Why Study German at Iowa?

In an increasingly globalized world, a German degree gives students access to the language, culture, and marketplace of three leading European nations: Switzerland, Austria, and Germany.  Together, the inhabitants of these three countries, combined with native speakers in other regions of the globe, make German the most spoken language in the European Union and the tenth most spoken language in the world.

On a professional level, speaking and understanding another language opens many career opportunities.  German is one of the main languages used in business and international diplomacy.  After the fall of the Soviet Union, German became the lingua franca of central Europe, bridging the gap between former Cold War adversaries.  Many international conferences and trade shows also use German as their working language.

At the undergraduate level, taking German classes will help to expand your understanding of another culture through a wide range of course offerings.  In business and social settings, being able to interact in a culturally appropriate manner is essential in order to seal a deal or make a transaction.  Understanding a bit of history and culture helps to make travel more enriching.

Learning German will also enrich your personal life.  Maybe you have always wanted to explore your German heritage or are a German heritage language learner.  Perhaps you take an interest in German-American issues or have always wanted to study abroad.  The University of Iowa is the place to start.

Here are some things to think about:


  • Germany is the world’s largest exporter of goods (vehicles, parts, machines, chemical products, metals, etc.).
  • Germany is the largest European trading partner with the US.
  • Over 2000 American companies conduct business in the German-speaking countries, and Germany is the sixth largest export market for American products.
  • Germany is the third largest foreign employer in Iowa behind England and Sweden, and Germany is the third largest export market for goods manufactured in Iowa (based on 2003 data).


  • German is indispensable for study in music, religion, philosophy, physics, and many other subjects.
  • German is the language that is most often required or recommended in academic programs.
  • German is an important scientific language and is the second most common on the Internet.
  • English shares close relations with German, so that learning German will help you understand the history and structures of English.


  • Speaking German will allow you to communicate with over 100 million individuals worldwide.
  • Americans are the second largest group to visit Germany.
  • The 2006 FIFA World Cup Soccer Championships were hosted by Germany.
  • German is the most widely spoken language in Europe.

See what the Goethe-Institut says about learning German: Why German is 4U.

The list could go on, but one fact remains: knowledge of German opens the door to a wide variety of careers and pursuits. To learn more, sign up for German today.

Students conversing in a German language course.

German Courses

Browse available language and culture courses available for students.

Graffiti art on a wall

Cultural Activities and Events

Find celebrations, activities, exhibitions, and other events to connect with and enhance social development with members of the community.

A book of German text open on a wooden table.

Language and Culture Resources

As a means of communicating values, beliefs and customs, language has an important social function and fosters feelings of group identity and solidarity. It is the means by which culture and its traditions and shared values may be conveyed and preserved.

Street view of Rothenberg, Germany

Study Abroad

The program encourages students to study abroad to develop their linguistic and intercultural competencies. The University has several opportunities to select from.

A group of students posing in front of the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin, Germany.

Student and Alumni Voices

Hear testimonials directly from the students and alumni of the program.

Faculty Specializing in this Area

Glenn Ehrstine, Ph.D.

Director of Undergraduate Studies
Associate Professor

Sarah Fagan, Ph.D.

DEO, Linguistics

Elke Heckner, Ph.D.

Associate Professor of Instruction

Kirsten Kumpf Baele, Ph.D.

Director, Anne Frank Initiative
Associate Professor of Instruction

Waltraud Maierhofer, Ph.D.

Professor, German
Professor, Global Health Studies

Bruce Nottingham-Spencer, Ph.D.

Associate Professor of Instruction