Renowned for flat-pack furniture and the Nobel Prize, the Scandinavian country also has a long and proud history of academic excellence. Discover what it’s like to study in Sweden
Many courses at Swedish universities enjoy strong links with industry, which is good news when it comes to work experience opportunities and your career prospects.
The majority of Sweden’s 10-million strong population speak fluent English making it easy to settle in. You’ll quickly adjust to the country’s laid back nature. Everything comes in moderation – you’ll be pushed academically, but in return will regularly enjoy fika – a Swedish custom allowing colleagues, friends or family to catch up over coffee and cake.
In your free time you’ll be able to hike Kungsleden – the country’s longest hiking trail, visit Drottningholm Palace – home to the King and Queen, explore Gotland – the largest of Sweden’s islands and a popular summer tourist destination as well as experience the Northern Lights in Lapland, the country’s northernmost province.
Sweden is home to 39 universities. Of the eight appearing in the QS World University Rankings 2020, two are inside the top 100. These are Lund University, in 92nd position, and KTH Royal Institute of Technology, in joint 98th.
Top student cities include Stockholm, Gothenburg, Lund and Uppsala.
Programmes are offered at two main types of institution in Sweden:
- universities (universitet) provide degrees at Bachelors, Masters and PhD level.
- university colleges (högskola) offer courses at undergraduate and Masters level only.
Despite the difference, universities are considered no more prestigious than university colleges. A Bachelors received from a university has the same weighting as a Bachelors received from a university college, and the two types of institution are both regarded as universities.
To browse all Swedish universities see, Study in Sweden – Universities.
The majority of institutions are government funded, but some are supported privately. These independent providers typically offer degrees in a specialist subject – usually in psychotherapy and healthcare.
The Swedish academic calendar runs from August to mid-January (autumn semester) and mid-January to the beginning of June (spring semester).
Degree courses in Sweden
A large number of degree programmes are offered in English. They require three years of full-time study, and to apply you’ll need to have successfully completed upper secondary school (sixth form or college).
The structure of a Swedish Bachelors degree differs from its UK counterpart. At some universities, programmes are structured as a series of courses (modules), studied one at a time and examined before the next one begins. Other universities follow the UK system of studying a number of courses simultaneously with exams taking place in the summer.
As well as these exams, throughout a Bachelors degree you’ll be assessed with written and oral tests, group work and lab work (depending on your course). Most programmes end with the submission of a thesis.
There’s plenty more choice when it comes to postgraduate courses – you can study a variety of subjects, with more than 900 courses delivered in English.
These take one to two years of full-time study, and are comprised of advanced coursework followed by the completion and submission of a research-based thesis.
To be eligible for a Masters degree, you’ll need to have successfully complete upper secondary school, and hold an undergraduate degree or equivalent.
Swedish universities don’t offer taught PhD courses. They’re largely research-based, although you’ll also need to attend seminars or short courses, and they require a minimum of four years’ full-time study.
In this time, you’ll produce a dissertation, composed of either an extended essay or a collection of smaller pieces of scholarly work, and will be assigned an individual tutor to oversee your studies. Assessment takes places as a public defence of your dissertation.
Although the majority of PhDs are completed independently, it’s likely you’ll partake in group work in the technology, natural sciences and medical fields.
PhDs are typically offered as paid positions – you’ll be employed by the university as a researcher. You won’t be subject to tuition fees and will instead receive a monthly salary to support your studies.
PhD positions are usually advertised by Swedish universities and you’ll apply directly to the institution. Some universities have fixed application dates, while others admit students on an ongoing basis.
Students attending a UK university can take part in the European Union’s (EU) education, training and youth support programme Erasmus+ (confirmed for the 2020/21 year). The scheme offers study, training, work experience and voluntary placements to students in partner countries. Opportunities last from three months to one academic year.
Financial support is available through the Erasmus+ initiative to any UK public, private or not-for-profit organisation actively involved in education or training.
Your university must have a formal agreement with a partner university in another EU country, so be sure to check that your university is involved in the programme and offers the scheme in your subject. Speak to the Erasmus+ coordinator at your university about any opportunities in Sweden.
If you’re from an EU/EEA/Nordic country or Switzerland – you won’t incur any tuition fees studying in Sweden. You’ll only be required to pay a students’ union fee, which varies between 50 and 350 SEK (around £4 to £28) per semester.
Applicants from all other countries are required to pay tuition fees as well as this union fee. Study in Sweden estimates the average cost of a Masters to be 129,000 SEK per year (nearly £10,600). However, averages vary between subject disciplines:
- Social sciences and humanities students can expect to pay between 80,000 SEK and 110,000 SEK (£6,558 to £9,017) per year.
- For technical and natural science programmes, this rises to between 120,000 SEK and 145,000 (£9,837 to £11,886) per year.
- Architecture and design students face the highest fees, at a suggested 190,000 to 270,000 SEK (£15,575 to £22,133).
Non-EU/EEA/Nordic/Swiss students will also be subject to a university application fee of 900 SEK (almost £74).
It’s important to factor in living costs to your budget. Study in Sweden recommends a monthly sum of 8,370 SEK (around £686), to cover food, accommodation, travel, phone and internet use as well as other luxuries. Your personal lifestyle, type of accommodation and location will affect how much you’ll need – living in Stockholm or Gothenburg, for example, will be more expensive than some of Sweden’s smaller towns.
Funding to study in Sweden
A range of scholarships are available to international students studying at all levels of higher education. Due to the lack of tuition fees, it’s normal for Swedish students to complete their studies without scholarships or funding.
For international students there are two main sources of funding:
- Swedish Institute Study Scholarships (SISS) – for Masters courses starting in the autumn semester. They cover tuition fees, living expenses and travel costs. They’re open to students from 140 countries that can fulfil a range of criteria, such as having the ability to demonstrate previous leadership and work experience. Visit the website to view the full list of entry requirements.
- Swedish universities – the majority of the country’s institutions provide scholarships for international students. Contact individual universities for more information.
For more information about scholarships, awards and funding, visit:
There is no legal limit to the number of hours an international student can work during their studies in Sweden so if you don’t secure a scholarship getting a job to subsidise study costs may be an option.
As an EU citizen, you’re permitted to live in any EU country while studying as long as you:
- are enrolled at an approved university/other educational institution
- are studying for more than three months
- have comprehensive health insurance cover
- have sufficient income (from any source) to live without needing income support.
Because of this, you won’t need a permit or visa to study in Sweden. If you’re staying for longer than 12 months, you should register with the Swedish Tax Agency.
Swiss students are able to enter Sweden without a visa, but will need to register for a residence permit for any stay exceeding three months. Visit the Swedish Migration Agency – Residence permits for Swiss citizens for more information.
Those from a non-EU, EEA or Nordic country will need a visa to study in Sweden. If you intend to stay for longer than three months you’ll need a residence permit. To apply for one of these you’ll need to:
- Pay your first tuition fee instalment
- Submit supporting documentation such as copies of your passport and university admission letter, as well as proof that you can financially support yourself
- complete an online application form and pay the application fee.
If you intend the live in Sweden for more than a year you’ll also be required to register in the Swedish Population Register.
How to apply
For undergraduate and Masters degrees, you’ll submit your application through Sweden’s central applications portal universityadmissions.se. You can apply for up to eight Bachelors programmes in one cycle, or four Masters degrees.
As well as completing an online application form, you’ll also need to submit documentation that proves your eligibility to study in the country. This includes:
- certificates of diplomas
- transcripts of any previous completed qualifications
- evidence of your language proficiency (where appropriate)
- a copy of your passport.
See the Swedish Council for Higher Education for more information on having foreign qualifications officially evaluated.
Thanks to the range of courses offered in English at all levels, you won’t need to be fluent in Swedish to study in the country. If you’re planning to study a course in Swedish, you’ll need to prove that your skills are equivalent to secondary school level – you can do this by taking the Test in Swedish for university studies (Tisus).
If you’re hoping to study a course in English and you’re a non-native speaker, you can demonstrate your proficiency by taking either the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) or the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL).
It is a big step to study abroad, and the options are nearly limitless. So what makes Sweden stand out as a study destination? What makes it so different from other countries that you could go to? Why would you want to go there as opposed to other countries? Let’s take a look at some of the most popular reasons for people to study in Sweden.
You can learn teamwork in a way that is unique to Sweden
Studying in Sweden is unique, and you will not find an experience like it anywhere else in the world. Swedish educational institutions provide an exciting as well as open environment, with a strong focus on cooperation. This will give you valuable skills that you cannot find at other universities across the world. The global job market rewards ambitious, innovative and perceptive team players, and you will be able to show that you are a team player because of the education that you get there. You will also learn techniques for working in a team that you may have never considered had you studied somewhere else that encouraged individuality over teamwork.
Swedish Universities have some of the best Advanced Degree Programs in the world
Swedish master’s degree program offer unique opportunities to turn theory into practice. Many programs also work closely with the industry, offering students the possibility to combine study and practical work. You can take internships, apprenticeships, and even work part time in fields that are related to your Advanced degree studies. That means that you will get both the hands on experience and the ability to apply what you are learning to what you are doing. Knowing how to turn theory into practice can give you distinct advantages over your peers when you go into the workforce upon completing your degree.
You can discover your strengths and reach your fullest potential
Swedish universities will encourage their students to work on your strengths and talents, instead of thwarting creativity. The knowledge system is student-centric and your work with your teachers is usually informal, as opposed to the more formal “student/master” feel that you may get in other situations. Most professors go by their first names, instead of their titles. This is likely due to the egalitarian culture that they hold close, which means that they don’t hold themselves over anyone, but see everyone as equal. Because of this, they value initiative and independent thinking. You are at the center of your education, not some cut and dry educational system that only exists to force you to meet standards. You take an active role in the process.
You will be surrounded by innovation and creativity
Innovative research is done by both Swedish companies and universities. The Swedes embrace creativity and institution, and are proud of what their minds have been able to create. The results of this research and creativity have generated several successful inventions that are known throughout the world. Check out some of the innovations that wouldn’t have existed without Swedish ingenuity:
- Computer mice, Bluetooth technology, and other external computing devices
- Ball bearings and other technologies related to the manufacturing industry.
- Pacemakers, kidney dialysis devices and other health care devices that save lives every day.
- Spotify, Skype and other internet technologies.
Chances are, you use at least some of these products every day. If you don’t, you can at least name what a few of them are. And these are just some of the examples of Swedish ingenuity; there are even more products that you may come across while looking for items that Swedes have invented or made, and the innovation is going to play a role in encouraging you to expand your mind.
Sweden has numerous large multinational organizations that are in the forefront of the world when it comes to innovation and technology. Not sure if you have ever purchased items or used services from a Swedish company? Here are some of the most well known companies that you will find around the world, but are based or were started in Sweden:
- Atlas Copco
- H&M (clothing company)
You’ve probably heard of several of these companies, and you may even own products from one or more of them. If you decide to study in Sweden, you will be surrounded by some of the most innovative people and companies in the world. The environment in Sweden helps to encourage imagination, and if you study there, you can be part of the changes that Sweden gives to the rest of the world.
It won’t be easy, but it will be worth every minute of hard work
Some people may be scared off by the prospect of coursework being difficult, but there are actually a number of different courses in Sweden that will make you work very hard. As mentioned above, Sweden is very proud of its history as an academic powerhouse, and you can be part of that process as well. Academics and education are highly prized; Sweden stands out as the home of your prestigious Nobel Prize, which is known throughout the world as a prized academic award. It’s not going to be an easy path to achieving your goals and dreams, but you will get the best education possible when you study at a Swedish university.
You can find your program of interest in Sweden
No matter you want to study, you can find it in Sweden. There are dozens of schools, and there are hundreds of different undergraduate and post graduate programs throughout the country, depending on where you decide to study. The fields vary as well; even though a lot of what we listed above is in regards to innovation, there are also a number of different universities that focus on social sciences (psychology, sociology), medical fields, and other fields that aren’t as “technical” but are just as important. There are some universities that offer hundreds of courses in dozens of departments, so you can even personalize your program to exactly what you are looking to pursue and achieve.
Sweden is diverse and embraces diversity
Swedes actually pride themselves in speaking two or more languages. Almost every Swede that you will meet speaks English, Swedish, and usually a couple more languages from some of the other counties in the European Union (German and French are popular). Many of the companies in Sweden will work in English, many universities offer courses in English, and you will hear many Swedes use English in everyday conversation. Because of the sheer number of innovative companies in Sweden, there are people from around the world in the country on a daily basis. So, as a Free Mover or Exchange Student, you will feel like you fit right in because everyone is just as different as you may feel. The neat thing about the diversity in Sweden, however, is that no matter how many different people may come in and out of the country; Sweden does not lose its cultural identity. The longer you stay in the country, the more you will come to appreciate that trait.
As you can see, there are literally dozens of reasons for you to consider studying in Sweden. And these aren’t even the only ones that you should be considering! If you think you’re ready to start your journey toward studying in Sweden, make sure to keep looking around this site. We have tons of resources that you can use in order to help you make your decisions and so that you find the university that is right for you. So come on, check out what Sweden has in store for you and your future.
Sweden is also known for its progressive spirit and freethinking citizenry. The largest country in the far north of Western Europe, and with a population of 9.6 million people, Sweden may be sparsely populated, but it is renowned for its cultural, scientific and political advancements. Overall, this Scandinavian country a uniquely attractive setting in which to study abroad. Here are 3 top reasons to go study in Sweden.
1) You can get a scholarship to go study in Sweden.
Until recently, all students could study tuition-free in Sweden. In 2010, however, the government passed a law which altered the payment structure to include both tuition and application fees for international students from non-EU/EAA destinations. A number of scholarships are available to compensate for this change, providing financial waivers for international students. These can be divided into two subsets: government scholarships and university scholarships, including the following:
- The Swedish Institute Study Scholarships: Undergraduate and graduate students can apply for one of approximately 120 scholarships which provide funding for cost of living and tuition. The scholarship is awarded to outstanding international students in a variety of academic disciplines.
- Guest Scholarship Program for Ph.D. and Postdoctoral Studies: Students in all academic fields from ODA-determined developing countries, as well as a list of others including the United States, Great Britain, Canada, Germany, France, Japan, South Korea, Saudi Arabia and the U.A.E., are eligible for one of 30 scholarships providing Ph.D. candidates and postdocs scholarship funding in the amount of $12,000 SEK (Ph.D. students) and $15,000 SEK (12,000). Travel grants are also available, although limited.
- Erasmus Mundus Scholarships: A program of the EU’s Erasmus Mundus Program, which is focused on expanding international educational opportunities in Europe to international scholarships, these scholarships cover tuition, living costs, and traveling expenses for accepted students. Ten Swedish university participate in this program, offering a combined 30 scholarships.
- The Visby Program: The Swedish Institute’s Baltic Sea Region Exchange Program offers scholarship opportunities for graduate and postdoctoral level applicants from the Ukraine, Russia, Moldova, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Estonia, Georgia and Belarus. Funding begins at $9,000 per month for Master’s students and reaches up to $18,000 per month for senior scientists.
- Chalmer’s University: All Master’s students who have applied for study at Chalmers are automatically entered into the running for one of 90 scholarships ranging between three quarters and full funding for both tuition and living costs.
- Stockholm University: This program provides varying levels of financial support for non-EU/EEA/Swiss students toward tuition fees.
- KTH Royal Institute of Techology: KTH offers a limited number of fee waiver programs, ranging from stipends for living costs for full scholarships. These awards are granted on the basis of academic excellence.
- Lund University: The Lund University Global Scholarship Program offers a broad range of merit-based scholarship funding–beginning at 25 percent and rising to full tuition–for outstanding non-EU/EEA students.
- Umea University: A limited number of scholarships are offered to outstanding international Master’s candidates who have determined Umea as their first choice. Funding amounts include both full and partial tuition.
- Mid Sweden University: A number of tuition reduction scholarships are awarded to exceptional students from outside the EU/EEA, but excluding scholars from Bangladesh, Bolivia, Burkina Faso, Cambodia, Ethiopia, Kenya, Mali, Mozambique, Rwanda, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia, who may instead apply through the Swedish Institute Study Scholarship.
- Dalarna University: Outstanding and motivated non-EU/EAA students, with limited exceptions, are eligible to apply for one of 40 tuition waivers in specific academic disciplines. Depending on the field of study, scholarships cover up to 50 percent of tuition fees.
- Blenkinge Institute of Technology: This program provides a large number of full and partial tuition to students from twelve countries, including Bangladesh, Bolivia, Burkina Faso, Cambodia, Ethiopia, Kenya, Mali, Mozambique, Rwanda, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia.
- University of Gothenburg: Funded by the International Programme Office for Education and Training, a government entity focused on international academic exchange, this program pays full or partial tuition fees for students in a variety of academic disciplines.
- Linköping University: Linköping University offers sholarships to new students with excellent academic results. Scholarships will result in a tuition fee waiver of 50-100% but excluding scholars from Bangladesh, Bolivia, Cambodia, Ethiopia, Kenya, Mali, Mozambique, Rwanda, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia. Read more about Linköping University here!
- Jönköping University: Jönköping University offers scholarships to international students based on academic merit, with an emphasis on academic excellence. The scholarships cover part of the tuition fee. It is not open for students from Bangladesh, Bolivia, Burkina Faso, Cambodia, Ethiopia, Kenya, Mali, Mozambique, Rwanda, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia. Read more about Jönköping University here.
2) Your degree will open many doors when it is time to look for a job.
To promote international exchange in an attempt to make up for the shortfall caused by new tuition fees, Sweden now entices outstanding international students through skills-based competitions which provide chance to study in Sweden on scholarship. A collaboration between the Swedish Institute and seven premiere Swedish universities, this program has attracted tens of thousands of applicants hoping to score the chance to study tuition-free in Sweden. An added incentive? All entrants–regardless of results–are granted an application waiver to Swedish universities.
According to Shanghai Jiao Tong University’s Academic Ranking of World Universities, three Swedish universities number in the top 100, with 11 holding places in the top 500. Among them are Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm University (law, business, computer science…), Lund University, and Uppsala University.
3) You can study every subject in English, no need to speak Swedish.
Sweden is a desirable destination for international students, in part due to its reputation as a leading European country in English studies. As reported by the Institute of International Education, Sweden follows only the Netherlands and Germany in master’s coursework offerings in English, with 708 courses in a comprehensive range of fields, including both arts and sciences. This represents a push by European nations to compete with traditional destinations for English study in Europe, such as Great Britain and Australia. As challenges for U.K. international students rise due to favoritism toward native students, even more students are motivated to seek high-quality international higher ed experiences in Sweden.
Overall, there are more than 600 English-language degree programs in Sweden, ensuring that prospective students will find a great fit for their academic needs. In fact, fluent English is spoken by nearly all Swedes, and is the official working language of many Swedish companies. This makes learning–and adapting to the country–significantly easier for international students.
5 secret tips on how to succeed
Sweden is forward-thinking and friendly, making it a great setting for the 30,000 foreign scholars who study there. Still, trying to understand the country’s system of higher education can be initially daunting. By paying attention to these tips, you can ensure smooth entry into student life in Sweden.
- Applications occur through a centralized application portal which administers student placements. The deadline for fall admission happens the prior January.
- Once you have decided on a school, get in touch with your host academic institution’s student union as soon as possible. Accommodations are notoriously challenging in Sweden, particularly in the bigger cities, where the number of students seeking accommodations generally exceeds the number of available places. Some student unions will guarantee housing for international students, while others can point you in the right direction. In order to sign a lease for student housing, you’ll need to prove that you are a student, or have been accepted as one, so always be prepared with adequate documentation.
- Within three months of arrival, international students must register with the Migration Board, showing both proof of enrollment, as well as access to sufficient funds for the duration of your stay.
- If your study program exceeds one year, you’ll need to register at your local tax office, which requires a passport, documentation from the Swedish immigration authorities, and a letter of acceptance from your academic institution. Once you are registered, you’ll be eligible for health care through the Swedish National Health Insurance System.
- Sweden is known for its exceptional public transportation system including trams, commuter trains and the underground, which combine to provide fast, easy and inexpensive transport throughout most areas of the country.
By following these tips, you should be able to smoothly navigate the path to international study in Sweden. Foreign students seeking a premiere international education in a socially and technologically progressive setting need look no further than this marvelous country.
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