Why should I study in Sweden?

The country of Nordic design, gender equality, midsummer, breathtaking forests and ”köttbullar”…

Image credits: Susanne Walström/imagebank.sweden.se

How to study in Sweden

Sweden is part of the Scandinavian peninsula in the north of Europe. With ten million citizens, it is both the most populous Nordic country and the largest in terms of area. It borders Norway to the west and Finland to the northeast. In the east, Sweden is bounded by the Baltic Sea and the Gulf of Bothnia, in the southwest by the Kattegat and Skagerrak straits. While not part of the Eurozone, Sweden has been a member of the European Union (EU) since 1995.    

To get an inside look at student life in Sweden, click here to read about the lives of 15 international students studying all over Sweden.

Sweden’s Higher Education System

The Swedish higher education system differentiates between universities (universitet) and university colleges (högskola). Most academic research is conducted at the universities, which award bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral (PhD) degrees. But the larger university colleges do research too, with some having the right to award doctoral degrees in select fields.

Today, 38 higher education institutions in Sweden have the right to award third-cycle qualifications. An additional 15 award only first-cycle or second-cycle qualifications. Almost all Swedish higher education institutions are public.

Sweden’s academic programmes follow the Bologna scheme and use the European Credit Transfer and Accumulation System (ECTS). Basic academic studies take three years (180 ECTS credits) and result in a bachelor’s degree. Afterwards, students can study for an additional one to two years to receive a master’s degree (60-120 ECTS credits). In total, the country offers around 100 bachelor’s programmes and 900 master’s programmes taught entirely in English.

Doctoral degree (PhD) programmes usually take a minimum of four years of academic research. Those enrolled in a PhD programme are technically seen as ”students”, but PhD programmes in Sweden are more like full-time jobs. One of the benefits of this is that PhD students are usually offered a full monthly salary, just like regular employees. PhD positions are advertised by the Swedish universities themselves, not by Sweden’s central University Admissions portal.

To discover all degree programmes offered by Swedish universities, click here.

Sweden’s Higher Education System in international comparison

With a high coverage of 43 Swedish higher education institutions, U-Multirank can provide evidence on the performance of the Swedish higher education system. For the five U-Multirank dimensions the graphic depicts the national average and shows how many of the Swedish institutions perform above the average (receiving an ‘A’ (very good) or ‘B’ (good) score), or below the average (receiving a ‘D’ (below average) or ‘E’ (weak) score).

Among the five U-Multirank dimensions, the Swedish higher education institutions participating in U-Multirank perform strongest in “International Orientation”.

National performance: Sweden

Percent of all Universities 100% 80% 60% 40% < below Average above > 40% 60% 80% 100% Teaching & Learning 18% 36% Research 29% 45% Knowledge Transfer 66% 32% International Orientation 15% 77% Regional Engagement 42% 35%

How much does it cost to study in Sweden?

Students who are citizens of an EU/EEA/Nordic country or Switzerland do not have to pay application or tuition fees.

All other international students have to pay tuition fees, as well as an online application fee of SEK 900 (84 EUR).

Tuition fees vary, depending on the subject and level of the programme. Bachelor’s programmes tend to cost less than master’s programmes. The average fee for a master’s programme is 12,000 EUR per year.

Standard tuition fees for Social Science or Humanities programmes are between 7,500 – 10,500 EUR per year. Technical or Natural Science programmes cost approximately 11,500 – 13,500 EUR. Architecture or Design programmes cost between 18,000 – 25,500 EUR per year.

To read more about tuition fees and other costs, click here.

What are the entry requirements for Swedish Universities?

Applying for a bachelor’s or master’s programme in Sweden is done through University Admissions, the country’s central application portal.

There are both general admission criteria and university/programme-specific admission criteria.

The general criteria include having the necessary diploma to be allowed to enter university (an upper-secondary degree for bachelor’s programmes, or a bachelor’s degree for master’s programmes). Students also need a sufficient level of English. One way of documenting one’s level of English is by submitting scores from an internationally recognised English test.

Sweden’s specific admission criteria are set by the higher education institutions themselves, per university and per programme. Some institutions may require good grades, for example, or a motivation letter from applicants. Very popular programmes may have stricter admission criteria. Before applying, always carefully check what a specific university and/or programme requires of applicants.

How to get a Stipend/Scholarship in Sweden?

Many Swedish universities offer scholarships partly or wholy covering tuition fees.

Various organisations and foundations around the world also offer a large number of scholarships. Some are available to citizens of certain countries only, others to all students.

A final way of funding your studies is the scholarship programme of the Swedish Institute (SI), a government agency. Competition may be fierce, but SI’s scholarships are very generous.

Do I need a Student Visa for Sweden?

Rules for visas and residence permits for Sweden vary depending on international students’ country of citizenship.

Students who are citizens of an EU/EEA/Nordic country do not need a residence permit or visa to study Sweden. When staying for more than 12 months, you will need to get registered by the Swedish Tax Agency to be included in the Swedish Population Register.

Citizens of most other countries (non-EU/EEA/Nordic) who are staying for less than 3 months will need a visa to enter Sweden. When staying longer than 3 months, a residence permit is required before coming to Sweden.

To apply for a resident permit, students have to prove they have been admitted to a full-time, accredited university programme in Sweden and paid the first installment of their tuition fees. When applying, students need to submit their letter of admission, passport, proof of a comprehensive health insurance and proof that they will be able to support themselves financially.

More info on how to apply for a residence permit can be found here.


Top Student Cities in Sweden


How do Swedish Universities fare in U-Multirank?

  • The 2020 edition of U-Multirank covers 38 Swedish higher education institutions.
  • In global comparison, Swedish higher education institutions perform particularly strong in the International Orientation Dimension, in which 77% of all indicator scores of Swedish institutions are ranked above average (groups ‘A’ (very good), or ‘B’ (good)).
  • Three (3) Swedish institutions scored at least 10 top group positions (‘A’ scores): Chalmers University of Technology (15), Stockholm School of Economics (14), and KTH Royal Institute of Technology (10).
  • Twelve Swedish universities received 10 global ‘Top 25 Performers’ entries; five (5) for Student Mobility (Blekinge Institute of Technology, Jönköping University, Lund University, Newmaninstitutet, and the Stockholm School of Economics), and one (1) for Regional Joint Publications (Swedish Red Cross University College of Nursing and Health) as well as for Income from Continuous Professional Development (Stockholm School of Economics). Chalmers University of Technology and the University West are listed for Co-publications with Industrial Partners.
Sweden's Higher Education Performance in U-Multirank

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