Department Ph.D. Guidelines


PhD Degree:

The PhD is awarded upon demonstrating a breadth of knowledge in Scandinavian Studies and an ability to make an original contribution to the field. Upon admission to the program, the student will spend at least three quarters taking approved courses and seminars. The student will then prepare for the General Examinations. When the student has passed these qualifying exams and complied with other requirements for the PhD, then they are “advanced to candidacy.” Successful completion and defense of the dissertation results in the granting of the degree.

Graduate students seeking the PhD degree in Scandinavian languages and literature are considered for admission only after they have obtained an MA degree. The work for the MA degree forms an integral part of the requirements for the PhD degree, and students coming from other institutions are advised to familiarize themselves with the guidelines for the UW Scandinavian Studies MA program.

Graduate School Requirements:

All PhD candidates in Scandinavian Studies must fulfill these graduate school requirements.

Departmental Requirements for the PhD Degree:

1. Required Coursework: The Department requires the student to take forty (40) approved graduate credits in courses and seminars and then to complete 27 credits of 800 (dissertation) credits once advanced to candidacy. At least three (or 15 credits of) SCAND 500-level graduate seminars must be taken after the student has completed the MA degree. Ten (10) of the 40 credits may be SCAND 600 (Independent Study or Research) credits (and five of these credits may be ungraded).
2. Supplementary coursework: PhD students new to the graduate program, who hold MA degrees from other institutions or in other fields, are required to complete SCAND 513 (Methods) as well as SCAND 500 (Old Icelandic). Whenever possible, PhD students are encouraged to earn a graduate certificate (for example, in Cinema Studies; Feminist Theory; or, Textual Studies) in other programs or departments, alongside the PhD degree in Scandinavian Studies in order to enhance their qualifications in the chosen area of emphasis and dissertation research.
3. Language Pedagogy: Most MA and PhD students serve as Academic Student Employees (Pre-Doctoral Instructors). All language instructors are required to enroll in SCAND 595 (TA Workshop) in the Autumn Quarters (until advanced to PhD candidacy). Those students new to language teaching at the UW are also required to take SCAND 518 (Teaching Methodology) in the Autumn quarter. Teacher training and training in language pedagogy are considered important aspects of the graduate degree program in Scandinavian Studies.
4. Advanced Language Proficiency: PhD students are expected to attain and demonstrate an advanced proficiency in their target Nordic language (Danish, Finnish, Icelandic, Norwegian or Swedish). They must be able to teach and conduct research at the superior level as defined by the American Council for the Teaching of Foreign languages (ACTFL) Proficiency Guidelines.
5. Reading languages: Additionally, the PhD student must demonstrate a reading knowledge of two [non-Scandinavian] languages (may not include student’s target language, nor English); this includes the reading language demonstrated at the MA level. The choice of languages is determined in consultation with their supervisory committee and ought to be useful for research purposes in the intended area of specialization. This requirement may be fulfilled by the following means; a short translation exam (with use of a dictionary) administered by a departmental faculty member; completion of one quarter of coursework in the language at the 300-level or above; previously documented advanced coursework or degrees in the language; or, passing a standardized language exam. Completion of a second quarter of Old Icelandic (SCAND 501) fulfils the requirement for one of the reading languages.
6. Supervisory Committee and Reading Lists: The appointment of a committee is initiated by the Graduate Program Coordinator (GPC) after consultation with appropriate Graduate Faculty members in the student’s field and with the student. The GPC recommends members of the supervisory committee to the Dean of The Graduate School by entering this information into MyGradProgram. In order to allow time to identify a suitable Graduate School Representative (GSR), it is suggested that the doctoral supervisory committee be established at least four months prior to the intended date of the General Examination (see Graduate School memo #13 for further information). In close consultation with the established supervisory committee, the student is also responsible for developing the three-part PhD reading list (see below); the 3-part PhD reading list must be approved by the committee at least three months prior to the scheduled date of the General Examination.
7. Dissertation Prospectus: As a prerequisite to Advancement to Candidacy, the student is required to submit a detailed dissertation prospectus (approximately 20 – 25 pages) to the supervisory committee. The prospectus must be accepted by the supervisory committee at least four (4) weeks prior to the General Examination. The prospectus must include: the research question, the proposed critical methodology, and a narrative outline of the intended dissertation as well as a preliminary bibliography.
8. Dissertation field research abroad: PhD students interested in completing PhD dissertation research abroad, while under the direct supervision of their graduate committee chair, may register for Independent Learning Credits (see attached form below) without taking academic leave. Independent Learning Credits allow the PhC student to earn SCAND 800 (dissertation credits) while conducting research in the Nordic countries.
9. Pre-Dissertation Colloquium: Prior to the General Examination (at least 3 weeks prior), the student prepares a ‘”pre-dissertation colloquium” to be presented to faculty, graduate students and others members of the academic community. This colloquium presentation is based on an integral aspect (for example, a sample chapter) of the candidate's dissertation proposal.
10. Professionalization and Publication: The PhD student should demonstrate scholarship in the field by submitting at least one scholarly article to an academic journal in the field. "Scholarly article" would mean an academic paper which has been submitted (although it is not required that the article be published) to a scholarly journal. The student's committee will determine what constitutes a "scholarly article" in each individual case. Additionally, PhD students are encouraged to present their work at academic conferences in the field.

The PhD Degree Reading Lists:

The PhD reading list assumes a background equivalent to the departmental MA core reading list (see under MA requirements) as well as a three-part reading list on which the three written examinations (General Examination) are based. The relevant works from the MA core reading list may be incorporated into the three- part PhD reading list. The student is responsible for developing the three-part PhD reading list, which must be approved by the supervisory committee no later than three months (12 weeks) prior to the date of the General Examination.

A three-part reading list serves as the basis for three six-hour written exams. At least two of the three lists should be directly relevant to the student’s proposed dissertation project. Further, at least two of the three parts of the list should consist of literary, cinematic or cultural texts in the original languages. Each such list might consist of a genre, one or more periods, one or more languages, or a significant area in Nordic literature, folklore, culture or cinema. Baltic literature may be included. One of the three lists usually consists of readings in critical theory, literary criticism, cultural studies and/or appropriate methodologies that are integral the dissertation topic.

The General Examination and the PhD Dissertation:

The General Examination:

The General Examination is in two parts, written and oral, conducted over a two-week period. The three written examinations are six hours each and shall be administered over three separate days. In addition to questions approved by the Supervisory Committee, the General Exam may include questions regarding the reading lists for the three fields identified by the student and the Supervisory Committee. With the approval of the Supervisory Committee, the exams may be taken at a non-departmental site. On each exam day, the student receives the questions as determined by the Supervisory Committee. After six hours, the completed exam must be delivered by the student to the departmental administrator electronically via email. The oral examination, which follows the three written exams, is two hours in length and includes a discussion of the prospectus as well as questions about the written exams and the student’s reading list.

Dissertation and Final Exam:

The PhD dissertation demonstrates a breadth of knowledge in Scandinavian Studies as well as an ability to make an original scholarly contribution to the field. Following the successful completion of the General Exams, the candidate must organize and carry out a PhD dissertation research and writing schedule on a quarterly basis, including regular consultations with their chair and supervisory committee members. Once a final draft of the dissertation has been submitted to and approved by the chair and supervisory committee, the candidate may schedule the Final Exam (dissertation defense). The Final Exam consists of a two-hour oral examination at which all members of the supervisory committee and the GSR are present. The student must be registered (for a minimum number of credits) in the quarter in which the doctoral degree is granted.

Please consult carefully the UW Graduate School’s requirements for the Final Exam; the Graduation Checklist, and the guidelines for Electronic Dissertation Approval.

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Revised 10/2020

Related Forms and Reading Lists