German Department

Academics | German

German Department

Germany always has evoked romantic visions of castles, classical music and high-quality cars. Who hasn’t heard of Neuschwanstein, Beethoven and Mercedes-Benz? But what about German for today’s students? The study of foreign languages, literatures and cultures broadens horizons and fosters critical thinking. Those skills are particularly important in a world of technological revolution.

Foreign languages, literature, linguistics and philosophy all are part of Ripon’s German curriculum; therefore, students gain broad perspective and skills. As the world’s third largest economy, the study of German has very practical benefits as well.




Andrew Prellwitz Lorna Sopak


Course Information and Requirements

Classes are kept small (fewer than 15 students) to allow maximum interaction. There is always a native speaker from the University of Bonn, as well as guest lecturers. The faculty is accessible to students at a level not seen at larger schools, and they constantly are searching for new and innovative books and methods to enhance learning and engage students. First- and second-year courses culminate in skits written and performed by students. Third-year Conversation and Composition students select their best writing from the semester to produce a German newspaper. Each spring, German Theater Workshop students stage German plays on campus. The Liberal Arts In Focus program affords students a short-term immersion experience in Germany in addition to the one- to two-semester study abroad program in Bonn.

The Ripon College German Department employs language assistants who are native speakers to enhance the program.  The language assistants share views from their cultural perspective and provide students an opportunity to utilize their foreign language skills in and out of the classroom. Some of the venues for this interaction are conversation tables in the dining hall, a weekly Kaffeestunde, Filmabende, theatrical productions and conversation sessions for groups of all proficiency levels.

Course Guide: German



Ripon College encourages all students to embrace a Four-Year Career Development Plan. This plan is based on the premise that career planning is a development process that involves learning and decision-making over an extended period of time.

First Year

  • Incoming students are assigned a Faculty Mentor based on their interest area(s). Please see the FACULTY tab under your major area;
  • All Freshman are required to enroll in a First-Year Seminar, which is designed as a transition from high school to college learning, providing an interdisciplinary introduction to the liberal arts and the pursuit of in-depth study;
  • Freshman are encouraged to meet the career development staff early on and complete interest and skills inventories, and self-assessment tools; and,
  • Attend the pre-Fall Break “Major Fest” to explore the various major options and career tracks.

Third Year

  • Assume leadership positions in on-campus clubs and organizations;
  • Participate in mock interviews with the Career Development Office;
  • Attend the Wisconsin Foundation of Independent Colleges Job Fair in February and other relevant career fairs;
  • If relevant, begin to research potential graduate school programs and take the appropriate entrance exam(s);
  • Continue to meet regularly with your Faculty Mentor;
  • Continue to build a solid network and a list of work references, and build your resume;
  • Consider off-campus study: Semester and/or alternative Spring Breaks;
  • Continue to job shadow; and,
  • Gain further career experience associated with your education during the academic year and as part of a summer job or internship.

Second Year

  • Get involved with on-campus clubs and organizations, athletic teams and/or intramural sports;
  • Attend the pre-Fall Break “Major Fest” to explore the various major options and career tracks;
  • Declare a major;
  • Meet regularly with your Faculty Mentor or match your interests with a faculty member in your major department. Determine which professors have areas of expertise most similar to your interests. Talk to people in the academic department to find out about faculty research, scholarly, and creative interests;
  • Attend on-campus career workshops;
  • Work with the Career Development Office to create an approved resume;
  • Job shadow people involved in various careers and professions of interest; and,
  • Gain further career experience associated with your education during the academic year and as part of a summer job or internship.

Fourth Year

  • Complete a Senior Capstone/Thesis in your major area(s);
  • Continue to meet regularly with your Faculty Mentor;
  • Perfect your interviewing skills;
  • Expand your existing network of contacts;
  • Finalize your resume and prepare cover letter;
  • Build a credential file in the Career Development Office;
  • Interview with on-campus recruiters;
  • Set-up informational interviews with target companies;
  • If relevant, apply to graduate school programs, and if necessary, re-take entrance exams; and,
  • Practice career goal-setting.


What can I do with a German major?

The skills you develop as a German major can lead to careers in research and teaching in universities as well as opportunities abroad. It also provides a background for further work in other disciplines of the social sciences, humanities, and biological sciences, and the communication, critical thinking, problem solving skills our graduates develop have served them well in a broad range of fields.

Recent graduates have taken many paths, including graduate school programs in biochemistry, cancer biology, theology, and law; and careers as chemists, publicists, college administrators, and public school teachers.

Recent graduates of our program work for…

  • Berlitz Language Center
  • Corporate Translations, Inc.
  • Edelman Public Relations
  • Lakeland College
  • Literacy Council
  • Marquette University
  • Milwaukee Public Schools
  • National Exchange Bank & Trust
  • Neenah High School
  • United Nations

Job titles of recent graduates include…

  • Human Resources Coordinator
  • Associate Linguistic Validation Project Manager
  • Director of Admissions
  • German Teacher
  • Credit Analyst
  • Special Education – Kindergarten
  • EMT
  • Consultant


Off-Campus Study

The University of Bonn Program

bonnRipon College’s Bonn program assists students, regardless of their academic majors, in understanding Germany and its culture. Students with sufficient language skills can take courses in almost any field, while those who need it receive intensive training in German. Students may enroll for either one semester or for a full-year program. In either case, Bonn University’s Akademisches Auslandsamt ensures that they are fully integrated into university life. Ripon College’s International Study Program at Bonn is not your ordinary German program; you won’t be hanging out with a bunch of Americans taking American courses. But as Amy Letcher (Ripon ’99) said, “It was the best time of my life. Not only did I learn to travel and become independent, I also learned German and made many wonderful friends.”

To learn more, visit the Off-Campus Study page.