Harvard Summer Program in Scandinavia

June 4, 2018 to July 31, 2018
Apply by: 
January 25, 2018

Investigate the Viking Age—its legacy, history, and archaeology—throughout Scandinavia. 

“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.

Program Structure

During the program, you examine the sagas and eddas, visit numerous archaeological sites, and participate in a three-week archaeological field school on the island of 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 field work.
  • Want to experience cultural life in Northern Europe.

To learn more, watch a video about the fieldwork conducted in Scandinavia, read a Harvard Gazette article, and visit the Scandinavia program's website.


This program counts as two semester-long courses (4 credits each) of degree credit. You take both of the following courses. 

ANTH S-1095 and SCAN S-150 count as two semester-long courses (4 credits each) of degree credit. When taken together, the courses meet the General Education requirement for either Aesthetic and Interpretive Understanding or Culture and Belief. They also meet the Study of the Past requirement.

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

Stephen A. Mitchell
Peter Jensen
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.

Where You Live and Study

Denmark’s second-largest city, Århus—founded in the Viking Age—and its modern university host this multifaceted exploration of the Vikings.


You stay in student housing while in Åarhus and on Samsø. While on excursions, you stay in youth hostels and hotels.

Physical requirements

Archaeological fieldwork is physically intense and often rigorous. Students 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.

How to Apply

Review How to Apply before submitting your application.

Application materials include: 

  1. A statement of interest in the program
    • ​Include information on relevant coursework and travel experience abroad (previous travel is not a prerequisite)
  2. Transcripts
    • Harvard College applicants: You may submit an unofficial transcript accessed from my.harvard.edu.
    • Non-Harvard applicants: Submit an official transcript from your university.

  3. A $50 nonrefundable application fee

Note: Interviews may be requested.

Applications are now closed.


The program fee includes tuition, accommodation, scheduled excursions and activities, and some meals.

See Payment and Funding for information on how to submit payments and funding options. 

Student budget

Student budget

In addition to the program fee, you will need to budget for a number of personal expenses: 

  • International airfare ($1,300 to $1,600)
  • Local transportation ($120)
  • All meals except opening and closing banquets ($1,300)
  • Course materials ($125)
  • Personal expenditures, laundry, communications, and miscellaneous ($300)

Please note: The amounts are approximate, and you may incur additional expenses not listed here. Your actual expenses will depend on a number of factors, including your personal spending habits and currency exchange rates. If you have specific questions about budgeting, please contact the program directly.

Additional information

Program director

Stephen A. Mitchell


  • Lise Frost, PhD, Archaeologist and Curator, Moesgaard Museum
  • Pernille Hermann, PhD, Associate Professor, Scandinavian Department, Aarhus University
  • Stephen A. Mitchell, PhD, Professor of Scandinavian and Folklore, Harvard University
  • Peter Jensen, MA, Archaeological IT, Moesgaard Museum

Info Session

Monday, January 22
4 pm

Folklore & Mythology Library, Warren House, Barker Center