Famous for its stunning natural beauty and incredible Northern Lights, this Scandinavian country boasts breathtaking landscapes - and free tuition fees for its 15,000 international students
There are three main types of higher education institution in Norway:
- Universities - There are eight public universities: the University of Oslo (UiO); the University of Bergen (UiB); the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU); the University of Tromsø (UiT); the University of Stavanger (UiS); the Norwegian University of Life Sciences (NMBU); the University of Agder (UiA); and Nord University.
- University colleges - 29 institutions offer three-year Bachelors and two-year Masters programmes in vocational subjects such as nursing, engineering and social work; some also offer PhDs, two-year business administration courses and four-year teaching courses.
- Specialised university institutions - Nine of these research-focused institutions offer professional programmes at Masters and PhD level: the Norwegian School of Veterinary Science (now part of NMBU); the Norwegian School of Economics (NHH); the Oslo School of Architecture and Design (AHO); the Norwegian School of Sport Sciences (NSSS); the Norwegian Academy of Music (NMH); the Norwegian School of Theology (MF); the School of Mission and Theology (MHS); BI Norwegian Business School; and Molde University College.
The University of Oslo, University of Bergen, the Norwegian University of Science and Technology, and the University of Tromsø are Norway's most prestigious institutions, featuring in both the Times Higher Education World University Rankings 2015-16 and the QS World University Rankings 2016-17.
The Norwegian academic year runs from August to June, split into two terms: autumn (August to December) and spring (January to June). Broadly speaking, the structure of the higher education system in Norway is very similar to the UK.
Students currently attending a UK university can take part in the European Union's (EU) education, training and youth support programme, Erasmus+. The scheme offers study, training, work experience and voluntary placements to many young people, with opportunities lasting from three months to one academic year.
Financial support is available through the Erasmus+ initiative, for any UK public, private or not-for-profit organisation that is actively involved in education and training. Speak to your institution for information on how to apply.
This information is still valid following the UK's decision to leave the European Union and will be updated if changes happen.
Several institutions, such as the University of Oslo and the Norwegian University of Science of Technology, also offer their own exchange programmes.
Degree courses in Norway
Undergraduate degrees in Norway usually last for three years. Teaching methods, assessment methods and contact hours vary according to institution and subject, though lectures, seminars and project work are commonplace. Laboratory work, excursions and field trips are often mandatory in certain subjects.
Students are typically assessed through end-of-course exams - either written, oral or both - using the A-F grading scale.
Competition for places is extremely tough, with demand outweighing supply. Admission is centralised through the Norwegian Universities and Colleges Admission Service (NUCAS); however, applicants over 25 years of age are evaluated and admitted by the individual institution according to their personal and professional competence.
You can search for Bachelors degrees in Norway at Study in Norway.
Masters degrees typically last for two years and include a mandatory thesis component, though some shorter vocational programmes are also available for those who possess relevant work experience.
Applicants require a Bachelors degree, with non-Norwegian students sometimes asked to undertake a Norwegian undergraduate degree before enrolling due to differences in international educational systems. Applicants may also be required to have studied a subject relevant to their Masters choice for at least half of their Bachelors degree.
Unlike for Bachelors degrees, applications are made directly to the chosen institution, which will examine your documentation, check your eligibility, inform you if you need to pass an entrance examination, and issue your letter of acceptance.
Search for Masters degrees in Norway at Study in Norway.
Doctoral degrees in Norway last for three years and include a mandatory thesis component. However, many PhD students follow a structured doctoral programme for four years, with the additional year used for professional development activities such as lecturing and teaching.
Students are allocated at least one supervisor for their thesis, which is evaluated by at least three senior academics. One of these must be from another university, with another ideally from outside of Norway. The student delivers at least one public lecture, defending their thesis before the reviewing committee.
Applicants require a Masters degree or a professional degree, and PhD candidates are legally considered to be employees of the university rather than students.
Most higher education institutions in Norway are funded by the Ministry of Education and Research, and therefore don't charge any tuition fees. There are 43 state-run institutions and 34 private institutions; more than 85% of students attend one of the former.
Private institutions are still, generally speaking, cheaper than their UK and European counterparts when it comes to course fees for international students, who pay the same as Norwegians: around £7,000 to £8,600 per year for a Masters course.
However, all students must pay their institution's student welfare organisation 300-600 Norwegian Krone (NOK) every semester (approximately £28-£58). This grants access to exams, cheaper travel, and health, sports and counselling facilities.
Funding to study in Norway
Living costs in Norway are high - especially in cities such as Oslo and Bergen. However, The Norwegian State Educational Loan Fund allocates grants and loans according to an official cost of living estimate, with support potentially exceeding NOK87,000 (approximately £8,300) per year.
This initial loan (40% of the loan can become a grant) covers accommodation, food and course costs, and all students are eligible providing they meet certain criteria - for example, that they pass their exams and earn less than NOK136,061 (approximately £12,980) per year.
Many students of private institutions are eligible for additional financial support of up to NOK53,730 (approximately £5,130) per year to cover fees.
For a list of available scholarships, see Study in Norway.
How to apply
While general requirements are centralised, each institution and course has its own additional admission requirements and application processes; some of these are outlined in the relevant sections above.
Regardless of your level of study, you'll be required to submit a completed application form and academic certificates. For some programmes, you'll also need to pass an aptitude test and/or submit a personal statement.
Application deadlines for international students usually fall between December and March (for courses beginning in the next academic year), but you should check with your institution.
For country-specific information on what level of education you need to study in Norway, see the GSU list.
The primary teaching language is Norwegian, and such courses require proficiency in the language; indeed, many programmes are preceded by an intense one-year language course for international students. However, an increasing number of programmes - particularly Masters degrees - are taught in English.
Regardless, learning Norwegian is helpful when settling in; it will allow you to communicate with many people from Sweden and Denmark too.
While Norway isn't a member of the European Union (EU), it is a member of the European Economic Area (EEA). This means that EEA citizens can study in Norway for three months before having to register with the police.
All students who plan to stay in Norway for longer than three months will need a student visa/residence permit - non-EEA nationals must contact their Norwegian embassy for this before travelling. There are no processing fees for EU or EEA students, but other applicants will have to pay NOK1,100. You should begin the visa application process as soon as your admission is confirmed.
You will find everything that you need to know about visa requirements by contacting the embassy or high commission in your home country. For more information, see Study in Norway or the Norwegian Directorate of Immigration (UDI).
This visa information is still valid following the UK's decision to leave the European Union and will be updated if changes happen.
Comparison to UK qualifications
To find out whether your qualifications are recognised by Norwegian institutions, check the GSU-list. UK employers will recognise any Norwegian Bachelors, Masters or PhD that you gain thanks to the Bologna process.