Undergraduate Program

Haystacks in the Snow by Franz Marc

Dear Student,

We are delighted to hear of your interest in German Studies at the University of California, Santa Cruz and are writing to tell you a little bit about ourselves and our program.

The German Studies major is an interdisciplinary program in which students complete a set of core courses in German literature and history and then, depending on their interests, branch out to take courses in a variety of other fields, including philosophy, art history, music, and linguistics.   The faculty strongly encourage students to spend time studying abroad and have designed the major to accommodate this, offering very generous transfer credit for academic work done at German universities.  Most students take advantage of the University of California’s own Education Abroad Program, which has centers at universities in Berlin and Potsdam.

The German Studies major deals broadly with the entire German-speaking region, which includes not only Germany but also Austria, Switzerland and, historically, parts of what are now Poland, the Czech Republic, Latvia, and other countries.  The German-speaking region is a fascinating area to study.  Through the powerful thinkers it has produced -- from Kant and Hegel to Nietzsche, Marx, and Freud --, it has had a profound influence on shaping the modern world.  Some of the most important ideological debates in Western culture have arisen in the German-speaking area, and changes in German culture and society have had great -- sometimes devastating -- effects on world history.  German music, from Bach and Mozart to Beethoven, Brahms and beyond, remains at the heart of the classical canon.  And the German-speaking world has also brought forth a number of stunning writers and artists, particularly in the 20th century.  Tellingly, within the past decade or so, three winners of the Nobel Prize for Literature have written their works in German (Günter Grass, Elfriede Jelinek, and Herta Müller).

Because many advanced courses in German Studies require a knowledge of the German language, classes are often small, with fifteen or fewer students.  This means that faculty are able to give students a great deal of individual attention.   Advising is also readily available to ensure that students stay on track throughout their academic careers.  The faculty all have a high level of commitment to undergraduate education.

Students who have majored in German Studies in the past have gone on to successful careers in a variety of fields.  There are several professors in German departments at universities in the United States and Canada who originally received their B.A. degrees at UCSC.  Other of our majors have gone on to graduate programs in such varied fields as German literature, History, Economics, and Art History.  Several have gone to law school and one to a school of hotel management.  Some have entered K-12 education.   This is not an exhaustive list, but indicates some of the career paths that our former majors have pursued.

Do let us know if you have any questions we could answer for you.  The names and email addresses of Core faculty, along with some of their teaching and research interests are available online, here.

Loisa Nygaard for the German Studies Core Faculty