PhD Program in German

Requirements for the PhD Program in German

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; GMAN 501, Methods of Teaching German as a World Language, is required for all students. Students should consult with the Director of Graduate Study (DGS), who must approve each schedule. 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. At least 4 of these courses should be taken in one department, program, or field which is then represented in the oral exams as the student’s “minor.”*

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.

3. Teaching:

Students are typically required to teach in their third and fourth years. The sixth year, following the Dissertation Fellowship, is also in most cases a teaching year. In the third and fourth years, students teach the Elementary and Intermediate sequence (110-120-130), followed by a Teaching Fellow position with a faculty member in the German Department. Students in the combined German-Film program split their teaching equally between German and Film. In the sixth year, students are free to seek teaching in German or other departments. Teaching assignments should always be made in close consultation with the DGS, DUS and, if applicable, the dissertation advisor and Language Program Director. Teaching assignments are typically made in the late Spring for the upcoming academic year, but may not be fully finalized until the preregistration period for a given semester.

4. The Qualifying Examination (5th term):

The Qualifying Examination assesses the students’ knowledge and understanding of the discipline and their skills across a broad range of topics in the field. The examination is divided into two parts, to be taken during reading period of the fifth term of study.

Part I. Written examination. In this portion of the comprehensive the student will write a closed-book exam (four essays in six hours). Students may write in English or German; there will be a choice of questions. Sample questions are available.

SIX SECTIONS of examination in German literature and film are intended to give students an overview of the field:

1. Medieval through Baroque;
2. 1750 – 1810;
3. 1810 – 1848; 
4. 1848 – 1945;
5. 1945 – present;

6. German film of the 20th-21st century

The reading list is a departmental list, updated regularly by the faculty.

Preparation of readings should begin well in advance of the fifth term. Students are encouraged to form study groups and meet with faculty.

Part II. One-hour oral examination, a week after the written examination. In this portion of the comprehensive exam, the student will discuss the written exam with three examiners to elaborate on answers and hear comments. Students who fail the written or the oral exam can repeat the respective part once within a timeframe of eight weeks. 

5. Study Abroad:

Year-long or semester-long study abroad typically occurs in the fifth and sixth years, either in the context of the Dissertation Fellowship or with the support of external fellowships. Students also frequently participate in German Sommersemester courses (May-July) in the context of the Baden-Württemberg exchange.

6. The Prospectus and Prospectus Defense (6th term):

The prospectus for the dissertation must be submitted at the end of the sixth term of study, typically in May. It should be approximately 15-20 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 each chapter’s focus, 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 faculty. 

Shortly after the student has submitted the prospectus, the faculty will convene to discuss the prospectus with the student. If serious concerns are raised, the student will be expected to revise the prospectus.

Students should also compile a reading list of 20-30 works relevant to their proposed project, which will also be discussed during the defense.

7. 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 1 of the fourth year; the second chapter by January 1 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. The first chapter of the dissertation should be presented in the departmental colloquium not later than the first semester of the fifth year. The dissertation is submitted in March of the sixth year, prior to the Graduate School’s announced deadline. Following the submission, the DGS will convene a dissertation defense. After a brief presentation on the theme, claims, and method of the dissertation, the committee, adviser(s) and DGS will ask questions. This may lead to broader discussions which typically include publication plans and postdoctoral goals. The defense is typically a public event, with invitation list to be decided in consultation with the DGS. The defense will be concluded by a vote of the committee, the adviser(s), and the DGS. Official approval of the dissertation takes place in the form of written evaluations; hence the defense is primarily meant as a capstone event and opportunity for conversation. 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
The Combined PhD Program in German Studies/Film and Media Studies