Scandinavian Literature and Languages

Norway, Denmark, Iceland, Finland and Sweden are known collectively as Scandinavia. Find out about career options in Scandinavian literature and languages, including education requirements and average salaries.

Career Overview

Scandinavian literature and language programs are often referred to as Norse studies. In general, formal education programs can provide you with an in-depth introduction to the oral and literary traditions of Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden. They may be offered as stand-alone fields of study, or included as part of a German language program. While learning one or more of the major regional languages, you may also spend time studying the art, music, history and ethnic folklore of Scandinavia.

Career and Salary Information

As a graduate of a Scandinavian literature and languages program, you may be qualified for a career in academia, book publishing, government service or international business. If you become fluent in German or one of the Scandinavian languages, you can also pursue a position as an interpreter or translator. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), opportunities for interpreters and translators are expected to grow by 46% nationwide between 2012 and 2022, or much faster than average in comparison to all other occupations. In May 2013, the median annual salary for interpreters and translators was $42,420.

Completion of a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Scandinavian studies could lead to a career as an educator or a researcher. As reported by the BLS, postsecondary teachers who taught area, ethnic and cultural studies earned a median annual salary of $66,670, as of May 2013. In the same month, postsecondary foreign language and literature teachers earned $58,620. As reported by the BLS, employment of college and university professors in general is projected to increase by a faster-than-average rate of 19% from 2012 to 2022 (

How Can I Work in Scandinavian Literature and Languages?

Undergraduate Programs

Programs in Scandinavian literature and languages are available at both the undergraduate and graduate levels and can include instruction in Danish, Finnish, Norwegian or Swedish. In addition to a major in Scandinavian studies, relevant coursework may be offered as part of a broader German language option, or through a linguistics and literature program. Along with intensive studies in original Scandinavian languages and texts, literary topics might include the Viking sagas, Danish short stories and the fairy tales of Hans Christian Andersen. Interdisciplinary coursework in Baltic cultural studies, film, political science and popular culture may also be part of your degree program.

Graduate Programs

Scandinavian literature and language studies at the graduate level may lead to a Master of Arts (M.A.) or a Ph.D. Requirements for an M.A. can include a comprehensive exam and a thesis. In addition to a dissertation, Ph.D. programs may require proficiency in at least two Scandinavian languages, as well as in-depth studies of Norse history. As a graduate student, you may also have the opportunity to study abroad and immerse yourself in Scandinavian culture and spoken language.

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