German Languages and Literatures, PhD

The Department of Germanic Languages and Literatures at Penn takes a forward-looking perspective on developments in the field. In contrast to many Ph.D. programs in German, we provide a solid grounding in the entire German literary tradition. At the same time, we vigorously pursue interdisciplinary study informed by the latest methodological and theoretical movements, and provide state-of-the art pedagogical training and instruction.

Our Department has particular strengths in gender and sexuality, intermediality, history of the material text, German-Jewish studies, translation theory, cinema studies, environmental humanities, and pedagogy. Our students are trained with an eye to their career objectives. All of our students receive a full five-year Benjamin Franklin Fellowship package, which includes guaranteed summer funding and significant mentored teaching experience.

All candidates must complete 20 course units by the end of year 3. Our curriculum toward a Ph.D. in Germanic Languages and Literatures details steps on the five‐year path to degree. By the end of spring term of year 3, students shall have completed a successful prospectus meeting with their dissertation committee. In years 4 and 5, students work on the dissertation. Students teach in years 2 and 3, although they may choose to gain additional teaching experience. Students are encouraged to spend at least one year (typically year 4) at an academic setting in a German‐speaking country.

View the University’s Academic Requirements for PhD Degrees.

Sample Plan of Study

Year 1
Fall
Anchor Course 1
Literary theory course
Select 2 electives
Spring
Anchor Course 1
Pedagogy Seminar
Stylistics and Methods
Select 1 elective
Qualifying Paper
Oral Exam
Year 2
Fall
Anchor Course 1
Select 1 elective
Pedagogy Roundtable
Research Workshop
Spring
Anchor Course 1
Select 1 elective
Pedagogy Roundtable
Research Workshop
50-book exam
Year 3
Fall
Select 2 electives
Research Workshop
Conference planning
Field Exam
Spring
Select 1 elective
Research Workshop
Conference Planning
Portfolio Assessment
Prospectus tutorial
Dissertation Prospectus
Years 4 and 5
Dissertation
1

Students shall take 4 anchor courses in 5 periods. The five periods are:

  • medieval (to roughly 1450)
  • early modern (to roughly 1789)
  • the long 18th century (roughly 1648‐1806)
  • the long 19th century (roughly 1789‐1914)
  • the long 20th century (roughly 1871‐today)

The degree and major requirements displayed are intended as a guide for students entering in the Fall of 2018 and later. Students should consult with their academic program regarding final certifications and requirements for graduation.