Department of Germanic Languages
414 Hamilton Hall, Mail Code 2812
1130 Amsterdam Ave
New York, NY 10027
Why Study German? Four Key Answers
Majoring or Concentrating in German Literature and Cultural History offers you a way to
gain substantial intellectual benefits: You will solidify your command of a language
spoken by more than 180 million people worldwide. You will become able to study
major works of literature, philosophy, psychology and politics in the original language,
and in doing so gain access to a rich cultural tradition that has left a lasting imprint on
the Western world: Just think of Kafka, Brecht, Thomas Mann and their crucial role for
modern literature. In philosophy, the importance of Kant, Hegel, and Nietzsche can
hardly be overrated. Weimar cinema remains one of the most influential periods in
film history. Freud, Marx and Einstein have shaped the way in which we think of the
world and ourselves today.
profit from excellent academic mentoring: You will study in a department that
welcomes you and has one of the best faculty/student ratios at Columbia. Our
classes are small yet lively and allow for close individual mentoring of students by our
faculty. They cover a wide array of topics, ranging from courses on Romanticism or
the modernist novel, to seminars on German film and media theory, German-Jewish
cultural relations, and the history of Berlin. The department also provides you with
many opportunities for practicing German and learning about German culture outside
the classroom. The cultural program at Deutsches Haus includes conversation hours,
lectures, colloquia, and film screenings.
advance your employment and career prospects: You will acquire qualifications
that will prepare you for a variety of different career paths. Whether you are planning
to pursue graduate studies in the humanities, social sciences, engineering, or law,
or preparing yourself for an international business career—your German degree
will always contribute significantly to your professional profile. You will become a
desirable job candidate for any German company with branches in the United States,
and for any American company with branches in Germany, Austria, or Switzerland.
More generally, a B.A. in German is among the top ten majors for entering the current
competitive job market. This was revealed by representative study recently conducted
by Georgetown University, which showed that majoring in a foreign language such as
German offers you better employment chances than a B.A. in Economics, English,
History, or Political Science.
- increase your "cultural competence": You will develop skills for intercultural communication that have become a key asset in a globalized world and in the global marketplace. Since learning a foreign language involves learning new forms of expression that are also new ways of thinking, studying German at Columbia allows you to acquire a critical awareness of both “things foreign” and your own native culture. You will also have the opportunity to study abroad and explore the vibrant cultural atmosphere of Berlin, gaining the invaluable first-hand experience of what it means to live in another country.
We will make sure that you can acquire international experience by studying abroad. Columbia College sponsors a fellowship that allows you to spend the summer taking language classes in Germany. Furthermore, the Department of Germanic Languages is part of the Berlin Consortium for German Studies, a program that enables you to study in Berlin for a semester or an academic year while earning full credit. The Consortium provides not only courses and individual mentoring by a yearly rotating American faculty member. After preparation through an intensive language program, you will also take classes with German students at the Freie Universität Berlin. Thus you will be able to immerse yourself into contemporary German society, gaining cultural and linguistic fluency.