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German as a Second Language

Degree: Master of Arts
Application required: access-restricted
Course commences: winter semester only
Standard course duration: 4 semesters
Format options: full-time / part-time
Language requirements: English (on application)
Language of instruction: German
Other features: postgraduate / consecutive


Faculty of Modern Languages


The M.A. course in German as a Second Language has been made possible through the sponsorship of the junior professorship in German as a Second Language by the Günter Reimann-Dubbers Foundation (Heidelberg) and the Dürr Foundation (Hamburg).

Course outline

How do we acquire language(s)? What are the cognitive prerequisites underlying our capacity to do so? To what extent does acquisition of our native language differ from acquisition of a second language? What supporting strategies can be employed to facilitate language acquisition?

In the M.A. course in German as a Second Language, these and other issues involved in the acquisition and promotion of German as a second language are addressed in a close combination of theory and practice. The course provides its students with the capacity for professional action in the field of “supported language learning” at schools and pre-school institutions. Thus the course proceeds from the supremely relevant realisation that support in learning German as a school language is an essential precondition for improvement of the educational (and other) opportunities open to young people from immigrant families.

The main theoretical emphasis in the first year of the course is on the description and categorisation of German from a comparative perspective (language typology) as well as on the cognitive processing, the acquisition and the use of knowledge of a given language (words, grammatical structures, texts). In addition, issues related to multilingualism in a societal context are addressed from a perspective combining sociolinguistics and with questions of language policy.

In the central third semester, students engage with didactic and diagnostic issues. Didactic strategies are elaborated, put into practice and analysed for their efficacy.

Additional qualifications can be obtained in the course of the programme. Students can choose between the acquisition of a relevant contrast language (e.g. Arabic or Russian), attendance of further classes on language didactics or an internship abroad.

Course structure

Main subject

The course builds on a prior B.A. degree programme on the same subject. The standard duration of the course is 4 semesters, in which students are required to obtain 120 credit points (CP), 20 of them in a subsidiary (minor) subject (or in the module “Essentials of Linguistics” designed exclusively for students with inadequate prior knowledge of linguistics). The course is made up of seven compulsory modules, four of them specialised, one for the acquisition of additional subject-specific qualifications, and two examination modules (M.A. thesis and final oral examination in the fourth semester).

Overview of modules

Specialised modules 60 LP
Modul 1: Language structure and comparative linguistics 12 LP

Modul 2: Foundations of German as a Second Language

20 LP
Modul 3: Language acquisition and intervention 16 LP
Modul 4: Colloquium 4 LP
Modul 5: Additional subject-specific qualifications 8 LP
Examination modules 40 LP
Modul 6: Final examination (oral) 10 LP
Modul 7: M.A. thesis 30 LP
Subsidiary subject 20 LP

Subsidiary (minor) subject

The M.A. course includes study of a subsidiary (minor) subject accounting for 20 CP. Here you will find a list of all subsidiary subjects available.

Students can also take the M.A. course in German as a Second Language as a subsidiary (minor) subject accounting for 20 CP.

Main research interests

One major research interest pursued by the Department is the conception and evaluation of language advancement strategies (intervention research, e.g. in the context of “German for School Beginners”, a project designed to enhance language proficiency in kindergarten (nursery school) and elementary school). The acquisition and use of German as a foreign language is another relevant research field.

Formal requirements


Access to the course is restricted. The current Admission Regulations are available here.

Prospective students from Germany

Prospective students from Germany can enrol without prior application at the Central University Administration building by the beginning of the lecture period. To matriculate, they are required to show a written statement of admission issued by the representative of the Master’s programme they wish to attend, confirming that the requirements set out in the Admission Regulations have been met. Please apply to the Institute of German as a Foreign Language for further information on how to proceed.

International prospective students

Prospective students from other countries must apply in writing, so that their previous academic record can be verified. The deadline for international applicants is 15 June for the winter semester and 15 November for the summer semester. Applications must be addressed directly to the International Relations Office. Please use the M.A. application form here and enclose the necessary documents.

Further information

Current information on procedure

Subject combinations

As a subsidiary (minor), students can choose any subject offering an appropriate M.A. curriculum (with the exception of Comparative German Studies).

Study and examination regulations

Examination regulations M.A. (27 February 2014)
Examination regulations M.A. (27 February 2014)

Examination regulations M.A. (27 July 2012)

Module Handbook

Please click here to find the latest Module Handbook.

Examinations board

Issues arising in connection with examinations, credit transfer and academic credential recognition are dealt with by the relevant examinations board/office. For more information, consult the academic advisor(s) indicated below.


Tuition fees at Heidelberg University are payable at the beginning of each semester.

Academic advisor

Jun.-Prof. Dr. Giulio Pagonis
Plöck 55, Office 007
Wednesdays 11 am – 1 pm
phone: +49 (0)6221 547401


Institute of German as a Foreign Language
Plöck 55
D-69117 Heidelberg
Secretaries’ office:
phone: +49 (0)6221 547545
fax: +49 (0)6221 547597


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Latest Revision: 2019-02-26
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