Requirements for M.A. Examinations

All requirements of the Graduate College, plus the following departmental requirements:

The committees for the M.A. examinations are appointed by the department head on the recommendation of the director of graduate studies in consultation with the student. M.A. committees consist of at least three faculty members, at least two of whom must be members of the faculty of this department, and two of whom must be members of the Graduate Faculty. Additional faculty members will not submit written questions. The committee will be chaired by the faculty member representing the student’s area of main interest. All members of the committee will read the written examination and may pose questions in the oral examination.

M.A. Written Examination

The written examinations for the M.A. degree consist of three examinations of three hours each in the areas of older German literature, modern German literature, and Germanic linguistics. These examinations test the student's ability to synthesize the knowledge gained through coursework and independent reading. Non-native speakers of German must to write at least one of their examinations in German. Native speakers of German must write at least one of their examinations in English.

M.A. Oral Examination

The Master's oral examination is administered only upon the successful completion of the written examination. With the advice of the chair of the M.A. Committee, the candidates prepare, and submit to the committee at least a week in advance of the oral examination, a revised and slightly extended version of a seminar research paper (20-25 pages), which the candidates then discuss with the committee at the beginning of the oral examination. The remainder of the two-hour oral examination is devoted to questions about older German literature, modern German literature, and Germanic linguistics.


The written examinations are based on four reading lists. Each M.A. candidate develops their lists in consultation with their examiners in each of the aforementioned areas (older German literature, modern German literature, and Germanic linguistics), and develops one list in their particular area of scholarly interest. Each list should consist of ten books. It is expected that a majority of these works will already be familiar to the student through undergraduate coursework or through coursework toward the Master's degree.



The grading of examinations for the degree will be on a pass/fail basis. If the student passes the final oral examination, the committee will certify the student's successful completion, and in addition, will recommend on the basis of the student's overall performance that (1) the student should be encouraged to continue with graduate studies, or (2) that the student should not continue, in which case the M.A. degree will be considered a terminal degree.

In case of a failure on any part of the examination, the committee will determine whether the student shall be allowed to repeat that part. Decisions of the committee must be unanimous.

MA Exams - Guidelines

*In order to take MA exams, students need to have a minimum 3.0 GPA

Written part

  • 3 written exams about the reading list (older lit, newer lit, linguistics): 3 hours each
  • Written presentation of a research topic (=a revised and slightly extended seminar research paper, 20-­25 pages)

Oral part (2 hours)

  • Questions about written exams
  • Presentation and discussion of a research topic

Language: Mix of English and German (which exam will be written/discussed in what language should 
be determined with the head of the committee beforehand)

Reading list: 40 texts
a) 10 texts representing older German literature (1200-1800)
b) 10 texts representing newer German literature (1800-present)
c) 10 texts representing Germanic linguistics
d) 10 additional texts chosen from a, b, or c. These texts represent the student's chosen field of specialization/concentration (usually reflected in the revised and expanded research paper). 

Note that when choosing scholarly articles in lieu of books for the reading lists, usually approximately 3-5 articles may substitute for one book. Discuss choices with the faculty examiner for that list.