With a variety of courses to choose from and the chance the learn a second language for free studying in Denmark is a smart idea
Located in northern Europe, Denmark has a history of academic excellence. While a growing number of university courses are taught in English, studying in Denmark gives you the perfect opportunity to learn a Scandinavian language.
Living in the country isn't cheap, especially on a student budget but high-quality public services such as free healthcare and an efficient transport system help to alleviate the financial pinch. Investing in a bike might be a good idea - the Danes love to cycle, which is good for the bank balance and the environment.
Denmark is regularly voted as one of the safest and happiest places to live making it a great choice for international students.
In your study free hours you can visit major cities such as Aarhus, Copenhagen and Aalborg and explore more than 400 islands.
Universities in Denmark
There are four 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, including the University of Copenhagen, which is ranked 81st in the QS World University Rankings 2020.
- 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.
- Artistic higher education institutions are specialist art schools for design, music, architecture and textiles students, among other artistic disciplines.
- Schools of maritime education and training offer research and practice-focused courses. These schools can be found in Copenhagen, Aarhus, Fredericia and Svendborg.
A full list of these institutions and their locations can be found at Study in Denmark - Higher education institutions.
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, Professional Bachelors courses take three to four and a half years' 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.
Students attending a UK university who would like to study in Denmark can do so via Erasmus+, the EU's education, training and youth support programme. Erasmus+ offer study, work experience and voluntary opportunities to more than four million European students, with placements ranging from three months to one academic year in length.
Financial support is available through the Erasmus+ Grant, details of which can be found in the Erasmus+ Programme Guide. You'll likely still incur charges for insurance or student union membership, but otherwise will be exempt from paying fees at the institution you complete your placement at. Speak to your university for information on how to apply.
If you're from the EU, EEA or Switzerland, or studying in Denmark on an exchange programme, you're in luck - you won't incur any fees when studying a 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. Fees will vary between institutions, but are generally in the region of €6,000- €16,000 (approx. £5,091-£13,577)
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 - between $8,000 and $21,000, depending on the institution.
Highly-qualified exchange students and researchers from other countries around the world may be eligible for funding from the Danish Government Scholarships under the Cultural Agreements. Scholarships are offered for long-term study periods and to cover the costs of summer language courses.
A full list of what's available can be found at Study in Denmark - Tuition fees and scholarships.
If you're a non-EU/EEA citizen, you'll need a visa to study in Denmark - check to see if your country appears on the government's list at New to Denmark. 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.
You'll need to pay the visa fee and 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 an 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).
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 Bachelor's 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.
You can start your search for English-taught postgraduate courses at Study in Denmark - Find your study programme.
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, the agreement between EU member states ensuring direct comparability between the standards and quality of higher education qualifications, undergraduate and postgraduate study completed in Denmark will be equivalent to qualifications gained in the UK.
Following the UKs exit from the EU on 31 January 2020, the information on this page is likely to change. Please check official sources for the most up-to-date information.
Find out more
- Discover what it's like to work in Denmark.