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Ph.D. Program


Dr. Maria Stehle
Coordinator of German Studies
716 McClung Tower
University of Tennessee
Knoxville, TN 37996
Phone: (865) 974-7001

The Ph.D. in Modern Foreign Languages with a first concentration in German requires advanced training in German Studies and additional work in a second concentration, either a second language (French, Italian, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish), applied linguistics or Latin American Studies.

Admission Requirements

Applicants must have completed a B.A. or equivalent in German to be accepted into this program. Both graduates of institutions in the United States and those with undergraduate degrees from institutions outside the United States must have a grade point average of at least 3.0. Consideration will also be given to applicants who do not have an undergraduate degree in German but do have the equivalent of an undergraduate major in German.

Degree Requirements

Candidates must complete a minimum of 63 semester hours of coursework beyond the bachelor's degree in addition to 24 hours of doctoral research and the dissertation.

The coursework is distributed as follows:

  • First Concentration
    A minimum of 39 hours of German courses beyond the bachelor's degree, distributed as follows:
    • 400 Level - A maximum of 6 hours of 400-level classes taken for the MA may be applied.
    • 500 Level - A minimum of 21 hours must be taken. These must include Modern Foreign Languages and Literatures 512, German 519 and 560. Thesis hours are excluded. If Modern Foreign Languages and Literatures 512 is used as part of a second concentration in applied linguistics, another course must be substituted in the first concentration.
    • 600 Level - A minimum of 12 hours must be taken, exclusive of dissertation hours.

  • Second Concentration
    A minimum of 18 hours beyond the bachelor's degree, taken in the field of Latin American Studies, applied linguistics or in a second language, either French, Italian, Portuguese, Russian or Spanish. Twelve of these hours must be at the 500 level or above.

    Please note: Students with a 1st concentration in German choosing applied linguistics as their second concentration must take German 425, 435 or 510, Modern Foreign Languages and Literatures 512, three hours of German linguistics, such as 426, 436, 631, or 632, and 6 hours of linguistics electives in English or German. The student's graduate advisor must approve the electives chosen. For students choosing applied linguistics as an area of second concentration, reading competence in a second language is required. Competence will be determined by translation of a text from the foreign language into English, the test will be administered by the department.
  • Cognate Field
    Six hours in graduate courses numbered 400 and above in a field outside the department or language family of the first concentration but related to the student's principal area of research. Students with a first concentration in German choosing applied linguistics as a second concentration are strongly urged to take their cognate work in a second language, and students choosing Latin American Studies as a second concentration are required to take 6 graduate credit hours outside their primary concentration in either French, Portuguese or Spanish in lieu of the cognate area. Students who select applied linguistics, French, Italian, Portuguese, Russian, and Spanish as their area of second concentration may seek the approval of their graduate committee to substitute the 6 hours in the cognate field by 6 hours in either the first or second concentration.

Additional Requirements

For any languages taken as a first or second concentration, a student must demonstrate competence by taking a test. The test will include reading, writing, listening, and speaking, and should be completed by the time the student reaches 40 hours of study beyond the bachelor's degree. Standardized examinations that may be used for this purpose include applicable portions of either the National Teachers Examination, the MLA Examination for Teachers and Advanced Students, or the proficiency standards of the United States Foreign Service Institute (FSI).

Comprehensive Exam

A comprehensive examination must be passed before the student may be admitted to candidacy. The candidate is required to defend his/her dissertation in an oral examination. Central emphasis is put on the doctoral dissertation as a final test of the candidate's scholarly qualifications.

Additional Important Information for Doctoral Students

Graduate Teaching Assistants with a second concentration in another language should have the opportunity and will be strongly encouraged to instruct in the languages of both their first and second concentration, subject to staffing needs.

Doctoral students are strongly encouraged to reside and study abroad and will be assisted in identifying potential sources of financial support (e.g., Fulbright, McClure, Rotary fellowships).

Academic Common Market

An agreement among southern states for sharing graduate programs allows legal residents of some states to enroll in certain programs at UT on an in-state tuition basis. For more information on the Academic Common Market consult the following webpage: For further information on how participating states can make arrangements for their residents who are fully admitted to specific programs at UT to enroll on an in-state tuition basis, please contact Norma Harrington at, or call her at (865) 974-2184.

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