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.

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.

Doctoral Degrees

Ph.D. with tracks in folklore, literature, and philology

Minimum Graduate Degree Credit Requirement

51 credits

Minimum Graduate Residence Credit Requirement

32 credits

Minimum Graduate Coursework (50%) Requirement

Half of degree coursework (26 credits out of 51 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 ten years or more prior to admission to a doctoral 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 ten or more years prior to admission to a doctoral 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.

Doctoral Minor/Breadth Requirements

All tracks require a doctoral minor of 10–12 credits taken in another field. These courses should be selected in consultation with the candidate’s advisor.

Overall Graduate GPA Requirement

3.25 GPA required.

Other Grade Requirements

Ph.D. candidates should maintain a 3.5 GPA in all core curriculum courses.

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 Ph.D. tracks require a comprehensive written and oral examination.

All tracks require a dissertation.

Time Constraints

The normal time for completing the requirements for the Ph.D. is five to seven semesters beyond the M.A., two of which, normally but not necessarily, are spent in Scandinavia. Ph.D. candidates will spend the last two to three semesters writing the dissertation.

A candidate for a doctoral degree who fails to take the final oral examination and deposit the dissertation within five years after passing the preliminary examination may be required to take another preliminary examination and to be admitted to candidacy a second time. Requests for exceptions, detailing special circumstances, should be submitted to the graduate advisor, who will then determine whether to seek an extension from the Graduate School.

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 and another research language approved by the department is required or advanced competency (e.g., and ETS score of 675) in German or another research language.

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

  • The doctoral level learning goals are inclusive of the master's level learning goals.
  • Articulates research problems, potentials, and limits with respect to theory, knowledge, or practice within the field of study.
  • Formulates ideas, concepts, and techniques beyond the current boundaries of knowledge within the field of study.
  • Creates research and scholarship that makes a substantive contribution.
  • Demonstrates breadth within their learning experiences.
  • Advances contributions of the field of study to society.
  • Communicates complex ideas in a clear and understandable manner.

Professional Conduct

  • Fosters ethical and professional conduct.

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