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 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

Students applying directly for the Ph.D. program should have a related M.A. from this or another program. New Ph.D. students will be expected to acquire competencies equivalent to the M.A. in Scandinavian Studies, and this will be assessed at the time of the preliminary exam.

As in the case of admissions to the M.A. program, 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 51 credits
Minimum Residence Credit Requirement 32 credits
Minimum Graduate Coursework Requirement Half of degree coursework (26 credits out of 51 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.
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.
Assessments and Examinations All Ph.D. tracks require a comprehensive written and oral examination.

All tracks require a dissertation.
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.
Doctoral Minor/Breadth Requirements All doctoral students are required to complete a minor. 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.

Required COURSES 

Each track has specific course requirements to be met.

Literary and Cultural Studies Track1

The following are departmental guidelines for candidates for the PhD degree in literary and cultural studies. Though ultimately everything must be approved by the graduate advisor, these requirements are in addition to the M.A. requirements:
1. A minimum of 21 credits beyond the M.A. degree. If a student enters the PhD program with an MA from another program, then additional classes may be required in order for the candidate to attain a sufficiently broad background in Scandinavian Studies.
2. A Ph.D. minor of 10-12 credits in another field.
Required courses (if not already taken as part of the MA degree – 15-17 credits):
SCAND ST 401 Contemporary Scandinavian Languages3
Select one of the following: (3-4 credits)3-4
Old Norse
Mythology of Scandinavia
The Vikings
The Sagas of Icelanders in English Translation
Select one of the following: (3-4 credits)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
Other 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 4
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:
1. A minimum of 21 credits beyond the M.A. degree, including at least two seminars. In ordinary circumstances, graduate students entering the program with a B.A. will be required to take the M.A. before they can proceed to the Ph.D.
2. A Ph.D. minor of 10-12 credits in another field.
Required courses (if not already taken as part of the MA degree – 18 credits):
Old Norse
and Intermediate Old Norse
SCAND ST 511 Paleography and Philology - Old Norse3
Select one of the following (3 credits):3
History of the Scandinavian Languages II: Standard Languages
Topics in Scandinavian Linguistics
SCAND ST/​MEDIEVAL  409 Survey of Old Norse-Icelandic Literature3
Select a course that includes professional development (3 credits):3
Fundamentals of Bibliography and Research
GNS 700 Graduate Seminar in Professional Development
Total Credits:18

Folklore Track1

The following are departmental guidelines for the Ph.D. in Folklore, though ultimately everything must be approved by the graduate advisor:
1. A minimum of 21 credits beyond the M.A. degree (16 in residence), including at least two seminars. In ordinary circumstances, graduate students entering the program with a B.A. will be required to take the M.A. before they can proceed to the Ph.D. In consultation with their advisors, graduate students should select a suite of courses that provide a detailed knowledge of the folklore of one Nordic culture and a general knowledge of Nordic folklore more generally, as well as a firm command of the folklore of Nordic Americans. Familiarity with the history, institutions and cultural history of the Nordic countries is fundamental to the degree.
2. A Ph.D. Option B minor of 10-12 credits in Folklore, including ONE of the following courses:
FOLKLORE/​L I S  490 Field Methods and the Public Presentation of Folklore3
FOLKLORE 510 Folklore Theory3
One course that includes professional development (3 credits):
SCAND ST 630 Fundamentals of Bibliography and Research3
GNS 700 Graduate Seminar in Professional Development
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 3
SCAND ST/​LITTRANS  435 The Sagas of Icelanders in English Translation3
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 ten years or more prior to admission to a doctoral 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 ten or more years prior to admission to a doctoral 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 at 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 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.

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 research problems, potentials, and limits with respect to theory, knowledge, or practice within the field of study.
  2. Formulates ideas, concepts, and techniques beyond the current boundaries of knowledge within the field of study.
  3. Creates research and scholarship that makes a substantive contribution.
  4. Demonstrates breadth within their learning experiences.
  5. Advances contributions of the field of study to society.
  6. Communicates complex ideas in a clear and understandable manner.
  7. Possesses an advanced competency in a Nordic language and a serviceable mastery of one or more research languages.
  8. Fosters ethical and professional conduct.

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