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.

Scandinavian studies is in 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.

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.

Minimum Degree Requirements and Satisfactory Progress

To make progress toward a graduate degree, students must meet the Graduate School Minimum Degree Requirements and Satisfactory Progress in addition to the requirements of the program.

Master’s Degrees

M.A. with available tracks in area studies, literature, and philology

Minimum Graduate Degree Credit Requirement

30 credits

Minimum Graduate Residence Credit Requirement

16 credits

Minimum Graduate Coursework (50%) Requirement

Half of degree coursework (15 credits out of 30 total credits) must be in graduate-level coursework; courses with the Graduate Level Coursework attribute are identified and searchable in the university's Course Guide.

Prior Coursework Requirements: Graduate Work from Other Institutions

With program approval, students are allowed to count no more than 9 credits of graduate coursework from other institutions. Coursework earned five or more years prior to admission to a master’s degree is not allowed to satisfy requirements.

Prior Coursework Requirements: UW–Madison Undergraduate

No credits from a UW–Madison undergraduate degree are allowed to count toward the degree.

Prior Coursework Requirements: UW–Madison University Special

With program approval, students are allowed to count no more than 9 credits of coursework numbered 300 or above taken as a UW–Madison University Special student. Coursework earned five or more years prior to admission to a Master’s degree is not allowed to satisfy requirements.

Credits per Term Allowed

15 credits

Program-Specific Courses Required

Each track has specific course requirements to be met. Contact program for list of specific courses.

Overall Graduate GPA Requirement

3.25 GPA required. GPA of 3.0 or above may be considered for admission on probation.

Other Grade Requirements

M.A. students must maintain at least a 3.25 GPA.

If a student’s grades drop below the average indicated, the GPA must be brought up to the minimum by the end of the following semester.

The grade C is regarded as unsatisfactory.

Incompletes must be removed within the following semester or summer session of residence.

Probation Policy

If a student at any time fails to meet the above criteria for satisfactory progress, he/she is placed on probation. If, by the end of the following semester, progress has not been brought to a satisfactory level, a committee of three faculty members will be established to determine whether any circumstance exists that prevent the dropping of the student from the program.

Advisor / Committee

In order to encourage progress toward the degree and to determine the status of a student’s program, the department requests an annual report from all continuing students to be submitted with the Application for Financial Aid. In the case of first-year students, this report will, of course only cover work done during the fall semester. A copy of this report will be placed in the student’s permanent file. See the Graduate Handbook for details about this report. Students are expected to consult regularly on their progress with their advisor.

Assessments and Examinations

All M.A. tracks require a comprehensive written and oral examination.

The literature and area studies tracks offer a thesis option.

Time Constraints

The normal time for completing the requirements for the M.A. is three to four semesters, although more time can be allowed if a student is entering with deficiencies or has had teaching assistantships, which necessitate a lower credit load.

Language Requirements

All tracks require an advanced competency in a modern Scandinavian language. If the modern Scandinavian Language is Finnish or Icelandic, a working knowledge of Norwegian, Swedish, or Danish is required.

For all tracks a minimal competency (e.g., ETS score of 525) in German or another research language approved by the department is required.

The philology track requires two semesters of Old Norse or its equivalent. For the literature track a competency in Old Norse is encouraged.

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.

Knowledge and Skills

  • Articulates, critiques, or elaborates the theories, research methods, and approaches to inquiry or schools of practice in the field of study.
  • Identifies sources and assembles evidence pertaining to questions or challenges in the field of study.
  • Demonstrates understanding of the primary field of study in a historical, social, or global context.
  • Selects and/or utilizes the most appropriate methodologies and practices.
  • Evaluates or synthesizes information pertaining to questions or challenges in the field of study.
  • Communicates clearly in ways appropriate to the field of study.

Professional Conduct

  • Recognizes and applies principles of ethical and professional conduct.

Faculty: Professors Brantly, DuBois, Leary, Wolf; Associate Professor Allen (Chair); Assistant Professor Krouk