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Harvard Viking Studies Summer Program, Denmark

Publish Date: Sep 28, 2015

Deadline: Jan 28, 2016

“The Vikings conquer all in their path and nothing resists them.” So wrote a Frankish chronicler about the northern pirates whose collective name has come to represent the European ninth, tenth, and eleventh centuries. This Viking studies program in Scandinavia offers the opportunity for you to explore the rich archaeological, cultural, and literary heritage of northern Europe in the early Middle Ages.

Itself founded during the Viking Age, the lovely Danish city of Århus and its modern university are our principal hosts. From this charming seaside location, we visit significant sites and collections throughout northern Europe and participate in an archaeological dig connected with the Viking Age site on Samsø. Specialists in many different aspects of Viking culture lecture and guide classes.

The Viking studies program is ideal if you:

  • Are interested in heroic literature, Norse mythology, medieval history, and archaeology
  • Are eager to explore the relationship between history and national myths
  • Want to engage in archaeological fieldwork
  • Want to experience cultural life in Northern Europe

Watch a video featuring Andres Dobat discussing the fieldwork he and his students conduct in Scandinavia.

Professor Mitchell manages a website for the Scandinavia program where you can learn more about this study abroad experience.

USA Today listed the Scandinavia program as one of the seven most unique studies abroad programs students can attend.

Course of study

You take both of the following courses.

ANTH S-1095 Study Abroad in Scandinavia: Viking Studies—History and Archaeology (31953)

Stephen A. Mitchell
Peter H. Mikkelsen
Lise Frost
(4 credits: UN, GR) Limited enrollment.

This course introduces the material legacy of the Vikings, whose dramatic expansion circa 750–1100 transformed not only their own society but also much of the entire northern world. Through lectures, visits to museum collections and archaeological sites, and participation in an archaeological dig for three weeks, students encounter the richness of the Viking heritage.

SCAN S-150 Study Abroad in Scandinavia: Viking Studies—Lore and Literature (32407)

Stephen A. Mitchell
Pernille Hermann
(4 credits: UN, GR) Limited enrollment.

This course considers the narrative legacy of the Viking era. Through close readings and discussions of Eddic poems and other materials, we examine religious life and the medieval view of the Viking Age, especially as reflected in the Icelandic sagas, which present their heroes as warriors, kings, poets, outlaws, and adventurers. In addition to considering the construction of a heroic ideal, we explore how the descendants of the Vikings used the past.

Prerequisite: none.

Course credit

See Study Abroad Credit Information.


Stephen A. Mitchell, PhD, Professor of Scandinavian and Folklore, Harvard University
Peter H. Mikkelsen, PhD, Head of the Department of Conservation and Natural Sciences, Moesgaard Museum
Lise Frost, PhD, Archaeologist and Curator, Moesgaard Museum
Pernille Hermann, PhD, Associate Professor, Scandinavian Department, Aarhus University

For extended biographies of the faculty, see the Viking Studies in Scandinavia website.


Before applying, review the Admission and Policies and FAQs pages.

You must be at least 18 years old and have completed at least one year of college or be a first-year student in good academic standing to apply.

The application materials, outlined below, are due January 28, 2016:

  • A completed online application (available in early December) that includes:
    • A $50 nonrefundable application fee
    • A statement of interest in the program, including information on relevant coursework and travel experience abroad (previous travel is not a prerequisite)
    • Transcripts (student record accepted for Harvard students)

Program directors may ask for interviews.

You will be notified of admissions decisions by mid-February.


There is a nonrefundable $50 application fee. The program cost includes the following:

  • Tuition
  • Room
  • Opening banquet and final banquet
  • Excursions (including meals when appropriate)

In addition to the program fee, you are responsible for:

  • A health insurance fee (waived if you have US insurance that provides coverage outside the United States)
  • Transportation to and from Denmark
  • Most meals
  • The cost of passports and visas (if the latter is needed)
  • Any immunizations

How to pay and funding options

See Payment and Funding for payment deadlines and more information, including funding options for Harvard College students.


You stay in student housing in Åarhus and in youth hostels and hotels on excursions.

Physical activity

Archaeological fieldwork is physically intense and often rigorous. You work in the field, excavating under the sun and climbing among excavation units. Since some of the most interesting, little explored, and pristine sites are remote, traveling there requires hiking. No special training is required, but a reasonable level of fitness is advisable. However, a lighter schedule can be arranged for those with physical challenges.

Additional information

Contact Stephen Mitchell, samitch@fas.harvard.edu.

Watch this video where Andres Dobat discusses the fieldwork they conduct in Scandinavia.

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