Frequently Asked Questions for International Students

*We accept applications every December – please check the website for exact date.

What is the Carolina-Duke PhD Program in German Studies?

The largest German Program in North America, with 20  professors, the CDG program combines the strengths and expertise of two leading German Studies faculties at neighboring elite universities: the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and Duke University. Students are simultaneously enrolled at both universities and have access to both faculties, excellent research libraries, and all other resources.

Who is eligible to apply for the PhD program at Carolina-Duke?

We accept students with a BA or international equivalent in German Studies/Germanistik or in related fields such as Comparative Literature, History, Philosophy, Women’s Studies, Kulturwissenschaft, Film Studies, or other literary/cultural fields. While students can begin the program directly after the Bachelor's degree, current MA students and students with an MA are also eligible to apply.  You must have proficiency in both German and English.

How will I finance my studies?

For all students accepted to the CDG program, the program covers the tuition, university fees, and health insurance fees for 6 consecutive years and provides an additional stipend on which to live as long as the student remains in good standing. Beginning in the second year, students are expected to teach one German language class per semester or to provide similar service in return for the stipend.  The stipend amount changes slightly from year to year. In the 2020- 2021 academic year, the stipend was $24,300.  Additional summer stipends (during the break between semesters) are guaranteed for the first 2 summers, and summer stipends and teaching opportunities are often available in later summers as well.

How long is the program?

The PhD program is designed to take 5-6 years to complete. Students who remain in good standing are guaranteed six years of full funding.

Do I need to know the topic of my dissertation project in advance?

No, because students begin work on their dissertations in the 3rd year of the program, you do not need to know your topic in advance. However, it is helpful to know and describe your specific areas of interest when writing your Statement of Purpose for the application.

Do I need to identify an advisor (Doktorvater/Doktormutter) in advance?

No, because students begin work on their dissertations in the 3rd year of the program, you do not need to identify your advisor in advance. However, it may be helpful to note in your Statement of Purpose which professors are of particular interest to you. In addition to an advisor, you will work closely with up to 4 additional professors as a PhD student.

What will I do with my PhD once I have earned it?

Once you have attained a PhD in German Studies, you may want to return to Germany or to your home country and apply for jobs that require a PhD. You may also be interested in staying in the United States and applying for academic jobs. The program and both universities provide mentorship and detailed information on how to apply for jobs as you approach the end of your studies. We have an excellent job placement record.

What is earning a PhD at the Carolina-Duke Program like?

“As a Ph.D. student, you will spend your first two years taking interdisciplinary seminars with world-class professors working on the cutting edge of German Studies research. You will choose professors with whom to work on a Writing Proficiency Review intended to train you in the art of writing publishable articles. In your third year, you will then prepare for your Preliminary Exams, which are designed to prepare you for your dissertation research. In your remaining years, you will conduct research and begin writing your dissertation. You will regularly interact with your advisor and the members on your dissertation committee, but the direction of your doctoral thesis will be entirely of your own choosing.”

But I know nothing about North Carolina…

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and Duke University are located in central North Carolina, which is roughly 260 miles (420 km) south of Washington D.C. Durham is the home of Duke University and Chapel Hill is only ten miles to the southwest. Together with the city of Raleigh, twenty miles to the southwest, these cities form what is called the Research Triangle, a well-connected growing metropolitan area of roughly two million inhabitants. U.S. News and World Report ranked the Research Triangle in 2021 as the second best place to live in the United States. The campuses of Duke and UNC are connected by a twenty-minute shuttle bus service that departs every half hour. Raleigh-Durham International Airport, a modern hub for domestic and international flights, is only 15 minutes away.

The Research Triangle is a two-hour drive from the barrier islands and beaches on the Atlantic Ocean to the east and three to four hours by car from the Great Smoky Mountains to the west. Chapel Hill and Durham are college towns with their own unique feel. Both are full of bars and cafes, restaurants, night-life, museums and theaters. Both are regularly recognized as desirable places to live and study. Durham was declared by The Daily Beast to be “the most tolerant town in America,” and by Livability.com to be the “2nd Best College Town in America.” Bon Appétit has called it “America’s Foodiest Small-Town.” Both cities are very bicycle-friendly. Both towns are inclusive, welcoming and friendly places to live. Durham and Chapel Hill are surrounded by woods, lakes, and rivers that invite a variety of outdoor activities

Will I be able to visit the area?

If you are accepted to join the Carolina-Duke Program, you will be invited to visit our on-campus Open House in early March. All expenses including travel will be paid for by CDG. 

How are admissions decisions made?

We are looking for intellectually talented thinkers with an interest in analyzing German literature and media and the ability to do creative and significant research. The two most important elements of your application are therefore a sample of your academic writing and your Statement of Purpose. Your letters of recommendation are also very important. If you are an international student, you must demonstrate your English proficiency by taking the TOEFL Exam, that is unless you have a degree from a university that teaches primarily in English.