Master of Arts

The fundamental purpose of the Master of Arts in German Studies is to mentor each graduate student toward outstanding standards of scholarship and teaching, independent research, and professional excellence. The MA in German Studies prepares students to analyze critically and synthesize various aspects of literary studies, cultural studies, theoretical and applied linguistics, studies in second language acquisition and teaching, and related professional disciplines. 

The Graduate Handbook, esp. section II, is designed to familiarize prospective applicants with the program and to guide current students through the various steps towards their Master of Arts degree. All Master’s students in the Department of German Studies complete a minimum of 33 units of graduate coursework at the 500 level and above, typically over a four-semester period. It is most common for students to take two or three graduate seminars per semester, depending on their teaching responsibilities. Students are welcome to complete more than the 33-credit minimum. 

There are several courses of study available for MA students in the Department of German Studies. The Graduate Handbook details each course of study.

  • Literature and Culture Emphasis
  • Literature, Culture, and Pedagogy Emphasis
  • Literature, Culture, and Pedagogy Emphasis with Secondary Teaching Certification (over 5 semesters, with a student teaching practicum in the 5th semester)
  • Literature and Culture with an Emphasis in Translation Studies
  • Professional Tracks
    • Business Management
    • Collaborative Governance
    • Journalism
    • Marketing
    • Management Information Systems

The first four tracks form the core of our MA offerings, and are usually paired with a GAT-ship that includes tuition waiver and insurance plan. In order to plan ahead for their course of study, students interested in the MA with Secondary Teaching Certification should inform the Coordinator of Secondary Education Certification Program and the Director of Graduate Studies before matriculating. They should also contact the Director of Admissions, Advising, and Student Services in the College of Education upon entering the MA program.

The five professional tracks are designed for the pursuit of a Masters of Arts in German Studies with a particular professional concentration. To discuss these professional tracks in further detail, prospective applicants should contact the Director of Graduate Studies prior to applying. 

Prospective students need to fulfill the following prerequisites:

  • A Bachelor’s Degree or equivalent in German Studies and/or a related field
  • Advanced competence in English and German (minimum Common European Framework rating of B1)

We anticipate that prospective applicants may have questions on the following topics. If you find your question is not addressed below, please feel welcome to contact the Director of Graduate Studies.

Frequently Asked Questions


Each year in mid-August, the Language Program Director and the Director of Graduate Studies organize an orientation meeting for new graduate students. Topics will include:

  • introduction of faculty and new students
  • teaching responsibilities and materials
  • discussion of graduate program expectations
  • guidelines for graduate study
  • applicable deadlines
  • faculty and peer mentors


At the beginning of their first semester, graduate students will be assigned a faculty mentor. This faculty member will be available to the student for informal advising and consultation. In addition, each first-year student will be assigned a second-year student as a peer mentor. 


The Department supports its MA degree-seeking students by way of graduate assistantships for four semesters. GAT Appointments are made for no more than one year at a time, though it is rare for a current student in good academic standing to be passed over for GAT-ships. All current GATs may apply in writing for available summer teaching positions. Selections for summer teaching are made on the basis of departmental need and previous academic and teaching performance.


Non-native speakers of German will be required to demonstrate satisfactory German language proficiency in the following manner:

MA students are required either to pass Goethe-Zertifikat B2 administered by departmental “Prüfungsberechtigte” accredited by the Goethe- Institut, during the 1st or 3rd semester (fall) of their studies, or to provide alternative evidence of language proficiency, the validity of which shall be determined by the Graduate Committee of The Department of German Studies. In addition, about fifteen minutes of the M.A. Oral Examination will be conducted in German.

Non-native speakers of English will be required to demonstrate satisfactory English-language proficiency in the following manner. 1. During their first year of studies, students will write one seminar paper in English. 2. When there is concern about the student’s English proficiency, she/he will be asked to take English 407, “Advanced Composition for International Students.” This course will have to be taken by the student as an overload. 3. In addition, about fifteen minutes of the MA Oral Examination will be conducted in English.


MA Students in the Literature & Culture Emphasis are welcome to take a 3-unit thesis in the second year of their studies.  The three units for an M.A. thesis may not count toward the total of 15 units of departmental courses that must be taken each year by GATs. The thesis should be considered especially by those candidates who intend to continue graduate work beyond the Master’s level. It equips the candidate applying to a doctoral program with solid experience for conducting independent research. A thesis advisor should be chosen at the end of the second semester of graduate study with whom a plan of research should be discussed. 

While independent studies are an option, they will be very rarely approved for students in the MA program. Independent studies may be considered only when a student is interested in pursuing a particular topic that cannot be accommodated within a regularly offered course and may be taken only with the approval of the Director of Graduate Studies. Independent study courses do not count either toward the 30 units of German Studies courses required within the Department or toward the minimum 15 units that GATs must take during each year of their appointment.


During the semester in which coursework requirements are to be completed, MA students must pass both a written comprehensive and an oral examination, adjudicated by a committe of three Departmental Faculty members. The written exam typically takes place over a five-hour period in the third week of March. The oral examination follows approximately ten days later.

By the end of the semester prior to the examination, the student must have selected a committee chair and two others. By the fifth week of the examination semester, the final version of the reading list must be approved by all committee members. The committee members will sign the final reading list. It is the responsibility of the student to consult with her/his committee members on a regular basis in preparation for the examination. Candidates must meet with the Director of Graduate Studies by November 1 (March 1 for students taking their exam in the fall) to discuss the format of the examination and the reading list.

It is the responsibility of the committee chair to give a copy of each student's approved reading list to the Graduate Advisor, who will set a date for the written examination and — upon successful completion of the written examination — for the oral examination as well. The written examination will take place at the end of March (at the end of the first week in November for those taking the exam in the fall).

The precise date for the written examination must be set by October 15 in the Fall Semester and by March 1 in the Spring Semester.


Martina Schwalm

Ph.D. Candidate

My dissertation considers German exile in Turkey from 1933-1945. The project is an attempt to reach beyond monocultural and monolingual accounts of Turkish German history and literature, and to open up a more nuanced and multiperspectival “history of contact” between German and Turkish modernities. In the meantime, I am also taking Turkish language courses and advanced seminars in Middle Eastern Studies here at the University of Arizona. My other research focuses on literary representations of multilingualism and untranslatability in the works of Ilija Trojanow and Reinhard Jirgl, which is the general topic of my first journal article, in Zeitschrift für interkulturelle Germanistik (2015).