The German Studies program at Michigan State University offers both the MA and the PhD, and both degree programs provide a solid grounding in the core disciplinary areas of literature, culture, and language studies in a unique course of study that integrates digital humanities approaches into coursework, teaching, and research opportunities. The faculty members in our program embrace an integrated vision of language and cultural studies that prepares students for careers in academia and beyond. Our close-knit program ensures that students receive personalized mentoring in teaching and research as well as in exploring various career options.

The German faculty members are recognized nationally and internationally for their scholarship, and students benefit from the faculty’s active involvement with interdisciplinary programs across campus, including Digital Humanities, Second Language Studies, Global Studies, Jewish Studies, Gender Studies, and more. For more information on our areas of expertise, please see the individual faculty profiles.

For more information about graduate studies in German at MSU, please contact the Director of Graduate Studies, Prof. Lynn Wolff:

PhD in German Studies

We are especially excited about our streamlined PhD program, which allows students to pursue innovative, interdisciplinary work across the humanities. The recently reconfigured German Studies PhD trains students for a variety of 21st-century careers by responding to the transformative role of modern technologies in the production, dissemination, and analysis of language and cultural knowledge. Our PhD program sets itself apart through a combination of innovative technology, media, and digital humanities perspectives and unique learning, teaching, and other pre-professional opportunities. Students may enhance their German Studies degree with Graduate Certificates in Digital Humanities, Museum Studies, or College Foreign Language Teaching.

MA in German Studies

The MA program is an ideal foundation for advanced graduate studies. It is also well suited for those teaching in the K-12 system as part of their continuing education. Outreach and co-curricular aspects of the program often lead to opportunities for positions in academic or professional contexts. MA students may choose between a comprehensive exam, thesis, or project to complete their degree requirements. See our graduate student page for details on recent projects and theses.


Collaboration is central to the intellectual community of our program, and we strive to provide our graduate students with unique opportunities to work together with faculty in research, teaching, outreach, and other professional activities. Students are encouraged to take advantage of the following collaborative opportunities:

  • the Graphic Narratives Network, an interdisciplinary research group co-founded by German faculty members, gives students the chance to collaborate with faculty in exploring the MSU Libraries’ world-renowned Comic Art Collection, and to work on long-range research projects, both digital and otherwise, in the broader field of text-image studies.
  • with careful guidance from faculty mentors, students are encouraged to pursue innovative, non-traditional forms of scholarship, including hybrid dissertation projects, that are best suited for their intended career paths, whether in or beyond academia.
  • Max Kade Fellows shadow faculty mentors in upper-level German courses, or related courses outside the department, to gain a deeper understanding of and hands-on experience with a wider range of types of teaching and pedagogies.
  • students acquire professional experience in study abroad program leadership, co-teaching a popular summer program in Germany.
  • the Center for Language Teaching Advancement gives students the chance to reach beyond the university and teach diverse ages of language learners in the Greater Lansing community.
  • Digital Humanities at MSU provides further opportunities for collaboration as well as strong research support.


Our program trains professionals for a range of 21st century academic and professional careers. Our graduates teach at institutions of higher education from Ivy League schools (Yale University), liberal arts colleges (Hillsdale College, Luther College, Aquinas College), to community colleges (Grand Rapids Community College). They also work in a variety of educational contexts beyond the classroom, such as study abroad and curriculum development. Many of our MAs pursue K-12 teaching careers, while others find their path in the private sector. See our graduate student page for details on recent graduates.


Graduate students in our programs are fully funded for 2 years (MA) or 5 years (PhD). Funding is comprised of a combination of teaching assistantship, research assistantship, and fellowship. The German program is committed to supporting its graduate students financially through the summer months, with a variety of funding sources that include online teaching, study abroad program leadership, and research fellowships. Generous travel funding for conferences, archival work, and other scholarly or professional activities is also available.

All funding packages include a tuition waiver for 9 credits per semester (fall and spring), health insurance, and other benefits. Students are encouraged to participate actively in the professional arena, with generous travel funding to present at scholarly conferences. In the dissertation phase, students are encouraged to apply for external grants to further support their studies (Fulbright, DAAD, etc.).

Q: Will this funding fully cover the duration of my studies?
A: The average MA student completes the degree in two years (often graduating in the summer term after Year 2). The average PhD student defends and graduates after 5-6 years, with the trend moving in the downward direction toward 4-5 years, following our focused attention to streamlining degree requirements and securing year-round funding.

More information about Teaching Assistantships and graduate student funding can be found on the Departments resources for graduate student page.


For official details about admissions policies and policies governing the structure of the graduate programs, consult the: MSU GRM Graduate Program Handbook_2020-2021