Why Study German?

There are many reasons to learn German at Duke including fantastic teachers, a close community of fellow students, and fun activities in and out of class!

  • In Europe, more people speak German as their native language than English, French, or Spanish.  
  • Germany is Europe’s largest economy, one of the world’s biggest exporters, and plays a major political role in the European Union. It is also a leader in environmentalism and renewable energy.
  • Germany has a tremendously rich cultural heritage and German, Austrian, and Swiss-German composers, philosophers, and authors have changed the way we think and live. German is the language of Goethe and Kafka, as well as Marx, Nietzsche, and Freud, Mozart, Bach, Beethoven, Brahms, and Mahler.
  • German is an excellent language to learn in preparation for professional careers in international business or law, engineering, government and international affairs, economics and finance, and education, as well as for academic careers in such fields as history, religion, philosophy, art history, political science, literature, and music.

Why take German Studies courses in German or in English? 

Our courses will encourage you to think of yourselves as belonging to global communities, and allow you to understand yourselves and the world from multiple perspectives. Our cultural courses foster critical thinking and cultural awareness, and also teach sound and persuasive argumentation and effective oral and written presentation.

Advanced seminars taught in German include:

  • The Image of America in German Culture
  • The Uncanny German Canon
  • Ethics and Literature
  • German Underworlds

Our intriguing classes in English include:

  • Fairy Tales from Grimm to Disney
  • Marx, Nietzsche, Freud
  • Virtual Reality: Imaginary Worlds from Plato to Cyberspace
  • What is Beauty?
  • The Legend of King Arthur
  • The Viking Age>
  • Kafka

German Studies course offerings fulfill many of the modes of inquiry required by the Duke curriculum, including ALP (Arts, Literature, and Performance), CCI (Cross-Cultural Inquiry), CZ (Civilizations), and EI (Ethical Inquiry).

Why major or minor in German Studies?

German majors and minors receive all the benefits of learning German and taking German Studies classes listed above.  In addition, you will enjoy the advantages of a small, dynamic program. Our professors take the time to get to know students personally and help you create a course of study related to your needs and interests. And our Duke in Berlin Program, open to all students, is an amazing way to get to know another culture in one of Europe’s most exciting cities!


Still not convinced? See what some of our recent graduates have to say!

“I am forever grateful for all of the opportunities Duke German has given me over these past four years. But I especially want to acknowledge those in the German department who have supported and encouraged me to push myself to learn more and step outside of my comfort zone, and who believed in me from the start.”
- Katja Kochvar, 2020 (German and Biology double major)

“I’m excited to have been a part of such an incredible program.”
- Nalina Gupta, 2020 (Economics and Computer Science Double Major, German Minor)

“I think what I liked the most about my German classes was that they always had a component that stayed with me after the semester ended: whether it was a film, a Youtube channel, a news platform, or any cultural/historical trivia. In academia, some courses may feel like they are so far removed from the real world, but that was not true for the German department.”
- Fulya Keskin, 2020 (Psychology Major and German Minor)

“Some of my favorite memories of Duke academics as a whole occurred within the German department.”
- Daniel North, 2020 (Economics Major, German and History Minor)