German at Rutgers Camden

Vocabulary of university life
©James Rushing, Rutgers Camden German Department, 2000-2009

Seminarraum an der Filmhochschule HamburgHörsall

Words for "class," "study," etc.

Remeber that although the cognates "Klasse" and "studieren" exist, they are to some extent false cognates. German university students never refer to their classes as "Klassen". 
  • The general word for "course" is der Kurs.  
  • The more "official" word is Lehrveranstaltung, which includes all types of instructional modalities.
  • A Vorlesung (fem.) is a lecture course, where the instructor lectures a lot and there is not very much class discussion.
  • A Seminar (neut.) is a course, usually more advanced, with a great emphasis on discussion, and involving student presentations and term papers.
  • A lab section is a Labor (neut.).
  • A lower level language class is a Übung (fem.).

Words for the majors.

Because of differences between the German and American education systems, it is sometimes difficult to find exact correspondences. 

Here is a list of the majors available in the Camden College of Arts and Sciences (as of about 2000, when this page was originally created), with German translations. 

To get a better sense of how the German university system actually works, you can look at the websites of various German universities. For one example, the main site of the Ludwig-Maximillians-Universität München is

The Munich "German Department" is at

Camden Majors Translated

  • Art Kunst
  • Art History Kunstgeschichte
  • Biology Biologie
  • Business Betriebswirtschaft
  • Chemistry Chemie
  • Computer Science Informatik
  • Criminal Justice Kriminologie (may not be an exact equivalent)
  • Economics Wirtschaftswissenschaft
  • English Anglistik 
  • French Französisch (neut.) or Romanistik
  • German Deutsch (neut.) or Germanistik
  • History Geschichte
  • Mathematics Mathematik
  • Music Musik
  • Nursing Krankenpflege (although this is not a university major in Germany)
  • Philosophy Philosophie
  • Physics Physik
  • Political Science Politikwissenschaft
  • Psychology Psychologie
  • Social Work Sozialarbeit
  • Sociology Soziologie
  • Spanish Spanisch (neut.), or Hispanistik, possibly Lateinamerikanistik
  • Theater Arts Theaterwissenschaft
  • Urban Studies Urbanistik or Großstadtforschung
  • Law Jura (never used with an article)
  • Medicine Medizin