Study in Denmark
Want to study in a European country with a high quality of life? Maybe somewhere green and clean? Snowy and fairytale-like? How about riding a bike instead of catching the tube or the bus on your way to university? If all of this sounds good, why not consider studying in Denmark? Find out more about universities in Denmark, and what steps to take next, with our guide...
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Universities in Denmark
Situated at the gateway between northern and western Europe, Denmark may be a relatively small country, but it's a heavyweight study destination. Five of the eight universities in Denmark make the top 400 of the QS World University Rankings 2014/15, with the University of Copenhagen leading the way in 45th place.
Tuition is free for students from the EU, and fees are certainly not extravagantly high for those from further afield. Most courses are taught in Danish (especially at undergraduate level), but you’ll also find a good selection of programs taught in English, and some in German.
Read more about Denmark’s top universities:
University of Copenhagen
The top university in Denmark, the University of Copenhagen, is also the highest-ranked university in the whole Scandinavian region, at 45th in the QS World University Rankings 2014/15. Established in 1479, it is Denmark’s oldest institution and the second oldest in Scandinavia, after Uppsala University in Sweden. It is home to almost 39,000 students, including many international students, with four campuses, all of which are located in or around the capital Copenhagen. Most courses are taught in Danish, although there are a few in English and several in German.
Denmark’s second university, Aarhus University, ranks at 96th place in the world. Despite being much younger than the University of Copenhagen, it is the country’s second oldest non-technical higher education institution. Founded in 1928, Aarhus University has expanded a lot since its creation and is currently the largest in Denmark. More than 43,600 students are enrolled there, studying a wide selection of different subjects. Her Majesty Queen Margrethe II is among the institution’s most famous alumni, having studied political science here in the 1960s.
Technical University of Denmark
Denmark’s first polytechnic institute, the Technical University of Denmark was founded in 1829 by the famous Danish physicist and chemist, Hans Christian Ørsted. Today, it is one of Europe’s leading engineering institutions, ranked at 123rd place in the QS World University Rankings 2014/15. Currently the university is home to more than 11,000 students, enrolled across 25 departments. Its campus is located in Kongens Lyngby, a city just north of Copenhagen. The university’s official colors are red and gray. It is famous for its rugby and volleyball teams.
University of Southern Denmark
Ranked at 308th place in the world, the University of Southern Denmark is the country’s fourth representative in the international rankings. It was founded in 1998 after the merger between Odense University, Southern Denmark School of Business and Engineering, and South Jutland University Centre. In 2006, the Business School Centre in Slagelse, the National Institute of Public Health and the Odense Teknikum were also incorporated into the institution. Thus, today the university has seven campuses, located in Odense, Slagelse, Copenhagen, Kolding, Esbjerg and Sønderborg. Approximately 26,000 students are currently enrolled in the University of Southern Denmark.
Denmark’s fifth entry in the QS World University Rankings 2014/15, Aalborg University, currently ranks in 363rd place. Established in 1974, the university is home to almost 22,000 students. It has three campuses, of which the main is located in the city of Aalborg. The other two are in Esbjerg and Copenhagen. Since 2007, the university has been divided into four faculties – Faculty of Humanities, Faculty of Social Sciences, Faculty of Engineering and Science, and Faculty of Medicine. Aalborg University is a popular choice among international students, with 10% of the university’s student body coming from outside of Denmark.
Frequently ranked among the countries with the highest quality of life and happiest populations, Denmark is known for its pretty cities, high-end cuisine (Copenhagen in particular is full of Michelin-starred eateries), innovative and cool designs, high-quality cinema (including world-renowned filmmakers such as Lars von Trier and Susanne Bier) and attractive coastlines.
Find out more about what it's like to be a student in some of Denmark's major cities:
Denmark’s capital city, Copenhagen, is one of the most celebrated cities in Europe. The heady combination of romantic spires and edgy new architecture, the vibrant and colorful cultural scene, innumerable cafés and bars, and the consistently high quality of life enjoyed by its residents probably all have something to do with this. Copenhagen currently ranks at 20th place in the 2013 QS Best Student Cities index. But, like all great cities, Copenhagen’s appeal is all really down to a certain je ne sais quoi - you’ll just have to visit to find out! It’s not the cheapest place in the world to study, but unlikely to set you back more than other capitals such as London or Paris.
As well as the University of Copenhagen, Denmark’s oldest and highest-ranked university, Copenhagen is also home to the Technical University of Denmark, ranked 123rd in the world, as well as Copenhagen Business School and the IT University of Copenhagen.
An important port town located on the country’s main peninsula, Aarhus is Denmark’s second largest city and is home to the second highest-ranked Danish university, Aarhus University (96th in the QS World University Rankings 2014/15). Like Copenhagen, it has a rich history and a stunning historical quarter – including not one but two 13th century cathedrals – as well as a rich cultural scene and plenty of nightlife, courtesy of its large student population. Aarhus can also lay claim to being one of the four happiest cities in the world, according to National Geographic’s Dan Buettner.
Located on the island of Funen, which sits between main peninsula Jutland and largest island Zealand, Odense is Denmark’s third most populous city. It is noteworthy for being the birthplace of famous Danish author Hans Christian Andersen, known for his innovative fairy tales, and is also rich with Viking-era history. You can see the skeleton of Saint Canute, the country’s patron saint, on display in the city’s historic cathedral. University-wise, Odense is the location of the main campus of the University of Southern Denmark, ranked 308 in the QS World University Rankings 2014/15, and this relatively small city is infused with the vibrant life of its the large student population.
An industrial city towards the north of Jutland, Aalborg is home to Aalborg University, which is ranked 363rd in the QS World University Rankings 2014/15. Combining historical architecture with a more industrial and contemporary feel, one of its Aalborg’s major attractions is Jomfru Ane Gade – a long street which is the center of the city’s thriving café culture and nightlife. A project to redevelop the waterfront area was completed in the first half of 2014, shortly after the city unveiled its new Musikkens Hus, a major concert venue. Aalborg is also home to the largest carnival in Northern Europe, held annually in May.
Applying to study in Denmark
Universities in Denmark are in charge of their own admissions, so apply directly. Various online resources are available (including this site run by the Ministry of Higher Education and Science), to help you find out what your secondary qualifications equate to in the Danish system; depending on your country of origin and grades, a supplementary year of study may be required.
You’ll obviously need to prove you are fluent in the language of tuition, with the level depending on the course and university to which you are applying – as ever, check with the institution.
Visas to study in Denmark
Student visa requirements vary according to whether or not you are from an EU/EEA country. Citizens of other Nordic countries are treated as if they were Danish citizens.
Applicants from the EU/EEA or Switzerland:
- You do not need a visa to study in Denmark.
- You will need to get a registration certificate, which is simply a confirmation of your rights as an EU/EEA/Swiss citizen. In order to get this you will simply need to prove your citizenship and that you have been accepted onto a course of higher education. You will also be required to show that you have sufficient financial means to support yourself.
- You are allowed to work without restriction, but must have a permit to do so, which you can apply for at the same time as your registration certificate.
Non EU/EEA students:
- Must get a residence permit in order to study in Denmark. In order to get this you must prove that you have been accepted as a student to a higher education program at a university, college or institute that has been approved by the Danish government.
- You must prove you can support yourself financially for the duration of your stay. If you are to pay a tuition fee, you must show that you have paid the fee for the first semester or year.
- You must prove you can speak and understand the language of instruction and have a functional command of Danish, Swedish, Norwegian, English or German.
Fees and funding
Denmark is part of the European Union. Therefore, as is standard, if you are from anywhere else in the EU/EEA (or Switzerland), you will be treated almost exactly the same as a local student. This means that universities in Denmark are free to attend, at all levels, for all EU/EEA students. If you are from outside the EU/EEA, you will be required to pay fees, which on average cost €6,000-16,000 per year (US$8,000-21,000). Some scholarships are available, offered by individual Danish universities and also via public initiatives.