Princeton’s graduate program in German has long been recognized as one of the leading programs of German studies. We offer our students the chance to participate in an intense intellectual community and to study with scholars who work in contemporary interdisciplinary and theoretical approaches to German culture as well as in the full range and depth of the German literary tradition.
Each year the department admits a small number of highly motivated students who intend to obtain the Ph.D. degree. It does not offer a special M.A. program, but an M.A. degree is awarded, upon request, after successful completion of the general examination. The only major formal requirements for the Ph.D. are the general examination and the dissertation. Princeton has no credit system, and thus the question of transfer of credits cannot arise. After they have fulfilled the University residency requirement of one year, students take their general examination as soon as they feel prepared. For students with the A.B. this normally means the beginning of the third year of study. Students who come with previous graduate training frequently take it earlier. The Ph.D. program is a five-year program, although we encourage candidates to finish earlier, if possible.
At the same time, we urge all students to study at a university in a German-speaking country at some point before they complete their requirements for the Ph.D. degree. The department makes every effort to enable students to spend a full year abroad, which effectively extends the period of support to six years. Most students obtain outside fellowships or one of the DAAD fellowships (among others) earmarked specifically for Princeton University; if their application for outside support is unsuccessful and if they hold a University fellowship that includes a stipend, they may continue to receive this stipend while they are studying abroad.