With low tuition fees and the opportunity to learn a new language for free, the decision to study in Denmark should be an easy one
Denmark may not be the cheapest place to live on a student budget, but high-quality public services - including free healthcare and an efficient transport system - will help to take the stress out of moving abroad. There are also plenty of sights to see when you're not studying, from the historic capital city of Copenhagen to the stunning scenery of more than 400 islands.
All this, combined with a strong reputation for academic excellence, low crime rates and the accolade of being the third happiest country according to the World Happiness Report 2018, makes Denmark a great choice for international students.
Universities in Denmark
There are five 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 joint 73rd in the QS World University Rankings 2018.
- 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 future 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.
- Business academies allow you to study two and two-and-a-half year Academy Profession programmes and Professional Bachelors degrees. There are nine institutions, including Copenhagen Business Academy and Lillebaelt Academy of Professional Higher Education.
A full list of these institutions and their locations can be found at Study in Denmark - Higher education institutions.
Degree courses in Denmark
There are three 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.
- Academy Profession (AP) degree - AP degrees are found exclusively at business academies. You'll complete an AP degree through a mixture of theory-based learning and applied practice in projects and placements over the course of two years.
If you've obtained an AP degree you'll have the option to extend it to a full Professional Bachelors, by studying for a top-up degree in a related subject. This takes an additional 18 months.
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.
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. On a Masters programme you'll submit a dissertation or complete a practical project, as well as attend lectures and seminars.
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 700 degree programmes and 1,300 courses taught entirely in English.
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.
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.
Tuition fees range from €10,000 to €16,000 (£8,000-£14,000), although there are plenty of scholarships and imbursement options available. Alternatively you can search for fully-funded PhD positions, where you'll be paid a salary throughout your studies and won't be subject to tuition fees.
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. Until 2020, Erasmus+ will offer study, work experience and voluntary opportunities to more than 4 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.
This information remains valid following the UK's decision to leave the EU and will be updated if any changes occur.
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. £5,000-£15,000).
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.
You won'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).
If you're a non-EU/EEA citizen, you might need a visa to study in Denmark - check to see if your country appears on the government's list at New to Denmark. You'll also need to have your residence permit sorted before you arrive in the country.
This information is still valid following the UK's decision to leave the EU, and will be updated if changes occur.
How to apply
Unlike applying for undergraduate study, you'll make postgraduate applications directly to your institution of choice, usually through their website.
Along with a completed application form, you'll need to provide evidence of previous education, including copies of your 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 - deadlines for EU/EEA citizens typically fall around April if a course starts in September, but some can be as far in advance as January. 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.
While there are more than 700 degree programmes taught in English in Denmark, you can search for higher education courses taught in Danish at ug.dk. To be granted entry onto a course you'll likely have to prove your proficiency by passing the Study Test in Danish as a Second Language - visit Studieskolen - Language Test for more information (not provided in English).
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.
Find out more
- Discover what it's like to work in Denmark.