German Program

The German Program offers a selection of undergraduate and graduate courses in German language, literature, culture and philosophy. It also provides the following degree options: Master of Arts in German, Bachelor of Arts in German (major) and a minor in German.

The German Program at San Francisco State University offers a comprehensive and carefully designed program for undergraduate and graduate studies in the area of language, literature, culture and linguistics.

The program addresses the needs of students at all levels, from those without prior knowledge of German to those with advanced, near-native or native competency in German. The curriculum is designed to enable students to develop language proficiency in accordance with the nationally recognized ACTFL standards. Learning German will open up new cultural perspectives and allow students to communicate with 120 million people in the German-speaking countries.

The German program serves students from the entire University. Many of the students enrolled are double majors, who concurrently pursue a degree in disciplines such as International RelationsHumanities and Liberal StudiesHistoryPsychologyCreative WritingCommunication Studies or Music. Students can also opt for a European Studies minor.

In cooperation with the Office of International Programs we encourage students to study abroad. Through the California State University (CSU) International Program, students may study, for example, at the Universität of TübingenUniversität of Heidelberg or other institutions of higher learning. Such opportunities give students an immersion experience, helping to build and reinforce language skills while earning units toward graduation. The German program also facilitates paid summer internships in German-speaking Europe.

Learning German is not only an enriching experience — It also offers real advantages in your professional future. Did you know that more than 100 million Europeans are native speakers of German? In fact, German ranks 10th in the number of native speakers among world languages, according to a 2012 European Commission report. In a recent survey of the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD), German is the second-most taught foreign language in Europe. In Eastern Europe, 13 million students are studying German as a second language. Even in Japan, 68 percent of students take German!

According to the 1990 Census, 1.5 million U.S. residents speak German at home. Speakers of German occupy a prominent place on almost any list of the world’s greatest artists and thinkers; every discipline in the humanities, sciences and social sciences has a strong German tradition. Scientists from the three major German-speaking countries, Austria, Switzerland and Germany, have earned 34 Nobel Prizes in physics, 38 in chemistry and 31 in medicine alone. Three of Germany’s most important writers, including Thomas Mann, Heinrich Böll and Günter Grass, have won the Nobel Prize in literature.

Declare a Major/Minor in German

To declare a major or minor, complete a Declaration of Major/Minor form, then make an appointment to see the program advisor. Bring a copy of your most recent university transcript to the meeting.

Hello written in German

Program Contacts

Program Coordinator:
Ilona Vandergriff,

Undergraduate Advisors: 
Ilona Vandergriff,

Prospective Undergraduates

The academic program leading to a B.A. in German offers a wide range of courses to meet the diverse needs of today's student population, including coursework in language, literature, linguistics and culture. In addition, students can select courses in translation and German for business. 

To ensure that all students develop advanced language competency, the German Program places great importance on small-sized participatory classes, which maximize opportunities to communicate in German.

Innovative teaching methods, films, multimedia and online materials enhance classroom interaction and enrich the academic experience. In addition, excellent computer facilities and a Foreign Language Multimedia Lab provide support for our academic program.


German (B.A.) — 44 units

Courses are 3 units unless otherwise indicated.

Required Courses (26 units)

  • GER 101 First Semester German
  • GER 102 Second Semester German
  • GER 206 Intermediate German Conversation
  • GER 207 Intermediate German
  • GER 305 Advanced Grammar and Composition
  • GER 330 German Language & Society or MLL 325 Linguistics for Foreign Language
  • GER 350GW Translation Workshop or MLL 400GW Reading and Analysis of Cultural Texts

And select one from the following:

  • GER 510 German Literature I
  • GER 511 German Literature II
  • GER 530 Die Deutsche Romantik
  • GER 535 The German Novella of the 19th and 20th Centuries
  • GER 556 19th and 20th-Century German Plays

Upper division electives (18 units)

Any upper-division course (GER 300+) can be counted as an elective.

Up to 21 units may be taken through the CSU International Program in Germany. These units must be upper division and must be approved by a German advisor.


Writing in the Major

Students must complete the University's GWAR requirement by taking GER 350GW, MLL 400GW or CWL 400GW.


Complementary Studies

Required of all candidates for the Bachelor of Arts degree in German are 12 units of Complementary Studies, which must come from courses bearing a prefix other than GER, and not cross-listed with GER. Complementary Studies for the German major can be satisfied via four possible routes: (1) 12 units in any foreign language other than German (may include up to 3 units of FL prefix courses); (2) 12 units of course work taken in an approved study abroad program (including CSU Study Abroad and SF State Bilateral); (3) 12 units of course work taken as partial completion of a second major, a minor or a certificate; (4) 12 units of course work in related disciplines with the approval of a German Program advisor. Related disciplines typically include linguistics, literature, communication, Jewish studies, philosophy, history, humanities, education, and any aspect of Europe.

Where a course with a non-GER prefix, (and not cross-listed with GER), is taken as a core requirement or elective for the German major, the said course may also (doubly) count towards Complementary Studies only via the Study Abroad option or the 2nd Major/Minor/Certificate option listed above. Students satisfying Complementary Studies through the Foreign Language option are allowed a maximum of 3 units of overlap of MLL-prefix courses between German major and Complementary Studies units.

Students satisfying Complementary Studies through the Related Subjects option are not allowed to double-count major and Complementary Studies units.


Obtaining major credit for your high school AP exam in German

Students may receive credit towards the lower division requirements for the major with the appropriate scores on Advanced Placement Exams.

AP Score / Major Credit

Score 3 / 8 units [equivalent to GER 101 and 102]

Score 4 / 11 units [equivalent to GER 101, 102 and 206]

Score 5 / 14 units [equivalent to GER 101, 102, 206 and 207]

See the University policy on AP exam credit here


To obtain approval of AP credits for use toward the German Major, the student must meet with his/her German Major Advisor. Please bring your SF State unofficial transcript, Transfer Credit Report and a copy of your AP exam score report. 

The minor consists of 17 units. All coursework used to satisfy the requirements of the minor must be completed with a minimum grade point average of 2.0.

German, Minor — 17 units

  • GER 101 First Semester German (4 units)
  • GER 102 Second Semester German (4 units)
  • GER 206 Intermediate German Conversation (3 units)
  • GER 207 Intermediate German (3 units)

Choose one course from below (3 units)

  • GER 301 German in Review
  • GER 302 Grammar in Context
  • GER 305 Advanced Grammar and Composition
  • GER 330 Exploring the German Language
  • GER 335 German Through Cinema
  • GER 341 Intensive Language Practice and Analysis
  • GER 401 German Culture and Civilization I
  • GER 502 Contemporary Germany
  • GER 600 Mobility, Travel, and Identity in English
  • GER 613 Weimar Literature
  • GER 614 Crisis and Quest in English

Note: All of the 17 units may be taken through the CSU International Program in Germany with the approval of a German advisor.