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Department of Germanic Languages and Literatures

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Why study Germanic languages and literatures?

Because understanding the language, literature, and culture of Central Europe is essential for our history and our future.

The study of German language, literature, and culture enables students to develop skills in reading, writing, speaking, and understanding German as well as the structure of language in general and introduces students to one of the world’s great literatures. A knowledge of German is useful for careers in business, journalism, and education or graduate work in the arts and sciences. Students interested in the future of Central and Eastern Europe find a knowledge of German essential. The department also offers the 4-semester proficiency sequence in a Scandinavian language (Swedish, Danish, or Norwegian), in Dutch, and in Hungarian.


Students beginning the study of German at KU should take GERM 104. Students with high school German who attend orientation may take a placement test and see a placement adviser. Upon request, the department can give a placement test to other students who seek advice about initial enrollment in German.

Retroactive Credit

Students with no prior college or university German course credit are eligible for retroactive credit according to the following formula:

  • 3 hours of retroactive credit are awarded to a student with 2 or 3 years of high school German who enrolls initially at KU in a third-level German course (GERM 212) and receives a grade of C or higher.
  • 6 hours of retroactive credit are awarded to a student with 3 or 4 years of high school German who enrolls initially at KU in a fourth-level German course (GERM 216) and receives a grade of C or higher.
  • 9 hours of retroactive credit are awarded to a student with 4 years of high school German who enrolls initially at KU in a German course with a fourth-level course as a prerequisite and receives a grade of C or higher.

Advanced Placement

KU encourages students to take Advanced Placement Examinations in any of the areas under the College Entrance Examination Board (CEEB) program. KU gives credit only in certain courses with certain scores from the AP examinations.

The results of these examinations must be sent to KU directly from CEEB. Departments may grant advanced placement and/or credit on the basis of the test scores. No college grade is assigned when advanced placement credit is given. Instead, a credit is recorded on the student’s KU record. No fee, beyond that charged by CEEB, is assessed for such college credit or placement. For information on how Advanced Placement scores in English and mathematics affect graduation requirements and initial enrollment in all schools, see the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences Degree Requirements page and the English and Mathematics department pages. Contact the Office of Admissions,, for further information.

Credit by Examination

KU offers its own program of examinations for advanced credit. Applications are available online. They must be approved by the instructor and the chair of the department concerned and by the student’s dean or dean’s representative. A report of the examination taken, showing the hours of credit to be granted and the grade awarded, must be signed by the professor giving the examination, the chair, and the dean or dean’s representative.

At the discretion of each academic dean, grades of A, B, C, or D may be used to indicate degrees of achievement, or a grade of Credit may indicate satisfactory performance. No record is made of an unsatisfactory attempt. Credit by Examination grades are not included in the grade-point average that appears on the official transcript.

A fee is charged for each course. For current fee information, contact the Office of the University Registrar,

Warning: Some medical schools do not accept credit by examination.

Native Speakers

Students who have completed secondary education in a German-speaking country are not eligible to enroll in German courses below the 500 level. The department disenrolls such students.

Courses for Future Teachers

Candidates for the B.S. in education majoring or minoring in German should consult the School of Education.

Library Collections in German

Specialized German libraries at KU include the Rainer Maria Rilke Collection (1,200 volumes including all first editions); the Max Kade Center for German-American Studies (10,000 volumes of special interest to students of German-American writers); and the Engel German Library, an endowed collection of books, periodicals, magazines, newspapers, CDs, and audio-visual and computer materials.

The University of Kansas prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, ethnicity, religion, sex, national origin, age, ancestry, disability, status as a veteran, sexual orientation, marital status, parental status, gender identity, gender expression and genetic information in the University’s programs and activities. The following person has been designated to handle inquiries regarding the non-discrimination policies: Director of the Office of Institutional Opportunity and Access,, 1246 W. Campus Road, Room 153A, Lawrence, KS, 66045, (785)864-6414, 711 TTY.