Placement Information

Have you taken German before and plan on registering for a German course? You must take an online placement assessment. Learn more about the placement process


Did you know:  

  • German is the official language or co-language of 9 countries and that it is a minority language throughout the globe including in Poland, Namibia, Brazil, and Romania? It is the most spoken native language in the European Union.
  • The U.S. poet Audre Lorde taught at the Free University in Berlin in the 1980s and 1990s, helping spur the Black German movement?
  • The Sorbs/Wends are a Slavic minority who have maintained many of their cultural traditions and practices in eastern Germany?
  • Between 23% and 38% of the populations of Austria, Germany and Switzerland have a migrant background?
  • The first Institute of Sexology was founded in Berlin in 1919?
  • Germany is home to the largest Turkish population outside of Turkey?

Why study German? A relevant field for the 21st century, German Studies emphasizes the diversity of the German-speaking world. Of course, German has long been a crucial language of the arts, philosophy, and the social and natural sciences. The German-speaking countries have played a significant role in European and global world history, while united Germany is one of the driving forces behind European integration and economic development. The Germanophone world offers some of the most innovative literature, music, art, film and other forms of cultural expression and a breadth of multicultural perspectives. As a result, German is an important language—not just in Germany, Austria, Liechtenstein, and the German-speaking cantons of Switzerland—but also throughout the world.

    German Studies at Lawrence University. Our German Studies department embraces cultural studies. In our classes, you learn the German language, of course, but you also engage with literature, history, and culture, including popular culture—film, television and popular literature. Lawrence's German Studies courses approach language as part of a larger context; even our beginning classes are also a cultural studies curriculum.

    As a German Studies student, you flex your critical thinking skills and work among multiple interdisciplinary frameworks. Take courses drawn from many intellectual traditions, including, literary studies, film studies, queer and trans studies, gender studies, history, critical ethnic and race studies, disability studies, and postcolonialism. Our faculty work in multiple programs including: Ethnic Studies, Film Studies, Gender Studies, and Global Studies.

    We view all cultural artifacts as “readable.” This means you encounter not just literature, but also film and television, history, comics, music, art and visual culture, architecture, politics, social media, fashion, and much more. This exciting mix provides access to a dynamic, diverse, and interdependent international community, a global community in which the German-speaking countries are ever more important. The knowledge and skills you acquire in German Studies are applicable to a wide variety of careers and offer a lifetime of cultural rewards.

    Off-campus Study. Study in the German-speaking world in one of our affiliated programs in Berlin, Freiburg, and Vienna or work with us to find a program that meets your specific needs. On campus, maintain a connection to German language and culture at our lunch and dinner tables or at departmental events.

    Required for the major in German Studies

    The German Studies major requirements are structured so as to offer students the flexibility to select courses based on their individual interests. Attain proficiency in the language after completing the sequence GER101⇒GER102⇒GER201⇒GER202⇒GER285. If you have had previous experience in German, take the placement assessment.  After GER285 (or equivalent), the only required courses are GER312: Reading Texts and Contexts and the Senior Experience (either GER600: Senior Seminar or an independent study).

    Students who complete the major in German Studies can expect to achieve the following:

    • At least intermediate-high to advanced-low level proficiency in the four language skills (listening, speaking, reading and writing);
    • The ability to engage critically and analytically with a variety of literary and cultural texts (e.g., poetry, film, drama, material culture, visual art, historical documents, novels, popular music) by situating them in their aesthetic, historical, political, social and (inter-)cultural contexts;
    • Demonstrate knowledge of Germanophone cultures as diverse, dynamic, multi-lingual, and global;
    • At the culmination of the major, execute the research and writing skills to carry out an independent project relevant to the discipline of German Studies using primary and secondary resources.

    The major in German Studies requires:

    1. 60 units beyond GER 202, including GER 312: Reading Texts and Contexts. At least 36 of these units must be taken at Lawrence. Twelve units taught in English may count toward the major, but companion tutorials taught in German taken with courses taught in English may count as German credit.
    2. Students usually complete a capstone project in the senior seminar (GER600) or in conjunction with a departmental course taken during the senior year (see Senior Experience below).
    3. Students who expect to graduate must submit electronically a portfolio by the second week of their final term. The student's advisor will provide details about the exact contents of the portfolio which will generally consist of the following materials:
      1. a reflection statement
      2. a list of courses taken for the major
      3. sample Lesejournale or other short writing assignments 
      4. four papers from upper-level courses
      5. the capstone 

    Senior Experience in German Studies

    The German Studies department's Senior Experience consists of an independent research or creative project that explores a question of the student's own choosing relevant to the discipline. Students hone their research and writing skills through the Senior Seminar (GER600) or independent study. They typically develop and explore a research question during Fall Term and complete the writing of the project during Winter Term of their senior year. Beyond the completion of a capstone project, other important components of the Senior Experience are advanced instruction in academic research and writing, evaluation of primary and secondary resources, peer and instructor feedback, utilization of various theoretical perspectives, and extensive revision.

    Students undertaking a capstone in another discipline or who are wishing to receive teacher certification should work with all concerned departments/programs to assess the feasibility of an interdisciplinary capstone.

    Required for the minor in German Studies

    1. Thirty-six units beyond GER 202, including GER 312: Reading Texts and Contexts. At least 24 of these units must be taken at Lawrence. Only six units taught in English may count toward the minor, but tutorials taught in German taken in conjunction with English courses may count as German Studies credits.

    Teacher certification in German (K-12)

    German Studies majors can seek certification to teach German at the elementary and secondary levels. To be certified, students must spend at least one term in a German-speaking country studying the language and culture. They must also pass an oral and writing proficiency test. Students can add an endorsement in a second area (such as another language or English as a second language) by completing the appropriate minor. Students who plan to seek teacher certification should review the requirements in the Education Studies section of the catalog and meet with the director of teacher education, preferably before the end of the sophomore year.