The University of Massachusetts Amherst
HFA - College of Humanities & Fine Arts view HFA submenu

Requirements for the M.A.

The M.A. degree is designed to be a meaningful professional credential in itself and a foundation for further progress toward the Ph.D. Prerequisites for admission to the M.A. Program include a relevant bachelor's degree (or equivalent such as Vordiplom or Zwischenprüfung) and indication of ability to do successful graduate work in German studies. Deficiencies in background and insufficient command of spoken or written German must be remedied before the M.A. is granted.

Program of Study

Ten courses (30 credit hours) with at least a 3.0 grade average are required of all M.A. candidates by University regulation. Full-time students are normally expected by the Department to take a minimum of three graduate courses in each semester. (Courses taken as audits are not counted among the minimum three.) Those holding teaching assistantships in the Department are expected to complete their course requirements for the M.A. within four consecutive semesters of the regular academic year.

The Program offers a two-track Master of Arts degree dedicated to providing a sound background in the field of German studies with broad opportunity for interdisciplinary work. Some M.A. students may wish to pursue an individualized concentration such as gender, migration, film and literature, national identity, German-Jewish studies, colonialism/ postcolonialism, medieval studies, philology, or German and Scandinavian relations. Other M.A. students may wish to structure their master’s program around their coursework, drawing on faculty research strengths in the program, the University, the Five College Consortium, and our international exchange partner universities.

Of the ten courses required for an M.A. degree, six must be taken in the program. Students are required to take a minimum of two courses per semester within German and Scandinavian Studies. Courses outside the Program must be approved by both the student's academic advisor. Full-time students must take at least three graduate courses per semester. To provide a solid basis in the tools of the profession and the foundations of scholarship in German studies, M.A. students are required to take the following courses within the department:

  • 583 Methods of Teaching German
  • 584 History of the German Language, or 585 Structure of German
  • 601 Middle High German

Beyond the above, additional courses should be selected in consultation with the student's advisor to form the basis for the Master's exams. By the end of the first semester in the program, a student should have arranged for a faculty member qualified in the appropriate track above to serve as advisor for the M.A. The advisor will assist the student in designing a program of study and selecting courses appropriate for the program.

M.A. Examinations

The M.A. exams and reading lists for students pursuing an individualized concentration are to demonstrate working knowledge in three mandatory areas: works in the student’s concentration, methods applicable to analyzing these works, and the history of the concentration. For students pursuing the general option, each reading list will be based on course material and additional readings. In each case, students will work closely with the faculty member responsible for that exam to compile their reading lists. students are expected to address material from several centuries. The candidate can choose from the following formats for the examinations: (a) three two-hour written examinations administered in the Program during regular working hours; or (b) with the consent of the Graduate Program Director up to three eight-hour take-home examinations. Given adequate success on the examinations listed under (a) and (b) above, students will be admitted to an oral examination of approximately one hour.

Thesis in Lieu of Examinations

In rare circumstances where a student has amassed a concentration of work in a topic area after three semesters of graduate study, the M.A. thesis option may be approved. This option must be agreed to by the advisor and the GPD, and a two- or three-person thesis committee must be formed, at least one semester prior to the proposed graduation date. Approval of the thesis option is not automatic.

Timing of Examinations

M.A. exams are scheduled and taken to allow for processing by the Graduate School before graduation deadlines. (Degrees are granted in September, February, and May.) With approval of the GPD and all members of the student's committee, exams may be scheduled at other times. All three examinations are ordinarily scheduled within a two-week period. Drafts of reading lists should be given to all members of the student's committee at the beginning of the graduating semester. Students should be aware that the timing of their exams may affect their eligibility for teaching assignments.