Chair: M. Miller
Department Site
The study of a foreign language not only provides students with the necessary basis for any rigorous or sophisticated understanding of a foreign culture, but also develops in them a more profound understanding of their native language and of the relationship between language and knowledge — "Wer fremde Sprachen nicht kennt, weiß nichts von seiner eignen"; "those who don’t know foreign languages know nothing of their own" (Goethe). The beginning and intermediate language courses emphasize cultural knowledge about contemporary German-speaking societies and provide a strong foundation in the skills of speaking, comprehending, reading, and writing German. This sequence prepares students well to engage in more advanced study of German language, literature, and cultural history, as well as interdisciplinary study and work in complementary academic fields. The German department encourages students to enroll in related courses in other disciplines such as philosophy, history, music, international relations, linguistics, and art history. A major in German is an excellent preparation for graduate studies in these fields as well as in literature and German studies, and can also give students a competitive edge in such fields as economics, politics, law, business, journalism, consulting, and publishing.

All courses in the Department of German are potentially open to first-year students: GERM 121 without prerequisites, reserved for students with no prior German background, and all other courses as appropriate to the demonstrated language ability and background of the student. The department faculty are happy to confer individually with each student to ensure the most suitable course placement. Students who have previously studied a language should take the Language Background survey. You may also consult the information on Studying Language at Colgate and contact the department chair, Professor M. Miller (, if you are unsure about your placement.

Study Abroad

The Department of German encourages all majors and minors to participate in the Freiburg Study Group in the spring of their junior year. This semester-long program in Germany includes courses for the Colgate group as well as individually chosen courses at the University of Freiburg and offers all students a rich learning experience abroad that is an end in itself, as well as excellent preparation for graduate school or fellowship programs after graduation. Non-German majors with adequate language preparation are also encouraged to participate in the study group. The flexible program in Freiburg allows students to combine their German studies with their other academic fields of interest (e.g., art history, chemistry, economics, music, political science, philosophy) at one of the oldest European universities, while gaining valuable first-hand experience living abroad. Even students with no previous German background who begin GERM 121 in their first or second semesters will be eligible for the Freiburg Study Group in their junior year, as will students who enter the German program at a more advanced language level. Visit the Freiburg Study Group page for more information.

In addition to course offerings, the German department sponsors many co-curricular activities such as German Club, German film series, Foreign Language Program volunteer teaching at the local elementary school, other special programs, and guest speakers.

The faculty of the department are always pleased to discuss the program with anyone interested; please don’t hesitate to contact us.

Advanced Placement

Colgate course credit for GERM 202 is awarded to students receiving a score of 4 or 5 on the AP German Language exam, or a score of 6 or 7 on the higher level International Baccalaureate German exam.

Click the link below to view GERM courses available to the Class of 2028.

German Courses