Academic Requirements

M.A. Requirements

The purpose of the M.A. phase of Berkeley’s Scandinavian graduate program is to provide students with a fundamental knowledge of Scandinavian literary culture over the course of its history, including a substantial introduction to the interdisciplinary field of Scandinavian.

The minimum enrollment requirement for full-time graduate students at Berkeley is 12 units per semester—which is usually three regular (4-unit, 200 series) graduate seminars. In some cases, students may undertake undergraduate coursework in areas of special need or interest, after consultation with the Graduate Adviser.

The M.A. degree requires a minimum of 24 semester units (two full-time semesters) of combined upper-division and graduate courses taken for a letter grade. The department expects the completion of one or two graded research seminar papers per semester, including the department’s course in literary theory, though exceptions are made during exam semesters.

For the Scandinavian M.A., the minimum SIX letter-graded department seminars (24 units)
must include Scandinavian 210, the seminar in literary theory (taught every other year); may include two seminars in Old Norse (required for the Ph.D. and often taken in the first two years); and may include two seminars in modern Scandinavian literature (required for the Ph.D. and often taken in the first two years). The specific courses required for each student will be determined by the Graduate Adviser in consultation with the departmental faculty at the time of enrollment and are based on an evaluation of the student’s prior training in the field of Scandinavian.

The Exam
Students begin preparing a reading list file during the first semester of enrollment in the program, using texts covered in seminars whenever appropriate. The file comprises two sub-lists, covering major and minor fields. Each student’s final major-field list provides broad coverage of periods, genres and authorship within a single-language literary culture. The department has designed template reading lists for M.A. major fields in Old Norse, Danish, Norwegian and Swedish which are included in the program handbook. The minor list is comparative or interdisciplinary, and designed around a special topic of the student’s choice in consultation with the relevant supervising faculty member.

The M.A. exam consists of three written 8-hour take-home exams given within a one-week period; two questions cover the major field and one the minor field. An oral exam of approximately 1 ½ to 2 hours with the examining committee (comprised of three members of the department faculty) follows. Exams are judged on the ability to show comprehensive historical knowledge of literary periods, genres, central authorships as well as ability to connect and conceptualize ideas across historical periods and genre boundaries.

The full description of the M.A. program degree requirements, including explicit policies and procedures are detailed in the Graduate Program Handbook.

Ph.D. Requirements

To enroll in the Ph.D. program in Scandinavian, a Master’s degree in Scandinavian or equivalent preparation is prerequisite. The Ph.D. program expects students to broaden and sharpen previous training, presumes a broad knowledge of Scandinavian literature and culture from the Viking Age through the 20th centuries, and inculcates advanced training in the interdisciplinary field of Scandinavian. The program involves three stages:

  • Teaching and Ph.D. coursework
  • Advancement to Candidacy
  • Dissertation Phase.

The degree is awarded in recognition of a candidate’s comprehensive mastery of a broad field of learning, and for distinguished accomplishment in that field through an original contribution of significant knowledge—the dissertation.

The department’s required coursework normally takes 1.5 to 2 years of full-time (12 units per semester) enrollment. Specific departmental requirements for the Ph.D. include:

  • Two seminars in Old Norse
  • Two seminars in modern Scandinavian Literature
  • Two semesters teaching a Scandinavian language (teaching a Reading and Composition course is also desirable, but not required)
  • Demonstrated competent reading knowledge of two foreign languages beyond the major Scandinavian language (one of which may be another Scandinavian language)
  • Two field papers submitted for faculty approval

When beginning the Ph.D. program, the student will meet with the Graduate Adviser to discuss appropriate coursework and requirements based on previous academic training. All Ph.D. students are required to continue coursework beyond the M.A., but the exact number of units depends upon the nature of the student’s experience. Students develop expertise in three equally weighted fields and prepare for the Qualifying Examination in their areas of specialization. Students who have completed the M.A. in Scandinavian at Berkeley, and have been granted permission to proceed, are required to finish the following requirements if they have not already done so:

  • 201A and 201B, the introductory Old Norse seminars
  • Two elective seminars in modern Scandinavian literature

Additional Ph.D. coursework may include up to two seminars offered in another department. Exceptions may be approved in some cases (e.g. in conjunction with a Designated Emphasis) by the Graduate Adviser. The balance of coursework includes elective courses taken inside the Department chosen in consultation with the Graduate Adviser and major research professor. Students are particularly urged to take courses in theory and method both inside and outside the department.

Students who come with an M.A. in Scandinavian from another program usually complete additional semesters of supplementary coursework in order to broaden their training in Scandinavian literary cultures and correlate with our Master program. The exact courses and number of units are determined by the Graduate Adviser in consultation with other department faculty at the time of enrollment, and depends on previous preparation in the field of Scandinavian. (Examples include the Scandinavian seminar in literary theory, Graduate Division language requirements, etc.)

Field papers
Two faculty-approved field papers are required by the end of the third week of the semester in which the written Ph.D. qualifying exam takes place. This is typically a research paper revised beyond the level of seminar work which represents the student’s best effort and reflects the standards of the discipline.

The Qualifying Examination
The purpose of the Qualifying Exam is to test the student’s mastery over broad areas of knowledge. The exam offers the student an opportunity to synthesize factual information and training in techniques absorbed through instruction and individual research, and to demonstrate readiness to enter the dissertation phase of graduate study by showing evidence of independent critical thought and writing.

During the coursework phase, students compile three reading lists for the Qualifying Exam. The lists are designed using these categories:

  • A diachronic examination of a single language’s literary culture
  • A synchronic comparison of literature spanning at least two language traditions (for modernists), or Old Norse and one other medieval literary tradition (for medievalists)
  • A list designed around a thematic, theoretical, or special-interest field, preferably of relevance to the eventual dissertation topic.

The specific content of the three fields is defined in conjunction with the examining committee and the Graduate Adviser. Lists may repeat items from the major and minor UCB Scandinavian M.A. exam lists, but an item may not be listed on more than one Ph.D. list. The examination is partly based on the reading lists (which represent a minimum of preparation), but also on expected familiarity with other important or representative works.

The four-member examining committee is appointed in consultation with the student and Graduate Adviser, and must include a UCB Senate faculty member from outside the department (this can also be the representative for an official Designated Emphasis). Final approval of the committee is made by the Graduate Division when the student requests permission to take the exam.

Written take-home exams take place over three days—by email—in which the student has 12 hours to prepare, write, and return each of three examination essays. These are completed within a two-week period. Students must pass the written portions of the exam before proceeding to the oral examination. The oral exam takes place within fifteen days of successful completion of the written components and lasts between two and three hours.

The Dissertation
A dissertation is expected to make an original and substantial contribution to the student’s particular field knowledge and specialization. It is a work of connected expository prose presenting the discovery of new information; the combination or synthesis of previously unconnected facts; production of new interpretations of cultural material; application of theory to literary, linguistic, artistic, cultural or historical phenomena; extension of methodology characteristic of a particular discipline into the subject area of some other discipline or disciplines; or some combination of any or all of the above.

The full description of the Ph.D. program degree requirements, including explicit policies and procedures are detailed in the Graduate Program Handbook.