The Department of German and Romance Languages and Literatures offers majors of study in the languages, cultures and literatures of France, Germany, Italy, Latin America, Portugal and Spain, in addition to offering minor concentration in French Literature, French Cultural Studies, German, Italian, Spanish Language and Hispanic Culture, and Spanish for the Professions. To major in romance languages, students have the option of mastering two or three languages of their choosing, with all courses taught in the target language. The department has approved study abroad programs and internship programs, even offering department scholarships to a few.
A complete list of majors offered by the department includes:
- Romance languages
- French literature
- German literature
- Italian literature
- Spanish/Latin American literature
In the literature-based majors, students begin by mastering the target language and then move on to cultural and artistic studies. Highly qualified German majors may also pursue the German B.A. / M.A. degree or German Honors program options.
Very few undergraduate romance language graduates ever get a job directly related to the field, but the skills they develop as language students provide a solid background for other fields, including social services, journalism, healthcare, law enforcement, business and teaching.
Some of these skills include:
- Cross-cultural communication
- Understanding of cultural differences and ability to interact effectively with people of different backgrounds
- Knowledge of culturally specific behavior, customs and values
- Language competence for speaking, writing, reading and listening
- Appreciation of diversity and sensitivity to cultural issues
- Awareness of differences in cultural perspectives
- Global experience and ability to adjust to new environments
Many undergraduates pair their Romance Language and Literature major with another area of study such as International Studies, Political Science or Public Health to maximize their marketability in the job market.
Foreign language skills are an asset in any job market, particularly when paired with study abroad experience and expertise in another discipline. Some of the careers pursued by undergraduates include:
- Environmental firms / public health – undergraduates with a passion for international causes can find rewarding work acting as international advocates, researchers and volunteers.
- Advertising and marketing – producers are constantly looking for new markets for their products, and seek American advertisers with language skills and cultural knowledge to introduce them to new markets and create compelling advertising campaigns.
- Finance - graduates can use their foreign language skills, combined with a business, economics or finance degree, for global financial analysis such as assessing the economic performance of companies and industries for firms and institutions to invest in a globalized market.
- Public relations – public relations professionals must be constantly aware of how images and words of their clients will be understood by the public. Foreign language majors are trained in sensitivity to language and culture, and make excellent communications professionals.
- Technology – for romance language majors with academic experience in engineering or the sciences, there is a vast need for engineers able to translate the technological needs of a foreign market to the engineers and scientists in another market who are capable of meeting them.
- Hospital and Healthcare administrators – as the healthcare industry grows, it requires increasing sensitivity to and communication of the needs of non-English speaking people, as all cultures are consumers of healthcare.
- Media – as Spanish-speaking outlets such as Telemundo continue to grow along with the global prevalence of cable and Internet news, there is an ongoing and increasing need for multilingual journalists and foreign affairs correspondents.
- Imports and manufacturing – as markets become increasingly global, manufacturers, importers and exporters need multilingual business and communications representatives to ease the process of buying and selling products throughout the world.
- Education – many romance languages graduates become high school language teachers, or pursue doctorates to teach at the university level. For public primary and secondary schools, however, a further degree in education, as well as a certification process, is typically required. Graduates can also teach at professional language schools.
- Linguistics – government agencies require those with language skills and cultural knowledge to assist with meeting the organization’s goals. The CIA, FBI and NSA all employ linguists to help with translation, intelligence gathering and analysis.
- Travel - graduates can pursue various careers in the travel industry, such as tour guides, travel agents, and restaurant and hotel management.
A degree in romance languages and literature provides an excellent academic foundation for the career of your choosing, but academics are only one component. Students interested in working in foreign languages and cultures should study and/or intern abroad and read international newspapers and magazines to stay culturally and politically relevant. Participation in relevant cultural activities and organizations is also important, both to practice language skills and expand your knowledge base.
Study of foreign languages is even more marketable when combined with mastery of another academic discipline in which the foreign language is applicable. For this reason, many undergraduates double major or minor in other fields such as political science, history, psychology, sociology, anthropology, public health, international studies, business, engineering or one of the sciences. In that case, students should also seek internships and extra-curricular activities in those fields as well, whether in preparation for the job market or admission to law, business or medical school.
Hopkins German and Romance Language alumni go into a variety of career fields. Since 2003 the Career Center has surveyed recent graduates about their academic and career plans 6 months after graduation. Here is a summary of their responses:
Hopkins Alumni in Romance Languages
Additional Alumni Profiles
Networking with alumni and other professionals who work in these fields can help you learn very specific information about a career field. Use Johns Hopkins Connect to contact alumni to ask for their advice. You may also find professional contacts through professional associations, faculty, friends and family.
For more information on what you can do with a Romance Language Major go to What can I do with a major in a Foreign Language.
Want to know more? Read our Hopkins Career Profiles on Journalism, Publishing, Public Relations, Teaching, Public Policy, and Marketing.
If you would like to talk about how your search is going, we invite you to make an appointment with a Career Counselor by calling 410-516-8056.
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The Career Center is here to help you navigate the graduate school search process. Click here for guidelines and preparing for Graduate School and Professional School.
For information on the specific programs, the best people to talk to are the experts in your field you wish to study, faculty members and graduate students in that specific discipline. We strongly encourage you to talk with your advisor and other faculty members with whom you have a good working relationship. This will also help when you request letters of recommendation. The Career Center has a handout to guide you in asking for letters of recommendation.
The honors societies for romance languages and literature include: