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 18 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 2017-2018 academic year, the stipend was $23,370.  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 PhD student, you will spend two years doing fascinating interdisciplinary classwork with world-class professors on the cutting edge of research in the field and alongside outstanding fellow students. You will choose professors with whom to work on a Writing Proficiency Review that trains you in the art of writing publishable articles, and on a Preliminary Exam in the field of your dissertation. You will then choose a dissertation topic based on your intellectual interests and begin work on the dissertation. You will interact with an advisor and a committee who will provide guidance, but your work will be independently chosen, researched, and written.

But I know nothing about North Carolina…

Duke University is located in Durham, NC and the University of North Carolina is located in Chapel Hill, NC, two towns that seamlessly connect to each other. Because Raleigh, NC (the state capital) is also next door, and the 3 cities are home to a large number of universities, colleges, and research facilities, the area is also sometimes called The Research Triangle. The Duke and UNC campuses are connected by a twenty-minute shuttle bus service, with busses departing every half hour. Raleigh-Durham International Airport is a convenient hub for domestic and international flights.

North Carolina is on the East Coast, and we are a two-hour drive from the barrier islands and beaches of the Atlantic Ocean to the east and from the beautiful Great Smoky Mountains to the west. Chapel Hill and Durham each have the feel of a large town with cafes, restaurants, night-life, and several museums and theaters. Durham was declared by The Daily Beast to be “the most tolerant town in America,” and by to be the “2nd Best College Town in America.” Bon Appétit has called it “America’s Foodiest Small-Town.” It is a very affordable area. There is a large student population in Chapel Hill in particular. Both cities are very bicycle-friendly. In addition, the towns are very 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 the program, we will endeavor to bring you for a visit to the campuses at NO cost to yourself before you need to decide whether you will accept our offer of admission.

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. You will also need to take the standardized GRE Exam and, in almost all cases, the TOEFL Exam to test your English abilities. Please visit our Apply section for more information.