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Scandinavian Studies

Administrative Unit:Scandinavian Studies
College/School: College of Letters & Science
Admitting Plans:M.A., Ph.D.
Degrees Offered:M.A., Ph.D.
Minors and Certificates:Doctoral Minor

Faculty: Professors Wolf (chair), Brantly, DuBois, Leary; Associate Professor Allen


The Department of Scandinavian Studies is the oldest such department in the Americas, tracing its roots to 1875. Department faculty have received numerous awards and other marks of recognition for their teaching and scholarship. The department offers the master of arts and the doctor of philosophy in Scandinavian studies. A doctoral minor is also available. Graduate students must be fluent in one Scandinavian language and specialize in one particular area, but they may expect to gain a knowledge of the wider Nordic region during their studies. The program offers the possibility to attain a broad education in Scandinavian culture that has proven to be extremely useful in students' professional careers. Students will become well-versed in theory and methodology as well as in cultural history. The department possesses particular strengths in Scandinavian literature, Old Norse philology, and Nordic folklore. Within these broader categories, students may pursue interests in such topics as, mythology, Sámi studies, saint's lives, modernism, sagas, gender criticism, immigration studies, national identity—to name only a few. Languages offered in the department include Danish, Finnish, Icelandic, Norwegian, Sámi, and Swedish. The department has an excellent record of placing its Ph.D. graduates in good positions in the field.

M.A. Degree 

Candidates for the master of arts in Scandinavian studies will specialize in one and only one of the following three fields: literature, philology, or area studies.

Ph.D. Degree 

The Ph.D. degree is offered in the fields of literature, folklore, and philology. The basic requirements for all students entering the Ph.D. program correspond to the requirements for the M.A. degree in Scandinavian Studies with concentration in literature, area studies, or philology, as appropriate. Every incoming graduate student should consult with the general graduate advisor upon arrival at UW–Madison. They will discuss the student's academic and career plans, and between them will decide which faculty member will most appropriately act as a committee chair.

Doctoral Minor 

A prospective minor in Scandinavian studies must have a program approved in advance by the graduate advisor, and is urged to discuss the entire doctoral program with this advisor at the earliest possible opportunity. In general, the requirements for the minor are a minimum of 12 credits in Scandinavian studies at the graduate level, and reading proficiency in one Scandinavian language (including Old or modern Icelandic) or in Finnish or Sámi.

Financial Aid 

The department has a number of scholarships, fellowships, teaching assistantships, and readerships at its disposal and makes a serious effort to provide qualified students with adequate financial assistance and teaching experience throughout their graduate careers.


Applicants should have a B.A. degree from an approved institution, a major in a field of humanities or social studies, and an outstanding record. Applicants are expected to have preparation equivalent to an undergraduate major in Scandinavian studies at UW–Madison, and must either have taken three years of a Scandinavian language or must demonstrate (by examination) equivalent competence in one Scandinavian language or Finnish. A GPA of 3.25 (on a 4.0 scale) is required for admission; students with a GPA below 3.25 but above 3.00 may be considered for admission on probation. All applicants must submit Graduate Record Exam (GRE) scores.

For more information: Department of Scandinavian Studies, 1306 Van Hise Hall, 1220 Linden Drive, Madison, WI 53706; 608-262-2090; fax 608-262-9417; sbrantly@wisc.edu; scandinavian.wisc.edu.