Higher education in Sweden

Studerende på et bibliotek
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Yadid Levy/Norden.org
Here you can read about higher education at universities and university colleges in Sweden, and about admission, admission requirements, selection groups, and conversion of grades.

State (public) education in Sweden is free for Nordic citizens, but private educational institutions may charge fees.

In Sweden, you can study a higher education programme at a university (universitet) or a university college (högskola). There is little difference between universities and university colleges. At a university, you can always apply for doctoral (third-cycle) education when you have finished your bachelor’s (first-cycle) education, but this is not always possible at a university college.

In higher education in Sweden, you can choose to study on a set programme (programstudier) or compile an education by taking a number of individual courses (fristående kurser). Higher education is divided into three levels: 1) first-cycle level (grundnivå), 2) second-cycle level (avancerad nivå) and 3)  third-cycle level (forskarutbildning). A bachelor’s degree (kandidat, bachelor) in Sweden is offered at the first-cycle level. A Master’s degree at second-cycle level extends over two years. There are also shorter educational programmes and courses at Master’s level. They are called Master’s courses and are one-year.

In the humanities, social sciences and natural sciences, students usually put together their own education, while it is more common to follow a set programme for the legal, technical and medical subjects. Professional education is through entire programmes with their own titles.

Higher education in Sweden is measured in credits (högskolepoäng), where each year of 40 weeks corresponds to 60 credits, and one term (semester) to 30 credits. The higher educational institutions provide information about about the goals of an education programme and the number of credits for each individual course in a syllabus.

You can find information about subjects, higher educational institutions, and life as a student in Sweden on the Studera.nu website.

Admission

If you have upper secondary qualifications from another Nordic country, you may apply for higher education programmes and courses in Sweden. Read about the application procedure, deadlines, admission requirements, how your grades are calculated, and what documents you must sent to apply when you apply to a higher education programme or course in Sweden.

Application procedure

You can search for an educational programme or course on the Antagning.se website. You can choose individual courses or complete programmes. Place your preferred programme or course first in the application. You may change your selections up until the deadline for applications.

On Antagning.se, you set up a user profile and choose courses and/or programmes and submit your application. On Antagning.se you can also read more about the admission regulations and which documents you must upload or send. Remember to accept or decline the offers you receive. The university or university college to which you are admitted will contact you closer to the start of the programme or course.

Application deadline

There are a number of important dates to keep an eye on before and during the admission period. At Antagning.se you can see what dates apply for different terms.

Admission and entry requirements

You must have certain qualifications to study on a higher education programme/course in Sweden. On Antagning.se and the websites of the educational institutions you will find information about the admission requirements for the programme/course for which you want to apply.

There are different types of admission requirements for higher education programmes/courses in Sweden. The requirements are divided into general entry requirements (behörighet) that apply for all higher education programmes and courses, and specific entry requirements (särskild behörighet) that apply for certain programmes and courses that have specific admission requirements (särskilda förkunskapskrav).

You satisfy the general entry requirements if you have an upper secondary education qualification that qualifies you to higher education studies in the country of education. If you do not satisfy the general entry requirements, you may, for example, supplement your education through adult education.

For most higher educational programmes/courses, you must also satisfy some additional admission requirements. These requirements vary from programme to programme. Generally speaking, you must have passed certain subjects at upper secondary level.

Application selection groups

When there are more applicants than places for a programme/course, places are allocated on the basis of different selection groups (betygsgrupper). Regardless of your study background, you must show that you satisfy the general entry requirements.

You can apply to a higher education programme/course via several selection groups if you can confirm that you satisfy the general entry requirements in several ways.

Grade Group 1 (Direct Group - BI) is for applicants with upper secondary grades that satisfy entry requirements without supplementary studies.

Grade Group 2 (Supplementary Group - BII) is for applicants who have supplemented their qualifications with adult education studies (Komvux) in Sweden to satisfy the entry requirements.

The Swedish Scholastic Aptitude Test (högskoleprovet) is for you if you are uncertain about whether you can apply in group BI. You can take the test and apply using the results from the test. The test is held at many university cities in Sweden twice a year. If you get a poor result in the test, the educational institute will instead look at the average grade from your upper secondary qualification.

You can read about application for and times of the Swedish Scholastic Aptitude Test on Studera.nu. You can prepare for the test by going through earlier tests, which you can find on Studera.nu or on Högskoleprovguiden.

Language requirements

If you want to apply for higher education in Sweden, you must have completed upper secondary education. In addition, you must have good proficiency in Swedish and English. If you have an upper secondary education qualification from another Nordic country, this is a confirmation that you meet the requirement for proficiency in Swedish at a certain level.

Most courses are taught in Swedish. Not all higher education institutions allow students to write in another Scandinavian language when they submit written assignments or take exams. If a subject is taught in English, the examination is also held in English.

Students from the other Nordic countries are often permitted to take the examination in one of the Scandinavian languages, in both written and oral subjects. You should contact the study guidance counsellor for the educational programme/course you want to apply to in Sweden for more information about whether you can take examinations in another Scandinavian language.

Assessment of grades from other countries

You do not translate your grades when you apply for a higher education programme/course in Sweden.

On the website of the Swedish Council for Higher Education (Universitets- och högskolerådet), you can read about how your grades are converted from your upper secondary education in another Nordic country to Swedish grades.

Exchanges

You can take part of your education in Sweden through an agreement with your educational institution in your home country. You must contact your educational institution or an international office at the institution to find out about any exchange agreements.

You can also go on an exchange if your educational institution does not have an agreement with the institution you want to apply to in Sweden. Contact the educational institution you want to apply to, and see if they can accept you as a guest student of a ‘free mover’ for a term or a year. If the subjects are to be approved in your education plan, the educational institution in your home country must examine in advance and approve the subjects you are taking in Sweden.

Student Union (studentkår)

In Sweden there are student organisations called student unions (studentkår). These are interest organisations run by students for students. Everyone studying at a university or university college in Sweden is entitled to join a student union.

Contact your university or university college for more information. You can also read more on the website of the  Swedish National Union of Students.

Nordic Agreement on Admission to Higher Education

The Nordic countries have an agreement on admission to higher education in the Nordic region. You therefore have access to state higher education on the same or corresponding terms as the country’s own applicants if you are applying for higher education and live in another Nordic country. Nordic citizens do not pay a tuition or application fee in Sweden.

If you are not a Swedish citizen, you must submit documents to show that you are a citizen of one of the Nordic countries. Every round of admissions has a deadline for when you must prove your citizenship. If you are not a Nordic citizen, but you are living permanently in a Nordic country, you may be exempt from tuition and application fees.

Before you apply for an educational programme or course in Sweden, you should find out whether the programme/course is approved in your home country, to ensure that you can also work in your home country when you have completed your education. Contact EURES or the institution in your home country that works with recognition of international education, to find out what applies for your educational programme.

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