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*German is currently not accepting graduate applications.

The Department of German offers a PhD program that includes the MA degree as a required step toward the PhD.  The program trains future scholars in German Studies and prepares them to be competitive on the national job market.  It encourages interdisciplinary work and students are required to pursue a certificate or related area in programs such as Cultural Studies, Film Studies, Women Studies, European Studies, or in another related area.

Contact Information

Director of Graduate Studies: Randall Halle
Fax: 412-624-6318

Additional information concerning the department's graduate program may be obtained from the University of Pittsburgh, Department of German, 1409 Cathedral of Learning, Pittsburgh, PA 15260. Phone: 412-624-5909. E-mail:

For more on each of the following programs, visit


All applicants apply for the PhD program.  Applicants should have a BA or MA in German or a related field. Students with training in related fields will be considered for full graduate status if their background in German language and culture is sufficient to succeed in graduate-level courses.  For admission to the PhD, students completing their MA at the University of Pittsburgh must pass a preliminary evaluation in their final semester of study. For students entering with an MA from another institution, this evaluation takes place by the end of their first year of study at the University of Pittsburgh.

Applications should include:

  • an Application Form;
  • a Statement of Intent (Please describe your intellectual background, research interests, and academic goals);
  • 3 Letters of Recommendation;
  • Official Transcripts from all undergraduate and graduate study (non-US degrees must be accompanied by a notarized English translation);
  • an audio recording (Non-native speakers should supply a recording in which they 1) speak freely about a topic and 2) read formally a passage from a literary or academic text);
  • a Writing Sample (a research paper or selection from a thesis of about 20 pages that offers an example of the applicant’s ability to conduct research and provide evidence of strong writing skills. It may be in either English or German.);
  • TOEFL scores (Required of Foreign Students: minimum score of 550 [paper-based test] / 80 [internet-based test]) or the IELTS administered by the University of Cambridge, Local Examinations Syndicate with a minimum score of 6.5 (taking the academic and reading modules); and
  • an Application fee of $50 (Please contact the Director of Graduate Studies if this represents a financial hardship).

Applicants are required to submit all materials for fall term admissions by January 2. Students who would like to be considered for non-teaching fellowships are encouraged to submit their applications before the New Year.  Applications submitted after the deadline will be considered only if space is available.  Applications are submitted online at

Financial Assistance

Students with a high proficiency in oral German are eligible for teaching assistantships or teaching fellowships for up to five years (three years when entering with the MA). These assistantships/fellowships consist of full tuition scholarships and living expense stipends. Aid is guaranteed for the duration of the assistantship/fellowship provided the student remains in good academic standing and makes satisfactory progress toward the degree. Students may also apply for graduate tuition scholarships, Andrew Mellon Predoctoral Fellowships, the Lillian B. Lawler Scholarship/Fellowship, the Provost’s Humanities Fellowships, the Fellowships in Cultural Studies, and Exchange Fellowships with the Universities of Augsburg and Bonn. A number of these fellowships are available for first-year graduate students. Interested candidates should submit their completed applications to the department by the beginning of January.

Requirements for the Master’s Degree

The Master of Arts normally takes two years of study. The 30 credits include nine graduate seminars, at least six taken within the department, and a 3 credit MA project (between 35 and 50 pages long). All teaching assistants/fellows must successfully pass German 2970 as a basis for continuing financial support as a teaching assistant or fellow. In addition, all entering students must enroll in German 2110, “Introduction to Literary and Cultural Theory.”  

In addition to the satisfactory completion of courses, students must demonstrate a high level of proficiency in writing both in German and English by submitting for departmental approval at least one paper written in German and one paper written in English by the time of the preliminary evaluation. They must also demonstrate reading proficiency in an additional language by the end of their last term of study.


Requirements for the PhD

The requirements for the PhD consist of: (1) at least 72 credits of course work, (2) a language requirement, (3) the PhD comprehensive examination, (4) the dissertation prospectus, (5) the dissertation, and (6) the completion of a certificate program or approved work in a related area. Specific details are:

  • minimum 72 credits of course work, broken down as follows:
    • 30 credits from the MA
    • at least 12 seminars total (for students entering Pitt with an MA from another institution) / at least 18 seminars total (for students entering Pitt with a BA—seminars taken at the MA level count towards this requirement)
      • of these seminars, at least 6 seminars (for students with an MA from another institution) / at least 12 seminars (for students entering Pitt with a BA) should be taken in the German department.
      • at least 6 of the above seminars should be in certificate-related courses (see below).
    • at least 2/3 of the seminars taken must be taken for a letter grade;
  • Language requirement: High level of oral proficiency in German (superior on OPI scale, 3 on ILR scale); reading knowledge of another language;
  • Comprehensive Examination: A written examination, evaluated by a committee of 3 faculty members.  Demonstrates the student’s foundation in German culture from the Enlightenment to the present, as well as the student’s ability to situate a specific focus within this larger context. The PhD comprehensive examination needs to be completed with an average grade of A-. The examination may be retaken only one time and needs to be retaken by the next academic term. Before completing the PhD comprehensive examination, students have to submit to their examination committee two research/seminar papers that demonstrate their scholarly potential;
  • Dissertation Prospectus: 10-15 pages, submitted in the semester following the comprehensive examination.  After approval by the doctoral committee, students are admitted to PhD candidacy, after which the student meets annually with the dissertation committee;
  • Dissertation Defense: The dissertation must be approved by the dissertation committee after a public oral defense; and
  • Completion of a certificate program or work in a related area (at least 18 credits).  Approved certificates include Cultural Studies, Film Studies, and Women Studies, and West European Studies, and other related areas can be defined by the student in consultation with the Director of Graduate Studies (for example, a recently developed area of concentration is Philosophy and Literature).
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