BA in German Language & Literature

The major in German Language & Literature offers students the chance to gain a high level of proficiency (ACTFL intermediate-high) in the German language and develop an in-depth critical understanding of German-language cultural life, past and present. Graduates are prepared to communicate effectively in German and English, to function well in cross-cultural contexts, and to contribute meaningfully to addressing today’s global challenges. This flexible 11-course program works well as a second major alongside a major such as History, IR, European Studies, or Engineering. Students are encouraged to study abroad at BU’s programs in Dresden.

Like all World Languages & Literatures (WLL) majors, German Language & Literature majors begin with CAS XL 100 Leaving Home: Explorations in World Literature, a team-taught course in which students meet the WLL faculty through guest lectures and get oriented in the rich diversity of the world’s literary traditions. They start German language study as early as possible and complete at least three language courses above the fourth semester. A course taught in English translation, Masterpieces of German Literature (CAS LG 250), introduces students to major texts and can be taken early in the student’s program. Four additional courses in German language, literature, linguistics, and/or culture provide greater depth in areas of special interest to the student. One WLL elective focused on a language, literature, or culture other than German helps regional, global and/or historical comparison. Students wishing to explore more of WLL’s course offerings beyond German may substitute an additional elective for one of the two courses numbered CAS LG 251–289, 315, 387, or 400 or higher (German literature, film, linguistics, culture, or advanced language). Seniors majoring in WLL come back together in XL 479, the senior capstone seminar. Students use this course to produce a substantial project in their major and share their work with other WLL seniors working in other languages. The course provides students with structure and research guidance for developing and discussing their projects, while meetings with a faculty language mentor hone students’ advanced language skills as applied to the area of their research. Student presentations build oral communication skills and the ability to describe one’s work to others. Possible final projects could include a research paper on literature, film, or popular culture; an annotated translation or work of subtitling; a video essay; or a digital humanities project. Students producing excellent capstone projects will be encouraged to develop them into senior honors work.

Learning Outcomes

  • Advanced knowledge of major themes and genres in German literature and culture in their historical contexts, including links to other European and world literary traditions.
  • Critical thinking, communication, and writing skills within areas of content and cultural knowledge.
  • Proficiency in speaking, reading, writing, and listening comprehension in German at or above a level (ACTFL intermediate-high) where these skills can be used for communication in everyday and academic situations.


All students entering as freshmen in Fall 2018 and after will pursue coursework in the BU Hub, a general education program that is integrated into the entire undergraduate experience. BU Hub requirements are flexible and can be satisfied in many different ways, through coursework in and beyond the major (or minor) and, in some cases, through co-curricular activities. Students majoring in German Language & Literature will, through coursework in the major, satisfy BU Hub requirements in Philosophical, Aesthetic and Historical Interpretation, Diversity, Civic Engagement and Global Citizenship, Communication, along with requirements in the Intellectual Toolkit. Remaining BU Hub requirements will be satisfied by selecting from a wide range of available courses outside the major.

A total of 11 four-credit courses is required, all completed with a grade of C or higher.

  • CAS XL 100 Explorations in World Literature: Leaving Home
  • CAS LG 250 Masterpieces of German Literature (in English translation)
  • CAS LG 350 Introduction to German Literature (in German)
  • Three German language courses above LG 212:
    • One course numbered CAS LG 302–309
    • One course numbered CAS LG 302–345
    • One course numbered CAS LG 310–345 or CAS LG 403–404
  • Three additional courses in German language, literature, linguistics and/or culture:
    • One course numbered LG 450–470 (German literature in German)
    • Two additional courses numbered CAS LG 251–289, 315, 387, or 400 or higher (German literature, film, linguistics, culture, or advanced language). Courses taken at BU Study Abroad Programs in Dresden can also count for the major.
  • One WLL elective course, chosen with approval of the advisor, chosen from all courses in WLL. May also be satisfied by taking both CAS CC 101 and CAS CC 102, by CAS LX 250 Introduction to Linguistics or a higher-level linguistics course, or by a literature course in romance studies, English, or classics. Students wishing to do more comparative work may count an additional WLL elective in place of one of the two courses numbered CAS LG 251–289, 315, 387, or 400 or higher (German literature, film, linguistics, culture, or advanced language).
  • CAS XL 479 WLL Senior Seminar. A capstone course with a paper or translation project that makes use of German-language sources.

Honors in the Major

To graduate with Honors in the Major, students must maintain a GPA in the major of at least 3.4 and take two additional courses above the 11 required for the major:

  • One additional LG focus or WLL breadth course, chosen with the approval of the advisor
  • Either CAS XL 540 (Theory and Practice of Literary Translation) or CAS LG 401 or 402 (continuation of the thesis begun in the capstone seminar)