Upper secondary education in Norway

Students in highschool classroom
Yadid Levy/norden.org
Here you can find information about admission to upper secondary school (gymnas), and how upper secondary education is organised in Norway.

All young people who have completed primary and lower secondary education, or the equivalent, have a statutory right to three years of upper secondary education in Norway. Upper secondary education is voluntary and is financed by county councils. Pupils from other Nordic countries may apply on the same terms as Norwegian pupils. 

Who is entitled to upper secondary education in Norway?

All pupils  who have completed primary and lower secondary education, or the equivalent, are entitled to apply for  upper secondary education. This is called the  ‘young person’s right’ (ungdomsrett). Pupils are entitled to admission to one of three education programmes for which they have applied in the first year (Vg1), followed by two years of education in the programme (three years for vocational programmes, yrkesfag). You are also entitled to change your choice if you wish. You will then be given extended time to complete the programme. The young person’s right applies until the school year starting in the year of your 24th birthday. You are only entitled to complete upper secondary education once, so when you have completed a programme, you are no longer entitled to a place in upper secondary education.

Everyone who has completed primary and lower secondary education or equivalent, but who has not completed upper secondary education, is entitled to upper secondary education from the year of their 25th birthday. This is called the  ‘adult’s right’ (voksenrett). Counties may have different regulations for application, admission and organisation of adult education. Contact the adult education service in the county council where you want to apply for education.

If you are a Nordic citizen, you are entitled to upper secondary education in a different Nordic country to your own, for example in Norway. Under the terms of the Nordic Agreement on Co-operation on Upper Secondary School Education, all the Nordic countries must recognise each other’s upper secondary education programmes. The agreement guarantees that Nordic citizens can apply for admission to an upper secondary education programme in another Nordic country on the same terms as the country’s own citizens.

Types of upper secondary education programmes

You can choose between programmes that qualify you to apply for higher education or vocational programmes at upper secondary level. You choose the education programme before you start the first year (Vg1). In the second and third years (Vg2 and Vg3) you choose programme areas within the education programme.

Nordic pupils can apply to both state schools and independent schools (private upper secondary schools entitled to state funding) in Norway. 

Education programmes giving qualification for higher education 

Education programmes that qualify you to apply to higher education place most emphasis on theoretical knowledge, and lead to a general university entrance diploma. With this diploma you can apply for higher education at universities and university colleges when you have completed upper secondary education. Programmes that prepare you for higher education are three years.


Vocational education programmes

Vocational programmes prepare you for a profession, and result in either a trade certificate (fagbrev), journeyman certificate (svennebrev) or vocational competence (yrkeskompetanse). If you choose a vocational programme, you may enter working life directly when you have completed your education. Vocational programmes generally involve two years in school and two years in a workplace. You are also entitled to take a supplementary programme that will qualify you to apply to higher education.

How to apply for upper secondary education

The deadline for applications for ordinary admission is 1 March. Normally, you must be registered in the Norwegian National Registry before the deadline for your application to be considered. You apply through the Vigo application website. If you do not have a Norwegian national identity number, you should contact the Admissions Office in the county where you want to apply.  

There are no requirements regarding proficiency in the Norwegian language when you apply for upper secondary education in Norway. If you have previously achieved a pass grade in a subject corresponding to a subject in Norway, or a subject that is equivalent to or more extensive than a similar subject in Norway, this may be approved. You must apply to the principal of the school in Norway for approval.

If you have completed and passed an academic year in another country that is at the same level as the Norwegian years Vg1 and/or Vg2, you can apply to the county council to get this education approved as part of Norwegian upper secondary education. These regulations apply for all education programmes.

Apprentices who have an apprenticeship placement in another Nordic country are not guaranteed an apprenticeship in Norway, but may apply on equal terms to other applicants or find an apprenticeship placement in Norway.

You a Norwegian citizen and want to take an upper secondary education programme in another Nordic country 

If you are a Norwegian citizen and want to take all or part of your upper secondary education in another Nordic country, you may receive financial support from the Norwegian State Educational Loan Fund (Lånekassen) if the fund approves the school. 

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