ChairM. Miller

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, and all other courses as appropriate to the demonstrated language ability and background of the student. The department has no formal placement exam; instead we confer individually with each student to ensure the most suitable course placement. Please contact the department chair ( if you are unsure about which course is best for you.

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 semester 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, 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.



Introduces students to the basic structures of German and focuses on the four language skills of understanding, speaking, reading, and writing German in cultural, functional contexts. The courses simultaneously introduce students to the vibrant societies and cultures of German-speaking Europe.

Completes the presentation of basic structures of German and helps students develop greater facility and sophistication in using these structures - in comprehension, speaking, reading, and writing. Continue the exploration of German cultures begun on the 100 level with a focus on Germany in Europe.

Introduces students to a variety of German literary texts from the 18th century to the present, in their cultural and historical contexts. Through its exploration of topics such as revolution and social change; constructions of gender; national identity; migration and minority experience; and modernity and aesthetic innovation, the course considers the versatile powers of literature to interpret and influence personal and collective experience. The course also serves as a workshop in which to develop techniques and vocabulary of literary and cultural analysis. In addition to furthering critical understanding of German literature as part of living culture, this course will help students strengthen and expand German language skills in all four areas: reading, writing, comprehension and speaking. Taught in German.