Consider joining more than 26,000 international students by furthering your education in this innovative, culturally rich Scandinavian country
Located in northern Europe between Norway and Finland, Sweden is renowned not only for its flat-pack furniture and the Nobel Prize, but also for a long and proud history of academic excellence and invention.
Many courses at Swedish universities enjoy strong links with industry, which is good news when it comes to work experience opportunities and your career prospects.
Away from your studies the environment is a sight to behold, with sprawling forests, snow-capped mountain ranges and wonderful beaches providing the perfect backdrop, while allowing you the chance to give skiing, mountain biking, hiking and fishing a try.
You'll quickly adjust to the country's laidback nature. The Swedish term lagom, meaning 'just the right amount', perfectly sums up its cultural ideals of fairness and justice.
Everything comes in moderation - you'll be pushed academically, but in return will regularly enjoy fika - a Swedish custom allowing colleagues, friends or family to catch up over coffee and cake.
Sweden is home to 38 universities. Of the eight appearing in the QS World University Rankings 2018, two are inside the top 100. These are Lund University, in joint 78th position, and KTH Royal Institute of Technology, in joint 98th.
Programmes are offered at two main types of institution in Sweden:
- universities provide degrees at Bachelors, Masters and PhD level.
- university colleges provide degrees at Bachelors and Masters level.
Despite the difference, universities are considered no more prestigious than university colleges. A Bachelors received from a university has the same weighting as a Bachelors received from a university college, and the two types of institution are both typically regarded as universities.
The majority of institutions are government funded, but some are supported privately. These independent providers typically offer degrees in a specialist subject - usually in psychotherapy and healthcare.
Students 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 students in partner countries. Opportunities last from three months to one academic year.
Financial support is available through the Erasmus+ initiative to any UK public, private or not-for-profit organisation actively involved in education or training.
Your university must have a formal agreement with a partner university in another EU country, so be sure to check that your university is involved in the programme and offers the scheme in your subject. Speak to the Erasmus+ coordinator at your university about any opportunities in Sweden.
Degree courses in Sweden
Nearly 100 Bachelors degrees are offered in English. They require three years of full-time study, and to apply you'll need to have successfully completed upper secondary school (sixth form or college).
The structure of a Swedish Bachelors degree can differ from its UK counterpart. At some universities, programmes are structured as a series of courses (modules), studied one at a time and examined before the next one begins. Other universities follow the UK system of studying a number of courses simultaneously with exams taking place in the summer.
As well as these exams, throughout a Bachelors degree you'll be assessed with written and oral tests, group work and lab work (depending on your course). Most programmes end with the submission of a thesis.
The academic year runs from August to June, split into two semesters: autumn (August to mid-January) and spring (mid-January to June).
There's plenty more choice when it comes to postgraduate courses - with more than 900 Masters courses delivered in English.
These take one to two years of full-time study, and are comprised of advanced coursework followed by the completion and submission of a research-based thesis.
To be eligible for a Masters degree, you'll need to have successfully complete upper secondary school, and hold an undergraduate degree or equivalent.
Swedish universities don't offer taught PhD courses. They're largely research-based, although you'll also need to attend seminars or short courses, and they require a minimum of four years' full-time study.
In this time, you'll produce a dissertation, composed of either an extended essay or a collection of smaller pieces of scholarly work, and will be assigned an individual tutor to oversee your studies. Assessment takes places as a public defence of your dissertation.
Although the majority of PhDs are completed independently, it's likely you'll partake in group work in the technology, natural sciences and medical fields.
PhDs are typically offered as paid positions - you'll be employed by the university as a researcher. You won't be subject to tuition fees and will instead receive a monthly salary to support your studies.
It's good news if you're from an EU/EEA/Nordic country or Switzerland - you won't incur any tuition fees by studying in Sweden. You'll only be required to pay a students' union fee, which varies between 50 and 350 SEK (around £4 to £30) per semester.
Applicants from all other countries will be required to pay tuition fees as well as this union fee. Study in Sweden estimates the average cost of a Masters to be 129,000 SEK per year (nearly £10,800), as of 2017. However, averages vary between subject disciplines:
- Social sciences and humanities students can expect to pay between 80,000 SEK and 110,000 SEK (£6,700 to £9,190) per year.
- For technical and natural science programmes, this rises to between 120,000 SEK and 145,000 (£10,000 to £12,100) per year.
- Architecture and design students face the highest fees, at a suggested 190,000 to 270,000 SEK (£15,875 to £22,560).
Non-EU/EEA/Nordic/Swiss students will also be subject to a university application fee.
It's important to also factor in living costs to your budget. Study in Sweden recommends a monthly sum of 8,000 SEK (just under £700), to cover food, accommodation, travel, phone and internet use as well as other luxuries. Your personal lifestyle, type of accommodation and location will affect how much you'll need to budget for - living in Stockholm or Gothenburg, for example, will be more expensive than some of Sweden's smaller towns.
Funding to study in Sweden
A range of scholarship options are available to international students studying at all levels of higher education. Due to the lack of tuition fees, it's normal for Swedish students to complete their studies without scholarships or funding.
Swedish Institute Study Scholarships (SISS) are postgraduate awards, covering tuition fees and living costs. They're open to students from 140 countries that can fulfil a range of criteria, such as having the ability to demonstrate previous leadership and work experience. Visit the website to view the full list of entry requirements.
For more information about scholarships, awards and funding, visit:
How to apply
For undergraduate and Masters degrees, you'll submit your application through Sweden's central applications portal universityadmissions.se. You can apply for up to eight Bachelors programmes in one cycle, or four Masters degrees.
As well as completing an online application form, you'll also need to submit documentation that proves your eligibility to study in the country. This includes:
- certificates of diplomas
- transcripts of any previous completed qualifications
- evidence of your language proficiency (where appropriate)
- a copy of your passport.
If you're applying from a non-EU/EEA country or from outside Switzerland, you'll be subject to a processing fee of 900 SEK (roughly £75).
To gain acceptance onto a Masters course, you'll need a Bachelors degree or equivalent from an internationally-recognised university. See the Swedish Council for Higher Education for more information on having foreign qualifications officially evaluated.
PhD applications are handled by individual universities, so contact them directly for details of what you'll need to apply.
Thanks to the wide range of courses offered in English at all levels, you won't need to be fluent in Swedish to study in the country. If you're planning to study a course in Swedish, you'll need to prove that your skills are equivalent to secondary school level - you can do this by taking the Test in Swedish for university studies (Tisus).
If you're hoping to study a course in English and you're a non-native speaker, you can demonstrate your proficiency by taking either the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) or the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL).
As an EU citizen, you're permitted to live in any EU country while studying as long as you:
- are enrolled at an approved university/other educational institution
- are studying for more than three months
- have comprehensive health insurance cover
- have sufficient income (from any source) to live without needing income support.
Because of this, you won't need a permit or visa to study in Sweden. If you're staying for longer than 12 months, you should register with the Swedish Tax Agency.
Swiss students are able to enter Sweden without a visa, but will need to register for a residence permit for any stay exceeding three months. Visit the Swedish Migration Agency - Residence permits for Swiss citizens for more information.
From all other countries, you'll need to obtain a residence permit before arriving in Sweden. The process can be lengthy - with a current minimum wait time of three months for applications to be approved, you should get the ball rolling as soon as possible. Full details on what you'll need to provide can be found at the Swedish Migration Agency.
This information remains correct following the UK's decision to leave the EU, and will be updated if changes occur.
Comparison to UK qualifications
Sweden's involvement in the Bologna process as a member of the EU means the qualifications offered at its universities are directly comparable in value and teaching standards to those in the UK.
Find out more
- Discover what it's like to work in Sweden.