Building on the M.A. foundational base, the KU Ph.D. degree program encourages students to develop their particular intellectual interests in collaboration with KU faculty and their areas of specialization. The graduate program focuses on the following areas:

  • German literature
  • Germanic linguistics/philology
  • German second-language acquisition/applied linguistics

Ph.D. students studying literature and culture and those studying Germanic philology also benefit from the opportunity to choose a minor field of study. Students may choose a minor of up to 9 credit hours of coursework taken outside the department and chosen in consultation with their dissertation advisor. This minor may also consist of coursework combined with a project.

Departmental Funding

The department does its best to provide funding in the form of Graduate Teaching Assistant (GTA) appointments to incoming graduate students.  GTA appointments are awarded for the academic year and come with:

  • a competitive academic year (9 month) salary
  • a 100% tuition waiver for all courses at KU
  • payment of up to 3 hours of student fees
  • optional University-subsidized group health insurance 

Appointments are guaranteed based on performance for up to 3 years for M.A. students, 5 years for Ph.D. students and 6 years for students who receive both an M.A. and a Ph.D. at The University of Kansas.  GTAs in the department receive thorough training in language instruction, close mentoring, and the opportunity to teach German at a variety of levels, providing them with a strong base of teaching experience upon entering the job market. Additional information about teaching for the department is available on the Graduate Funding page of our departmental website.

Post-comprehensive students completing their dissertations are also eligible to apply for one of the the departmental Max Kade Dissertation Fellowships.

Additional Funding

There are also university fellowships for truly outstanding students. Visit the Graduate Studies website for information about funding opportunities for KU graduate students.


For inquiries concerning the graduate program, please contact:

Professor William Keel, Director of Graduate Studies, and/or Cari Ann Kreienhop, Graduate Academic Advisor & Graduate Admissions Administrator.

Admission to Graduate Studies

An applicant seeking to pursue graduate study in the College may be admitted as either a degree-seeking or non-degree seeking student. Policies and procedures of Graduate Studies govern the process of Graduate admission. These may be found in the Graduate Studies section of the online catalog.

Please consult the Departments & Programs section of the online catalog for information regarding program-specific admissions criteria and requirements. Special admissions requirements pertain to Interdisciplinary Studies degrees, which may be found in the Graduate Studies section of the online catalog.

Germanic Languages & Literatures Graduate Admission

The Department of Germanic Languages and Literatures has suspended matriculation for the Ph.D. program until further notice.  Please visit the graduate admissions page of the Germanic Languages and Literatures website, or contact the department Graduate Academic Advisor, Cari Ann Kreienhop, ckreienhop@ku.edu, for more information.

Ph.D. Degree Requirements

In addition to the general requirements for the Doctor of Philosophy degree concerning research skills, the oral comprehensive examination, the dissertation, and the final examination, a student must meet the following specific departmental requirements:

  1. Normally a minimum of 27 credit hours (excluding GERM 999 Doctoral Dissertation) beyond that required for the M.A. For students in German Applied Linguistics, some of the courses may be taken outside of the department.  Students in literature and culture and students in Germanic philology may choose a minor up to 9 credit hours of coursework outside the department in consultation with their advisor. This minor may consist of coursework combined with a project. The 9 hours of the minor are included in the required 27 credit hours. Required Courses: One research seminar in the area of specialization; Approved elective courses in the area of specialization; Approved elective courses for the outside minor area (depending on specialization).
  2. At least 1 semester of half-time teaching or the equivalent (normally GERM 800 is required concurrently with the first semester of teaching).
  3. a). A portfolio evaluation in the third semester of study after successful completion of 18 credit hours of coursework. For a detailed description of portfolio content, see the Graduate Handbook . Upon passing the portfolio evaluation and fulfilling all degree requirements, students advance to the comprehensive examination in the fourth semester of their doctoral studies. b). A comprehensive written and oral examination in the fourth semester upon completion of all required coursework (27 credit hours in German Studies; for students in German Applied Linguistics and for students with a minor option, some of the courses will be taken outside of the department) and fulfillment of all degree requirements. The comprehensive examination consists of a 2-part written departmental preliminary examination based on the student’s submitted portfolio followed by an oral examination.

Research Skills & Responsible Scholarship

The University requires that every doctoral student have training in responsible scholarship and research skills pertinent to the field of research and appropriate to the doctoral level. This requirement must be met before taking the comprehensive oral exam. For Germanic Languages and Literatures doctoral students, this requirement is met by the following:

GERM 700Introduction to Graduate Studies in German3
GERM 800Seminar: Teaching German as a Second Language3
GERM 855Introduction to German Applied Linguistics3
Demonstrated reading knowledge of French and one other modern language, Latin or Greek. 1

1This requirement can be fulfilled by completing an approved course or by completing a proficiency examination. Language course may be taken in the summer. If that is not possible, a student may take the course during a Fall or Spring semester while also taking 2 three-credit hour graduate courses in German. Students specializing in medieval philology or older literature must select Latin as the second language for reading knowledge.

Graduate Handbook

For further details about the requirements for the Ph.D. see the department's Graduate Handbook.