Germanic Languages, PhD

Program Category: PhD Programs
Chair: Claudia Breger
Director of Graduate Studies: Oliver Simons
Email Address: [email protected]
Degree Programs: Full-Time: MA, MPhil, PhD

Established in 1890, the department offers a broad range of courses on German literature and culture and is designed to provide students with a solid grounding in their areas of interest. Particular strengths include German literature from the eighteenth century to the present. Faculty members pride themselves on the individual attention they give to their students. While the departmental faculty represents a spectrum of different approaches, the program includes an emphasis on literary and critical theory as well as a concern with reading texts in social and historical context. Students are encouraged to add an interdisciplinary dimension to their studies by pursuing related course work in other departments and programs, especially Comparative Literature and Society.

Deutsches Haus, at 420 West 116th Street, provides a center for German cultural activities on the Columbia campus, sponsoring conferences, lectures, film series, and informal weekly gatherings that enrich the academic program of the department. The library contains a large collection of modern German books.

Applicants are expected to have a high degree of proficiency in reading, writing and speaking German and English, and a general knowledge of German literature. Students admitted to the PhD program are required to earn the MA degree as a prerequisite to PhD degrees.

Fellowships are awarded to students in the PhD program in recognition of academic achievement and in expectation of scholarly success. Teaching and research experience are considered an important aspect of the training of PhD students. Thus, graduate fellowships include some teaching and research apprenticeship.

Certificate in Comparative Literature and Society

The Institute for Comparative Literature and Society (ICLS) awards a certificate in Comparative Literature and Society. For more information, see the ICLS website.

Special Admissions Requirements

In addition to the requirements listed below, all students must submit one transcript showing courses and grades per school attended, a statement of academic purpose, a writing sample (a course paper, term paper, etc.), a personal statement, and three letters of recommendation from academic sources.

All international students whose native language is not English or whose undergraduate degree is from an institution in a country whose official language is not English must submit scores of the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) or IELTS.

For more information, refer to our Admissions Information and Frequently Asked Questions pages.


*Applicants holding an MA must submit supporting material in the form of an MA thesis or other example of graduate work.

*GSAS will accept up to four recommendations, regardless of the number required by your program of interest. However, to be eligible for admission at GSAS, at least TWO letters must be submitted by academic recommenders.