The Scandinavian Studies major provides the opportunity to learn the literature, folklore, history, and culture of the Nordic countries in the original languages and in English translation. Partly in cooperation with other departments, we offer courses in Scandinavian language, history, culture, social institutions, gender and women's studies, arts, myths, and folklore. 

Students also may continue graduate studies toward an MA in Scandinavian philology, literature, or area studies, and toward a PhD in Scandinavian literature, philology, or folklore.

The program strongly encourages a junior year abroad in a Nordic country; several exchange programs in Sweden, Norway, Denmark, and elsewhere are available. 

Students may apply to Norden House, a residential language immersion program for UW students studying Norwegian, Danish, or Swedish, housed in Adams Residence Hall. 

Scholars who major in the field are equipped for careers in the countries that are the world leaders in gender equity, societal welfare, and 21st-century business practices, as well as a range of careers including education, law, international trade, translation, civil service, non-profits, the arts, linguistics, literature, environmental sciences, conservation, diplomacy, and more.

How to Get in

Student interested in pursuing an undergraduate major in Scandinavian studies should contact the advisor by email or make an appointment through Starfish.

Students declared in the Scandinavian Studies certificate may not be declared in the Scandinavian Studies major at the same time. Students who do wish to declare this major must first cancel their declaration in the certificate.

University General Education Requirements

All undergraduate students at the University of Wisconsin–Madison are required to fulfill a minimum set of common university general education requirements to ensure that every graduate acquires the essential core of an undergraduate education. This core establishes a foundation for living a productive life, being a citizen of the world, appreciating aesthetic values, and engaging in lifelong learning in a continually changing world. Various schools and colleges will have requirements in addition to the requirements listed below. Consult your advisor for assistance, as needed. For additional information, see the university Undergraduate General Education Requirements section of the Guide.

General Education
  • Breadth—Humanities/Literature/Arts: 6 credits
  • Breadth—Natural Science: 4 to 6 credits, consisting of one 4- or 5-credit course with a laboratory component; or two courses providing a total of 6 credits
  • Breadth—Social Studies: 3 credits
  • Communication Part A Part B *
  • Ethnic Studies *
  • Quantitative Reasoning Part A Part B *

* The mortarboard symbol appears before the title of any course that fulfills one of the Communication Part A or Part B, Ethnic Studies, or Quantitative Reasoning Part A or Part B requirements.

College of Letters & Science Degree Requirements: Bachelor of Arts (BA)

Students pursuing a bachelor of arts degree in the College of Letters & Science must complete all of the requirements below. The College of Letters & Science allows this major to be paired with either a bachelor of arts or a bachelor of science curriculum.

Bachelor of Arts Degree Requirements

Mathematics Complete the University General Education Requirements for Quantitative Reasoning A (QR-A) and Quantitative Reasoning B (QR-B) coursework.
  • Complete the fourth unit of a language other than English; OR
  • Complete the third unit of a language and the second unit of an additional language other than English.
LS Breadth
  • 12 credits of Humanities, which must include 6 credits of literature; and
  • 12 credits of Social Science; and
  • 12 credits of Natural Science, which must include one 3+ credit Biological Science course and one 3+ credit Physical Science course.
Liberal Arts and Science Coursework Complete at least 108 credits.
Depth of Intermediate/Advanced work Complete at least 60 credits at the intermediate or advanced level.
Major Declare and complete at least one major.
Total Credits Complete at least 120 credits.
UW-Madison Experience
  • 30 credits in residence, overall; and
  • 30 credits in residence after the 86th credit.
Quality of Work
  • 2.000 in all coursework at UW–Madison
  • 2.000 in Intermediate/Advanced level coursework at UW–Madison

Non–L&S students pursuing an L&S major

Non–L&S students who have permission from their school/college to pursue an additional major within L&S only need to fulfill the major requirements. They do not need to complete the L&S Degree Requirements above.

Requirements for the Major

Language (complete one):3-4
Readings in Norwegian Literature
Readings in Swedish Literature
Readings in Danish Literature
Literature Culture (complete one course from each area):18
Language, Culture, and History (complete at least one course):
The World of Sagas
Introduction to Scandinavia
Culture & Community in Scandinavia
The Scandinavian Heritage in America
Nordic Mythology
The Nordic Storyteller
The Second World War in Nordic Culture
Contemporary Scandinavian Languages
Languages of Northern Europe
Introductory Old Norse
Intermediate Old Norse
Survey of Old Norse-Icelandic Literature
Introduction to Scandinavian Linguistics
Areas in Scandinavian Literature
History of the Scandinavian Languages II: Standard Languages
The Vikings
History of Scandinavia to 1815
History of Scandinavia Since 1815
The Sagas of Icelanders in English Translation
Sexual Politics in Scandinavia
Scandinavian American Folklore
Nordic Filmmakers
Sami Culture, Yesterday and Today
Kalevala and Finnish Folk-Lore
Celtic-Scandinavian Cultural Interrelations
Scandinavian Life and Civilization II
The Scandinavian Heritage in America
Topics in Scandinavian Linguistics
Paleography and Philology - Old Norse
Contemporary Scandinavia: Politics and History
Fundamentals of Bibliography and Research
Modern Scandinavian Literature (complete at least one course):
The Nordic Child
Masterpieces of Scandinavian Literature: From the Middle Ages to 1900
Masterpieces of Scandinavian Literature: the Twentieth Century
Scandinavian Children's Literature
Advanced Topics in Nordic Studies (1 Norwegian-American Folksong)
Advanced Topics in Nordic Studies (2 Finnish-American Folksong)
Advanced Topics in Nordic Studies (4 Hagiography in the North)
The Drama of Henrik Ibsen
The Drama of August Strindberg
Nineteenth-Century Scandinavian Fiction
Kierkegaard and Scandinavian Literature
Contemporary Scandinavian Literature
Memory and Literature from Proust to Knausgard
The Art of Isak Dinesen/Karen Blixen
Topics in Scandinavian Literature
Scandinavian Decadence in its European Context
The Writings of Hans Christian Andersen for Scandinavian Majors
Special Topics
Survey of Scandinavian Literature: 1500-1800
Survey of Scandinavian Literature: 1800-1890
In Translation: Masterpieces of Scandinavian Literature-the 20th Century
In Translation: The Tales of Hans Christian Andersen
Total Credits21

Residence and Quality of Work

  • 2.000 GPA in all SCAND ST and all major courses
  • 2.000 GPA on at least 15 credits of upper-level work in the major1
  • 15 credits in SCAND ST, taken on campus

SCAND ST/​LITTRANS  320 to SCAND ST 699 are considered upper level in the major.

Honors in the Major

Students may declare Honors in the Major in consultation with the Scandinavian Studies advisor(s).

Honors in the Major Requirements

To earn Honors in the Major, students must satisfy both the requirements for the major (above) and the following additional requirements:

  • Earn a 3.300 University GPA
  • Earn a 3.300 in all SCAND ST and all major courses
  • Complete at least 8 Honors credits from courses numbered  SCAND ST 373 and higher
  • Complete either SCAND ST 634 or SCAND ST 635 with a grade of B or better
  • Complete a two-semester Senior Honors Thesis in SCAND ST 681 and SCAND ST 682, for a total of 6 credits.  

University Degree Requirements 

Total Degree To receive a bachelor's degree from UW–Madison, students must earn a minimum of 120 degree credits. The requirements for some programs may exceed 120 degree credits. Students should consult with their college or department advisor for information on specific credit requirements.
Residency Degree candidates are required to earn a minimum of 30 credits in residence at UW–Madison. "In residence" means on the UW–Madison campus with an undergraduate degree classification. “In residence” credit also includes UW–Madison courses offered in distance or online formats and credits earned in UW–Madison Study Abroad/Study Away programs.
Quality of Work Undergraduate students must maintain the minimum grade point average specified by the school, college, or academic program to remain in good academic standing. Students whose academic performance drops below these minimum thresholds will be placed on academic probation.

Learning Outcomes

  1. Develop speaking, listening, writing, and reading skills and integrate these skills to communicate in the target language (Danish, Norwegian, Swedish) including familiarity with the other two in a variety of social situations.
  2. Recognize shifting geographic, cultural, ethnic/racial, and/or language factors in the Nordic region over time.
  3. Demonstrate an understanding of major scholarly approaches, concepts and current research findings concerning the Nordic region.
  4. Synthesize information, engage in discussion and research, and argue persuasively about key topics in the Nordic region.
  5. Identify and analyze literary texts, films, and other cultural products, using both primary and secondary sources, used in the study of the Nordic region.
  6. Integrate learned ideas and perspectives with broader social, cultural, and/or environmental contexts.

Four-Year Plan

This Four-Year Plan is only one way a student may complete an L&S degree with this major. Many factors can affect student degree planning, including placement scores, credit for transferred courses, credits earned by examination, and individual scholarly interests. In addition, many students have commitments (e.g., athletics, honors, research, student organizations, study abroad, work and volunteer experiences) that necessitate they adjust their plans accordingly. Informed students engage in their own unique Wisconsin Experience by consulting their academic advisors, Guide, DARS, and Course Search & Enroll for assistance making and adjusting their plan.

SCAND ST 101, 111, or 1214SCAND ST 102, 112, or 1224
SCAND ST 4764SCAND ST/​FOLKLORE  443 (meets Ethnic Studies requirement)4
Scandinavian Studies FIG Course4Social Science Breadth4
Communication A3Quantitative Reasoning A3-4
 15 15
SCAND ST 201, 211, or 2214SCAND ST 202, 212, or 2224
SCAND ST 475 (enroll in Communication B section)4GNS/​FOLKLORE  2003
Biological Science Breadth3Physical Science Breadth3
INTER-LS 2101Science Breadth3
 15 16
SCAND ST 251, 261, or 2713-4Study Abroad in Denmark, Iceland, Norway, or Sweden1
Quantitative Reasoning B 3-4Social Science Breadth8
Science Breadth3Electives8
 14 16
Elective in Major: Choose any in Language, Culture, and History4SCAND ST 4013
Elective in Major: Choose any in Modern Scandinavian Literature 4Electives12
 14 15
Total Credits 120

 Transfer credit will vary based on courses completed while abroad.

Advising and Careers

For advising and placement, please contact our undergraduate advisor:

Joanna Schuth, Undergraduate Advisor
836 Van Hise Hall
Make an appointment through Starfish

Students who transfer to UW after a year abroad should contact the undergraduate advisor as early as possible to schedule a placement test.

Note:  SCAND ST 302 Intensive Finnish II satisfies the third semester of the Finnish language sequence for the purpose of meeting the College of Letters & Science foreign language requirement.

Majors should see the advisor during the semester before their last semester. Prospective majors are urged to consult the undergraduate advisor about their program at the first possible opportunity.

For additional career advising, please contact:

Lydia Odegard
Language Directions Specialist
Language Institute

L&S Career Resources

Every L&S major opens a world of possibilities.  SuccessWorks at the College of Letters & Science helps students turn the academic skills learned in their major, certificates, and other coursework into fulfilling lives after graduation, whether that means jobs, public service, graduate school or other career pursuits.

In addition to providing basic support like resume reviews and interview practice, SuccessWorks offers ways to explore interests and build career skills from their very first semester/term at UW all the way through graduation and beyond.

Students can explore careers in one-on-one advising, try out different career paths, complete internships, prepare for the job search and/or graduate school applications, and connect with supportive alumni and even employers in the fields that inspire them.



Kirsten Wolf*
Susan Brantly
Thomas DuBois
Dean Krouk

Assistant Professors

Claus Andersen
Benjamin Mier-Cruz
Liina-Ly Roos

Teaching Faculty

B. Marcus Cederström
Scott A. Mellor


Ida Moen Johnson
Helen Durst

Associate Lecturers

Todd Michelson-Ambelang

* unit head