Germanic Studies to offer combined master's and bachelor's in German culture

The department of Germanic studies now offers a combined bachelor’s and master’s program in modern German culture. The program turns what would normally be a six-year process, with four years for the undergraduate degree and two years for graduate school, into a five-year process

“It gives you a very quick leg-up,” Robinson said. “Now you can enter the job market with a professional credential that’s really distinctive in this time of globalization.”

A master's of modern German culture involves the further study of German linguistics, literature and culture.

Depending on how many credits a student starts with at IU, it is possible to achieve a combined bachelor's and master’s in as little as four years. The new degree program was designed so that by a student’s third or fourth year, he or she could begin taking graduate level courses depending on what level of German he or she test into, said Germanic studies professor Benjamin Robinson. 

The idea for the program came after the college started a new initiative to find creative ways for new credentials to help students. What the department of Germanic studies came up with was the combined program, Robinson said.

“Even starting at introductory German, with this new program, there is the potential to achieve this degree in the five years offered, although it may mean getting a few things out of the way over a summer," Robinson said.

The program saves students money because, while they are taking graduate level courses, they still be paying undergraduate tuition, Robinson said. 

After a student completes all the requirements for an undergrad degree in his or her third or fourth year, the student doesn’t file for graduation. Instead, he or she starts taking graduate level courses, said Robinson. 

“The courses stay in registrar limbo until they graduate,” Robinson said. “They don’t count toward a student’s undergraduate degree, but once they apply and are accepted to graduate school, the courses count towards their master’s.”

The program was designed for students who feel they have gone as far as they can in German, Robinson said. 

“We often have the situation where students will study abroad and then they come back and think, 'Oh, well I’ve done what I need for my major,'”  Robinson said. “They don’t necessarily come back to German, but now they will be able to take graduate courses and continue with German even if they are dual majors. They can still take more advanced German courses. It gives another goal.” 

Robinson said the program is a great fit for ambitious students, students with academic interests who want to further study German and students who have career interests in international business, international law or international nonprofits. 

Sophomore Samuel Day said he will be pursuing this program. He heard about the program through his Germanic studies professor, Troy Byler. Day said Byler was the professor that convinced him to seriously consider and ultimately decide to attend IU. 

“The program was something that I really wanted to look into,” Day said. “I’ve always been passionate about German language and culture.”

Day said he has been studying German since high school and since then has been on two exchange trips to Germany. He is majoring in both Germanic studies and Chinese and plans on using his knowledge of the two languages to ultimately go into business. 

“For undergrad, I knew I wanted to focus on interacting with the cultures and business within cultures,” Day said. 

Academic advisor Natalie Techentin said that having a master's in German would be much more competitive in a job search than a just a bachelor's. 

“But I also think it’s good for those who are intellectually curious,” Robinson said.

Robinson said this group of academically motivated students is a growing group, and the program will be used as template for similar programs in other languages. 

“IU has some phenomenally talented students,” Techentin said. “This program is great for those who crave more of an intellectual challenge than just a bachelor’s in German.”

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