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, 39 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 20% 56% Research 23% 53% Knowledge Transfer 52% 44% International Orientation 16% 76% Regional Engagement 40% 40%

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.

Addition of information on fees and financial support

Source: Eurydice 
Reference year(s): 2020/2021


In this section we highlight the fees for studying in Sweden. The fees are shown in the national currency and address all fee types: tuition, enrolment (part- or full-time, etc.), certification, or other administrative costs. Students that are exempt from fees are also described, as well as information on international student fees if they differ.

  • There are no fees for Swedish/EU/EFTA/EEA short-, first- and second-cycle students whether they study full-time or less than full-time (there is no official part-time student status).
  • International students coming from outside EU/EFTA/EEA pay fees. Higher education institutions determine the amount of the fees, based on the principle of full-cost coverage.

Source: Eurydice - National Student Fees and Support Systems in European Higher Education – 2020/21.

Financial Support

In this section we highlight the financial support system implemented in Sweden. The types of support covered in this section include: grants, loans, tax benefits for students' parents (or students themselves) and family allowances.  How these terms are defined, are outlined below:

  • Grants are provided in the national currency and are differentiated between merit-based and need-based (or universal, where applicable). All main public financial support that does not need to be paid back is included, with the exception of grants for study abroad (i.e. mobility grants). Information is also presented on the proportion of students (in the short, first and second cycle) who receive grants.
  • Loans: information focuses on the existence of a student publicly-subsidised loan system and the percentage of students that take out a loan. Information on the interest rate and modalities for the repayment of loans may also be provided.
  • Tax benefit is any tax relief that is granted to parents whose child is a higher education student or to students themselves. The information aims to cover the amount of the tax relief, how it can be claimed and who is eligible to apply.
  • Family allowances for students' parents: this part provides information on their amount and the eligible population.
  • Students can receive a grant of SEK 823/week for 40 weeks per year. These are universally available for full-time students regardless of parents’ income for a maximum of six years, until the maximum age of 56. The maximum amount per year is SEK 32,920-49,360, depending on whether the student has children and the number of children. Students studying at least 50% can receive grants proportional to their pace of study. 88% of full-time students (short-, first- and second-cycles) and 26% of students studying less than full-time received a grant in 2018 (71 % of all students). Grants are provided by the Swedish Board of Student Finance (CSN), an administrative authority under the Ministry of Education and Research.
  • State guaranteed loans of SEK 1,892/week for 40 weeks per year are universally available for full-time students (aged 56 at most) for six years. The annual maximum amount is normally SEK 75,680. Students studying at least 50% can receive loans proportional to their pace of study. Repayment starts at the earliest six months after the student last received the loan, and must be completed within 25 years or before the age of 60. The government decides upon the interest rate on a yearly basis. The interest rate for 2020 is set at 0.16%. 55% of all students (short-, first- and second-cycles) received a loan in 2018.
  • Students with children can receive an extra grant. It is also possible for some students to receive further supplementary loans, and loans for additional costs connected to their studies with the same conditions of repayment and interest rate as the regular loans. This is relevant, for example, to students with additional costs for tuition fees when studying abroad, double housing, travel, musical instruments, etc.
  • Short-cycle students are entitled to the same support as first- and second-cycle students.
  • Students will be able to keep their student finance if the institution is closed due to the coronavirus, or can only offer part-time and not full-time distance learning. The income limit has also been removed for 2020. If a student has difficulties repaying the loan due to the situation caused by the coronavirus, it is possible to postpone or reduce the payment.
  • No tax benefits for students' parents or family allowances are in place.

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?

  1. The 2022 edition of U-Multirank covers 46 Swedish higher education institutions.
  2. In global comparison, Swedish higher education institutions perform particularly strong in the dimensions of International Orientation, in which 76% of all indicator scores are ranked above average (group ‘A’ or ‘B’) and Teaching and Learning (56% above average).
  3. Five Swedish institutions scored more than ten top group positions (‘A’ scores). Those are namely: Chalmers University of Technology (16), KTH Royal Institute of Technology (15), Stockholm School of Economics (15), Karolinska Institute(11) and the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (11).
  4. The two top performing technical universities reached more than 80% of their top group positions in Research, Knowledge Transfer and International Orientation.

Here you can find the current Swedish country report.

Sweden's Higher Education Performance in U-Multirank

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