Higher education in Sweden

Studerende på et bibliotek
Photographer
Yadid Levy/Norden.org
Here you can read about admission to higher education programmes in Sweden.

In Sweden, you can study a higher education programme at a university (universitet) or a university college (högskola). 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).

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.

There is little difference between universities and university colleges in Sweden. At a university, you can always apply for doctoral (third-cycle) education when you have finished your bachelor’s (first-cycle) level. This is not always possible at a university college.

Education measured in credits

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. You may not study for more than 45 credits per term.

The different educational institutions provide information about about the goals of the education and the number of credits for each individual course in a syllabus.

Higher education is divided into three levels: 1) a bachelor’s level that builds on the knowledge the student has acquired at upper secondary school, 2) a master’s level that builds on the knowledge the student has acquired at bachelor’s level, and 3) a doctoral level that builds on the knowledge acquired at bachelor’s and master’s levels.

Credits per diploma

First-cycle qualifications

Higher Education Diploma (Högskoleexamen), 120 credits

Degree of Bachelor (Kandidatexamen), 180 credits

Second-cycle qualifications

Degree of Master (Magisterexamen), 60 credits

Degree of Master (Kandidatexamen), 120 credits

Third-cycle qualifications

Degree of Licentiate (Licentiatexamen), 120 credits

Degree of Doctor (Doktorsexamen), 240 credits

Applying for jobs in your home country with a Swedish educational qualification

You should find out whether the educational programme you want to study in Sweden is recognised in your home country if you are planning to work there when you have completed your Swedish education. Contact EURES in your home country, or the institution in your home country that works with recognition of international education, to find out what applies for your educational programme.

Admission to higher education programmes and courses in Sweden.

Application procedure

If you want to study in Sweden, you can look for an educational programme or course on the Antagning.se website. You can choose individual courses or complete programmes. You do that in the same application. You can choose up to 20 programmes or courses. NB. 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 an account, 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

The application deadline for most educational programmes and courses in Sweden is 15 April for start in the autumn term, and 15 October for start in the spring term. Certain programmes and courses have different application deadlines, so you should check when to apply for the programme or course you are interested in.

Language requirements

You must have a certain proficiency in Swedish and English to study on a higher education programme/course in Sweden. However, 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.

The examination language is generally Swedish. If the tuition in a subject is given in English, the examination is 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.

Entry requirements for higher education

You must have certain qualifications to study on a higher education programme/course in Sweden. On the websites of the educational institutions you will find information about the entry requirements for the programme/course you want to take.

There are different types of entry requirements for higher education programmes/courses in Sweden. The requirements are divided into general entry requirements (grundläggande behörighet) and specific entry requirements (särskild behörighet). The general entry requirements apply for all higher education programmes/courses. In addition to the general entry requirements, many programmes/courses have specific entry requirements (särskilda krav).

General entry requirements

General entry requirements – for admission to a higher education programme/course in Sweden, you always need to satisfy the general entry requirements. 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.

Specific entry requirements

Specific entry requirements (särskild behörighet) – for most higher educational programmes/courses, you must satisfy some specific requirements. These requirements vary from programme to programme. Generally speaking, you must have passed certain subjects at upper secondary level.

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. The group in which you apply depends on how you have confirmed your general entry requirements. You can apply to a higher education programme/course via several groups if you can confirm your general entry requirements in several ways.

Evaluation 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.

Student Union (studentkår)

A student union (studentkår) is an interest organisation 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 upper secondary education in the Nordic region. You therefore have access to state higher education on the same or corresponding terms as the country’s own citizens if you are applying for higher education and live in another Nordic country. Consequently, Nordic citizens are entitled to apply for admission to a higher education programme/course in Sweden on the same terms as Swedish citizens. Nordic citizens do not pay a tuition or application fee.

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.

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