If you’ve always wanted to read Goethe’s Faust in its original language, can’t stand your translation of Nietzsche, or simply dream of going off to the Bavarian Alps to listen to Mozart, German might be the right major for you. In addition to learning the language inside and out, a German major is also an opportunity to explore the rich culture and history of Germany. Here you can learn about everything from Martin Luther and the Protestant Reformation to Frederick Barbarossa and the Holy Roman Empire; from Otto von Bismarck and the Prussian Empire to Wilhelm II and the German Empire. In the process, you’ll expand your knowledge of some of the most significant events in world history. German thinkers, writers, and artists have played pivotal roles in defining all aspects of Western culture. From music to philosophy to science to literature, you’ll find a German influence. A major in German is your opportunity to understand those influences up close and personal. On a more practical level, with the global economy becoming more tightly interwoven, national corporations are becoming multi-national, creating a greater demand for people with foreign language skills and knowledge of foreign cultures. Germany is the largest, most powerful European economy (think BMW and DaimlerChrysler here), which means that the prospects for young German majors looking to get into business are good.
You don’t have to be fluent or even know any German before entering college, but we’re going to state the obvious, anyway, and tell you to take some German classes if they’re at all available. Lots of western civilization or history classes will be helpful, as Germany (or the area and people of what became Germany) happened to play a pretty important role in both for the last couple thousand years or so. Tough English classes will help, since English itself is a Germanic, rather than Latinate, language.