Northern Lights

The Department of Scandinavian Studies researches and teaches about eight countries with different but related languages and cultures. Faculty expertise stretches from the Vikings to the Nobel Peace Prize, from Henrik Ibsen to Karen Blixen to Scandinavian poetry, from the Baltic Singing Revolution to Nordic Noir. Scandinavian Studies offers opportunities to look at the world from a variety of perspectives, and to understand how small nations have played global roles.



  • The Department of Scandinavian Studies was established by an act of the Washington State Legislature in 1909.
  • The Department has the largest undergraduate Scandinavian Studies program in the U.S.
  • The Department’s Baltic Studies program is the only such program in the U.S. and celebrated its 25th anniversary in 2019.
  • The Department’s Finnish Program celebrated its 30th anniversary in 2020.
  • An endowed professorship has been established in Baltic Studies and endowed chairs have been established in Norwegian and Swedish Studies.


Undergraduate majors


Students can earn a BA with a major in Danish, Finnish, Norwegian, and Swedish or Scandinavian Area Studies. Graduate students can earn an MA degree in Scandinavian Languages and Literature or Scandinavian Area Studies. A PhD is available with an emphasis in languages and literature. The Baltic Studies program offers courses in the languages and cultures of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania. Average class sizes within the department are relatively small and students have easy access to the faculty.

Study abroad programs are offered in the Scandinavian and Baltic countries for full-year, one-quarter, or September-only terms. Special study abroad courses are also occasionally offered.

Graduates from the department have gone on to successful careers in a wide range of occupations, including teaching, government service, business, and industry. Information about past alumni can be found at

Most recently, graduates have found extensive opportunities in the field of information technology with the numerous software and internet companies in the Puget Sound region.

Faculty and students smiling and raising hands at a gathering.
A Department of Scandinavian Studies "Meet and Greet" event in Autumn 2023.


Autumn 2023

  • 27 Undergraduate majors
  • 35 Undergraduate minors
  • 3 Master of Arts students
  • 8 PhD students

Degrees Awarded

2022 - 2023

  • 11 Bachelor of Arts degrees
  • 1 Doctor of Philosophy degrees
  • 22 Departmental minors

Major Student Awards

since 2015

  • American-Scandinavian Foundation Dissertation Fellowship
  • Kielland-Løvdal Fellowship
  • Phi Beta Kappa
  • Dean’s Medal in the Humanities
  • Alvord Fellowship in the Humanities
  • Fritz Fellowship in the Humanities
  • Nadia Christensen Scholar in Nordic Studies
  • Joff Hanauer Fellowship
  • Fulbright Fellowship
  • Jody Deering Nyquist Award
  • SASS Aurora Borealis Prize
  • American Association of University Women


Department of Scandinavian Studies faculty, most in caps and gowns, flanking the UW Husky dog, Dubs, with a department banner behind them.
Department faculty posing with Dubs, the UW's official live mascot. 

Autumn 2023

  • 2 Professors
  • 2 Associate Professors
  • 1 Associate Teaching Professor
  • 2 Assistant Teaching Professors
  • 1 Lecturer
  • 1 Lecturer Part-time
  • 3 Visiting Lecturers
  • 7 Emeritus Professors

Faculty awards and leadership roles include:

  • 5 American-Scandinavian Foundation Grants
  • 1 Knight of the Royal Norwegian Order of Merit
  • 1 Knight of the Order of the Lion of Finland
  • 1 Knight of the Order of Merit to Lithuania
  • 3 Presidents of the Society for the Advancement of Scandinavian Study
  • 1 Swedish Collegium for Advanced Studies Fellow
  • 1 University of Helsinki Collegium for Advanced Studies Fellow


Faculty research includes the comprehensive study of Scandinavian and Baltic literature, history, politics, and culture. Current research projects include rhetoric and critical theory in Norwegian literature, perception of Vikings in history, the plays of August Strindberg, the roles of small states in international relations, globalization and identity construction in Finland, and Baltic folklore, song, and identity.

Strong interdisciplinary ties with other departments include Cinema & Media Studies; History; Political Science; Gender, Women & Sexuality Studies; Sociology; Drama; Architecture; and the Jackson School of International Studies.

Areas of Scholarship

  • Scandinavian Literature and Culture
  • Scandinavian and Baltic Folklore
  • Scandinavian Politics
  • Scandinavian History
  • Scandinavian-American History and Culture
  • Scandinavian Cinema
  • National Identity in Scandinavia
  • Ibsen, Strindberg, Hans Christian Andersen, Blixen
  • Baltic Studies
  • Small States in International Relations
  • Sexuality and Society
  • Globalization


Department faculty serve regularly as facilitators, speakers, and area specialists for community organizations and groups, including ethnic venues throughout the Baltic and Scandinavian communities of the Northwest such as the National Nordic Museum.


Chairs and Professorships

  • Barbro Osher Endowed Professorship of Swedish Studies
  • Georg & Nina Pederson Faculty Fund
  • Kazickas Family Endowed Professorship in Baltic Studies
  • Sverre Arestad Endowed Chair in Norwegian Studies

Department Fellowships & Scholarships

The Department awards meritorious students support from the following funds:

  • Alf Kristian Aulie-Simrad Endowed Fund
  • Synnove Lien Fielding Endowed Fund
  • Nadia Christensen Endowment
  • Ann-Marie & Gunnar Gavel Endowment
  • Leslie Grove Memorial Fund
  • Gertrude Holdal Endowment
  • Kalevala Endowed Fund
  • Bernice Kellogg Endowed Fund
  • Kielland-Løvdal Fellowship
  • Langins Endowed Fund
  • Terje Leiren Endowed Fund
  • Martin & Ruth Metzon Fund
  • John Phillip and Tashia Morgridge Endowed Fund for Scandinavian Studies
  • Scott Nelskog Memorial Fund
  • Paul O. Nielsen Educational Endowment Fund
  • Norwegian American Community Fund
  • Georg & Nina Pedersen Endowed Professorship for Danish Studies
  • Peterson Family Endowed Fund
  • Raisys/Liffick Endowed Fund
  • Scandinavian Exchange Fund
  • Kathe & Ragnar Steene Endowed Fund
  • SWEA Endowment
  • Tetri Endowed Fund
  • Totoraitis/Roberts Endowed Fund
  • Edwin Vickner Endowed Fund
  • Dr. Werner & Mrs. Margit Weingarten Fund


Department of Scandinavian Studies
Box 353420
University of Washington
Seattle, WA 98195
(206) 543-0645


last update: January 2024