Frequently asked questions

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Application and admission

I don't have a BA in German. Can I still apply to your MA/PhD programs?

Yes, you certainly can. We look at each application individually and assess it based on a number of criteria - education, grades, ability in German, and other factors. A number of students come to us having taken some courses in German, but without having obtained a degree. We might recommend some make-up courses, or help you organize a program of study that will help get you up to the level expected of an MA student. In any case, it is best to apply, and we will discuss your particular circumstances with you.

Before coming here, I did my BA and MA in History at Saint Mary's University in Halifax. In my thesis, I wrote about the East German pedestrian traffic light figure Ampelmann and the memory of East Germany.

Kyle Massia, PhD German

I don't think my German language skills are very good. Will that be a problem?

It will be a challenge. We realize, however, that students come into the program with a wide range of language skills. Essays and other work can be completed in the language of the student's choice; the readings for most courses will be in German, and the professor will use German or English. What you should keep in mind is that graduate study gives you an opportunity to improve all of your abilities in the subject, and that includes your language skills. We encourage all students to take advantage of our exchange programs in order to broaden their language skills. We also open our upper-year language courses to graduate students who plan to improve their language proficiency.

Can I apply after the deadline?

Yes, in most cases you can. The deadline is important, however, because it helps us plan for the upcoming year, especially your place in our budget. If you wish to apply and the deadline has passed, don't panic! But please do contact us so that we know your application is coming, and to make sure that space and funding are still available in the program.

The deadlines for each program are as follows:

MA German:

  • February 1 (for admission in September)
  • June 1 (for admission in January)
  • October 1 (for admission in May)

Joint MA in Intercultural German Studies (IcGS):

  • March 31 (for admission in September)

PhD German:

  • February 1 (for admission in September)
  • June 1 (for admission in January)
  • October 1 (for admission in May)

When can I start the program? Do I have to begin in September?

The University of Waterloo has three terms: Fall (September-December), Winter (January-April), and Spring (May-August). You can start your program in any one of these terms, though we recommend the Fall. For MA students it is advisable to begin in the Fall term when GER (German) 600 (Methods of Research) is offered, since this course is very helpful in your studies. PhD students may have already taken similar courses in their MA programs and so do not need necessarily to begin in the fall. We usually do not admit students in the Spring term.


I'm more interested in language than literature. Will your program satisfy my needs?

At the University of Waterloo, we are interested in providing a balanced approach to the study of German. Our department is called “Germanic and Slavic Studies” because we want to emphasize our interest in all things Germanic (and Slavic). We teach literature and film studies as well as applied linguistics; our professors have varied research and teaching interests, which you can learn more about in our faculty profiles. Our dual focus on language and cultural studies makes us confident that we can meet the needs of almost any student.

Do you have any German students studying in the program?

Yes, we usually do! Our exchange programs, particularly our joint MA in Intercultural German Studies together with the University of Mannheim, bring a number of students from Germany to us each year.

Where can I find academic information related to my program?

You can find more academic information and additional web pages on our Guidelines page.

Graduate life

What kinds of facilities are available for graduate students in the program?

The department has a reading room that is often used for colloquia and special events, but which students can use at other times. There is also a graduate student lounge that provides networked computers for student use, mailboxes, and some study areas.  We are located steps away from the library, and a few more steps will take you to the Student Life Centre, the Physical Activities Complex, or the Grad House.

Do you offer anything in the way of professional development?

We think it is essential for students to develop professional skills in a number of areas. We encourage students to attend academic conferences, and offer some monies to help with expenses. In order to help students prepare for such events, we hold conferences and colloquia in which students and faculty can share their research findings with their peers, faculty members, and undergraduate students. We organise teaching workshops for teaching assistants and grant writing workshops for our students. Graduate students at the University of Waterloo can also complete Certificates in University Teaching offered by our Centre for Teaching Excellence. Finally, our Centre for Career Action offers workshops and counselling to help you prepare for both academic and non-academic careers.


Do you offer housing on campus?

The University of Waterloo’s Campus Housing operates Columbia Lake Village, a residence especially for graduate students that provides a single room with shared bathroom and kitchen facilities; many out-of-town students enjoy living here and getting to know other graduate students. Due to high demand, it is advisable to act early in requesting accommodation in the university’s graduate residences. Visit the Graduate, Optometry, & Student Families website to find out more about on-campus graduate housing.

What is the off-campus housing situation like in Waterloo?

There is plenty of off-campus housing available in Waterloo if you act early. The university’s off-campus housing site provides a variety of resources and tips to guide you along your search for a place to stay. It is important to note that the student population at the University of Waterloo and its neighbour, Wilfried Laurier University, has grown substantially in the past couple of years; it is therefore advisable to secure housing as soon as you know you’ve been accepted into your program.


Is there life on other planets?

We're not sure. But we think it may be possible.