University of California, Berkeley

About the Program

Bachelor of Arts (BA)

The German undergraduate major program provides students with the knowledge, experience, language fluency, and analytical skills necessary to enter the academic world or the world of international law or global business. It offers a large selection of courses in literature, linguistics, philosophy, psychology, history, film, and business, along with opportunities to study abroad. The program provides students with the skills they will need to achieve their individual goals.

Students are challenged to gain fluency in the German language, read major works by Kafka, Freud, and Nietzsche (among many others) in their original language, and to venture abroad to German-speaking countries to embrace new cultures. This gives students the cultural competence and necessary edge in today’s global marketplace.

If students choose to major or double major in German at Berkeley, they will enjoy an atmosphere that resembles that of an Ivy League setting, including the opportunity to study with world-famous professors and highly qualified graduate student instructors.

Declaring the Major

To declare the German major, please contact the Department of German. For details regarding the prerequisites, please see the Major Requirements tab on this page.

For students transferring from another institution, see Nadia Samadi, the Undergraduate Academic Advisor.

Honors Program

Students with at least a 3.5 GPA in all upper division courses taken to fulfill the requirements of the major and a 3.3. GPA overall are eligible for admission into the honors program. Candidates for honors in German need to apply to the undergraduate faculty adviser for admission into this program, ideally early in the fall semester of their senior year.

Students in the honors program are required to complete satisfactorily, within their senior year, an honors thesis under faculty supervision. The paper, consisting of 35 pages or more, may grow out of any upper division course, independent study, or directed research and is evaluated with a letter grade. It is the responsibility of the student to ask a faculty member to supervise the thesis. Normally thesis work is spread over two semesters. For the first semester, the student should enroll in GERMAN 199: Supervised independent study with their thesis director (2 units; Pass/Fail). In the second semester, while writing the thesis, the student enrolls in GERMAN H196 (4 units with letter grade). If the work is to be completed in one semester, the student may enroll in H196 for 6 units. This requires the approval of the supervising faculty and the honors committee. The student is required to attend three workshops at the beginning of the fall semester. Honors students are also expected to present their research in a series of undergraduate research colloquia during the semester for feedback on work in progress. For information regarding these workshops and colloquia, please see the German Department's website.

Those who have completed the program will graduate with honors (3.65) high honors (3.75), or highest honors (3.85) in the major depending upon their final GPA in all upper division courses taken to fulfill the major requirements. The grade of the honors thesis is added to the GPA for this purpose. The decision to award high or highest honors rests with the departmental honors committee.

To enroll in the German Honors Program and obtain an application, please contact Nadia Samadi.

Minor Program

The Department of German offers an undergraduate minor in German. For details regarding minor requirements, please see the Minor Requirements tab on this page.

Visit Department Website

Major Requirements

In addition to the University, campus, and college requirements, listed on the College Requirements tab, students must fulfill the below requirements specific to their major program.

General Guidelines

  1. German 4 and all upper division courses (32 units), must be taken for letter grade in order to fulfill the major requirements below.
  2. No more than one upper division course may be used to simultaneously fulfill requirements for a student's major and minor program.
  3. A minimum grade point average (GPA) of 2.0 must be maintained in both upper and lower division courses used to fulfill the major requirements.

For information regarding residence requirements and unit requirements, please see the College Requirements tab.

Lower Division Prerequisites

GERMAN 1Elementary German 1 (or equivalent)5
GERMAN 2Elementary German 2 (or equivalent)5
GERMAN 3Intermediate German I (or equivalent)5
GERMAN 4Intermediate German II (or equivalent)5

Upper Division Requirements (minimum 32 units)

GERMAN 100Introduction to Reading Culture3
GERMAN 101Advanced German: Conversation, Composition and Style3
Select two additional upper division German courses (taught in German) 1
Select 5-6 upper division electives to reach 32 units of which only one course can be from another department but related to German studies or Europe 1

Courses must be taken in the literature and culture of at least two different centuries; consult the major advisor or undergraduate student affairs officer when in doubt about this requirement.

Minor Requirements

Students who have a strong interest in an area of study outside their major often decide to complete a minor program. These programs have set requirements and are noted officially on the transcript in the memoranda section, but they are not noted on diplomas.

General Guidelines

  1. All minors must be declared no later than one semester before a student's Expected Graduation Term (EGT). If the semester before EGT is fall or spring, the deadline is the last day of RRR week. If the semester before EGT is summer, the deadline is the final Friday of Summer Sessions. To declare a minor, contact the department advisor for information on requirements, and the declaration process.
  2. All courses taken to fulfill the minor requirements below must be taken for graded credit.
  3. A minimum of three of the upper division courses taken to fulfill the minor requirements must be completed at UC Berkeley.
  4. A minimum grade point average (GPA) of 2.0 is required for courses used to fulfill the minor requirements.
  5. Courses used to fulfill the minor requirements may be applied toward the Seven-Course Breadth requirement, for Letters & Science students.
  6. No more than one upper division course may be used to simultaneously fulfill requirements for a student's major and minor programs.
  7. All minor requirements must be completed prior to the last day of finals during the semester in which you plan to graduate. If you cannot finish all courses required for the minor by that time, please see a College of Letters & Science adviser.
  8. All minor requirements must be completed within the unit ceiling. (For further information regarding the unit ceiling, please see the College Requirements tab.)


Lower Division Prerequisites
GERMAN 1Elementary German 1 (or equivalent)5
GERMAN 2Elementary German 2 (or equivalent)5
GERMAN 3Intermediate German I (or equivalent)5
GERMAN 4Intermediate German II (or equivalent)5
Upper Division (Five Courses)
GERMAN 100Introduction to Reading Culture3
GERMAN 101Advanced German: Conversation, Composition and Style3
Select one of the following options:
Three upper division German courses (texts in English or German)
Two upper division German course (texts in English or German) and one affiliated upper division course from outside the department, related to German studies or Europe

You must declare your minor no later than the semester before your Expected Graduation Term (EGT) and, if the semester before EGT is fall or spring, the deadline is the last day of RRR week. If the semester before EGT is summer, the deadline is the final Friday of Summer Sessions. To declare a minor, contact the Undergraduate Advisor, Nadia Samadi.

College Requirements

Undergraduate students must fulfill the following requirements in addition to those required by their major program.

For detailed lists of courses that fulfill college requirements, please review the College of Letters & Sciences page in this Guide. For College advising appointments, please visit the L&S Advising Pages. 

University of California Requirements

Entry Level Writing

All students who will enter the University of California as freshmen must demonstrate their command of the English language by fulfilling the Entry Level Writing requirement. Fulfillment of this requirement is also a prerequisite to enrollment in all reading and composition courses at UC Berkeley. 

American History and American Institutions

The American History and Institutions requirements are based on the principle that a US resident graduated from an American university, should have an understanding of the history and governmental institutions of the United States.

Berkeley Campus Requirement

American Cultures

All undergraduate students at Cal need to take and pass this course in order to graduate. The requirement offers an exciting intellectual environment centered on the study of race, ethnicity and culture of the United States. AC courses offer students opportunities to be part of research-led, highly accomplished teaching environments, grappling with the complexity of American Culture.

College of Letters & Science Essential Skills Requirements

Quantitative Reasoning

The Quantitative Reasoning requirement is designed to ensure that students graduate with basic understanding and competency in math, statistics, or computer science. The requirement may be satisfied by exam or by taking an approved course.

Foreign Language

The Foreign Language requirement may be satisfied by demonstrating proficiency in reading comprehension, writing, and conversation in a foreign language equivalent to the second semester college level, either by passing an exam or by completing approved course work.

Reading and Composition

In order to provide a solid foundation in reading, writing, and critical thinking the College requires two semesters of lower division work in composition in sequence. Students must complete parts A & B reading and composition courses in sequential order by the end of their fourth semester.

College of Letters & Science 7 Course Breadth Requirements

Breadth Requirements

The undergraduate breadth requirements provide Berkeley students with a rich and varied educational experience outside of their major program. As the foundation of a liberal arts education, breadth courses give students a view into the intellectual life of the University while introducing them to a multitude of perspectives and approaches to research and scholarship. Engaging students in new disciplines and with peers from other majors, the breadth experience strengthens interdisciplinary connections and context that prepares Berkeley graduates to understand and solve the complex issues of their day.

Unit Requirements

  • 120 total units

  • Of the 120 units, 36 must be upper division units

  • Of the 36 upper division units, 6 must be taken in courses offered outside your major department
Residence Requirements

For units to be considered in "residence," you must be registered in courses on the Berkeley campus as a student in the College of Letters & Science. Most students automatically fulfill the residence requirement by attending classes here for four years. In general, there is no need to be concerned about this requirement, unless you go abroad for a semester or year or want to take courses at another institution or through UC Extension during your senior year. In these cases, you should make an appointment to meet an adviser to determine how you can meet the Senior Residence Requirement.

Note: Courses taken through UC Extension do not count toward residence.

Senior Residence Requirement

After you become a senior (with 90 semester units earned toward your BA degree), you must complete at least 24 of the remaining 30 units in residence in at least two semesters. To count as residence, a semester must consist of at least 6 passed units. Intercampus Visitor, EAP, and UC Berkeley-Washington Program (UCDC) units are excluded.

You may use a Berkeley Summer Session to satisfy one semester of the Senior Residence requirement, provided that you successfully complete 6 units of course work in the Summer Session and that you have been enrolled previously in the college.

Modified Senior Residence Requirement

Participants in the UC Education Abroad Program (EAP), Berkeley Summer Abroad, or the UC Berkeley Washington Program (UCDC) may meet a Modified Senior Residence requirement by completing 24 (excluding EAP) of their final 60 semester units in residence. At least 12 of these 24 units must be completed after you have completed 90 units.

Upper Division Residence Requirement

You must complete in residence a minimum of 18 units of upper division courses (excluding UCEAP units), 12 of which must satisfy the requirements for your major.

Student Learning Goals


The Bachelor’s Degree Program offers a comprehensive education in German language, literature, and linguistics. The department’s course offerings and its curriculum cover a wide range of fields ranging from language, literature, and linguistics, to history, philosophy, psychology, film, and media. The key focus in these courses is on the history of German and Dutch languages, literatures, linguistic structures, cultures, and intellectual movements in a European and global context. The courses offered are intended to provide students with the ability to interpret linguistic, literary, and cultural phenomena in their social, historical and discourse dimensions, taking into account the multilingual environments and the global cultures in which German plays a role today. Based on the requirements and in close contact with their advisers, students choose a combination of literature, culture, and linguistics courses after they have accomplished the basic training in language and the core courses. While these courses serve the intellectual advancement and training in specialized areas, they also serve the improvement of basic skills in critical analysis and evaluation, argument development, and written and oral communication.

Learning Goals for the Major

The undergraduate program provides students with the knowledge, experience, language fluency, and analytical skills necessary to enter the academic and the professional world. Students learn in both written and oral form to identify, present, and construct arguments about different types of discourses, major cultural and historical forms and movements, the work of important authors, and the history of ideas. Students learn to analyze and interpret texts, films and other German cultural artifacts from various historical periods and various social backgrounds. A gateway course (GERMAN 100) allows them to apply their knowledge of the language to the analysis and interpretation of spoken and written texts, images, and other media.

Upper level courses refine their understanding of language, language learning and language use, as well as of German literature, history, and culture, and further develop their ability to produce German spoken and written texts. Students choose their courses from a variety of offerings, and such choices reflect the specific interest and learning goals of the individual student within the framework of the departmental curriculum, e.g., history of German literature or of the German language, Germanic linguistics, intellectual or political history, media and film, applied linguistics, multicultural Germany. Thus the department provides students with the possibility to acquire advanced knowledge and skills in a number of fields, e.g., literature from various historical periods, methods of linguistic analysis, Middle High and Old High German, German dialects and levels of usage, discourse analysis, analysis of film, poetics, translation, and semiotics.

Academic Opportunities

Study Abroad

Summer Language Courses at Free University Berlin (FUBiS)

Enjoy a unique opportunity to be immersed in the German language and culture and spend the summer in Berlin, the capital of Germany and a European metropolis. Choose between an intensive (5 days a week, 4.5 hours of instruction per day) or a semi-intensive format (3 days a week, 4.5 hours of instruction per day). Courses are offered at all levels (beginning, intermediate, advanced), and students will be individually placed at the appropriate level, depending on their background and a placement test.

The curriculum includes cultural excursions in Berlin and extracurricular programming (river cruise, visit of the Reichstag, movies). All language courses are taught by native speaking, experienced faculty, co-coordinated by UC Berkeley faculty. The courses are articulated with UC Berkeley German courses (G1-101) and students will earn between 4 and 7 ECTS credits (UC). Upon successful completion, students can continue their study at UC Berkeley’s next higher level.

For further information on this program, please see the program's website.

UC Education Abroad (UCEAP)

For further information regarding programs offered through UCEAP, please see the UCEAP website.

German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD)

The German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) generously supports summer language courses, research projects and study abroad stays in Germany. For current scholarship and program information, please see the DAAD website.

Departmental Awards and Scholarships

Major Citation

The Departmental Citation for outstanding academic achievement in the German major is awarded annually to a graduating senior. The selection is made by the Undergraduate Affairs Committee.

Bruno and Erna Ehlert Prize

Recipients of this annual prize carrying a financial award must be seniors majoring in German demonstrating outstanding academic accomplishment in the German major. The selection is made by the Undergraduate Affairs Committee.

Max Kade Summer Language Study Travel Fellowship

This award is given to undergraduate students who are either German majors or minors, or who are currently enrolled in courses offered by the German Department. The Max Kade Travel Fellowship ($1,000 each) will be awarded to support travel to Berlin for participation in a summer language course.

University Awards and Scholarships

For further information on university-wide awards and scholarships, please see the following links:
Financial Aid and Scholarships Office
Scholarship Connection
California Alumni Association Scholarships

Major Map

Major Maps help undergraduate students discover academic, co-curricular, and discovery opportunities at UC Berkeley based on intended major or field of interest. Developed by the Division of Undergraduate Education in collaboration with academic departments, these experience maps will help you:

  • Explore your major and gain a better understanding of your field of study

  • Connect with people and programs that inspire and sustain your creativity, drive, curiosity and success

  • Discover opportunities for independent inquiry, enterprise, and creative expression

  • Engage locally and globally to broaden your perspectives and change the world

  • Reflect on your academic career and prepare for life after Berkeley

Use the major map below as a guide to planning your undergraduate journey and designing your own unique Berkeley experience.

View the German Major Map PDF.


Office of Undergraduate Advising

The German Office of Undergraduate Advising with the assistance of the professional advising team provides students help with a range of issues including course selection, academic decision-making, achieving and academic goals, and maximizing the Berkeley experience.

Major Advisor

Nadia Samadi, B.A.
5311 Dwinelle Hall



Contact Information

Department of German

5319 Dwinelle Hall

Fax: 510-642-3243

Visit Department Website

Department Chair

Professor Karen Feldman PhD

5325 Dwinelle Hall

Undergraduate Academic Student Advisor

Nadia Samadi, B.A.

5311 Dwinelle Hall

Phone: 510-642-7445

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