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Sweden has the eleventh highest per capita income in the world and is the birthplace of several multinational companies such as IKEA, H&M, Spotify, Volvo, etc. Sweden also ranks very highly in health, education, prosperity, quality of life, income and gender equality, protection of civil liberties and human development.

Despite being abundantly rich with natural beauty, Sweden is a country built on people with knowledge as its biggest asset. Global rankings such as the Times Higher Education World University Rankings and the Shanghai Jiao Tong Academic Rankings of World Universities have regularly placed Swedish Universities highly on their list. With world-class universities, technically-advanced infrastructure and an excellent higher education system, Sweden has seen an influx of international students despite the pandemic.

If you, too, want to explore the option of pursuing your higher education in Sweden, you are in the right place. This blog tells you everything you need to know about your higher studies in Sweden.


1.     Higher education in Sweden
2.     Higher education in Sweden for international students
3.     Structure of Higher Education in Sweden
4.     Cost of Higher Education in Sweden
5.     Cost of living in Sweden
6.     Admission for Higher Education in Sweden
7.     Permanent Residence after Higher Education in Sweden
8.     Top universities for Higher Education in Sweden

Cityscape of Sweden

Higher education in Sweden

Higher education in Sweden is counted among the best in the world. Despite its small population of around ten million, it houses some of the world’s top universities. The teaching method that Sweden’s higher education system follows is based on the motto ‘freedom with responsibility’. A large part of higher studies in Sweden happens outside the classroom, with students mainly learning in groups or independently, rather than just in lectures. This system of higher education in Sweden promotes creative and critical thinking, liberty of thought and expression and therefore ensures the overall growth of an individual student. It is for this reason that higher education in Sweden for international students is becoming an ever-increasing field.

Higher education in Sweden for international students

There is a global interest among students in pursuing their higher studies in Sweden. There is a constant growth in the number of international students enrolling for higher education in Sweden. Students from over 117 different countries come for their higher studies in Sweden. A majority of these students come from China, Finland and India.

Despite the covid-19 pandemic, international students have shown a 13% greater interest in pursuing their higher studies in Sweden. In 2020, the number of international students admitted to Swedish universities was 27,329 whereas, in 2019, this number stood at 24,099. The number of Indian students applying for higher education in Sweden also saw an increase from 3526 in 2019 to 6811 in 2020.

Language is not a barrier when it comes to pursuing your higher education in Sweden since almost all Swedish people speak English. Academically, there are more than 1000 degree programmes in Sweden’s higher education system that are taught in English medium. Out of these over 100 are bachelor’s degree programmes and over 900 are master’s degree programmes. For your higher studies in Sweden, you have an array of programmes to choose from and pick the one that interests you the most. Some of the most popular programmes are those associated with Life Sciences, Engineering and IT, and Business. Programmes in areas such as Design, Human Rights and International Relations also enjoy a strong reputation in Sweden.

To know more about the top programmes of Sweden,

Have you taken the GMAT before?

Structure of Higher Education in Sweden

Sweden is a signatory to the Bologna process which is aimed at making European higher education more compatible. The Bologna process includes ECTS which stands for European Credit Transfer and Accumulation System. ECTS helps in the recognition of higher education degrees among countries. In line with this, Sweden’s higher education system introduced a three-tier degree structure in 2007. The structure of higher education in Sweden can be explained as follows-

  1. Undergraduate programmes- After completion of at least 120 credits, the diploma or Högskoleexamen is awarded. A bachelor’s degree or Kandidateexamen is equivalent to three years of full-time study and is awarded after completion of 180 credits. Degrees in programmes such as medicine, dentistry, psychology, pharmaceutical studies, civil engineering, architecture and law, are professional degrees and extend between four-six years.
  2. Master’s programmes- Sweden’s higher education system offers two kinds of master’s degree differentiated based on their duration–Magisterexamen and Masterexamen. The duration of Magisterexamen is one year and that of Masterexamen is two years. Besides these, around sixty professional degrees are also available. The duration of these professional programmes varies depending on their field of study.
  3. Doctoral programmes- These programmes combine coursework and research work and usually end with a thesis.

Cost of Higher Education in Sweden

Higher studies in Sweden is only free for students from EU/EEA countries. Students from other countries, including India have to pay the tuition fees for higher education in Sweden. However, Ph.D. degrees in Sweden are tuition-free for all international students, irrespective of their country of origin. The cost of higher education in Sweden is relatively low as compared to other European countries.

The tuition fee in Swedish universities vary depending on the type of course, its global reach, the research community involved, and also on the university offering the course. Students can also apply for various scholarships available to bring down the cost of their higher studies in Sweden. The estimated tuition fees for various programmes in Sweden is as follows:

Cost of living in Sweden

As an international student pursuing higher studies in Sweden, you would have to shell out more from your pocket than just tuition fees. For accommodation, you can choose from student residence halls or rent a shared apartment. Begin by getting in touch with your university which can provide you with useful information on student residence halls or dorms. Living in student housing helps you build connections with students from other countries who are pursuing their higher studies in Sweden.

Secondly, to bring down your food bill, you can buy groceries from city suburbs or affordable supermarkets like Willy’s or Lidl. Public transportation and bicycles are the two most common forms of transportation among students. Bicycles are a cheaper mode of transportation and help students save money. The average monthly expenditure of an international student at the time of his higher studies in Sweden can come around SEK 8,600. Students are also allowed to work a part-time job while studying which helps students support their expenses for their higher education in Sweden. Further breakdown of monthly expenses of a student is given below:

Admission for higher education in Sweden

The Swedish academic year is divided into two semesters– autumn and spring. The application deadline for the autumn semester is mid-January while that for the spring semester is mid-August. A number of programmes commence in the autumn. The applications window usually opens in October for admission in the following year.

For admission to Swedish universities, the quickest and most used way is by applying online through the official University Admissions in Sweden website– during the national applications period. Since requirements for admissions vary from one institution to another, it is advisable to check the website of the university you are applying to for specific requirements. Here are the basic requirements you need to fulfill when applying for higher studies in Sweden-

1. Bachelor’s degree requirements-

  • Must have completed higher secondary school ( up to class XII )
  • For students who have finished school after 31 December 2009, the applicant should have completed mathematics courses to the level of Swedish mathematics courses–1A, 1B or 1C.

2. Master’s degree requirements-

  • A bachelor’s degree or an equivalent to a Swedish Kandidatexamen from an internationally recognized university.

3. Ph.D. Degree basic requirements-

  • Bachelors or higher degree from an internationally recognised university with a focus on the same field in which the applicant wants to pursue a Ph.D.
  • A degree thesis which was done at the time of pursuing your previous degree.
  • The admission process for doctoral-level is different from other programmes. It is therefore advisable to connect directly with universities for application instructions.

Additional requirements-

  • Demonstration of English proficiency via IELTS, TOEFL, etc.
  • Demonstration of Swedish proficiency for programmes taught in the Swedish language.
  • SOP, Resume, LOR
  • Portfolio (for students applying for art, design or architecture courses)
  • Certificates to support achievements mentioned in your application.
  • Proof of funds
  • A copy of your passport

The documents should be translated into English if in any other language and certified by the concerned authority.

To know more about the admission process,

Have you taken the GMAT before?

Permanent Residence after Higher Education in Sweden

If you have not found a job after completing your higher studies in Sweden, you can apply for a residence permit extension for a period not extending twelve months. The application should be made 30 days before the expiration of your current permit. After you have found a job, apply for a work permit before the expiry of your current residence permit.

Non-EU nationals who have been living in Sweden for five years or more are eligible for long-term resident permits. These five years are exclusive of your study years but can be included under certain terms and conditions. This permanent resident permit is valid for as long as you reside in Sweden. After residing in Sweden for a continuous period of five years, you are also eligible for Swedish citizenship.

Stockholm University
In picture: Stockholm University

Top universities for Higher Education in Sweden

Despite being a relatively small country in size and population, Sweden is home to some of the world’s top universities. Many Swedish universities such as Karolinska Institute, Uppsala University, Lund University and Stockholm University make it to the world’s top 100 almost every year.

Here is a list of the top universities in Sweden-

  1. Karolinska Institute
  2. Uppsala University
  3. Lund University
  4. Stockholm University
  5. University of Gothenburg
  6. KTH Royal Institute of Technology
  7. Chalmers University of Technology
  8. Linköoing University
  9. Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences
  10. Umea University

The Nordic country offers a unique work-life balance and a life of equality. Sweden has therefore become a favourite pick for students.

Already dreaming about your higher studies in Norway? Get in touch with our counsellor to turn your dream into a reality.

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