Germanic Languages and Literatures

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All academic programs offered at the UM help students develop valuable transferable skills. So why study German?  German is the most widely spoken language in Europe, and the German economy is one of the world’s largest. Many of the great minds of the last 300 years thought and wrote in German, and German is often required or recommended for graduate study in the humanities and social sciences.

In addition to the German concentration, minors in German and in Scandinavian studies are also available, as are courses in Dutch and Yiddish.  In our increasingly global world, the intense study of another language and culture will help you develop a broad range of linguistic, cultural, and analytical skills.

Related fields include Linguistics, History, Political Science, Economics, Business, Philosophy, History of Art, Music, Slavic and Russian, and Sociology.


Research Skills

Working with original sources in many fields (e.g., philosophy, history, art, music, natural sciences)
Interpreting texts in historical contexts
Learning how to approach different intellectual traditions

Analytical Skills

Reading and thinking critically
Interpreting texts
Viewing issues from several perspectives
Evaluating evidence
Comparing translations/interpretations
Developing enhanced aesthetic sensibilities

Interpersonal Skills

Collaborating as part of a team
Understanding cultural diversity
Determining the needs of others
Gaining new perspectives through acknowledging different value systems
Intercultural sensitivity

Communication Skills

Speaking to groups
Reading/writing another language
Reporting and editing
Clarifying ideas
Writing clearly
Understanding different business and social conventions


Employers seek out individuals who can demonstrate excellent verbal and written communication skills, teamwork and interpersonal skills, initiative, and a strong work ethic. Student organizations and campus employment offer valuable opportunities to add to the skills you are developing in your classes. Study abroad experiences are particularly helpful to improve language proficiency and gain intercultural skills. The Max Kade House, a Michigan Learning Community (MLC), is the only language house on campus and provides a unique opportunity to undergraduates. German Club, a student organization, meets weekly for social events and German conversation. Other options include off-campus employment or volunteering in the community. Finally, a summer internship may be the best way of all to test out a career field and develop marketable skills.


As a German concentrator, you will develop both cultural and language skills and find career opportunities in all areas of the economy. For example, cross-cultural communication skills may be equally useful whether working as a translator, an import specialist, or a freelance journalist. Moreover, the ability to work in both Germany and the U.S.A. can provide twice as many career opportunities. Many concentrators go on to graduate or professional school. The list below is a sample of careers undertaken by German graduates.

Research Skills

Economist open book icon
Securities examiner open book icon
International health care systems analyst open book icon
Laboratory technician
Science information and research specialist
Librarian open book icon

Analytical Skills

Insurance adjuster
International marketing analyst
Policy analyst open book icon
Social science analyst open book icon
Patent attorney open book icon
Intellectual property attorney open book icon
Import specialist
International relations officer, Commerce Department
Physician open book icon
Bioengineer open book icongreen leaf icon

Interpersonal Skills

District sales manager
Human relations coordinator
Customer support specialist
Volunteer recruiter, Peace Corps
Social worker open book icon
Director, health and human resources
Psychologist / counselor open book icon
Psychiatrist open book icon
Guidance counselor open book icon
Director, international airport visitors center
Youth program leader
Exchange student program coordinator
Foreign language film distributor

Communication Skills

Technical writer, corporate publications
Translator / interpreter
Technical translator
Overseas representative
International education specialists
Customs inspector
K-12 language teacher
College language instructor open book icon
Coordinator, cultural arts center
Publisher, foreign language books
Guidebook writer
Web writer
Editor of foreign publications

green leaf icon = Green Jobs
open book icon = Further Study Required

For more career information, see O*Net at


The German major requires a minimum of 30 hours beyond German language proficiency, including courses in speaking and writing, German literature, history, politics, culture, and film. The German minor requires a minimum of 18 credit hours. The Scandinavian minor requires at least 15 hours, including Scand 331, 349, and 375, plus two electives chosen from a wide-ranging list of relevant courses. Students may receive academic credit for study abroad or summer internships. Please see the department for details.

Department of Germanic Languages and Literatures
3110 Modern Languages Building

Newnan Advising Center
1255 Angell Hall


To begin exploring opportunities for overseas study and work, go to: or

To identify internships or job opportunities, visit Handshake:

To begin connecting to professionals in fields that interest you, create your own LinkedIn account:

On-campus jobs (work-study and non work-study jobs) are listed at:

Maize Pages list hundreds of organizations for students to get involved in:

The Career Center
3200 Student Activities Building

The Career Guide series was developed by the University of Michigan Career Center, Division of Student Affairs, in cooperation with the College of Literature, Science, and the Arts. ©2011 Regents of the University of Michigan