The University of Massachusetts Amherst
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Undergraduate Program

German and Scandinavian Studies is a nationally-ranked program with distinguished scholars who are also dedicated teachers and mentors, having won teaching awards and prestigious fellowships. We are a small but dynamic program, which allows us to make certain that we get to know our students very well and guide them through their experience here at UMass. Students can choose a concentration in German or Scandinavian Studies. Students may also specialize in STEM-German.

Our undergraduate program in German Studies offers a broad range of courses on the German-speaking world from the Middle Ages to the present. In addition to our language courses from beginning to advanced German, we teach classes on culture, society, film, literature, history, politics, and philosophy in both German and English. We offer a major and minor in German Studies that have very flexible requirements, which allow our students to combine their interest in German Studies with another field or major or minor. Our students frequently have a second major or a minor in Linguistics, History, Political Science, Business, English, or one of the many other languages offered at UMass. We also regularly have majors and minors combining their German major with a major or minor in Environmental Studies, Biology, Computer Science, Engineering, and Anthropology.

Our German-language courses focus on the continuous development of listening, speaking, reading, and writing skills. While improving your German language proficiency, you will also develop your ability to understand, articulate, and examine a broad spectrum of cultural, historical, and political issues in the German-speaking world through engagement with a wide variety of literary texts and media, including film, art, and music. We strive to ensure communicative competency, provide tools for critical inquiry, and foster intercultural competence by raising an awareness for inter- and intracultural differences.

Our strengths are in interdisciplinary literary and cultural studies. This is reflected in our regularly taught courses on witches and myths, folk tales, crime and criminals, the Holocaust, the Crusades and images of Islam, Berlin, refugee comics, Nazi cinema, East German films, turn-of-the-century Vienna, the quest for the Grail, terrorism narratives, and star culture and actresses. In these courses students learn to engage critically with the course materials, to interpret cultural texts within their historic and socio-political contexts, to develop analytical reading and writing skills, and to effectively communicate, discuss and exchange their ideas.

We also offer a variety of courses that fulfill campus-wide requirements: the Humanities and Fine Arts language requirement, University General Education requirements (in Diversity, History, and Arts and Literature, Commonwealth Honors College curriculum requirements, Modern European Studies minor requirements, Medieval Studies and Religious Studies Certificate requirements, and many more).

We encourage all our students to participate in our wonderful and long-standing study abroad programs to see Germany first hand. Our students consistently tell us that their study abroad is one of the most important experiences of their lives. You can read some of our students’ comments here. In addition to our many students studying in Freiburg, Heidelberg, Konstanz, and Tübingen, our students have regularly received prestigious Fulbright and German Academic Exchange fellowships.

Our graduates have gone on to positions in teaching, the State Department, finance and other business-related fields, computer science, public relations, publishing, translation and Interpreting, journalism, international communications, museums, Radio and TV, and to pursue graduate study in the US and abroad.

The University of Massachusetts Amherst is the only public university in the eastern United States to offer an undergraduate major or minor in Scandinavian Studies. The Program in Scandinavian Studies offers students the opportunity to study a wide range of fascinating courses, from “Trolls, Giants, and Dwarves” to “Hans Christian Andersen” to “Scandinavian Mythology” and “Old Norse.” Courses in accelerated beginning and intermediate Swedish are taught every year, allowing students to gain a basic reading fluency in the language. We strongly encourage our majors and minors to study abroad in Scandinavia, either at Linköping University, our partner institution in Sweden, or through one of the many other study-abroad programs focused on the Nordic countries. In addition, Scandinavian Studies has received several major grants from Scandinavian cultural foundations to sponsor lectures, films, and courses on Scandinavian subjects.


Program Director: Andrew Donson

Undergraduate Advisor for German: Ela Gezen

Undergraduate Advisor for Scandinavian and Swedish: Frank Hugus

iSTEP Director: Julia Feldhaus