Studying in Sweden
The Swedish Higher Education Authority and the Swedish Council for Higher Education are the central government agencies responsible for setting degree frameworks and ensuring quality control in higher education. However, the individual institutions have freedom to structure their courses as they please, as long as they fit state regulations.
Higher education institutions in Sweden use a common credit system which is compatible with the European Credit Transfer and Accumulation System (ECTS), which makes it easier for your qualifications to be recognised in other countries.
Each institution usually develops a specialisation due to collaborating with local industries and the business community. This means they can each offer specialised programmes of study that are not offered at other institutions.
There are both universities and university colleges in Sweden, the majority of which are state-funded. Universities are able to award degrees at all levels while university colleges may be restricted. For example, many university colleges don't award PhDs. There is no difference between the degrees and masters qualifications offered by universities and university colleges.
Go to Study in Sweden for links to all higher education institutions' websites.
What courses can you study?
Degrees in Sweden are offered at bachelors, masters and doctorate level. There are over 900 masters courses taught in English across a range of subjects. The Study in Sweden website has a searchable database of higher education courses.
Masters courses take one or two years to complete and consist of coursework and a research-based thesis. PhDs are also available and usually take a minimum of four years to complete. All PhDs in Sweden are research-based rather than taught.
How do you apply for postgraduate study?
You will need to have completed three years of undergraduate study to be able to start postgraduate education in Sweden. For PhDs, a masters qualification (MA/MSc) is usually required.
As an international student, you can apply via the central online application system at Universityadmissions.se. This allows you to apply for up to four masters courses in Sweden in one application. As well as making the application, you’ll need to provide supporting documents, which includes certificates, copies of transcripts, English proficiency and any other paperwork requested by the institution such as essays or references. You should be able to upload most of this online but some may need to be sent in the post. You will be able to check the progress of your application online.
The deadline for most masters applications is mid-January for programmes starting in the autumn term and mid-August for the spring term. This can vary so you should check carefully with each university you’re interested in applying to.
For PhD study, applications must be made directly to institutions and opportunities, along with deadlines and specific requirements, are available on individual university websites. Some institutions admit PhD candidates throughout the year.
For courses taught in Swedish, non-native speakers may have to take tests or complete a language course beforehand. See the Study in Sweden website for information on available courses.
Fees and scholarships
EU citizens don't have to pay tuition fees in Sweden. If you're from outside the EU/EEA or Switzerland you may need to pay fees for masters courses that could range from 80,000–190,000 SEK per academic year. The average fee is 129,000 SEK. An application fee of 900 SEK also needs to be paid by non-EU citizens when making the online application.
PhD positions in Sweden are usually offered on a paid basis, so if you’re successful in gaining a PhD role, you’ll receive a monthly salary and won’t need to pay any fees.
Cost of living is estimated to be around 8,000 SEK per month. Most students also usually pay to get membership of their student union which costs between 50–350 SEK per semester depending on the university. See the Study in Sweden website for further information.
Scholarships are available from the Swedish Institute for fee-paying international students but competition for these is usually quite strong. You may also be able to apply for scholarships directly from the university to cover tuition or living costs. You can find out more and search for scholarships at Study in Sweden.
Are there any exchange programmes?
UK students on both under and postgraduate degree programmes may be interested in studying in Sweden through Erasmus+. This programme is open to all subject areas, but check with your institution's study abroad/exchange coordinator to see which countries they have links with and in what subject areas.
Will your qualification be recognised in the UK?
Following the Bologna Process and the creation of the European Higher Education Area (EHEA), a postgraduate course from Sweden is directly comparable to the UK equivalent.
Do you need a visa to study in Sweden?
EU citizens don't need a visa to be able to study in Sweden. If you will be working, studying or can support yourself financially you will have the automatic right of residence and don't need to register with the Swedish Migration Board.
If you're a citizen of a non-EU country, you will need a visa or residence permit depending on the length of the course. Find out more at the Swedish Migration Board.
AGCAS editors, November 2017