While home to only eight universities the country packs an educational punch and is well respected for its academic excellence. While the cost of living is high tuition fees are cheaper than in the UK and you'll even get to learn a second language for free
Denmark at a glance
- Danes are consistently ranked as some of the happiest people on the planet.
- Essentially an island nation, Denmark is made up of 406 islands. No matter where you are in the country you'll never be more than 50km from the sea.
- Home of 'hygge', which has no literal translation in English but is all about cosiness and warmth and celebrating the small joys in life.
- Popular student cities include Aalborg, Aarhus, Copenhagen (the capital and biggest city) and Odense.
- Danish cities are among the most bicycle friendly in the world, which is a good job as Danes love to cycle.
One of three Scandinavia countries Denmark has a population of 5.8 million and is located in northern Europe.
The country has a history of academic excellence and is increasingly popular with international students. A growing number of courses are taught in English, but studying in Denmark also gives you the perfect opportunity to learn a Scandinavian language.
The cost of living isn't cheap, especially in big cities on a student budget but high-quality public services such as free healthcare and an efficient transport system help to alleviate the financial pinch.
In your study free hours you can visit famous landmarks and tourist attractions such as the Tivoli Gardens (Copenhagen), LEGO House (in Billund - Denmark is the homeland of LEGO), and the Hans Christian Anderson Museum (Odense). There are also many castles and palaces to explore, as you'd expect from a country that has inspired many fairy tales.
Denmark is also seen as a gateway to other European cities. Berlin, London and Paris are just a short flight away.
Universities in Denmark
There are three 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.
- 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.
- Academies of professional higher education - these include artistic higher education institutions, schools of maritime education and training and business academies.
A full list of these institutions and their locations can be found at Study in Denmark - Higher education institutions.
Five Danish universities feature in the QS World University Rankings 2022:
- University of Copenhagen (79)
- Technical University of Denmark (99)
- Aarhus University (155)
- University of Southern Denmark (309)
- Aalborg University (326).
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, these courses take three to four-and-a-half years of 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 optalgese.dk, 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.
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.
Search for a Masters at Study in Denmark - Find your study programme.
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.
The UK government runs the Turing Scheme for students looking to secure overseas placements and study abroad at an overseas university for the 2022/23 academic year.
Check that your institution is involved in the programme and offers the Turing Scheme in Denmark.
If you're from the EU, EEA or Switzerland, or are studying in Denmark on an exchange programme, you're in luck - you won't incur any fees when studying a Bachelors or 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 - this now includes students from the UK. Fees vary between institutions, but are generally cheaper than in the UK. Expect to pay in the region of DKK 45,000-120,000 (£5,039-£13,438).
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.
The Danish government offer a limited number of scholarships each year to highly-qualified full degree students from non-EU/EEA countries.
A full list of what's available can be found at Study in Denmark - Scholarships.
If you're a non-EU/EEA citizen, you'll need a visa to study in Denmark - this now includes the students from the UK. 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. Be prepared to apply for this permit well in advance - the processing time can be up to three months.
As well as paying the DKK 1,890 (£211) processing fee you 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 a 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).
For more information on Danish visas see New to Denmark.
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 Bachelors 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.
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.
Comparison to UK qualifications
As Denmark is part of the Bologna Process undergraduate and postgraduate study completed in Denmark will be equivalent to qualifications gained in the UK.
Find out more
- Discover what it's like to work in Denmark.
- For a deeper insight, see Study in Denmark's International Students Survival Guide to Life in Denmark.