The educational system in Greenland

Foto: Rastvakt, Qinngorput, Nuuk, Grönland
Mats Bjerde
Here you can obtain an overview of the educational system and educational courses in Greenland.

Greenland offers primary education, secondary education, vocational education and a number of programmes of higher education.

Primary school

In Greenland, there are ten years of compulsory education.    This means that all children aged between 6 and 16 must receive education for ten years.     Primary schools in Greenland are free of charge for everyone.

Primary school is divided into three steps: 

  • First step: A three-year step for the youngest children, 1st-3rd grade
  • Middle step: A four-year step for intermediate children, 4th-7th grade
  • Third step: A three-year step for the oldest children, 8th-10th grade

After both the first and middle steps, all children must be tested to ensure that they have learned what they need to, and so that teachers can adjust their teaching. The third step concludes in examinations, after which the pupil receives a school-leaving certificate.

It is also possible to take 10th grade at a continuation school in Greenland or Denmark.

Upper secondary education – GUX

In Greenland, upper secondary (high school) education is available from GUX in Aasiaat, Sisimiut, Nuuk and Qaqortoq. The upper secondary programme can be taken over two, three or four years.

In addition, a one-year upper secondary supplementary course is available in Sisimiut at which you can improve your individual upper secondary grades or supplement them to a higher level, if this is for example required to enter a particular programme of higher education.

Vocational programmes – EUD

A vocational programme is a study programme that alternates between school lessons and practical training. A vocational programme may be from one to five years in length. Some vocational programmes take place exclusively in Greenland, while others involve periods of school attendance in Denmark. In order to take a vocational programme, you must be enrolled in a trade school and have found an internship placement.

Programmes of further education

Further education is a term for those study programmes for which you can apply after taking a preparatory programme such as GUX. Programmes of further education in Greenland are divided into short-cycle, medium-cycle and long-cycle programmes.

Short-cycle programmes of further education, 2-3 years

Most short-cycle programmes of further education in Greenland are academy programmes. These usually take around 2-3 years to complete, and the training is aimed at a specific business area. The programmes alternate between school attendance and periods of internship.

Medium-cycle programmes of further education, 3-4½ years

Medium-cycle programmes of further education are provided in Greenland as Professional Bachelor programmes. These encompass both theoretical and practical training, and internships are included in the programmes. Professional Bachelor programmes are oriented towards specific professions such as teaching, nursing, journalism, etc. Several educational institutions in Greenland offer Professional Bachelor programmes.

Long-cycle programmes of further education, 5-6 years

A Bachelor programme is a broad theoretical study programme taken at university. Many students choose to follow this with a Master’s programme. A Master’s programme is a theoretical study programme in which students specialise in a particular field, following the somewhat broader introduction they received during the Bachelor programme. Bachelor programmes are offered by several educational institutions in Greenland, while Master’s programmes are available only from Ilisimatusarfik, the University of Greenland, in Nuuk.

PhD programmes

A three-year educational programme leading to a PhD degree is available from Ilisimatusarfik, the University of Greenland. PhD positions are advertised at regular intervals and must be applied for by students.

Folk high school stays in Greenland

There are two approved folk high schools in Greenland that enrol students who seek courses in subjects they are interested in: Knud Rasmussen High School in Sisimiut and Sulisartut High School in Qaqortoq.

If you are a Nordic citizen and wish to study in Greenland

If you are a citizen of a Nordic country, you can study in Greenland on an equal footing with Greenlandic students. You can apply for admission to a Greenlandic educational institution, where you can study free of charge.

However, note that in order to receive a Greenlandic student grant you must be a Danish citizen or be able to document a special connection with Greenland. In some cases, you can take a student grant from your home country instead.

Ilisimatusarfik, the University of Greenland, also offers study places to guest students who wish to study for a semester in Nuuk. Courses are offered in Danish, Greenlandic and English.

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