German Studies

The Reichstag building, Berlin.


German studies is an interdisciplinary major that deals broadly with the entire German-speaking region, which includes not only Germany but also Austria, Switzerland, and, historically, parts of what are now Poland, the Czech Republic, Latvia, and other countries. Whether one thinks of philosophy, music, art, education, religion, or political and social history, German culture has exercised a profound and often decisive influence on Europe. Some of the most important ideological debates in Western culture have arisen in the German-speaking area, and changes in German culture and society have sometimes had devastating effects on world history. Events and political developments of recent years — such as the unification of East and West Germany and the emergence of the German-speaking region of Europe as a major player in world affairs — have had important impacts.

A German studies major provides students with an intellectually diverse program — covering history, history of art and visual culture, literature, and philosophy — in which students and faculty come together in exciting and demanding pursuits.

Degrees Offered

  • B.A.

Study and Research Opportunities

The German studies major is an interdisciplinary program in which students complete a set of core courses in German literature and history and then, depending on their interests, branch out to take courses in a variety of other fields, including philosophy, art history, music, and linguistics. Because many advanced courses in German studies require a knowledge of the German language, classes are often small, with 15 or fewer students. This means that faculty are able to give students a great deal of individual attention. The faculty all have a high level of commitment to undergraduate education.

Information for First-Year Students (Freshmen)

High school students planning to major in German studies at UC Santa Cruz do not need any special preparation other than the high school courses necessary for UC admission. Previous study of the German language is valuable, but not required.

Students whose high schools do not offer German will be able to learn the language at UC Santa Cruz, where the German language program is of high quality.

Information for Transfers

Transfer students are advised to complete college courses that satisfy campus general education requirements before coming to UC Santa Cruz. They should also take at least one—and preferably two—full years of college-level German language courses at their previous institution. Some background in history and in literary analysis and interpretation is desirable, but not essential. Since this is an interdisciplinary major, preparatory work in art history, philosophy, or politics, depending on the student’s interests, may also be useful.


Students who have majored in German studies in the past have gone on to successful careers in a variety of fields:

  • Business
  • Communications
  • Foreign service
  • International economics
  • International law
  • International relations
  • Journalism
  • Politics
  • Publishing
  • Teaching
  • Writing

This is not an exhaustive list, but indicates some of the career paths that our former majors have pursued.


It is strongly recommended that German studies majors spend time in residence in Germany through the University of California Education Abroad Program (EAP). The German studies faculty have designed the major to accommodate this and offer very generous transfer credit for academic work done at German universities.

Department Website

General Catalog Information

More Information

The German studies major is administered by the History Department.

University of California, Santa Cruz
1156 High Street
Santa Cruz, CA 95064