German Studies aims to teach students in depth about the cultures of the German-speaking world.

Germany is the United States’ biggest European trading partner, and the German language is the second most commonly used business language in the world. Students who become proficient in German can communicate with about 100 million people living in a number of countries in the heart of Europe. The German program integrates instruction in language studies with studies in cultural and literary history, enabling students to gain access to the intellectual life of the German-speaking countries.

Western’s German program is one of only two public undergraduate programs nationwide to be recognized as a “National Center of Excellence” by the American Association of Teachers of German (AATG), the governing body for German instructors at all levels. In their award letter, the AATG applauded the German program for setting up its students for success in their future professional lives through a well-balanced, stimulating and intellectually rigorous approach.

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

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. Faculty and students also regularly organize special events. Recent highlights include outings to the Frye Art Museum in Seattle and a Rammstein concert in Tacoma, 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.

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“Whether raising money and walking together for Relay4Life, teaching underprivileged youths German at “Compass2Campus” 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

Careers and Graduate Studies

Knowledge of the German language and its 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 21 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 

Students who study German learn important communicative and problem-solving skills while improving their chances on the job market. Western’s Alumni use their German majors and minors to obtain attractive positions in a wide variety of fields or in graduate school both nationally and internationally: 

  • Trilingual Claims Investigator, Amazon, WA
  • German Classifications Expert, Instant Video department, Amazon, WA
  • Account Development Manager at Limelight Networks, Seattle, WA 
  • Senior Analyst, Business Operations at T-Mobile, Seattle, WA 
  • Senior Project Manager, German Language Services, Seattle, WA 
  • Global Project Manager for PTI Global, Portland, OR 
  • Teaching Assistant at the German American School in Portland 
  • Washington State German Teacher 
  • Forestry and Tourism 
  • Travel and Tourism 
  • Graduate studies in various fields (e.g. biology, computational engineering, Germanic literature and language, international studies, vehicle design)



Sample Jobs

  • Interpreter 
  • Foreign Correspondent 
  • Foreign Service Officer 
  • FBI Agent 
  • Educator 
  • Foreign Diplomat 
  • Travel Writer 
  • All careers involving communication

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.