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, saints' 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.

Fall Deadline January 2
Spring Deadline November 15
Summer Deadline The program does not admit in the summer.
GRE (Graduate Record Examinations) Required.
English Proficiency Test Every applicant whose native language is not English or whose undergraduate instruction was not in English must provide an English proficiency test score and meet the Graduate School minimum requirements (
Other Test(s) (e.g., GMAT, MCAT) n/a
Letters of Recommendation Required 3

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.

Graduate School Resources

Resources to help you afford graduate study might include assistantships, fellowships, traineeships, and financial aid. Further funding information is available from the Graduate School. Be sure to check with your program for individual policies and restrictions related to funding.

Program Resources

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 Graduate School Requirements

Review the Graduate School minimum academic progress and degree requirements, in addition to the program requirements listed below.

Major Requirements


Face to Face Evening/Weekend Online Hybrid Accelerated
Yes No No No No

Mode of Instruction Definitions


Minimum Credit Requirement 30 credits
Minimum Residence Credit Requirement 16 credits
Minimum Graduate Coursework Requirement Half of degree coursework (15 credits out of 30 total credits) must be completed graduate-level coursework; courses with the Graduate Level Coursework attribute are identified and searchable in the university's Course Guide (
Overall Graduate GPA Requirement 3.25 GPA required. GPA of 3.0 or above may be considered for admission on probation.
Other Grade Requirements No other requirements.
Assessments and Examinations All M.A. tracks require a comprehensive written and oral examination.

The literature and area studies tracks offer a thesis option.
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.

Required COURSES

Each track has specific course requirements to be met.

Literary and Cultural Studies Track1

30 graduate degree credits, minimum.
Required Courses (15-17 credits)
SCAND ST 401 Contemporary Scandinavian Languages3
Select one of the following:3-4
Old Norse
Mythology of Scandinavia
The Vikings
The Sagas of Icelanders in English Translation
Select one of the following:3-4
History of Scandinavia to 1815
History of Scandinavia Since 1815
Contemporary Scandinavia: Politics and History
Select one of the following, depending on individual circumstances and determined in consultation with the graduate advisor (3 credits):3
Seminar in Special Topics
Survey of Scandinavian Literature: 1500-1800
Survey of Scandinavian Literature: 1800-1890
Select a course that includes professional development (3 credits):3
Fundamentals of Bibliography and Research
GNS 700 Graduate Seminar in Professional Development
Total credits:15-17
Recommended courses:
SCAND ST 419 Scandinavian Children's Literature4
SCAND ST 420 4
SCAND ST 422 The Drama of Henrik Ibsen4
SCAND ST 423 The Drama of August Strindberg4
SCAND ST 424 Nineteenth-Century Scandinavian Fiction3-4
SCAND ST 426 Kierkegaard and Scandinavian Literature4
SCAND ST 427 Contemporary Scandinavian Literature4
SCAND ST/​LITTRANS  428 Memory and Literature from Proust to Knausgard3
SCAND ST 433 3
SCAND ST 434 The Art of Isak Dinesen/Karen Blixen4
SCAND ST/​FOLKLORE/​MEDIEVAL  446 Celtic-Scandinavian Cultural Interrelations3
SCAND ST 450 Scandinavian Decadence in its European Context3-4

Philology Track1

The following are departmental guidelines for a philology specialization, though ultimately everything must be approved by the graduate advisor.
30 graduate credits, minimum.
Required courses (21 credits)
SCAND ST 401 Contemporary Scandinavian Languages3
Old Norse
and Intermediate Old Norse
SCAND ST 410 Introduction to Scandinavian Linguistics3
Select one of the following: (3 credits)3
History of the Scandinavian Languages II: Standard Languages
Topics in Scandinavian Linguistics
Select one of the following: (3 credits)3
The Scandinavian Heritage in America
Survey of Old Norse-Icelandic Literature
Select a course that includes professional development: (3 credits)3
Fundamentals of Bibliography and Research
GNS 700 Graduate Seminar in Professional Development
Total credits:21
Other recommended Courses:
SCAND ST/​LITTRANS  435 The Sagas of Icelanders in English Translation4
SCAND ST/​FOLKLORE/​MEDIEVAL  446 Celtic-Scandinavian Cultural Interrelations3
GERMAN/​MEDIEVAL  755 Old Germanic Languages3
GERMAN 768 Comparative and Historical Grammar of the Old Germanic Languages3
GERMAN 991 Individual Research Linguistics and Germanic Philology1-9
ENGL/​MEDIEVAL  520 Old English3
ENGL 417 History of the English Language3
ENGL/​HISTORY/​RELIG ST  360 The Anglo-Saxons3

Area Studies Track1

30 graduate degree credits, minimum.
Required Courses (24-29 credits):
Select one of the following: (3 credits)3
1. One Seminar in the student's emphasis area.
2. A thesis of ca. 40-50 pages on a topic agreed upon by the student and advisor.
One course in Scandinavian literature or literary history. (3-4 credits)3-4
SCAND ST 401 Contemporary Scandinavian Languages3
A course that includes professional development. (3 credits)3
Fundamentals of Bibliography and Research
GNS 700 Graduate Seminar in Professional Development
Four (4) courses agreed upon by the student and advisor; Courses need not be within the Scandinavian Studies program, but should be identified by the student and advisor during the first year of study. (12-16 credits)12-16
Total credits:24-29
Other recommended courses:
SCAND ST 429 Mythology of Scandinavia4
SCAND ST/​HISTORY  431 History of Scandinavia to 18153
SCAND ST/​HISTORY  432 History of Scandinavia Since 18153
SCAND ST 433 4
SCAND ST/​LITTRANS  435 The Sagas of Icelanders in English Translation4
SCAND ST/​FOLKLORE  440 Scandinavian American Folklore3
SCAND ST/​FOLKLORE  443 Sami Culture, Yesterday and Today4
SCAND ST/​MEDIEVAL  444 Kalevala and Finnish Folk-Lore4
SCAND ST/​FOLKLORE/​MEDIEVAL  446 Celtic-Scandinavian Cultural Interrelations3
SCAND ST 496 The Scandinavian Heritage in America3
Possible courses of interest:
FOLKLORE 320 Folklore of Wisconsin3
FOLKLORE 451 The Supernatural in the Modern World3
FOLKLORE 460 Folk Epics3
FOLKLORE/​GEN&WS  467 Women and Politics in Popular Culture and Folklore3
FOLKLORE/​ANTHRO  520 Ethnic Representations in Wisconsin4
FOLKLORE/​COM ARTS  522 Digitally Documenting Everyday Communication3
FOLKLORE/​MUSIC  535 American Folk and Vernacular Music3
FOLKLORE/​ANTHRO/​MUSIC/​THEATRE  539 The Folklore of Festivals and Celebrations3
FOLKLORE 540 Local Culture and Identity in the Upper Midwest3
ART HIST 364 History of American Art: Art, Material Culture, and Constructions of Identity, 1607-present3-4
ART HIST 463 Topics in American Material Culture3-4
ART HIST 601 Introduction to Museum Studies I3
ENGL/​HISTORY/​RELIG ST  360 The Anglo-Saxons3
ENGL/​MEDIEVAL  427 Chaucer's Canterbury Tales3
GEOG 342 Geography of Wisconsin3
GERMAN 650 History of the German Language3
GERMAN/​MEDIEVAL  651 Introduction to Middle High German3
GERMAN/​MEDIEVAL  755 Old Germanic Languages3
HISTORY 359 History of Europe Since 19453-4
HISTORY 408 American Labor History: 1900-Present3-4
HISTORY/​SCAND ST  577 Contemporary Scandinavia: Politics and History3-4
HISTORY 929 Labor and Working Class History in the United States3
LAND ARC 677 Cultural Resource Preservation and Landscape History3
LAND ARC/​ANTHRO/​ART HIST/​DS/​HISTORY  764 Dimensions of Material Culture4
RELIG ST/​FOLKLORE  352 Shamanism3

Graduate School Policies

The Graduate School’s Academic Policies and Procedures provide essential information regarding general university policies. Program authority to set degree policies beyond the minimum required by the Graduate School lies with the degree program faculty. Policies set by the academic degree program can be found below.

Major-Specific Policies

Prior Coursework

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.

UW–Madison Undergraduate

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

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.


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.


In order to encourage progress toward the degree and to determine the status of a student’s program, the department requests an annual activities report from all continuing students to be submitted by the end of January. 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. Students are expected to consult regularly on their progress with their advisor.


15 credits

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.

grievances and appeals

These resources may be helpful in addressing your concerns:

Students should contact the department chair or program director with questions about grievances.



Graduate School Resources

Take advantage of the Graduate School's professional development resources to build skills, thrive academically, and launch your career. 

  1. Articulates, critiques, or elaborates the theories, research methods, and approaches to inquiry or schools of practice in the field of study.
  2. Identifies sources and assembles evidence pertaining to questions or challenges in the field of study.
  3. Demonstrates understanding of the primary field of study in a historical, social, or global context.
  4. Selects and/or utilizes the most appropriate methodologies and practices.
  5. Evaluates or synthesizes information pertaining to questions or challenges in the field of study.
  6. Communicates clearly in ways appropriate to the field of study.
  7. Possesses an advanced competency in a Nordic language and a serviceable master of an additional research language.
  8. Recognizes and applies principles of ethical and professional conduct.

Faculty: Professors Brantly, DuBois, and Wolf; Associate Professor Krouk; Assistant Professors Andersen, Roos, and Mier-Cruz; Faculty Associate Mellor