preceding the fifth term. 

Part II. Project-based examination. Three commented bibliographies or course syllabi are constructed by the students according to their special interests in literature, media, and criticism/theory/philosophy. The projects with an emphasis on general and comparative studies are intended to develop skills of carrying out research in literary studies; types of projects are: 

1. Genres in literature and media; 
2. Motifs, themes, and principle structures in literature and media; 
3. Concepts and movements in criticism, aesthetic theory, and philosophy. 

Under the guidance of the DGS, students work on bibliographies or syllabi in close consultation with a member of the faculty. In addition to the commented bibliographies or syllabi, a discussion of 30 min. per project concludes this part of the examination. 

Usually, the concluding oral examination should take place in the fourth to sixth week of the sixth term. Consultation with faculty members begins in the fifth term. 

5. Study Abroad: 

After the student has passed the Oral Examination, the student may apply for fellowships for study abroad for an entire academic year. For students in their first and/or second year, the department offers 8-week fellowships for study in Baden-Wuerttemberg universities during the summer.

6. The Prospectus and Prospectus Defense:

The prospectus for the dissertation must be submitted at the end of the sixth term of study, typically in May. It should be approximately 10-12 pages in length. It should: 

1. provide an overview of the dissertation project,
2. situate the project within the relevant secondary literature,
3. describe the scholarly contribution that the dissertation is expected to make,
4. give an overview of what each chapter is expected to focus upon, and
5. it must include a bibliography of relevant primary and secondary texts.

The prospectus should be written in close consultation with the dissertation advisor, who must approve it before it is submitted to the rest of the faculty. 

Shortly after the student has submitted the prospectus, the entire faculty will convene to discuss the prospectus with the student. If serious objections to the project are raised, the student is expected to revise the prospectus to meet these objections

7. The Dissertation and the Dissertation Fellowship:

The Dissertation and the Dissertation Fellowship: The culmination of the student’s work is the dissertation. Each student will choose a dissertation committee of three people, one (sometimes two) of whom will serve as the student’s primary advisor(s). Drafts of each chapter must be submitted in a timely fashion to all members of the student’s committee: the first chapter should be submitted to the committee by February 1st of the fourth year; the second chapter should be submitted by January 1st of the fifth year. A formal chapter review will be held for the first chapter, during which the student will discuss his or her work with the members of the dissertation committee and the DGS. It is expected that the student will present the first chapter of the dissertation to the Graduate Student Forum in the first semester of the 5th year of study. The Graduate Student Forum is designed to give students a chance to present papers, talks, and dissertation chapters to their peers and to faculty members. The dissertation is ideally 200-250 double-spaced pages in length.

Helpful Links:

Graduate School of Arts and Sciences Programs & Policies webpage
Graduate School of Arts and Sciences Programs & Policies handbook
Requirements for the Combined PhD Program in German Studies/Film and Media Studies may be found here.