German studies aims to learn about a culture in depth through both language structure and literary analysis. The department provides instruction in history, culture, and literary theory to impart skills to future foreign language teachers so that they may similarly enable elementary school students to begin the acquisition of foreign languages.

Western’s German studies program is one of only two programs nationwide to be recognized in 2013 as a “National Center of Excellence” by the American Association of Teachers of German—the governing body for German instructors at all levels. German studies at Western is the only undergraduate program at a public university in the United States with this designation. 

The German—Elementary major satisfies the academic major requirement for teacher certification with an endorsement in elementary education and must be accompanied by the professional preparation program in Elementary Education. See Elementary Education for program admission, completion, and teacher certification requirements. 

The Department of Modern and Classical Languages is part of the College of Humanities and Social Sciences.

“The student centered support of the German faculty at Western does not end in the classroom! The professors support and advise students on opportunities to study abroad, scholarships, and work opportunities.” 

-Andrew Erickson-Lapidus, Student

Beyond the Classroom

Gain a global perspective through study abroad programs to numerous Austrian, German, and Swiss universities as well as direct exchanges with the Georg-August-Universität Göttingen, Rheinisch-Westfälische Technische Hochschule Aachen, Universität Duisburg-Essen, and Karl-Franzens-Universität Graz. Students may enroll at the host university for a semester or whole academic year and will receive credit toward the German major or minor. 

Students have the opportunity to participate in a variety of extracurricular activities, such as the German Table (Stammtisch) at Rudy’s Pizzeria in downtown Bellingham, the intramural German soccer team, and the German Club. The faculty also regularly organizes special events. Recent highlights include outings to the Frye Art Museum in Seattle and a Rammstein concert in Tacoma, WA, Western’s version of German Day, “German Rocks”, with an evening dance party, and presentations by Microsoft on the advantages of having a foreign language degree in the business world.

“Whether raising money and walking together for Relay4Life, teaching underprivileged youths German at Compass 2 Campus events, weekly Stammtisch dinners, creating a soccer team, attending a Rammstein concert, theater-nights, or even dancing together at the “German Rocks!” event through Radio Goethe, one thing is certain: our department never has a dull moment.” 

-Valeria Fisher, Student

Careers and Graduate Studies

Knowledge of the German language and culture opens up doors for students to apply for competitive grants for research and study in Germany, such as those from the Deutscher Akademischer Austauschdienst (German Academic Exchange Service). Since 2009, our German students have won 17 nationally and internationally competitive scholarships for studying, teaching, and working in German-speaking countries, including the following: 

  • Congress-Bundestag Youth Exchange for Young Professionals (CBYX) 
  • Fulbright English Teaching Assistantships 
  • German Academic Exchange Service Graduate Scholarships 
  • German Academic Exchange Service RISE (Research Internship in Science and Engineering) 
  • German Academic Exchange Service University Summer Grant 
  • German Academic Exchange Service Bundestag Internship

Sample Jobs

  • Elementary Teacher

Requirements and Course Details

To learn more about this program, including grade requirements, a course listing, how to declare the major, and more, see the Program of Study Details.