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Scandinavian Studies

Why study Scandinavian?

Augustana College offers a major and minor in Scandinavian Studies. The Department of German and Scandinavian includes three full-time faculty members, two of whom are fluent speakers of Swedish and have experience teaching and studying Swedish language and Scandinavian culture and literature.

Founded by Swedish graduates of the Universities of Uppsala and Lund in 1860, Augustana College is the oldest Swedish-American institution of higher learning in the United States. The college honors many Swedish traditions and continues to foster pride and connection to its heritage.

Augustana is one of the very few U.S. colleges and universities to offer a program in Swedish language study, along with Scandinavian literature, film, art, culture and history.

Students of Scandinavian Studies benefit from small, active classes. Whether discussing a work by a Scandinavian author or film director, comparing cultural movements of today and a century ago, or conversing in Swedish, students can learn the language and culture in more depth when they work closely with professors in a small-group setting.

Many students combine their Scandinavian Studies major or minor with another of Augustana's more than 90 majors and academic fields of study. Depending on career goals, popular choices include international business, music, communication studies, English, history, biology and political science.


The Scandinavian Studies department is located in the historic Denkmann Memorial Building, which houses classrooms, offices, and support facilities for most of the college's six language departments.

Sankta Lucia: December 19th, 2006
Students take part in the Sankta Lucia festival, a tradition at Augustana.

Augustana's library resources for Scandinavian Studies are among the finest in the United States, with a Swedish-language collection of approximately 25,000 volumes.

Students may use the resources of the Swenson Swedish Immigration Research Center on campus. The largest and best-equipped institute of its kind in the U.S., the Swenson Center has approximately 12,000 printed volumes, 236 microfilmed Swedish-American newspapers, and the records of more than 2,400 Swedish-American churches. The collection includes extensive material about the communities established by immigrants and the roles they and their descendents have played in American life. The Swenson Center also serves as a major genealogical research facility and promotes Swedish-American academic research.

Outside the classroom

Augustana has benefited from a longstanding exchange program with Uppsala University in Sweden. While spending a semester or academic year in Uppsala, students can earn credits in a wide variety of subjects, and coursework is available in both English and Swedish.

Augustana students have participated in internships at the United States consulate, the Grand and Sheraton hotels, and the Swedish UNESCO office, all located in Stockholm. Other possibilities include internships with Volvo or SAAB, the Peace and Life Foundation, and Skandinaviska enskilda banken.

The Scandinavian Studies program sponsors campus groups such as Kaffebordet (Swedish conversation table) and Scandinavian Club, and stages the annual Sankta Lucia festival with its performances of traditional Swedish Christmas songs. Students also participate in activities with the local American Scandinavian Association, volunteering at the annual Påsk (Easter) celebration with local children and attending other events throughout the year.

What students say

Dani Soerens '11, Scandinavian studies and communication sciences & disorders major: "One thing that is special and unique about the education I've received in Scandinavian Studies is that since Augustana has a Swedish background, we are able to identify with the college's history and certain parts of the campus culture. Also, the professors are very personal and will help you one-on-one with anything you need."

Kate Buckingham '10, Scandinavian studies and history major: "Scandinavian studies at Augustana gave me a wider appreciation for other cultures, and fueled my interest in anthropology... by studying a language and culture not widely examined, new perspective is gained through an anthropology perspective. Besides being a great way to meet people (telling someone you speak Swedish is a definite conversation-starter), Scandinavian studies provided me a great opportunity to experience the world outside the United States."