• Degree Type Bachelor of Arts
  • Department German
  • Academic Division The College
  • Offerings Major Minor

A group of students studying abroad A group of students studying abroad

German at Washington and Lee is one of the most dynamic and growing programs on campus. Studying the German language and culture at W&L gives the student unique access to a vibrant culture and the strongest economy in the European Union.


An MIT study published in The Economist in 2014 describes the “earnings premiums” language learners accrue over a lifetime, with German being the most lucrative language.

We offer a major and a minor in German that most students pair with courses in economics, business administration, accounting, natural sciences and others. We offer a mix of cultural opportunities through our active German Club and study abroad options in Berlin and Bayreuth, Germany, and Graz, Austria.

All German Department courses help satisfy foundation and distribution requirements, and we have many course offerings in English that are open to students who may not be studying the German language. No previous knowledge of German is necessary to be a minor or a major.

Both the German major and minor allow you to explore a broader context by taking courses from across the curriculum that will count toward your degree in German, in fields that include law, art history, philosophy and digital humanities.

Awards, Prizes and Scholarships

The Jim Stump Prize honors a devoted alumnus of the Class of 1953. It is awarded annually at the discretion of the Department of German and Arabic to an undergraduate of exceptional achievement in German.

The James S. Wood Prize in German is awarded annually to honor an alumnus of the Class of 1965 who was killed in Vietnam.

The Rising Star Award is given to a student at the beginning of his or her academic career who promises to shine in the future as a German major or minor.

The Craig Hinkel Prize was established in 2000 in memory of Otto and Ruth Craig Hinkel and is awarded annually to a student (or students) who has (have) a dual interest in English and German literature.

The Stephenson Scholarship is awarded every year at Commencement to a rising junior German major of great promise. It was established in honor of Buford S. “Steve” Stephenson, an alumnus of the class of 1942 and longtime professor and chair of the department.

Dickens-Youngblood Award was established in recognition of two retired members of the German Department, David B. Dickens and Robert Youngblood. It is awarded to a high achieving German major in either their junior or senior year.

Experience in Germany
  • Two Spring Term abroad programs, “Layered Berlin” and “Traces of Empire,” are total-immersion academic programs directed by W&L faculty in Berlin and Graz, Austria, respectively.
  • A semester-long program with the University of Bayreuth in the spring/ summer semester (April-July)
  • Paid, three-month long internships with multi-national corporations in Germany through the German-American Exchange Internship Program, as well as other opportunities sponsored by the Woolley Fellowship and Johnson Opportunity Grant Program at W&L
External Scholarships & Fellowships
  • Fulbright Scholarships and Teaching Assistant Scholarships in Germany and Austria
  • German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) Research Internships in Science and Engineering (RISE)
  • Congress-Bundestag Young Professionals Program
  • German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) Summer Scholarships
  • Robert Bosch Foundation Fellowships

Recent graduates have gone on to graduate school at institutions like Harvard and the University of Texas. Those who have chosen the working world are enjoying exciting and varied careers around the world in areas such as international commerce, finance, law, international banking and education.

Debra Prager

Department Head

Jacque Bruce

Administrative Assistant


W&L’s Ian Kinney ’24 Selected for U.S. Teaching Assistantship to Austria

Kinney will teach English in Austria at an agricultural research institute, blending his interests in German and environmental studies.

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W&L Podcast Releases New Episode Featuring Paul Youngman

“W&L After Class” invites listeners to join W&L faculty to discuss their teaching, research and passion projects.

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W&L’s Maddy Mayer ’24 Earns U.S. Teaching Assistantship to Austria

Mayer will teach English in Austria before pursuing a master’s degree in international relations.

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W&L’s Jack Maloy ’24 Awarded Fulbright to Germany

Maloy was selected for a Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship to teach English in Germany.

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W&L Alumnus Benji Hess ’23 Earns U.S. Teaching Assistantship to Austria

Hess will teach English in Austria and prepare for a career as an educator.

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W&L’s George Alford ’24 Awarded U.S. Teaching Assistantship to Austria

Alford will teach English at two secondary schools in Austria before attending Princeton Theological Seminary.

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W&L’s Catherine McKean ’24 Selected For Fulbright to Germany

McKean has been awarded a Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship to teach English in Germany.

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W&L’s Avalon Pernell ’23 Awarded Fulbright to Germany

Pernell has been awarded a Young Professional Journalist Program Award to conduct research and gain career experience in Germany.

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Learning to Swim

Tetiana Kozachanska ’26 is taking full advantage of her first year at Washington and Lee.

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Avalon Pernell '23

Maximizing Her Network

Avalon Pernell ’23 credits the mentorship she received on campus as she launches her career in business journalism.

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Avery Schiffman '22

W&L Outcomes: Avery Schiffman ’22

Since graduation, Schiffman has worked as an account executive at Anomaly on the Crown Royal team in SoHo, New York City.  

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Sample Courses

At W&L, we believe education and experience go hand-in-hand. You’ll be encouraged to dive in, explore and discover connections that will broaden your perspective.

GERM 112-312

German (Elementary-Advanced)

Elementary German emphasizes the spoken language, as well as grammar and reading. In Intermediate German, the emphasis is on listening comprehension and speaking, reading and writing, and some German literature and culture. Advanced German covers the written language through composition and a study of stylistics. Advanced conversational material is drawn from topics relevant to contemporary life in the German-speaking world.

GERM 313

German Literature: 1800-1850

This course is an introduction to German literature through close reading, analysis and discussion of key German texts written from the early- to mid-19th century. Students become familiar with the development, characteristics and themes of German literature in this period as well as methods and terms of literary criticism and interpretation (in both English and German). Conducted in German.

GERM 347

The Age of Goethe

A study of dramatic, expository, narrative and poetic works by the young Goethe, Schiller and their contemporaries. While emphasizing the historical and sociopolitical context of this aesthetically revolutionary period, this course examines Germany’s turn toward Sentimentalism that culminates in the Sturm und Drang movement. Regular expository writing in German and performing in debates or scenes are required. Conducted in German.

GERM 305

Exploring Austria & Hungary

A four-week advanced language and culture class based in Graz, Austria, with a particular focus on the multi-national, polyglot Austro-Hungarian Empire and its impact on modern Austria’s multi-ethnic, multi-cultural identity. Language and culture classes take place in the University of Graz’s language center, Treffpunkt Sprachen. Afternoon discussion classes focus on Austrian culture, supported by readings from the texts, film screenings and visits to important sites and events in Graz and its environs. During excursions to Vienna and Budapest, we compare the two rival imperial capitals of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, visit the opera houses and national art collections, and consider both the function of art in forging national and imperial identity, and the role of power in the construction of “taste.”

GERM 392

Layered Berlin

Layered Berlin: German Culture and the Social Market Economy is a four-week course taught abroad that offers students a true immersion in German language, culture and business environment. In order to give students a complete understanding of contemporary Germany, we integrate a literary-historical analysis of the country’s rich history from 1848 to the present day with an introduction to German social and economic system that focuses on stakeholder-centric business and sustainability principles. Through an exciting mix of literary fiction, historical readings and cases, film screenings, along with corporate and cultural site visits, students gain an understanding of the interdependence between “big C” Culture and business culture.

LIT 295

Anti-Semitism in German Culture

How is that the Jewish population, such a small minority in 1930s Germany, could occupy so much space in the German cultural imagination? This is an interdisciplinary course drawing on political, literary and theological texts. We begin our study in the 18th century and trace the development of antisemitism in Germany through the eliminationist version of the World War II era. Special emphasis is placed on antisemitism as a global phenomenon with an emphasis on France in the 18th century and at the turn of the 20th century, and the U.S. in the first half of the 20th century. No previous familiarity with the subject matter is necessary.

Meet the Faculty

At W&L, students enjoy small classes and close relationships with professors who educate and nurture.

Debra Prager
Debra Prager

Debra Prager

Department Head, Associate Professor of German

Prager teaches courses in German language and literature.

Roger Crockett
Roger Crockett

Roger Crockett

Professor of German

Crockett teaches courses on German literature and business.

Jaime Roots
Jaime Roots

Jaime Roots

Visiting Assistant Professor of German

Paul Youngman

Paul Youngman

Associate Provost and Redenbaugh Professor of German

Youngman teaches courses on German literature and language. His research focuses on the German cultural reception of various technologies. Youngman is also a U.S. Army veteran and the recipient of the Bronze Star with “V” device.

Curriculum Vitae

Roger Crockett
Jaime Roots
Debra Prager