This paper reviews a purposive sample of 23 doctoral dissertations in second language (L2) education, completed between 2009 and 2013 and published in Germany. From amongst all (approx. 70) relevant dissertations from this period, the following three broad thematic strands can be identified, for which a selection of exemplary dissertations was chosen to review: (1) Content and Language Integrated Learning (CLIL); (2) learning and teaching about culture in the language classroom; and (3) language teacher education. Categorization of themes was guided by a bottom-up approach, clustering thematically (rather than methodologically) similar works. We identify relevant topics and link these with trends in research methodology (qualitative/quantitative/mixed-methods). We also discuss the depth and breadth of these dissertations and situate their scholarly contributions within German and international research on language education.