Why Study German?

What students say:

Doing the German minor gave me a great opportunity to diversify my course load while still getting a bunch of my gen ed requirements out of the way. It provided me small classes that were much more intimate and allowed me to have better relationships with other students and faculty than my bigger lecture classes. Having a smaller department also felt a lot more welcoming and I felt I had an easier time asking for help and advice. Knowing German also aided in some of my chemistry courses, and I hope I get the chance to use German in my future careers. It was a pleasure to be a part of the department!

— Brendon Jaeger ('24, Chemistry major, German Studies minor)

When I started at Binghamton I never planned on becoming a German major. It just happened. I fell in love with the language more and more after each course I took. I loved going to German Club and speaking with classmates both in and outside of class. The faculty here have been incredible, especially Dr. Gelderloos and Dr. Zils. Dr. Gelderloos stood by and helped me out every time I butchered my grammar and Dr. Zils helped me apply my knowledge of German to my study of history. Now I’m combining the two for my master's thesis. I am also so grateful for having had the opportunity to study abroad. I spent the summer of 2023 in Leipzig and it really became my second home. I loved meeting people there from all over the world and exploring museums, historical sites, bookshops, restaurants, and cafes all over the country. It was so cool the first time I browsed through a bookstore where everything was in German and I could actually understand what the titles and blurbs were saying. German also opened me up to the wonderful world of languages and linguistics. German was the first time I attained fluency in another language and proved that I could become multilingual. Now I’m studying Yiddish on my own and hopefully Dutch soon. I am so glad I decided to enroll in GERM 101. I truly found a passion and I don’t know where my life would be without that.

— Arielle Moreau ('24, History & German Studies double major, Theatre minor)

My experience with the German department at Binghamton has been nothing but positive. Originally I took German 101 and 102 to satisfy a Gen-ed requirement, but I was encouraged to declare a German Studies minor to pursue studying abroad. The department allowed me to study abroad in both Leipzig, Germany and Graz, Austria at extremely little cost to myself. The cultural studies courses overlapped conveniently with my PPL major requirements and were easily the most engaging courses I took in all of my time at Binghamton. The best part of being a German major is how small the department is—after three years all of the students know each other, so it became its own community in an otherwise large university.

— Malcolm Schultz (‘24, Philosophy, Politics and Law and German Studies double major)

My experience as a German Studies minor has been absolutely wonderful. Both the professors and students of the German Studies department bring so much to each class and have made my German Studies courses some of the most enjoyable and productive learning environments I have been a part of at Binghamton. The professors are engaging and passionate. My peers in German Studies have been dedicated and a joy to work with. I made several close friends in my German Studies courses. Through German Studies, I have been able to develop my German Language skills, take compelling history and art courses, and also learn about several cultural and social facets of German-speaking societies. Not only have these courses been thoroughly interesting, but they have exposed me to international studies and broadened my knowledge of foreign nations which has been an extremely valuable asset for my political science major.

— Leo Cohen ('23, Political Science major, German minor)

The Binghamton German Studies program will help you develop solid foundational skills such as critical reading and essay writing in English and German, as well as a functional understanding of literary criticism and familiarity with 19th and 20th century German literature and academic movements. Courses are often crosslisted with many other liberal arts’ departments, and double majoring is encouraged. German faculty are responsive and allow for the engagement with and development of a personal relationship with the subject matter, while the department’s German club allows one to practice German in a more laidback and “real-life” setting. The classes were definitely on average the most enjoyable of my entire time at Binghamton University.

— Spenser Charles ('23, German Studies and Linguistics double major)

One of the reasons that I chose to attend Binghamton University was due to their German Studies program. I had taken a few years of German pre-college and was interested in continuing to expand my vocabulary and knowledge. I continued to enroll in more of the university’s German courses until I realized that I had unintentionally taken enough to declare a minor, which I soon changed to a double major with the help of the faculty in the German department. The classes that I enrolled in explored areas of German studies beyond just the language, including literature, art, history and culture, to name a few. Through my studies in German, I have exceeded my own expectations in regards to my ability to read, speak, write and understand German, for which I have the professors of the German department to thank. Year after year, I had the opportunity to learn from and meet professors who are passionate about what they are teaching and are always willing to assist students with any questions they have. Growing up in a family that celebrated German culture and language, I could not be more grateful for the opportunity I was given to continue and improve my studies in German at this university.

— Lindsay Ostroff ('22, German Studies and Fine Arts double major)

Double majoring in German Studies was a fantastic decision! I started a German Studies double major to fulfill one of my graduation requirements and absolutely loved it. I have enjoyed every single class I have taken in the department, each with amazing professors. The professors are incredibly friendly and go out of their way to help students succeed. Completing a German Studies degree in conjunction with a science degree forced me to take classes in areas that I would never have studied otherwise, like art history and film history. Even if it isn’t immediately obvious, skills I learned in my German Studies classes have translated over to my biology degree, such as writing and analysis skills. With the education I have received in Binghamton’s German department, I feel like a whole new world of opportunity has opened up to me, including graduate studies or a research science career in German-speaking countries.

— Allie Radin ('22, Biology and German Studies double major)

I’m extremely grateful to have decided to double major in German studies and work with the department at Binghamton University since it provided me with more opportunities and experiences than I could have imagined. Thanks to the German Studies Department, I was provided with a top-tier education both at Binghamton and abroad at our partner institution: the University of Leipzig. I took German courses in high school, but I was nowhere near fluent until I studied abroad and fully immersed myself, thanks to the support and resources of the department. Even when the pandemic threw my study abroad experience off track, the department was more flexible than anyone could ask for and I was able to take courses taught here at Binghamton on an independent study basis, and some of these courses were modified to be taught in German so I could continue to get the experience of studying in the language and maintain my fluency. If it weren’t for this department and the support the faculty provided me, I don’t think I would have been so easily able to become fluent in German, and I don’t think I would feel confident enough to study abroad as part of my upcoming graduate program.

— Alex Russell ('22, German Studies and Political Science double major)

The German department at Binghamton boasts some of the best professors that the university has to offer. As a student with a double major in German Studies, not only was I able to focus on and greatly strengthen my skills with the German language, but I also took a variety of courses that I otherwise might never have thought to take. I studied German literature, art, and history, and often had the opportunity to explore topics on my own which interested me. This fall I will be starting a PhD program, and I owe much of my success to the professors I have met and the courses I have taken in the German program. 

— Karaleigh Saar ('21, French and German Studies double major)

I had such amazing experiences with the German Studies program at Binghamton University. I remember the faculty always being there to assist me with any questions and concerns. On one occasion I remember approaching Professor Pages because I was unsure if studying abroad for a semester was the right fit for me. He encouraged me to go for it, even if there were going to be hurdles and obstacles to overcome. Even though COVID ruined those study abroad plans, I nonetheless am grateful for Professor Pages' belief in me, because he helped me believe in myself. When it came to taking classes, all the professors in the German Studies program offered a variety of interesting courses to take. Some classes, such as a Weimar cinema class I took with Professor Gelderloos, sounded boring at first, but actually being there helped me to discover some interests I would have likely never discovered if I had not taken that course. These two examples are just some of the many great experiences I had while in the program. The program, and specifically the faculty that make the program the great thing it is, helped to broaden my horizons and further develop my interests in ways I never thought possible.

Michael Krawec ('21, German Studies and History double major)

Studying German at Binghamton has afforded me the opportunity to study so many different fields that I otherwise might have had no interest in. From architecture and art to politics and economics, German Studies gives you an understanding of so many topics that you will carry with you for the rest of your life. The department faculty are the kindest, most genuine people you will meet, and each of them is an expert in more than one field. When pursuing a German Studies degree, you'll never get bored. (Plus, you'll probably pick up a ton of gen ed requirements along the way!)

— Liam Shanley ('21, Biology and German Studies double major)

Studying German was one of the best decisions I ever made at Binghamton. I was able to gain proficiency in the language despite not speaking a word of German prior. Much of this progress can be attributed to the professors of the German Department themselves—you can really tell how much they care about their students! My experience in German Studies has also left me with greater cultural sensitivity, as studying a language entails much more than simply learning new words and grammar rules. Being able to understand foreign cultures is beneficial to anyone, and I would wholeheartedly recommend taking German Studies courses overall.

—Tyler Hunsberger ('21, double major in History and German Studies)

The German studies program consists of some of the best professors at the university. The courses I've taken with them have greatly expanded my German language skills as well as my ability to read, write, and think critically. The professors also go above and beyond for their students and offer many opportunities for continued learning outside of the classroom, such as academic conferences, weekly Kaffeeklatsch and games, and study abroad trips. My time at BU was all the better for the experiences I had involving German.

— Bethany Maloney ('20, French language & linguistics and German double major)

Minoring in German Studies was the greatest highlight of my time at Binghamton. The German Studies program has been incredible in fostering a welcoming and supportive academic environment. I appreciate that their dedication to not only teaching the German language but also related cultural and historical German subjects allows students to engage in a highly comprehensive course of studies. I also found that all of my professors were extremely available outside of the classroom, and provided me with the support, resources, and knowledge necessary to make the most out of my minor within the department!

— Sarah Baker ('20, Political Science, Philosophy, and Law major, German minor)

I enjoyed the work in my German Studies courses because it gave me insight into the language, people, environments, and culture of other countries through texts, films, art, and more, providing an in-depth look at the connection between the mediums of expression and the people that produced them. My experiences in German Studies not only helped me cultivate my skills in the language, but also broadened my understanding of German-speaking culture, as well as the historical periods of art and politics that closely surrounded it. Working in the German Studies program allowed me to get firsthand experience in my field, and I was able to study abroad in Germany over the summer, which was funded by one of the many scholarships offered by the program.

— Alexandria Pollock ('20, Anthropology and Linguistics double major, German minor)

My four year relationship with the German program was one of the most rewarding aspects of my time at Binghamton. The experience of being part of a smaller department is one that I would wholeheartedly recommend to anyone. Compared to my other larger department, pursuing a German major made me feel less like I was a minuscule fish in a huge pond. The courses that I took gave me opportunities to engage with books, films, history and culture that I would have never been able to discover if I had not chosen to major in German. I was able to meet a group of people who were all at completely different levels of German, but all felt excited and supported to be in the classroom. The opportunities that the program afforded me, which included studying in Germany two different times, are ones that I will cherish and reap the benefits of for years to come.

— Annick Tabb ('20, German double major)

The German program offers a broad array of courses across multiple disciplines and provides much more to its students than a mere background in the language (although it does a commendable job of that, as well)—those who study law, political science, aesthetics, philosophy or technology will each be able to find courses that speak to their individual interests. The department’s professors are admirably dedicated to their work and students will depart from the program with a greater sensitivity to history, to language and to culture.

— Sean Gordon ('20, German Studies and Linguistics double major)

The courses taught by the faculty in the German Studies program are incredible. By focusing on important details and encouraging their comprehension within a broader context, as well as strengthening creativity, my ability to analyze, understand, and solve problems improved immensely. After graduating, I found that these skills are highly sought after on the job and are difficult to teach in a different setting. I would not be as successful as I am today without having taken these courses.

— Paul Daeumer ('20, Finance major, German Studies minor)

When I first began college, I could have never anticipated the effect the German program would have on my studies. This challenging-yet-rewarding language taught me an incredible amount about the way we communicate with one another, exchange ideas, and become engaged in one another's culture. The courses are engaging and thought-provoking, taught by passionate professors who care just as much about their students as their academics. After graduating with a double-major in German Studies, I feel confident in my ability to think, work, and create on an international level. I could not attempt to picture where I'd be without the German program and its wonderful people, and I will always look back to my time as a German studies student as the highlight of my college career.

— Joe Vitale ('20, German Studies and History double major)

It's sometimes the case that professors prioritize their research over the teaching they do for their department. I can’t fully convey how much this is not the case with German Studies at Binghamton. Not only are the professors highly skilled in their field, they are passionate about teaching and mentoring their students, and that passion inevitably inspires you. It leads you from taking Elementary German simply to satisfy the foreign language requirement, without any expectation of actually using the language, to graduating to the advanced level with an avid interest in the subject and enough cultural and linguistic competence to confidently study abroad or even pursue a master’s in Germany, as I am doing now. My only regret about minoring in German at Binghamton is that I could not major in it.

— Giorgi Gogilashvili (‘18, English major, German minor)

My adventures in Europe enriched and invigorated me in ways I can only begin to list. I carry with me diverse memories and impressions and the deep gratitude that I had had those opportunities before me. Without having studied abroad, I would not consider my education complete!

— Allison Sulkowski ('18, German Studies and Linguistics double major; Allison's description of her encounter with Kafka's handwriting and her experiences studying abroad can be found here.

German Studies FAQs

  • Where can you use German?
    • in industry
    • in international business
    • in communications
    • in travel
    • in graduate studies
    • in education
    • in research
    • in life-long personal growth
  • Why should you study a language?
    • You can become multilingual.
    • You internationalize your perspective.
    • You can attain advanced proficiency in six semesters.
    • You can study abroad.
    • With relatively small class sizes, you get the chance to study with faculty who know you.
    • The intellectual challenge of our courses contributes to your personal growth and professional opportunities.
    • By learning another language, you become a better thinker, reader, and writer in your first language as well.
  • What concentrations are available at Binghamton University?
    • German Studies major
    • German Studies double major
    • German Studies minor
    • the dual degree with engineering/computer science
    • the minor in German and BA in management
  • How can I use and learn German at Binghamton University?
    • come to the weekly German table for lively talk in German
    • become friends with our exchange students from Germany and Austria
    • study abroad in Germany or Austria
    • after studying abroad, become a teaching intern; explore career options by participating in some departmental instructional activities under the direction of a faculty mentor.
    • find out about careers and graduate schools from regular contact with alumni who have gone into careers in education, industry, international law, communication, travel, finance, etc.
    • experience close mentoring and advising from faculty who really come to know you in a friendly, supportive environment.
  • How do former students describe German at Binghamton University?
    • "Studying German has broadened my cultural views."
    • "It opened up a whole creative world of German authors and film makers."
    • "It prepared me for my career in an international law firm."
    • "In a place as large as Binghamton, I found the close-knit German Department a comforting and supportive community."
    • "It made me become a multi-cultural person and gave me more qualifications to find a job."
  • How do I declare a German major, double major, or minor?
    It's easy! To declare a German major, double major, or minor, simply click here. (Note that you must be logged in to your Binghamton University email for the form to be visible.)