With the dramatic changes currently taking place in Europe -- German unification, the unification of the European economy, and the opening up of eastern and central Europe to the West -- the use of the German language has increased dramatically worldwide. Over 120 million people speak German as their native language, and German is the official language in five countries.

Germany, the largest country in the European Union, is second only to the United States in terms of world trade; and both Austria and Switzerland have key roles in the European economy and political life. The cultural heritage of regions where German is spoken is also extremely rich, particularly in the areas of music, literature, film, painting, and architecture.

Knowledge of the German language and an understanding of the cultures of the countries where German is spoken provide valuable preparation for many careers and graduate programs. In addition, it opens the door to life-long cultural enrichment. German is a primary language of scholarship and international communication in a diverse range of academic and scientific fields.

Students who major in German will gain proficiency in German language skills and may choose from a range of courses in German culture, area studies, linguistics, and literature. At SDSU, German language instruction in the classroom is supplemented by access to the Language Acquisition Resource Center lab, a state-of-the-art facility where students may practice their speaking and listening skills by using interactive video and participating in computer-assisted instruction.

Program Overview

What aspect do you think of when you think of German studies: economics, history, art, politics, music, business, geography, literature, philosophy or linguistics? Whichever facet of German studies intrigues you, we have a German major that will allow you to follow your interests. There are four programs for German majors to consider: the Bachelor of Arts degree with a major in German; the Bachelor of Arts degree with a major in German with an emphasis in German studies; the Bachelor of Arts degree with a major in German for the single subject teaching credential; and the minor in German. All students must complete lower-division courses in the following basic language skills: speaking, reading, oral comprehension, and writing.

The general German major requires extensive upper-division course work in German. Students become proficient in German while taking a variety of specialized courses in language, linguistics, literature, civilization and culture. Each student completing this major must also complete a minor in another subject.

The German major with an emphasis in German studies offers extensive preparation in the German language while providing students (through courses taken both in the German curriculum and in other departments) with a broad, interdisciplinary understanding of the history, culture and society of Germany and central Europe. This major does not require a minor.

The German major in preparation for the teaching credential requires courses in German language, linguistics, literature, civilization and culture and prepares students to enter a single subject teaching credential program. This major also requires a minor in another subject.

Special Features

  • The German Club, an active student organization, sponsors gatherings such as Oktoberfest, Christmas parties, conversation hours, cultural outings and film showings.
  • Alpha Mu Gamma, one of two language honorary societies at SDSU, is open to all language students who receive a grade of "A" in two semesters of one language and have an overall grade point average of at least 2.0.
  • Delta Phi Alpha, the national German Honorary Society, accepts German students who have a 3.25 grade point average in upper division German courses and an overall grade point average of at least 2.75.
  • Study abroad is available under the California State University International Program. This program allows qualified students to study for one year at a university in Germany and gain full credit toward the Bachelor of Arts degree while maintaining home campus residency. Various schools and organizations also recruit on our campus for students interested in participating in work abroad or internship programs in Germany, Austria or Switzerland.
  • The following programs at SDSU may provide resources for research or access to related off-campus institutions and may sponsor lectures and other events of interest to students of German: Center for International Business Education and Research, Center for the Study of International Education, European Studies Program, Institute for Central and Eastern European Studies, Institute for International Security and Conflict Resolution, International Student Center, the Language Acquisition Resource Center, and the Lipinsky Institute for Judaic Studies.

Career Opportunities

Many employers recognize knowledge of German as a very valuable asset for students who wish to enter careers in business, government, communication, or the arts. A major in German provides excellent preparation for careers as area specialists, translators, teachers, or consultants for private businesses and agencies. Positions can be found in international organizations, the federal government, publishing houses, or cultural institutions. In preparation for an international career, a major in German can be combined with a double major or a minor in such areas as business, engineering, economics, communication, political science, geography, history, journalism, international relations, or European studies. A major in German for the single subject teaching credential can lead to a career in teaching at a secondary school.

A German major is also useful preparation for advanced study in fields such as German linguistics or literature, German area studies, European studies, linguistics, comparative literature, library science, communications, journalism, education, public administration, and (possibly with additional course work) in international relations, international law and international business.

To further explore career options in this field, visit the Career Services Web site for more information.

General Catalog

You can view more complete information regarding the German program in the General Catalog. All students are responsible for reading and knowing the information pertinent to their areas of study available in the General Catalog. It contains requirements for all academic majors, course descriptions, policies, and regulations governing progress at the university. Catalogs are distributed at all New Student Orientation programs. To order a General Catalog, call (619) 594-7535.