German Program

Undergraduate Advisers: Volker Langbehn (A–L),; Ilona Vandergriff (M–Z),
Program Coordinator: Ilona Vandergriff,
Graduate Adviser: Ilona Vandergriff,


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 Studies, HistoryPsychologyCreative 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.

Related Resources

B.A. in German

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. 

M.A. in German

The graduate program in German offers students a challenging and enriching course of study that encompasses linguistics as well as literary and cultural history from the Middle Ages to the present. Students acquire a rich interdisciplinary perspective and in-depth knowledge of the literatures of the German-speaking countries along with the critical skills for literary analysis.

Minor in German

The minor consists of 30 units of upper division coursework. Up to 16 units of prerequisite coursework or demonstrated language proficiency is required to begin the major.

German Scholarships

The German program at San Francisco State University offers scholarships to undergraduate and graduate German students. All scholarships are awarded on the basis of merit; some give consideration to financial need. More than 150 scholarships are available for students enrolled in a Bachelor of Arts or Master of Arts in German. 

For additional general information about vocational training, education and scholarships in Germany, visit the Federal Foreign Office of Germany or contact the German embassy.

Career Opportunities (German)

Here are some other important sectors in which you can put your knowledge of German language and culture to use.

External Resources (German)

A roundup of useful learning resources, activities, websites, groups and reference tools related to German language and culture.

Area Studies Minors

You may also be interested in multidisciplinary minors in European StudiesMiddle East and Islamic Studies or Pacific Asian Studies.