The Department of Germanic Languages and Literatures offers courses in German and Yiddish language, culture and literature, Swedish language, and Scandinavian culture. Students can complete their GE language requirement by enrolling in any of our three language sequences. For those students who are interested in continuing to more advanced levels of language and culture instruction, we offer a German minor and a German major, a Yiddish minor, and a Scandinavian minor. We also offer a wide variety of GE courses taught in English on German, Yiddish, and Scandinavian cultural and literary themes.
Learn more about our programs
- Language Programs in German, Swedish, and Yiddish
- Major in German
- Minor in German
- Minor in Scandinavian Studies
- Minor in Yiddish & Ashkenazic Studies
- Study Abroad
Ohio State also offers several certificate programs that can complement the study of a world language:
Why Study German, Yiddish, or Scandinavian Studies?
As our society and community rapidly change and become more connected, diverse, and multilingual, familiarity with a second language and other cultures has become essential for well-rounded and well-educated citizens. Global awareness and intercultural connections encourage students to form different perspectives, make informed decisions, and acquire transferable life-long skills.
Learning a language offers you much more than the ability to ask for directions or order at a restaurant. It enables you to learn from and communicate and work with people around the globe. Plus, learning another language can help you learn to let go of the fear of making mistakes and allow you to try on new perspectives.
German has the largest number of native speakers in the European Union and approximately 100 million speakers worldwide. It communicates the ideas of inventors and innovators, provides a gateway to world-class higher education, and connects you with companies that are global market leaders. Swedish is spoken by 10 million Swedes and—because of its similarity to Norwegian and Danish and its official status in Finland—it is useful for travel and work across the Nordic area. Its grammar is also easy to learn for English speakers!
Yiddish is spoken today by upwards of a million people worldwide. As one of the main languages spoken by Jews in eastern Europe and the United States, the language is key to accessing hundreds of years of Jewish history and culture. (It’s also an official language of Sweden!)
Finally, Old Norse-Icelandic is the language of Norse mythology and medieval Viking adventures and is a great foundation for learning modern Icelandic.
- CLLC, "Why study a language?"
- The Guardian, "The arts teach us how to express ourselves – and give us freedom to fail"
- Global Citizen, "7 Benefits of Learning Another Language"
Students in our classes study a vast array of topics. You will have the chance to become familiar with some of the greatest literary, musical, cinematic, and philosophical minds in human history—and explore popular culture today, too! From Mozart to ABBA, Goethe to Sholem Aleichem to Jenny Erpenbeck and Stieg Larsson, Ingmar Bergman to Werner Herzog, Glikl bas Judah Leib to Emine Sevgi Özdamar, idealist philosophy to Nordic Model social welfare, Norse myth to Yiddish TV and Berlin school film--learning German, Swedish, Yiddish, or Old Norse allows you to appreciate artistic masterpieces and cultural phenomena in their own language and cultural context.
The humanities offer intrinsic intellectual and creative satisfaction, but they also lead to jobs. As global thinkers, humanities majors are competitive job seekers and strong earners. Many CEOs are hiring more liberal arts majors because of their creativity, sense of empathy, and capacity to adapt quickly to new work environments. Even technical jobs often seek applicants with the multidisciplinary skill set that is provided by a Humanities BA degree. Learning a language offers endless career opportunities. Students with language and cultural competency are highly sought in fields including education, business, government, law, social services, and travel.
- The Washington Post, "The surprising thing Google learned about its employees — and what it means for today’s students"
- The New York Times, “Six Myths About Choosing a College Major”
- Fast Company, "Why Top Tech CEOs Want Employees With Liberal Arts Degrees"
- Huffington Post, "A Surprising Success Story: Jobs and the Arts and Humanities"
There is more to studying the Humanities than simply making students workforce ready; students develop that aspect of their being that gives meaning to their lives. Liberal arts education prepares students to be good citizens, teaches critical thinking, and encourages innovative ideas. According to The Hechinger Report, "A liberal-arts education is the best preparation a young person can have for success in life."
- The Hechinger Report, "The enduring relevance of a liberal-arts education"
- NPR, "What Is The Value Of An Education In The Humanities?"
- The Atlantic, "Why America's Business Majors Are in Desperate Need of a Liberal-Arts Education"
- American Enterprise Institute, "Are we creating a STEM dead end?"
Today’s students often combine their primary field of study with a second major or minor. Students in German also major or minor in subjects as varied as Arabic, Architecture, Art History, Biology, Biomedical Science, Business, Communications, Comparative Studies, Computer Systems Engineering, English, Exercise Science, Forestry Fisheries & Wildlife, Hospitality Management, International Studies, Italian, Japanese, Linguistics, Logistics, Microbiology, Molecular Genetics, Nursing, Nutrition, Physics, Political Science, Psychology, Russian, Spanish and Textiles. A double major in German provides benefits such as strengthening critical thinking skills and empathy, opening up employment opportunities, and preparing students for the challenges of work, life, and citizenship ahead.