German Major/Minor

Welcome to German

German is one of the major world languages and has the largest number of native speakers in the European Union. It is also one of the ten most commonly spoken languages in the world and the second most commonly used scientific language. German books make up a fifth of the world’s published books. Germany is an economic powerhouse. It is the world’s second largest exporter, and ranks number one in Europe and number four globally. Germany hosts numerous international corporations and the economic relationship between German and the United States thrives with over ten billion dollars of direct investment by Germany in the US.

Enhance your chances on the international job market by adding German language and cultural literacy to your skills. German will open doors of German companies in the US. You will be well positioned for the job market in Charlotte since it is home to more than 230 German companies. The CEOs are looking for employees who have functional use of the German language and more importantly are culturally literate. To support the development of a future workforce, the German-American companies in the Charlotte region generously support the German Language and Culture Foundation (GLCF). The GLCF provides approximately $60,000 in scholarships for German Majors to study abroad in Germany.

Enjoy learning this rich language, often called the language of thinkers: many of the world’s most important works of literature, art history, theology, psychology, physics, chemistry, engineering, medicine and philosophy were written in German. Come meet Beethoven, Freud, Marx, Mozart, Nietzsche, Goethe and many of the other Great Germans. German is also fun to learn. The language is very similar to English. Consider that “Haus” is “house,” “Finger” is “finger,” and “Hand” is “hand.” Learning German will make travel to Germany so much more rewarding. Germany is one of the top travel destinations of the world, and you will enjoy ordering your beer and pretzel at Oktoberfest or eating blackforest cake in a small cafe on the streets of Freiburg. Take advantage of our study abroad opportunities in Germany and other German speaking countries such as Austria and Switzerland.

The German Program offers you the following opportunities:

The Major in German gives you German language training as well as a cultural understanding of Germany. The major is designed to allow you to double major.

A Major in German consists of 31 credits above the elementary language level. Students complete 12 credit hours of core language courses at the intermediate (2000) and advanced (3000) level. After completion of these language requirements, students take a core course GERM 3650 on the Holocaust in German Literature and Film. Furthermore, students take 6 credit hours of elective courses at the 3000 level, 6 credit hours of elective courses at the 4000 level, and 3 credit hours of elective courses which consist of History courses or previously not taken 3000 or 4000 level courses. The German Major must contain one writing intensive course of three credit hours and 1 credit hour of the Senior Seminar.

Students who place out of the Intermediate Language courses may have those 6 credit hours waived.

For more information see the description of the Major in German or contact your advisor, Professor Jakeway.

The Minor in German is an excellent addition to your degree and resume. Since Germany is a major player in international politics and economics being proficient in German may open many new opportunities in the US as well as Germany.

A Minor in German consists of 18 credits above the elementary language level. Students complete 12 credit hours of core language courses at the intermediate (2000) and advanced (3000) level. After completion of these language requirements, students take 6 credit hours of elective courses at the 3000 or 4000 level. Students who place out of the 6 credit hours of Intermediate Language courses must replace those 6 credit hours with 6 credit hours of elective courses.

For more information see the description of the Minor in German or contact your advisor, Professor Jakeway.

Having a certificate in translation is something recorded on your transcript. You can always list it on your resume. To earn the certificate, students must complete a sequence of four translation courses: one course of theory and history of translation as well as for practica in translation. For those majoring in German, 3 of the 4 courses may be counted toward the major.

For more information see the description of the Certificate in Translating German-English or contact the coordinator of this program, Professor Aliaga-Buchenau.

The Certificate in Business German provides classroom, overseas (optional), and practical training in German for international business, which may also be recognized by international examinations. The certificate requires 15 credit hours. Beginning with an alternative fourth-semester course, the sequence continues with advanced-level coursework that includes a two-semester component in advanced business German. Majors in any field are welcome.

For more information see the description of the Certificate in Business German or contact the coordinator of this program, Professor Jakeway.

The Undergraduate Certificate in Languages and Culture Studies: German for Engineering (UCGE) provides classroom, overseas (optional), and practical training in German for Engineering. The certificate requires 12 credit hours. Beginning with two third and fourth-semester courses in the German language at the 2000-level, the sequence continues with a selection of two out of three 3000-level seminars on German-American culture for Business and Engineering taught in English.

For more information see the description of the Certificate in German for Engineering or contact the coordinator of this program, Professor Potrykus.

We offer many study abroad opportunities for students who are interested in the German language and culture. Come stand under the Brandenburg Gate, test drive a VW in Wolfsburg, or eat a Döner on the streets of Berlin, visit a Neu Schwanstein or any of the other 12,000 castles in Germany. You can study abroad in the Fall or Spring semester, for the entire year or during the summer. Our programs include language instruction, cultural excursions and true immersion in the host culture with home stays. In addition, we offer a faculty-led Spring Break Trip to Berlin, Germany. Professor Potrykus guides students and explores history, art, architecture, food and street life of Berlin with them. Credits you earn on our study abroad programs transfer to UNC Charlotte and count toward the major. Study Abroad experiences provide invaluable insights into a culture and literacy in the German language. On your resume such an experience sets you apart from other job candidates.

For more information see the study abroad opportunities we offer on the website of the Office of Education Abroad and start finding YOUR PROGRAM now or contact the German Program coordinator, Professor Jakeway.

German Study Abroad Scholarships

Gabriel, Cernyak, Reimer Scholarship

This scholarship honors three professors of German at UNC Charlotte who were instrumental in building the German program. The scholarship provides up to $1000 for German majors and minors studying abroad in Germany.

Please contact your advisor for more information and see the NinerScholars Portal.

German Language and Culture Foundation Scholarship

The German Language and Culture Foundation offers 24 scholarships to $2500 each for German Majors to study at one of the 16 Goethe Institut Locations in Germany.

Please contact your advisor for more information and see the NinerScholars Portal.

Each year the German program offers students the opportunity to participate in student excursions funded by scholarships. Over the years, German Majors have visited Washington, DC with the purpose of touring the Holocaust Memorial Museum, New York City to study German immigration at such sites as the Tenement Museum and Ellis Island and New Braunfels, Texas to study the Texas Germans.

Washington, DC

Annually, German faculty members lead a group of German students to Washington, DC. We have carpooled, taken the train and even flown. The group has stayed at the youth hostel and at the Harrington Hotel, right by the National Mall, in later years. Each year, students visit the Holocaust Memorial Museum and visit several of the other National Museums and Monuments. A visit to Arlington Cemetery rounds out the visit. Our most memorable excursion to Washington, DC was the year we were accompanied by Dr. Susan Cernyak-Spatz, German Professor emerita and Holcaust survivor. Hearing 92 year-old Dr. Cernyak-Spatz tell her story of survival in Auschwitz-Birkenau inside the Holocaust Museum was one of the most impressive experiences.

New York

An interest in German immigrants, led faculty members to organize a student excursion to New York City. The group stayed at the YMCA youth hostel in Manhattan and visited Ellis Island where they learned about immigrants from all over the world arriving at this port. They then visited the Tenement Museum in lower Manhattan and experienced an immigrants’ meal organized by the museum. The visit included other sites such as Central Park, the Empire State Building and a lot of walking on New York City’s streets.


Continuing the interest in German immigration, German faculty let a group of students to Austin, Texas to learn about Texas German, the language that has been spoken by German settlers in the region for over a hundred years. Over two days, the excursion included visits to both Fredericksburg and New Braunfels, two midsize cities outside of Austin with a rich German heritage. In Fredericksburg, the students explored the various buildings that still speak of the German legacy–from churches to bakeries, and of course, Biergarten–and they visited the impressive Pioneer Museum with its original half-timber houses and other remainders of the past. In New Braunfels, the group met with Jan Kingsbury, a local historian who had prepared a highly informative and super fun scavenger hunt! Amidst the colorful swirl of Día de los Muertos, Downtown New Braunfels told its own diverse and multi-cultural story through murals, inscriptions, and historical markers.

International Festival

The annual UNC Charlotte International Festival is centered around booths arranged in colorful marketplace style representing the cultures of over 50 nations. The booths are staffed by UNC Charlotte international students and members of Charlotte’s international community and feature art, crafts and costumes from each participating country. Many booths offer international food for sale. Throughout the day the music and dance of a variety of nations are presented on indoor and outdoor stages. In addition, the International Festival, which is family-oriented, offers a number of elements such as mimes and face painting designed especially for children. German is always well-represented at IFest with a booth where German Club members and German faculty grill sausages and sell them with sauerkraut, rolls and chips. The German program has been participating for more than 30 years.

German Campus Week

The German staff annually celebrates German Campus week funded by the German embassy in Washington, DC. They organize a variety of activities, competitions, and talks centered on a theme that changes annually. The UNC Charlotte German program participated in the 2016 Germany Meets the US, 2017 Germany Making Choices and Thirty Year Anniversary of the Fall of the Berlin Wall in 2019. Students participated in such diverse projects as a photo contest “Patchwork Germany” in 2016, a mock German election in 2017, a writing workshop with a German author, a poster exhibit of the Berlin Wall in 2019, an essay contest, an election treasure hunt. The German week hosted speakers such as a former prisoner of the East German dictatorship, an American soldier who participated in tearing down the Berlin wall, an expert on German elections, an Afro-German author.

German Career Booster

Over 350 high school and university students from the state of North Carolina with an interest in learning German attended the 2019 Career Booster event organized by the German staff and the Goethe Institut in Washington, DC. The first half of the day was a rotation of workshops led by UNC Charlotte German professors and representatives from German companies. There was also a Career Fair going all morning at which students could speak with representatives from German companies in the United States as well as learn about the German programs here at the University. Lunch was provided on the first floor. Following lunch there was a panel discussion with UNC Charlotte German graduates telling their stories. Among them were a representative for a German furniture company in Charlotte, VS America, the German National Soccer League (Bundesliga) in New York, a German robotics company, a law firm, computer science and global studies graduate students. The Honorary Consul of Germany introduced the panel discussion and welcomed the students.

Career Fairs

The German program has hosted annual career fairs inviting some of the 233 German companies to participate. Students bring their resumes, introduce themselves to the company representatives and listen to presentations by different companies. Many of our students have found employment in these fairs. The best experience is if one of our alumna, like Danielle Smith in the photo comes to campus to represent her employer VS America and at the fair recruits new soon-to-be graduates, like Denise Jackson to work with her. VS America now has three UNC Charlotte German program alumna working at their company.

German Club at the Ballet

The German Club collaborated with the Charlotte Ballet in early November 2019. The Charlotte Ballet performed “Leonce and Lena” based on a 19th-century German play. They invited the German Club to organize the pre-event for the children’s matinee. There were well over 150 children with their parents. German students organized a scavenger hunt, photo box and a pink carpet event.

German Club

The 49er German Club at UNC Charlotte is a group dedicated to furthering the German Language and Culture. They host weekly meetings and organize all kinds of activities. The German Club meets the Flying Saucer for Stammtisch, goes for excursions to the mountains, meets to throw axes, have pumpkin decoration and gingerbread house competitions, organize cultural events like a visit to the German Ballet, and grill sausages at the annual International Festival.

Join us on facebook @ 49er German Club at UNC Charlotte. We will keep everyone up to date on things discussed at meetings, upcoming events, and opportunities for German Club Members and even those who are just interested in German Culture. We encourage everyone to give feedback and ideas so that we can maintain the strong heartbeat of the 49er German Club.


Each week German students meet for conversation and board games at the traditional German coffee hour with coffee, cake and cookies. Students at all levels of language learning are welcome to participate.

For a full list of recent German alumni, click here.

Featured Alumni

William Baird Chavez

Willi Chavez graduated in 2013 with a double Major in German and Mechanical Engineering. He interned at AS Solar in Hannover, Germany for three months and worked for several German companies which include groninger-USA, Steag and Kühne und Nagel in the Charlotte region during his studies. After graduation, Chavez moved to Florida, where he currently works for United Launch Alliance at Cape Canaveral, Florida as an engineer building rockets and satellites. He lives in Melbourne, Florida with his fiancé, Genesis Tejada, also an alumna of the German program. Tejada works for the Brazilian airline company Embraer.

Adam Cloer

Adam Cloer graduated with a double Major in German and History in 2011. As a junior, Cloer had interned for a year at Schlossschule Kirchberg in Kirchberg an der Jagst, Germany. He was the first intern to work at the boarding school in a program that has successfully run since then. After graduation, Cloer returned to Germany for graduate studies. After working at the University of Heilbronn as International Relations officer, Cloer returned to Schlossschule Kirchberg as Head of International Programs. He now runs the international division of the boarding school which includes the task of organizing the same internships that brought him to Kirchberg. Cloer lives in Kirchberg with his wife and two young daughters. 

Imogene Hill-Pfeffer and Jason Pfeffer

Imogene Hill-Pfeffer and her husband Jason Pfeffer are both German alumni. Hill-Pfeffer graduated with a German Major in 2015. During her studies, she received a scholarship from the German Language and Culture Foundation to study in Germany for two months and brought her entire family, including her six children with her. As the image shows, the whole family became fans of German culture and the German language. Hill-Pfeffer’s husband followed in her footsteps and graduated with a German major in 2019. He is currently pursuing his master’s degree. In the meantime, their family has grown to eight children, who all attend German immersion programs.

Maggie Ann Johnson

German alumna Maggie Johnson graduated with a degree in nursing in 2018. In Fall 2019, she embarked on her Fulbright to New Delhi, India where she was conducting research on health care and children with disability. Due to the pandemic, she was brought back from her Fulbright in India in March 2020. Upon her return, Johnson jumped at the opportunity to make a difference in the fight against COVID. She worked for three months as an ER nurse in New York during the height of the pandemic there, and then continued on to work as a nurse in Miami, Florida during the Fall 2020. She has applied for a Fulbright Fellowship for the 2021-22 academic year to continue her work in India, focussing on pandemic control and health care in this round.

Najir Johnson

Najir Johnson graduated in May 2020 with a Major in German and Spanish. He was also awarded an undergraduate Certificate of Translation in German. Johnson joined the Honors program while becoming an Early Entry student. In fall 2020, he began his path into graduate school with his MA in Spanish while continuing with a Graduate Certificate in German Translating. Johnson wants to continue to push himself to deepen his knowledge in the field of translation and pursue a doctorate.

Eileen Manchester (Jakeway)

Eileen Manchester (Jakeway), a UNC Charlotte Levine Scholar, graduated in 2017 with Majors in German, French, and English as well as a Minor in International Studies Summa Cum Laude and with Honors. Manchester also received a Certificate in Business German. During her undergraduate years, Manchester studied abroad in Limoges, France. She also conducted undergraduate research under the guidance of Professor Allison Stedman. As part of her summer research experience, Manchester used funding provided by the Levine Scholars Program to do archival research at the French National Library in Paris, where Stedman was also working. Manchester presented her research in a poster display at the Charlotte Research Scholars Symposium at UNC Charlotte and earned first place in the category: “Humanities, Social Sciences, Business, and the Arts.” After graduation, she was awarded the extremely prestigious Ertegun scholarship for graduate study in the humanities. It is the first time a UNC Charlotte student won this scholarship. Manchester graduated with an MA in Comparative Literature (French, German, English) from Oxford University in 2018. Manchester returned to the United States and taught High School English at the Field School in Washington, DC for a year.

Currently, Manchester is an innovation specialist on the LC Labs team of the Library of Congress in Washington, DC. She works in support of the Library’s Digital Strategy. One of her first projects as an innovation specialist was the Machine Learning + Libraries Summit, which explored the near-term possibilities of applying machine learning techniques in the cultural heritage sector. The Labs team leverages Manchester’s experience in education, digital humanities, and comparative literature to explore innovative ways for the Library to enhance how it produces and disseminates knowledge across systems.

Manchester is the daughter of UNC Charlotte Senior Lecturer in German, Angela Jakeway, and recently got married to Jack Manchester.

Samantha Roberts

German has been a part of Samantha Roberts’ almost her entire life. She was part of the World Languages Magnet Program in CMS and participated in the German immersion program beginning in Kindergarten. During her time as a student at UNC Charlotte, Roberts majored in German and studied abroad at the Goethe Institut in Freiburg, Germany funded by the prestigious German Language and Culture Foundation. She also received the Languages and Culture Studies: Translating German-English, Undergraduate Certificate. In the Fall 2020, Roberts worked as a nanny in Berlin and starting December 1, she will serve as intern at Schlossschule Kirchberg in Kirchberg an der Jagst, Germany. Roberts has earned her place as a Fulbright Teaching Assistant to teach English in Germany in 2021. She will teach English in Hamburg in northern Germany.

Ryan Spring

Ryan Spring received his bachelor’s degree from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte with a major in German and minors in both Japanese and film studies. After graduating, he worked as a professional translator for about 4 years. After graduation, he attended the Graduate School for International Culture Studies at Tohoku University, studying cognitive linguistics and second language acquisition there and conducting research that spanned the two fields. Spring obtained his PhD and currently works at the Tohoku University Institute for Excellence in Higher Education in Japan, where he teaches English and linguistics and is vice-representative for exchange programs with UNC Charlotte and Maryland University.

Jillian Mourning Wegner

Jillian Wegner graduated with a double Major in International Studies and German and a minor in Holocaust, Genocide, and Human Rights. After graduation she obtained a master’s degree magna cum laude from La Universidad para la Paz in Sustainable Peace with a concentration in media studies. While pursuing her PhD, she now teaches as an adjunct instructor in the Department of Languages and Culture Studies at UNC Charlotte. She has taught both in-person and online courses in global connections focusing on media and peace and arts & society film with an emphasis on social justice issues through foreign films. She served for two years on the LBST diversity and inclusion committee and has completed the QM:Quality Matters certification for her global connections course.She has also worked in the non-profit sector for human trafficking lecturing at over 75 schools, organizations, and businesses throughout the country. Wegner lives in Charlotte with her husband and two kids. Her daughter Viviana is in the Spanish immersion elementary school.

Name Job Title Email
Ana-Isabel Aliaga-Buchenau Department Chair, Professor of German & Comparative Literature
Susanne Gomoluch Teaching Professor of German
Angela Jakeway Senior Lecturer & Coordinator of German
Wiebke Löchte DAAD Instructor of German
Bianca Potrykus Senior Lecturer of German
Kai-Uwe Werbeck Associate Chair and Associate Professor of German

Explore Past News and Events about the German Program