University of South Carolina

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German: What to Expect

The German major at the University of South Carolina is very distinctive when compared with other German programs in the region. As a German major, you will work with an enthusiastic and accomplished team of teacher-scholars who cover a wide range of periods and fields. The language courses that you will take as a German major have been designed by a professor trained in language learning techniques who is committed to integrating new media such as wikis, blogs, and podcasts, into basic courses. You will develop the language and cultural awareness skills necessary for work or study in German-speaking countries. During your coursework, you will combine practice in reading, listening, speaking, and writing about themes of general interest and about topics related to business and other professions. As a German major, you will be able to engage in a high degree of professor-student contact and develop a sense of belonging that can facilitate all other aspects of the learning experience.

The following courses fulfill some of the course requirements for a Bachelor of Arts with a major in German:

  • Germany Culture and Civilization
  • Study of German Abroad
  • Readings in German Literature
  • Practicum in Teaching German to Young Children
  • German Literature and Culture of the 19th Century
  • Survey of Germany Culture
  • Advanced German for Business and Other Professions I and II
  • Introduction to German Linguistics

On average, there is a 14 to 1 student-faculty ratio in major-specific courses. A detailed list of degree requirements can be found in the Undergraduate Bulletin.

Enhancing your Experience

Study Abroad allows you to earn academic credits toward your USC degree while seeing the world! Overseas study can complement any academic program or major. The German major has a variety of unique study abroad programs. You can take up to two semesters of courses at the University of Bamberg. The University of Bamberg is one of the oldest universities in Bavaria, which is set in one of the largest and best-preserved town centers in Germany, a UNESCO world heritage site since 1993. You can also travel to Wittenberg, Germany and live with German families and take a four-week study program, which includes weekend excursions and day trips. As a German major, you may also choose to study abroad in Sachsen-Anhalt, Germany. In the state of Sachsen-Anhalt, the “Checkpoint Charlie” program, you can work as a teacher’s aid and live with a German family for a month during the summer. During these study abroad experiences, you will improve your language skills enormously, learn a great deal about the German culture and lifestyle, and meet new people from Germany and all over the world! You are encouraged to visit the Study Abroad Web site to learn about additional opportunities to broaden and extend your knowledge and perspectives.
Student Organizations can be instrumental in helping you adjust to life on campus and network within your field. The University of South Carolina has a family of nearly 300 student organizations. As a Germany major, you may choose to join the German Club or get involved in Delta Phi Alpha to meet new people, gain leadership experience, and network within your major. Every Thursday night, the student-led German Stammtisch meets at a venue near campus to communicate and interact with native German speakers. Additionally, twice a month, the German program presents a German movie with English subtitles at a convenient location on campus. You can also find other student organizations on campus that interest you!
Graduate School is one of many possibilities following graduation. In recent years, German majors from the University of South Carolina have gone on to pursue graduate programs in psychology, law, medicine, Comparative Literature, international business, English, history, German and linguistics. Many have also pursed graduate degrees in teaching.
Departmental Scholarships may be awarded to outstanding entering freshmen or current students. The German program awards three fellowships annually to German majors and minors. These are competitive awards that provide around $500 toward tuition for undergraduates. These fellowships include the Gerda Jordan Scholarship, the Maria Reyes Scholarship, and the Hoechst Scholarship.  The Department of Language, Literatures & Cultures offers additional scholarships each year.

Internship and Research Opportunities

Internships can be an important asset to your overall educational experience. Internship experiences often help you confirm your career interests, give you hands-on experience in a professional setting, help build your resume, reinforce what you’ve learned in class and can often lead to full-time employment. Likewise, pursuing professional research opportunities as an undergraduate student can also help enrich your academic experience while at the University. As an undergraduate student, you can work closely with faculty research mentors and explore a discipline that interests you. Both internship and research opportunities help you build a competitive edge in the job market.

As a USC student you will have numerous resources at your disposal to assist you with locating internship and research opportunities. The USC Career Center is the central location at USC for assisting students with internship preparation and finding an internship. In addition, be sure to visit your academic department as many programs offer supplemental internship guidance specific to your major. The Office of Undergraduate Research assists all USC undergraduates by providing research and scholarly experiences in their chosen fields.

Students in the Undergraduate Foreign Language Teacher Certification Program in German get hands-on experience through supervised teacher-training.

Student Spotlight

Nessa Kerr, a German and art history major, had a unique research opportunity that she used for her Honors College thesis with funding from a Magellan Grant. She conducted research in Colorado and Germany pertaining to the differences in elementary school arithmetic teaching techniques in the United States and Germany. Nessa interviewed teachers, conducted classroom observations, and learned how to analyze and compile research into an effective thesis during her research opportunity. “The most exciting part about my research experience was having the opportunity to travel to Germany and witness German classrooms in real life,” Nessa said. “Having live observations and interviews allowed me to add depth to my thesis that would have been missing had I conducted these sessions remotely.” Her courses at USC along with support from Dr. Ducate positively enhanced her research experience. “In my experience, one of the most critical components of having research success is having a supportive mentor,” she said about Dr. Ducate. Nessa offers some advice for current German majors planning on conducting research. “Try to find something you are passionate about and build a research opportunity from there,” she said. “Look for opportunities with professors you enjoy working with or propose your own ideas to them. You never know what opportunities might unfold simply because you were willing to start a discussion with someone about your interests."

Career Opportunities

German majors have a wide variety of career options following graduation. Many graduates leverage their language skills into business positions with BMW, Bosch, adidas, and other major German companies calling South Carolina home. Some graduates go on to pursue teaching careers or a career in foreign relations. Other career opportunities include international law, hospitality and tourism, and communications.

You can find more information about career options in the US Department of Laborís Occupational Outlook Handbook.

The USC Career Center offers numerous resources which provide more information about career opportunities for students in this major. Once admitted, a Career Development Coach is available to help you assess your interest areas, make decisions about your career path, and identify the experiences and skills that will help you accomplish your goals. Spur Connections will help you locate mentors from among USC alumni, employers and community members who can provide insights based on their careers and experiences. Early planning and preparation are keys to success.

Alumni Spotlight

Carolina’s German and Chemistry majors helped 2009 graduate, Patrick Hankins, land a Fulbright Teaching Assistantship in Hannover, Germany at Otto-Brenner-Schule. Patrick taught several English and bilingual chemistry classes to upper-class high school students as well as continuing education for young professional students. While teaching, he was also able to continue his education by taking courses on international relations and German history at the Leibniz Universitat Hannover. Patrick was able to use the experiences and skills he developed at USC during his teaching assistantship. He also had the opportunity to develop new skills. “I learned some pretty invaluable skills during my time as an English teaching including in-depth lesson planning, classroom management, and public speaking and instruction,” he said. “If you can confidently speak to and control a room of high school students in a foreign language class, you can pretty much do anything!” Patrick encourages current students to put themselves out there and apply for internship and research opportunities. “Also use all of your available resources at USC like the Office of Fellowship and Scholar Programs,” he suggests. “Applying for a fellowship is a pretty unique experience and it really forces you to think a lot about your goals, values, and dreams. The application process is also a great trial-run for applying to graduate schools and jobs.” Patrick also encourages students to study abroad to help make themselves more marketable after graduation. “There are a ton of opportunities all over the world for people proficient in multiple languages including language instruction, business, and cultural training as well as personal and technical translation,” he said. “Regardless of the field you end up in, having work experience abroad is a plus in almost every profession!”

About the Department of Languages, Literatures, and Cultures

The Department of Languages, Literatures, and Cultures at the University of South Carolina focuses on the teaching of foreign languages, their associated literatures, and global culture. Students learn from native speakers, benefit from innovative web based programs where they interact directly with their peers in other countries, and study with professors who have written the books they use in courses. The department offers undergraduate majors in Classics, Comparative Literature, French, Germany, Russian, and Spanish. Undergraduate Foreign Language Teaching Certification Program is also offered in French, German, Latin and Spanish. The department is home to internationally known scholars in language acquisition, children’s literature, Chinese, Classics, French, German, Russian, Spanish, and Arabic. The Department of Languages, Literatures, and Cultures is one of the largest and most active in the College of Arts and Sciences.

Points of Pride

  • The Comparative Literature Faculty is ranked 10th in the nation in research productivity.
  • The department is home of the Confucius Institute, a center for the study and teaching of Chinese language and culture affiliated with the Beijing Language Cultural University.
  • Russian major William Brown was recently award a prestigious Boren Scholarship.
  • Professor Nicholas Vazsonyi in German is an internationally renowned Wagner scholar who has lectured at the Kennedy Center and whose recent book was reviewed in the Wall Street Journal.

Additional Resources

Department of Languages, Literatures, and Cultures Website
College of Arts and Sciences Website
University Career Center
Undergraduate Bulletin