The Scandinavian studies program provides the opportunity to learn a Scandinavian language or Finnish (modern Icelandic only occasionally). The literature, folklore, and culture of the Nordic countries are taught both in the original languages and in English translation. Partly in cooperation with other departments, courses in Scandinavian area studies are offered (history, social institutions, geography, art, archaeology). Students who major in the field may continue graduate studies toward an M.A. in Scandinavian philology, literature, or area studies, and toward a Ph.D. in Scandinavian literature, philology, or folklore.

The program strongly encourages a junior-year abroad in a Nordic country; several exchange programs are available. Students who transfer to this university after a year abroad should contact the undergraduate advisor as early as possible to schedule a placement test.

Note: SCAND ST 301 Intensive Finnish I and SCAND ST 302 Intensive Finnish II each count as 2 units of foreign language 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.

Student interested in pursuing an undergraduate major in Scandinavian studies should contact the advisor about declaring the major.


Nete Schmidt
1368 Van Hise

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 Breadth and Degree Requirements: Bachelor of Arts (B.A.)

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. View a comparison of the degree requirements here.

Bachelor of Arts degree requirements

Mathematics Fulfilled with completion of University General Education requirements Quantitative Reasoning a (QR A) and Quantitative Reasoning b (QR B) coursework. Please note that some majors may require students to complete additional math coursework beyond the B.A. mathematics requirement.
Foreign Language
  • Complete the fourth unit of a foreign language; OR
  • Complete the third unit of a foreign language and the second unit of an additional foreign language

Note: A unit is one year of high school work or one semester/term of college work.
L&S Breadth
  • Humanities, 12 credits: 6 of the 12 credits must be in literature
  • Social Sciences, 12 credits
  • Natural Sciences, 12 credits: must include one 3+ credit course in the biological sciences; must include one 3+ credit course in the physical sciences
Liberal Arts and Science Coursework 108 credits
Depth of Intermediate/Advanced work 60 intermediate or advanced credits
Major Declare and complete at least one (1) major
Total Credits 120 credits
UW-Madison Experience 30 credits in residence, overall
30 credits in residence after the 90th credit
Minimum GPAs 2.000 in all coursework at UW–Madison
2.000 in intermediate/advanced 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 and do not need to complete the L&S breadth and degree requirements above.  Please note that the following special degree programs are not considered majors so are not available to non–L&S degree-seeking candidates:  

  • Applied Mathematics, Engineering and Physics (Bachelor of Science–Applied Mathematics, Engineering and Physics)
  • Journalism (Bachelor of Arts–Journalism; Bachelor of Science–Journalism)
  • Music (Bachelor of Music)
  • Social Work (Bachelor of Social Work)

Requirements for the Major


1 course from
Readings in Norwegian Literature
Readings in Swedish Literature
Readings in Danish Literature

literature & culture

18 credits and at least one course from each area

Language, Culture and History

Contemporary Scandinavian Languages
Old Norse
Old Norse
Survey of Old Norse-Icelandic Literature
Introduction to Scandinavian Linguistics
Areas in Scandinavian Literature
History of the Scandinavian Languages I: Proto- to Common Scandinavian
History of the Scandinavian Languages II: Standard Languages
Mythology of Scandinavia
The Vikings
History of Scandinavia to 1815
History of Scandinavia Since 1815
The Scandinavian Tale and Ballad
The Icelandic Sagas
Scandinavian American Folklore
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


Masterpieces of Scandinavian Literature: From the Middle Ages to 1900
Masterpieces of Scandinavian Literature: the Twentieth Century
Scandinavian Children's Literature
The Woman in Scandinavian 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
Knut Hamsun and the 20th Century Norwegian Novel
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

Residence and Quality of Work

2.000 GPA in all SCAND ST and 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

Honors in the Major

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

Honors in the Scandinavian Studies Major: Requirements

To earn Honors in the Major in Scandinavian Studies, 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 major courses
  • 8 Honors credits numbered  SCAND ST 373 and higher
  • 1 Survey of Scandinavian Literature course with a grade of B or better, from:​
Survey of Scandinavian Literature: 1500-1800
Survey of Scandinavian Literature: 1800-1890

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.

1. Reach Intermediate-High / Advanced-Low language proficiency in speaking, reading, and writing, according to ACTFL guidelines, through five semesters of a Nordic language.

2. Familiarize the students with three Nordic languages (Danish, Norwegian, and Swedish) to complement their knowledge of their chosen language via the 6th semester Scandinavian Language class (SCAND ST 401).

3. Demonstrate understanding in a global context in a field of study covering literature, history, area studies, folklore, or philology classes.

4. Select and utilize the most appropriate methods of study and inquiry within the content of the classes taken.

5. Evaluate and respond to information pertaining to the classes taken, showing clear analytical and critical thinking skills.

6. Communicate clearly in appropriate ways in the classes taken.

7. If possible, benefit from a semester or year’s study abroad leading to a consolidation and enhancement of the above mentioned skills.

8. Recognize and apply principles of ethical and professional conduct.

For advising and placement in Scandinavian studies contact our undergraduate advisor:

Nete Schmidt, Scandinavian Studies Undergraduate Advisor
1368 Van Hise

For other undergraduate concerns, please contact our undergraduate coordinator:

Bridget Sutton, Undergraduate Coordinator
1306 Van Hise

For additional career advising, please contact:

SuccessWorks at the College of Letters & Science
711 State Street, Suite 300
Madison, WI 53703

L&S career resources

SuccessWorks at the College of Letters & Science helps students leverage the academic skills learned in their major, certificates, and liberal arts degree; explore and try out different career paths; participate in internships; prepare for the job search and/or graduate school applications; and network with professionals in the field (alumni and employers).

SuccessWorks can also assist students in career advising, résumé and cover letter writing, networking opportunities, and interview skills, as well as course offerings for undergraduates to begin their career exploration early in their undergraduate career. 

Professors Susan Brantly, Thomas DuBois, Kirsten Wolf

Assistant Professors Dean Krouk, Claus Andersen

Faculty Associates Scott A. Mellor, Nete Schmidt

Senior Lecturer Peggy Hager

Associate Lecturer Todd Michelson-Ambelang