Harvard Summer Program in Scandinavia

In light of the significant and prolonged uncertainty surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic, Harvard Summer School is suspending the operation of our 2021 summer study abroad programs. For further travel resources, please visit the Harvard Global Support Services website and Harvard’s coronavirus website which is frequently updated and contains the latest announcements, guidance and resources. Students interested in related coursework for summer 2021 are encouraged to consider enrolling in a course at Harvard Summer School. Updated Summer course catalog information will be available at the end January 2021.


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. During the program, you examine the sagas and eddas, visit numerous archaeological sites, and participate in a three-week archaeological field school. Specialists in many different aspects of Viking culture lecture and guide classes.

Program Structure

During the program, you examine the sagas and eddas, visit numerous archaeological sites, and participate in a three-week archaeological field school. 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.


ANTH S-1095 and SCAN S-150 count as two semester-long courses (4 credits each) of degree credit.

ANTH S-1095 Study Abroad in Scandinavia: Viking Studies—History and Archaeology (34704)

Stephen A. Mitchell
Peter Jensen
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 (34705)

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. 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.


Each program has unique requirements included in the online application. Beginning your application early is the best way to ensure that you have sufficient time to review and complete the application requirements by the deadline. 

You may apply to no more than two programs; if applying to two programs, you will be asked to rank your two applications in order of preference (first and second choice). Any applications submitted in excess of the maximum of two will be automatically withdrawn. You will be notified of your admissions status in each program by late February. 

A complete online application includes:

  • Basic personal information
  • A statement of interest
  • Your most recent transcript
  • Program-specific requirements (if applicable; may include letters of recommendation, audio or video submissions, etc.)

Interviews may be requested at the discretion of the program.

Harvard College students applying for funding from the Office of Career Services (OCS): Please note that the OCS funding application is separate. OCS funding awards are tied to a specific program, and cannot be transferred to another program.

If you have questions about the application, please contact the Harvard Summer School Study Abroad Office by email at summerabroad@summer.harvard.edu, or by telephone at (617) 998-9602.

Cost & Expenses

The program fee includes:

  • Tuition
  • Accommodations
  • Scheduled program activities
  • Some meals (the program will provide further details)

You will also need to budget for a number of expenses not covered by the program fee. The amounts listed below for these out-of-pocket expenses are approximate, and you may incur additional expenses not noted here. Your actual expenses will depend on a number of factors, including personal spending habits and currency exchange rates. Note that for 2021, expense categories--especially airfare--may be subject to significant fluctuations.

  • International airfare ($1,300 - $1,600)
  • Ground transportation ($150)
  • Meals ($1,400)
  • Personal expenditures, communications, course materials, and miscellaneous ($450)

If you have specific questions about personal budgeting, please contact the program directly.

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

Additional information