Germanic Languages and Literatures

What Is It?:

German serves to develop comptence in German or Scandinavian languages and cultures. Students will become familiar with principles governing the structure of the Indo-European family of languages, a leading language group in the areas of science, industry and intellectual culture.  Students also gain insight into the use of language in literary expression and learn how Germanic culture finds expression through its language and literature. 

This major can help students in three areas: career, personal growth, and travel. It can improve chances of finding jobs in fields like international transportation (flight attendant, travel agent, tour guide, hotel manager), communications (reporter, interpreter, public relations officer), foreign trade and banking (banker, international lawyer, overseas sales manager, marketing analyst), government (foreign service officer, employee with international organizations, interpreter), teaching, and library services. 

For more information, please visit the Department of Germanic Languages and Literatures


  • German and Commercial Studies: designed to provide students with an understanding of the language and customs of the business world in German-speaking countries, together with study of international affairs and commerce, especially trade with Europe
  • Language and Literature: designed as a traditional study of German, providing students with a balanced knowledge of German language, literature, and civilization
  • Language Studies: designed to acquaint students with the structure and development of Germanic languages
  • Modern German Studies: designed to provide students with an understanding of present-day civilization and culture in German-speaking countries of Central Europe
  • Scandinavian Studies: designed for students with a broad interest in Scandinavian Studies, including acquiring proficiency in a modern Scandinavian language (Danish, Norwegian or Swedish) and a study abroad experience in Scandinavia
  • Teaching Education: leads to the B.A. in the Teaching of German

Courses That Introduce the Major:

  • GER 211—Conversation and Writing I
  • GER 212—Conversation and Writing II
  • HIST 141—Western Civ to 1660
  • SCAN 101/102 Beginning Scandinavian I/II
  • SCAN 251 Viking Mythology

Students should consult with an academic advisor regarding course selection prior to the advanced registration period. 

Possible Career Opportunities:

  • Account Executive
  • Anthropologist
  • Bilingual Instructor (ESL)
  • CIA/FBI Special Agent
  • Civil Service Worker
  • Community Relations Rep.
  • Copy Editor
  • Corporate Specialist
  • Customs Official
  • Employment Interviewer
  • Foreign Correspondent
  • Foreign News Journalist
  • Foreign Services Worker
  • Foreign Travel Advisors
  • Hotel Manager
  • Import/Export Agent
  • Information Science/Archivist
  • Intelligence Specialist
  • International Engineering Aide
  • Museum Curator
  • Overseas Teacher for Foreign
  • Peace Corps Volunteer
  • Personnel Manager
  • Scientific Researcher/ Translator
  • Service Representative
  • Speech Pathologist
  • Technical Liaison to US firms in foreign countries
  • Textbook Author/Editor

Common Career Titles Related to this Major:

(Some careers may require education beyond an undergraduate degree)

  • Analyst
  • Archeologist
  • German Language Teacher
  • Historian
  • Immigration Specialist
  • Interpreter
  • Language Researcher
  • Linguist
  • Translator

Enhancing Your Academic Experience:

  • Participating in undergraduate research
  • Applying for a study abroad experience
  • Utilizing resources of The Career Center
  • Joining a Registered Student Organization (RSO) related to this major, such as:
    • Deutschklub: promotes the German culture and language in the U of I community
    • Scandanavian Club: increases community appreciation of Scandinavian cultures by celebrating them in ways that are not only educational, but also are fun

Related Skills:

  • Ability to persuade/influence
  • Clear and concise writing
  • Comprehensive command of grammar and vocabulary
  • Creating and clarifying ideas
  • Critical thinking
  • Cross-cultural communication
  • Good listening, clarifying and responding skills
  • High proficiency in reading, speaking and writing
  • Language competence for speaking, writing, reading and listening
  • Oral presentation/public speaking
  • Understanding of cultural differences
  • Understanding of Germanic history, literature, music, and folklore
  • Working social and professional competence in German or Scandanavian language

Further Information:

For more information on what you can do with a major in German, visit The Career Center’s webpage: What Can I Do With This Major.

There are several professional organizations dedicated to Germanic languages.  Their websites might be able to provide a glimpse in the world of Germanic languages.  These organizations include Modern Language Association, American Association of Teachers of German, and Women in German.

For more information on the classes needed for a degree in German, visit Undergraduate Programs.