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With a variety of courses to choose from and the chance the learn a second language for free studying in Denmark is a smart idea

Located in northern Europe, Denmark has a history of academic excellence. While a growing number of university courses are taught in English, studying in Denmark gives you the perfect opportunity to learn a Scandinavian language.

Living in the country isn’t cheap, especially on a student budget but high-quality public services such as free healthcare and an efficient transport system help to alleviate the financial pinch. Investing in a bike might be a good idea – the Danes love to cycle, which is good for the bank balance and the environment.

Denmark is regularly voted as one of the safest and happiest places to live making it a great choice for international students.

In your study free hours you can visit major cities such as Aarhus, Copenhagen and Aalborg and explore more than 400 islands.

Universities in Denmark

There are four types of higher education institution in Denmark:

  • Universities offer traditional Bachelors, Masters and PhD degrees across a range of subjects, from psychology to zoology. There are eight of these in total, including the University of Copenhagen, which is ranked 81st in the QS World University Rankings 2020.
  • University colleges provide vocational professional courses, in areas such as nursing, engineering and social work. These colleges have strong links with businesses and universities, opening students up to placement and employment opportunities.
  • Artistic higher education institutions are specialist art schools for design, music, architecture and textiles students, among other artistic disciplines.
  • Schools of maritime education and training offer research and practice-focused courses. These schools can be found in Copenhagen, Aarhus, Fredericia and Svendborg.

A full list of these institutions and their locations can be found at Study in Denmark – Higher education institutions.

The academic year runs from September to June, with exams taking place in January and June.

You won’t need to be fluent in Danish, the country’s official language, to study in Denmark – the country offers more than 600 degree programmes taught entirely in English.

Degree courses in Denmark

There are two types of undergraduate qualification in Denmark:

  • Professional Bachelors – studied at university colleges, Professional Bachelors courses take three to four and a half years’ study and are designed to help you enter a particular profession. As part of a Professional Bachelors you’ll attend lectures and seminars and apply the knowledge you gain through placements before submitting a final project.
  • University Bachelors – these three-year courses, focusing on one or two subject areas, give you academic grounding through research-based teaching to enter the labour market or go on to study for a postgraduate qualification.

You’ll submit any undergraduate course applications through, where you can apply for up to eight courses per cycle and list institutions in order of preference. The deadline for applications is 15 March for start dates in the following August or September.

To study for a Bachelors degree you’ll need an entrance examination comparable to a Danish upper secondary school leaving certificate and proof of proficiency in English.

Search for Bachelors courses at Study in Denmark – Find your study programme.

Masters degrees

Danish Masters degrees, otherwise known as Candidatus degrees, take one to two years to complete. Available in a range of subjects, on a Masters programme you’ll submit a dissertation or complete a practical project, as well as attend lectures and seminars.

Unlike with undergraduate courses you’ll apply for a Masters directly to the institution, usually via their website. Individual institutions advertise their own deadlines, although for European Union (EU), European Economic Area (EEA) and Swiss national students these will typically be around March for entry in the autumn. For international students application deadlines can be as early as January.

Entry requirements for a Masters include an internationally recognised Bachelors degree. There may be additional entry requirements for certain subjects – you should check with the institution that offers the course you are interested in before applying.


PhD studies in Denmark involve three years of independent research under expert supervision, where you’ll have access to the latest equipment and information to complete a thesis. Teaching and participation in research networks and placements are other integral parts of Danish PhD programmes.

To be eligible for a PhD you’ll need to hold a qualification equivalent to a Danish Masters degree, including all Masters degrees obtainable in the UK.

Student exchanges

Students attending a UK university who would like to study in Denmark can do so via Erasmus+, the EU’s education, training and youth support programme. Erasmus+ offer study, work experience and voluntary opportunities to more than four million European students, with placements ranging from three months to one academic year in length.

Financial support is available through the Erasmus+ Grant, details of which can be found in the Erasmus+ Programme Guide. You’ll likely still incur charges for insurance or student union membership, but otherwise will be exempt from paying fees at the institution you complete your placement at. Speak to your university for information on how to apply.

Course fees

If you’re from the EU, EEA or Switzerland, or studying in Denmark on an exchange programme, you’re in luck – you won’t incur any fees when studying a Masters.

You’re also exempt from paying for your education if you hold a permanent residence permit, a temporary permit that can be upgraded to a permanent one, or have a parent who is from outside the EU/EEA but works in Denmark.  

All students whose circumstances fall outside these conditions are charged for their tuition. Fees will vary between institutions, but are generally in the region of €6,000- €16,000 (approx. £5,091-£13,577)

It’s worth remembering that, even if you qualify for free tuition, the cost of living in Denmark is higher than what you may be used to. Make sure you’ve budgeted and can cover the costs of food, accommodation and course materials – see Study in Denmark – Bank & Budget for a rough guide of how much living in Denmark will cost.

Funding to study in Denmark

While free tuition isn’t available to all students, there are plenty of funding options available.

For instance, American postgraduate students, at either Masters or PhD level, can apply to receive funding through the Fulbright Commission, which covers the recipient for a year’s tuition fees – between $8,000 and $21,000, depending on the institution.

Highly-qualified exchange students and researchers from other countries around the world may be eligible for funding from the Danish Government Scholarships under the Cultural Agreements. Scholarships are offered for long-term study periods and to cover the costs of summer language courses.

Student visas

If you’re a non-EU/EEA citizen, you’ll need a visa to study in Denmark – check to see if your country appears on the government’s list at New to Denmark. The type of visa depends on the duration of your stay. If you plan to study for less than three months you’ll need to apply for a short-term tourist visa. If you plan to study for more than three months you’ll need to apply for a residence permit before you arrive in the country.

You’ll need to pay the visa fee and will also need:

  • a valid passport and passport photo
  • an acceptance letter from your university
  • proof of English proficiency
  • proof of finances
  • proof of travel and health insurance.

You don’t need a visa to study in Denmark if you’re from an EU/EEA country or Switzerland. However, you’ll need to apply for a residence permit upon your arrival if you’re staying for longer than three months (six if you’re employed).

To apply for this permit you’ll need to take your passport, a passport photo and a letter of admission from your institution to your local state administration (Statsfervaltningen).

How to apply

To apply for a postgraduate programme in Denmark you’ll need to provide evidence of previous education, including copies of your academic transcripts and Bachelor’s certificate, a photocopy of your passport, a CV and proof of your proficiency in the language your course is taught in.  

Apply as early as you can. Check with your institution for their specific application deadlines.

Language requirements

To be accepted onto a higher education course in Denmark you’ll need to prove your proficiency in English, which you can do by passing one of the approved examinations:

Individual institutions specify their own pass rates for these exams. Native English speakers are exempt from test requirements.

If you’d like to study in Danish you’ll likely have to prove your proficiency by passing the Study Test in Danish as a Second Language – visit Studieskolen – Learn Danish for more information.

As an international student enrolled on an English-speaking programme, you’ll have the opportunity to learn Danish for free alongside your studies.

If you are thinking about studying abroad, then it’s time to consider starting your academic journey in Denmark. The Scandanavian state is a shining example of the European values developed over thousands of years, including the protection of civil liberties, individual prosperity, income parity, and democratic governance. Denmark regularly scores highly in all the metrics of national performance, boasting some of the best public services in the world. Most importantly, or at least for you, Denmark places a huge emphasis on its higher education system, making it a top destination for international students. So with all that in mind, here are three reasons why you should study in Denmark.  

It’s one of the happiest countries in the world

Along with its Scandinavian neighbors, Denmark regularly appears at the top of the best places to live in surveys of all of the world’s countries. And while things like high employment levels and a robust economy certainly contribute to Denmark’s success, it’s the overall well-being of its citizens and guests that make it such a great place to live. The Danes are well-educated and economically secure, but, most importantly, they are happy!

In fact, according to the expert from the Happiness Institute, Denmark is the second happiest country in the world – Finland sits on the top spot for now. This year’s annual report into national dopamine levels looked at a vast range of factors including social norms, income disparity, community spirit and other forms of prosocial behaviour, health, education, and many more. There was also a more significant emphasis placed on technology, namely the rising problem of internet and social media addiction. The research found that Danes draw a great sense of personal satisfaction from their shared cultural identity, which has a distinct egalitarian focus. Denmark reports one of the smallest wealth gaps in the world and has excellent public services, including free healthcare and university education for citizens.

The Danes even have a word for their mood-boosting lifestyle. They call it the ‘hygge‘ , and although it’s hard to define, its best described as a mood, feeling, or maybe even a vibe. ‘Hygge’ includes anything from a cozy afternoon in bed watching TV to enjoying a meal with friends or family by the fireplace, and has been described as a deep feeling of comfort and contentment, where one modestly indulges in the finer things and yet always remembers to appreciate the simple pleasures such as sitting down with friends for coffee. In other words, hygge is a mindset. Susanne Nilsson, a Danish lecturer at London’s Morley College, says, “Hygge could be families and friends getting together for a meal, with the lighting dimmed, or it could be time spent on your own reading a good book.” And Meik Wiking, the CEO of the Happiness Research Institute in Copenhagen, says, “[W]hat freedom is to Americans…hygge is to Danes.”

It has one of the best higher education systems in the world

As well as being home to some of the world’s leading universities, Denmark offers students several financial benefits that you won’t find in many other countries. Firstly, university tuition is entirely free for Danish citizens. That means zero upfront costs and no large debts to pay off once they enter the workplace or start earning over a set amount per annum. Secondly, student housing is relatively affordable, as are textbooks and other school supplies.

But things are even better for Danish university students. Not only does the government cover school fees, they actually pay young people to study for a degree. Every Danish student enrolled in third-tier education receives a ‘salary’ of 5,839 Danish Krone ($900) a month under the SU (Statens Uddannelsesstøtte) scheme. There is only one condition attached – students who want to receive the full amount should not be living at home with their parents or primary guardians. That aside, the generous funding is available for six years for any student aged over 18 and is non-repayable — even if the student drops out. There’s also additional funding for the most successful and ambitious students.

And while some people might see the pitfalls of giving young people so much ‘free’ money, Danish students appreciate what this state-sponsored investment really means, and the responsibility that comes with it. Astrid Winther Fischer, a former student at Denmark’s Technical University near Copenhagen, says, “Some Danish think that we spend the money we receive in bars and clubs, but most students understand what is at stake: The scheme’s existence is crucial to enable an excellent education for everybody, no matter how much their parents make.”

In 2006, Denmark extended its funding program to EU and non-EU students, creating a genuinely egalitarian education system that provides every student with an opportunity to reach their full potential. International students must be enrolled in full-time study, and EU students are required to work 10-12 hours a week to receive the full bursary. Non-EU students are eligible if they have worked in Denmark for a continuous period of two years, are married to a Danish citizen, or have lived in the country for five years or more. Both EU and non-EU students can apply for the SU on MinSu website. The application is quite lengthy, and substantial sections are only available in Danish – so you might need some help from google translate or, better yet, one of your new Danish friends…

Denmark is world-leading in tech and sustainable innovation

A small(ish) northern European country with a population of just under six million might not be the first place that comes to mind when you think about the nations leading the world in big tech innovation. However, with its well-educated workforce, significant public and private investment schemes, and a forward-thinking approach to solving the most significant global issues, the Danes are challenging the tech giants in China and Silicon Valley in terms of shaping the future. Denmark is home to pioneers like Per Brinch Hansen, known for his work revolutionary in computer programming, as well Janus Friis, co-creator of Skype, and Google maps founders Jens and Lars Rasmussen.

One of the most exciting areas in today’s Danish tech sector is robotics. The Maersk Mc-Kinney Moller Research Institute, at the University of Southern Denmark, has helped launch hundreds of companies including Universal Robots and OnRobot, two of the major players designing and creating the next generation of smart machines set to revolutionize the manufacturing, healthcare, service, and security industries. This makes Denmark one of the top destinations for engineering, design, and computing students who want to build a career in this rapidly growing field.

Joost Nijhoff, the director at Invest in Odense, one of the biggest financial backers of Danish robotics, says, “There’s nowhere else in the world where you would find so many robotics companies and roboticists working together in an area that you can cover by bicycle in 30 minutes.” (Speaking of cycling, it’s huge in Denmark, with its capital Copenhagen having more bikes than people.) What’s more, the majority of these companies understand the worth of their most valuable resource — people. A study from Insight Report found 78% of Danish robotic companies feel recruiting qualified employees “was their greatest growth barrier”. Perhaps you could you be one person to fill the gap…

Denmark is also leading the way in terms of sustainability, with the help of all of this cutting-edge technology and also brilliant design and innovation. Five years ago, the capital Copenhagen was hailed a “green economy leader” in a London School of Economics (LSE) report, but, not content to rest on its laurels, the city is pushing forward with its new climate plan, CPH 2025, a bold vision to become carbon neutral is just six years. The plan stipulates that projects should secure and improve the quality of life in the city and generate opportunities for innovation, jobs, and green growth. 

One example of this green innovation is the “E-Ferry Ellen”, the globe’s biggest all-electric ferry, capable of carrying 30 vehicles and 200 passengers, which recently made its maiden voyage, journeying the 22 nautical miles between the island of Aerø to the port of Fynshav in Southern Denmark.

As you can see, Denmark is an excellent option for international students. You will likely feel right at home among the warm and friendly Danes, who are consistently ranked among the top five for their level of English among countries where English is not the native language, and you might even pick up a bit of that laid-back charm and sophistication. You’ll also receive a first-class education from some of the best universities in the world — and you might even get paid for it!

Denmark is known as the country with the happiest people – ever since the inception of the UN’s World Happiness Report in 2012, where Denmark has thus far ranked first (almost) every single time. One thing is sure: If you decide to study in Denmark, the Danes’ natural happiness may just rub off on you.

Denmark is a small but proud nation of 5.6 million in Northern Europe. With its coasts on the Northern and the Baltic Sea, it borders Germany in the South and – via sea and bridge – Sweden in the East.

The Happiness Report is not the only ranking where Denmark scores high: The country is among the best countries for business, enjoys a remarkably high standard of living, and most importantly, it often tops educational rankings.

Facts and figures about higher education in Denmark

Denmark boasts an advanced educational system with many world-class institutions. At some 30 higher education institutions, you can find well over 500 English-taught study programmes to choose from. Like many other countries, Denmark distinguishes between full research universities and more practice-oriented university colleges (elsewhere often known as “universities of applied sciences” or polytechnics). A locally special kind of institution are the business academies, which offer practice-oriented associate’s and Bachelor’s degrees in business-related fields.

Tuition fees

There are no tuition fees for students from the EU/EEA and Switzerland. The same goes for students on exchange programme and those with non-study-related residence permits. All others must pay tuition fees typically ranging from 45,000 to 120,000 DKK per year, equivalent to 6,000 to 16,000 EUR.

Job market for graduates

While political developments in recent years have made it slightly more difficult, it is still anything but impossible for non-European nationals to stay to live and work in Denmark after their graduation. Especially in Copenhagen, there is a strong presence of internationals across industries. While not necessarily a prerequisite, solid Danish – or knowledge of another Scandinavian language, for that matter – is always a plus when competing with local applicants, so make sure to attend language courses while studying there.


Copenhagen Airport is the only Danish airport of meaningful size; it is also the largest airport in all of Scandinavia and has non-stop flights to over 100 destinations. Within Denmark, there is a dense system of trains and buses to rely on – not that there would be long domestic distances to span. While there’s also usually good public transportation within cities, urbanites very heavily rely on bikes. In fact, Copenhagen frequently tops international rankings of bike-friendly cities.












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