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Germanic Studies Ph.D. (Ithaca)

Field of Study

Germanic Studies

Program Description

*Please note that students are not admitted into a terminal-M.A. program in Germanic Studies, but may earn the M.A. on the way to earning the Ph.D. For complete information, please contact the field.

The concentration in German area studies combines relevant courses in history, international relations, and comparative economics with courses in German literature, culture, and language.

The concentration in German intellectual history draws on faculty members of other fields such as philosophy, history, government, anthropology, psychology, music, etc. Students may concentrate on a theme or in a historical period from the Middle Ages to the present. The focus of the major is generally on the history of ideas as reflected in German written documents. Students may also concentrate in German cinema studies.

The concentration in Germanic linguistics aims to ensure familiarity with the basic tools of research in linguistics and philology and to provide the student with a thorough knowledge of selected areas of specialization. Students may focus on one or more of the following: the structure of modern German; the history of German; comparative Germanic linguistics; and the older Germanic languages.

The concentration in Germanic literature is uniquely flexible: in general, requirements are defined in terms of competence, not in terms of credits or specific courses. Students are expected to acquire a general knowledge of German literature and to become familiar with the tools and methods necessary for research and analysis. In addition, students are expected to acquire a more detailed knowledge of one of the following areas: medieval; Renaissance, Reformation, Baroque; enlightenment, Sturm und Drang, Schiller, Goethe; romanticism, Biedermeier, Restoration through Vormärz; realism, naturalism; or twentieth century.

The university's collection of Old Norse materials (the Fiske Icelandic Collection) is probably the best of its kind outside Scandinavia.

Contact Information

Phone: 607 255-4047

183 Goldwin Smith Hall
Cornell University
Ithaca, NY  14853

Concentrations by Subject

  • German area studies
  • German intellectual history
  • Germanic linguistics
  • Germanic literature
  • Old Norse (minor)



Application Requirements and Deadlines

Application Deadlines:

Fall, Jan. 2; no spring admission

Requirements Summary:

  • all Graduate School Requirements, including the TOEFL Exam or IELTS Academic Exam for non-native English applicants
  • two recommendations
  • GRE general test for U.S. citizens
  • writing sample
  • fluency in German
  • German area studies applicants - contact the field

Applicants should have a good background in German literature and be fluent in German. Fluency in another language is also desirable. United States applicants are required to submit GRE general test scores. A field brochure is available on request from the graduate field office.

Learning Outcomes

Assessment Plan:

One of the leading graduate programs nationally and internationally, German Studies at Cornell offers a flexible yet rigorous course of study that draws on the expertise of faculty members from both the Department of German Studies and a variety of units in the College of Arts and Sciences and other schools (including Comparative Literature; Theater, Film, & Dance; Philosophy; History; Government; Music; and Architecture, Art & Planning). The German Studies faculty has a strong interest in cultural and intellectual history, philosophy, literary theory, gender studies, Jewish studies, visual studies, film, and music. Members of the faculty are also affiliated with the Medieval Studies Program, the Program of Jewish Studies, the Department of Music, the Department of Theatre, Film & Dance, the Visual Studies Program, and the Department of Comparative Literature.
Students are encouraged to pursue their academic interests by exploring a variety of disciplinary and theoretical approaches. Cornell’s unique field system, which fosters close cooperation among scholars working on related topics across departments and schools, is key to supporting our students’ cutting-edge, cross-disciplinary research in German Studies. The areas of expertise covered by the faculty and explored by the graduate students in the Department of German Studies represent the full spectrum of professional sub-fields in German literary and cultural studies (from the Middle Ages to the present), and interdisciplinary affiliations further extend the department’s intellectual and creative engagement.

Learn more about the graduate field of Germanic Studies assessment plan.