Scandinavian Languages and Literatures

University of California, Berkeley

About the Program

The graduate program in Scandinavian is designed for future scholars and teachers in the fields of Scandinavian language, literature, and cultural history. The department's strengths lie in the areas of the modern literatures and film (Danish, Norwegian, and Swedish), in Old Norse and medieval studies, and in intellectual and cultural history. The department is willing to consider applications from students with special interests in areas such as Scandinavian film, art, and history, as long as literary studies remains a major point of comparison. Prospective applicants interested in such areas may consult the graduate adviser or other faculty members and should detail their interests when applying for admission in their statement of purpose.

Visit Department Website


Admission to the University

Minimum Requirements for Admission

The following minimum requirements apply to all graduate programs and will be verified by the Graduate Division:

  1. A bachelor’s degree or recognized equivalent from an accredited institution;
  2. A grade point average of B or better (3.0);
  3. If the applicant has completed a basic degree from a country or political entity (e.g., Quebec) where English is not the official language, adequate proficiency in English to do graduate work, as evidenced by a TOEFL score of at least 90 on the iBT test, 570 on the paper-and-pencil test, or an IELTS Band score of at least 7 on a 9-point scale (note that individual programs may set higher levels for any of these); and
  4. Sufficient undergraduate training to do graduate work in the given field.

Applicants Who Already Hold a Graduate Degree

The Graduate Council views academic degrees not as vocational training certificates, but as evidence of broad training in research methods, independent study, and articulation of learning. Therefore, applicants who already have academic graduate degrees should be able to pursue new subject matter at an advanced level without the need to enroll in a related or similar graduate program.

Programs may consider students for an additional academic master’s or professional master’s degree only if the additional degree is in a distinctly different field.

Applicants admitted to a doctoral program that requires a master’s degree to be earned at Berkeley as a prerequisite (even though the applicant already has a master’s degree from another institution in the same or a closely allied field of study) will be permitted to undertake the second master’s degree, despite the overlap in field.

The Graduate Division will admit students for a second doctoral degree only if they meet the following guidelines:

  1. Applicants with doctoral degrees may be admitted for an additional doctoral degree only if that degree program is in a general area of knowledge distinctly different from the field in which they earned their original degree. For example, a physics PhD could be admitted to a doctoral degree program in music or history; however, a student with a doctoral degree in mathematics would not be permitted to add a PhD in statistics.
  2. Applicants who hold the PhD degree may be admitted to a professional doctorate or professional master’s degree program if there is no duplication of training involved.

Applicants may apply only to one single degree program or one concurrent degree program per admission cycle.

Required Documents for Applications

  1. Transcripts: Applicants may upload unofficial transcripts with your application for the departmental initial review. Unofficial transcripts must contain specific information including the name of the applicant, name of the school, all courses, grades, units, & degree conferral (if applicable). 
  2. Letters of recommendation: Applicants may request online letters of recommendation through the online application system. Hard copies of recommendation letters must be sent directly to the program, by the recommender, not the Graduate Admissions.
  3. Evidence of English language proficiency: All applicants who have completed a basic degree from a country or political entity in which the official language is not English are required to submit official evidence of English language proficiency. This applies to institutions from Bangladesh, Burma, Nepal, India, Pakistan, Latin America, the Middle East, the People’s Republic of China, Taiwan, Japan, Korea, Southeast Asia, most European countries, and Quebec (Canada). However, applicants who, at the time of application, have already completed at least one year of full-time academic course work with grades of B or better at a US university may submit an official transcript from the US university to fulfill this requirement. The following courses will not fulfill this requirement:

    • courses in English as a Second Language,

    • courses conducted in a language other than English,

    • courses that will be completed after the application is submitted, and

    • courses of a non-academic nature.

Applicants who have previously applied to Berkeley must also submit new test scores that meet the current minimum requirement from one of the standardized tests. Official TOEFL score reports must be sent directly from Educational Test Services (ETS). The institution code for Berkeley is 4833 for Graduate Organizations. Official IELTS score reports must be sent electronically from the testing center to University of California, Berkeley, Graduate Division, Sproul Hall, Rm 318 MC 5900, Berkeley, CA 94720. TOEFL and IELTS score reports are only valid for two years prior to beginning the graduate program at UC Berkeley. Note: score reports can not expire before the month of June.


Where to Apply

Visit the Berkeley Graduate Division application page

Admission to the Program

The department offers an integrated MA/PhD program, in which the MA constitutes the first phase in a trajectory leading to the PhD. Applications are not accepted for the MA degree only. We accept applications from students holding a bachelor’s degree from Berkeley or elsewhere, and from those who hold a master’s degree. The best preparation for those with a limited background in Scandinavian Studies is acquisition of at least one Scandinavian modern language, familiarity with classic Scandinavian literature, and literature theory.

Doctoral Degree Requirements

Normative Time Requirements

Total Normative Time

Total normative time is six years.


Courses Required
SCANDIN 201A/201BOld Norse4
SCANDIN 215Literary and Cultural Theory4
SCANDIN Courses per specialized study list for major and minor concentrations
SCANDIN 300AMethods of Teaching Scandinavian Languages3
SCANDIN 300BTeaching Practicum1
SCANDIN 301Scandinavian Teaching Methods3
Select one of the following:2
Introduction to Theories and Practices of Teaching College Composition [2]
Methods of Teaching Literature and English Composition-Comparative Literature [2]
Teaching Rhetoric [2]
Other suitable preparation for Reading & Composition courses


Literature and Culture:




DANISH 1ABeginning Danish4
DANISH 1BBeginning Danish4
SCANDIN 100AIntermediate Nordic Languages (section 103, intermediate Danish)4
SCANDIN 100BIntermediate Nordic Languages (section 103, advanced Danish)4


FINNISH 1ABeginning Finnish4
FINNISH 1BBeginning Finnish4
FINNISH 102AIntermediate Finnish4
FINNISH 102BIntermediate Finnish4


ICELAND 1ABeginning Icelandic I4
ICELAND 1BBeginning Icelandic II4

Old Norse

SCANDIN 201AOld Norse4
SCANDIN 201BNorse Literature4


NORWEGN 1ABeginning Norwegian4
NORWEGN 1BBeginning Norwegian4
SCANDIN 100AIntermediate Nordic Languages (section 102, intermediate)4
SCANDIN 100BIntermediate Nordic Languages (section 102, advanced)4


SWEDISH 1ABeginning Swedish4
SWEDISH 1BBeginning Swedish4
SCANDIN 100AIntermediate Nordic Languages (section 101, intermediate)4
SCANDIN 100BIntermediate Nordic Languages (section 101, advanced)4

Faculty and Instructors


Kate Heslop, Associate Professor. Medieval Studies, Old Norse literature, Viking and medieval Scandinavia.
Research Profile

Linda H. Rugg, Professor. Scandinavian, Swedish literature and culture 1870 to the present, August Strindberg, Ingmar Bergman, visual autobiography, literature and the visual arts, ecology and culture, film, whiteness studies.
Research Profile

Mark Sandberg, Professor. Silent film, late nineteenth-century visual culture, theater history, comedy, Scandinavian design, serial television, film historiography, Scandinavian film history, Henrik Ibsen, Norwegian literature, Nordic literary history.
Research Profile

Timothy Tangherlini, Professor, Scandinavian Studies. History of folklore, legend/rumor, conspiracy theory, computational folkloristics, cultural analytics, archival and fieldwork methods, Korean studies, nationalism, critical geography.
Research Profile

Jonas Wellendorf, Associate Professor. Old Norse language and literature, Scandinavian mythology, Scandinavian cultural history (Viking Age and Middle ages).
Research Profile


Karen Moller, Senior Lecturer.

Lotta Weckstrom, Continuing Lecturer.

Emeritus Faculty

Carol J. Clover, Professor Emeritus. Medieval studies (Northern Europe), film (especially American) .
Research Profile

James L. Larson, Professor Emeritus.

John Lindow, Professor Emeritus. Old Norse-Icelandic literature, Scandinavian folklore, Finno-Ugric folklore, Pre-Christian religion of the North, Scandinavian mythology.
Research Profile

Borge G. Madsen, Professor Emeritus.

Gregory Nybo, Professor Emeritus.

Karin L. Sanders, Professor Emeritus. Danish literature, 19th and 20th Century Scandinavian literature, literary history, gender and literature, word and image, archaeology in literature and visual art, death and the arts.
Research Profile

Contact Information

Department of Scandinavian

6303 Dwinelle Hall

Phone: 510-642-2979

Visit Department Website

Department Chair

Jonas Wellendorf

6409 Dwinelle Hall

Head Graduate Advisor

Kate Heslop

6411 Dwinelle Hall

Graduate Student Services Advisor

Seth Arnopole

6313 Dwinelle Hall

Phone: 510-642-9051

Back to Top