Studying in Norway is cheap as tuition fees are non-existent and the country often covers your living costs. This makes it an ideal choice for international students

With a population of over five million, Norway is often ranked as one of the best countries to live in. It also has one of the lowest crime rates in the world - making it a safe place to study. It has an excellent reputation for providing quality higher education, and an increasing number of degree programmes are taught in English.

While Norwegian is a tricky language to master, doing so will help you to settle into your new surroundings. Learning the lingo will also help when making friends with the locals, as well as boosting your employability.

During your stay you'll be able to experience the midnight sun in the summer and the famous Aurora Borealis (Northern Lights) in the winter. Embrace the Norwegian outdoor lifestyle by visiting one of the country's 47 national parks, hiking popular trails such as Preikestolen and Trolltunga or exploring iconic fjords such as Sognefjord and Geirangerfjord.

Bookworms should visit Fjærland and Tvedestrand - two of the country's 'book towns', while music lovers should check out some of the many festivals held in Oslo, Tønsberg, Trondheim and Tromsø.

Norwegian universities

Norway has three types of state-owned higher education institution. These include universities, university colleges and specialist colleges.

There are ten universities, and these include:

  • Nord University
  • Norwegian University of Life Sciences (NMBU)
  • Norwegian University of Science and Technology
  • Oslo Metropolitan University
  • University of Agder
  • University of Bergen
  • University of Oslo
  • University of South Eastern Norway
  • University of Stavange
  • University of Tromsø.

The nine specialised universities are:

  • BI - Norwegian Business School
  • MF Norwegian School of Theology, Religion and Society
  • Molde University College - Specialised University in Logistics
  • NHH Norwegian School of Economics
  • Norwegian Academy of Music
  • Oslo National Academy of the Arts
  • The Norwegian School of Sport Sciences
  • The Oslo School of Architecture and Design
  • VID Specialised University

There are also 13 universities of applied sciences and 16 university colleges with accredited study programmes.

The country also has a number of private higher education institutions.

The University of Oslo, University of Bergen, Norwegian University of Science and Technology and the University of Tromsø all feature in the QS World University Rankings 2023, and rank 101st, 207th, 352nd and 454th respectively.

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.

Bergen, Kristiansand, Oslo, Tromsø and Trondheim are popular student destinations.

Degree courses in Norway

Higher education institutions in Norway follow the Bologna Process, so the type and structure of programmes are similar to those in the UK.

Bachelors courses usually take three years to complete and are available in a variety of subjects.

Teaching methods include lectures, seminars and project work. Laboratory work, excursions and field trips are also mandatory in certain subjects. Students are typically assessed through end-of-course exams - either written, oral or both - using the A-F grading scale.

For entry onto an undergraduate programme you'll need a secondary school leaving certificate as a minimum requirement.

You can search for Bachelors degrees in Norway at Study in Norway - What can I study.

Masters degrees

Thanks to the country's welcoming attitude and the fact that an increasing number of postgraduate courses are now taught in English, Masters study in Norway is a popular option.

Programmes are available in a range of subjects and typically take two years to complete. Like Bachelors degrees, Masters courses are taught through a series of lectures, seminars and workshops. To complete your degree, you'll be required to submit an independently researched dissertation.

To be accepted onto a postgraduate course in Norway you'll need to have completed a Bachelors degree. Some institutions may require you to have studied a subject relevant to your chosen Masters programme at undergraduate level.

Search for Masters degrees in Norway at Study in Norway - What can I study.


Doctoral degrees 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.

Students are allocated a supervisor for their thesis, which is evaluated by three senior academics. One of these must be from another university, with another ideally from outside of Norway. The student delivers 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.

Student exchanges

Following the UK's departure from the European Union (EU), the government has announced the Turing Scheme for students looking to secure overseas placements and study abroad at an overseas university.

The scheme is backed by over £100million worth of funding, enabling thousands of students from schools, colleges and universities to gain study and work experience overseas.

Your university must have a formal agreement with a partner university in Norway. Check that your institution is involved in the programme and offers the scheme.

Several institutions, such as the University of Oslo and the Norwegian University of Science of Technology, also offer their own exchange programmes.

Course fees

Most higher education institutions in Norway are funded by the Ministry of Education and Research, and don't charge tuition fees. This means that undergraduate and postgraduate students, both local and international, study for free.

However, if you choose to study at a private institution, you will be required to cover tuition costs, although these are usually cheaper than their UK and European counterparts. Foreign students pay the same fees as Norwegians.

While tuition is free, students are required to pay a small semester students' union fee, granting them access to exams, cheap travel, and health, sports and counselling facilities. Expect to pay in the region of 350-700 Norwegian Krone (NOK) per semester (approximately £29-£58).

Funding to study in Norway

While tuition fees are non-existent, living costs are high - especially in popular cities such as Oslo and Bergen.

However, to help with maintenance costs, The Norwegian State Educational Loan Fund allocates grants and loans according to an official cost of living estimate, with support potentially exceeding NOK 146,832 (approximately £12,129) in 2022/23.

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 NOK 199,591 (approximately £16,487) per year.

Find available scholarships and grants at Study in Norway.

Student visas

While Norway isn't a member of the European Union (EU), it is a member of the European Economic Area (EEA).

UK citizens can travel to countries in the Schengen area (which includes Norway) for up to 90 days in any 180-day period without a visa. However, if you plan to study in Norway for more than three months you must apply for a study/residence permit.

In order to be granted one of these, you will need to:

  • have been accepted into a university or university college
  • study full time
  • pay an application fee
  • have enough money to live on and cover tuition fees if you need to
  • have somewhere to live
  • be able to return to your home country when you've completed your studies.

Applications are processed by the Norwegian Directorate of Immigration (UDI).

For more information, see the Norwegian Embassy in the UK.

Nationals of EU or EEA countries do not need a residence permit to stay in Norway. However, all those who plan to stay for longer than three months must register with the police.

To find out more, see Study in Norway - Student residence permit, UDI or contact the Norwegian Embassy in your home country.

How to apply

Applications for Bachelors courses are centralised through the Norwegian Universities and Colleges Admission Service (NUCAS).

For Masters degrees, applications are made directly to the 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.

Each institution and course has its own additional admission requirements and application processes, so check with your university before applying.

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.

Language requirements

Norway is home to two languages - Norwegian and Sami, with Norwegian being the most widely used. It is also the primary teaching language, but English is widely spoken as a second language, so you don't necessarily have to learn Norwegian to get by.

However, having a grasp of the language will help you to settle into your new surroundings and will allow you to communicate with other foreign students from Denmark and Sweden, so don't turn down the opportunity to learn. You can begin to learn the language at home or once you're in the country with an intensive course.

Comparison to UK qualifications

Thanks to the Bologna Process, UK employers will recognise any Norwegian Bachelors, Masters or PhD that you gain.

Find out more

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