Study in Sweden
Choose to study in Sweden, and you will find yourself in a nation which has always punched well above its weight. From being the center of an empire in the 17th century, to being the home and birthplace of the Nobel Prize, its influence has long spread well beyond its borders, despite the fact that its total population is no bigger than a large city. Swedish businesses such as Ikea and Volvo are known around the world, and its contributions to popular culture range from bouffant-haired 70s pop aristocrats ABBA to the groundbreaking films of director Ingmar Bergman.
Modern-day Sweden is known for its sense of social justice and fairness. It has the highest level of wealth equality in the world, one of the world’s lowest gender pay gaps, publically funded healthcare for all, and equal rights for homosexual and heterosexual couples. Add on striking northern European beauty, and free tuition for EU students (fees for non-EU students were introduced recently), and the appeal of studying in Sweden is pretty strong.
Click on the tabs below to find out more about universities in Sweden, student cities, tuition fees and more.
- Constitutional monarchy, currently headed (ceremonially) by King Carl XVI Gustaf
- Democracy, with unicameral legislature (Riksdag)
- Head of government is prime minister (current incumbent is Stefan Löfven).
- Population of approximately 9.38 million people and total landmass of 173,745 square miles, making Sweden one of the most sparsely populated nations in the world
- Member state of the European Union
- Last involved in an armed conflict in 1814, and has since maintained an official policy of neutrality in foreign affairs
- Official language: Swedish (Svensk); many Swedes speak English as a second language
- Capital and largest city: Stockholm
- As well as the famous meatballs, Swedish cuisine includes such delicacies as licorice ice cream and pickled herrings.
- Currency: Swedish Krona (SEK)
- Internal dialing code: +46
- Central European Time (UTC+1), switching to Central European Summer Time in summer (UCT+2)
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Universities in Sweden
As you’d expect from a nation with an economy driven by science and technology, Sweden offers a good selection of universities. It has eight entries in the QS World University Rankings® 2016-2017, all of which are in the top 300. The top five are:
Lund University is one of the oldest and most prestigious universities in Northern Europe, and ranks 73rd in the world. With a large student body of 41,000, students make up almost half the population of the city of Lund (click on the ‘Student Cities’ tab to find out more), 15% of which are from outside Sweden. The university cooperates with 600 universities in over 70 countries, both in research and in student exchange programs such as Erasmus.
KTH is Sweden’s largest, oldest and most international polytechnic university and considered one of the best in Europe. Located in the capital, Stockholm, it currently ranks 97th in the world, provides a third of Sweden’s research and engineering education, and has consistently ranked as one of the top 40 universities for engineering and technology subjects.
Founded in 1477, Uppsala University is the oldest university in both Sweden and all of the Nordic countries. It ranks joint 98th in the QS World University Rankings 2016-2017 and has 41,470 students enrolled. The university’s long history of prestigious education makes it a member of the Coimbra Group, an association of longstanding institutions of a high international standard.
Located in Gothenburg, Chalmers University of Technology is another very strong polytechnic university, ranked 139th in the world overall and within the top 100 for engineering and technology subjects. Over a third of students enrolled on master’s programs at Chalmers are international, which may be partly due to the fact that all master’s courses are taught in English.
Stockholm University is the Swedish capital’s state university, currently ranked joint 196th in the world. It’s one of Scandinavia’s largest universities, educating nearly 70,000 students in four faculties. Stockholm University offers many programs in English and is currently ranked within the top 100 universities in the world for arts and humanities.
Other internationally ranked universities in Sweden include the University of Gothenburg (ranked joint 264th), Linköping University (282nd) and Umeå University (joint 294th, up from joint 319th last year). In addition, Sweden is home to a number of prestigious specialized institutions, including the medical-focused Karolinska Institute, and the Stockholm School of Economics.
Student cities in Sweden
Explore some of Sweden's top cities for students...
Home to nearly a quarter of Sweden’s population, Stockholm is very much the country’s beating heart. Universities in Stockholm include many of the nation’s most prestigious institutions, such as KTH Royal Institute of Technology, (ranked 97th in the world), Stockholm University (ranked joint 196th) and the Karolinska Institute (in the global top 10 for medicine). Stockholm itself is also the highest-ranking Nordic city in the QS Best Student Cities 2016, in 24th place.
Sweden’s capital is known for its beauty, friendliness, culture and high quality of life. As a student, you’ll have plenty of opportunity to explore Stockholm’s buzzing nightlife, bohemian shops and cafés, or perhaps just take a break from studies by relaxing in the parklands of Djurgården Island. Built on 14 islands connected by 57 bridges, Stockholm is also characterized by the fact that water is never far away.
Sweden’s second-largest city, Gothenburg is something of a godsend for those who are not drawn to the quiet, historical, leafy cities in which you’ll find many of Sweden’s universities. Universities in Gothenburg include two high-ranking institutions: the Chalmers University of Technology (ranked 139th in the world) and the University of Gothenburg (joint 264th).
Gothenburg is more affordable than many other Swedish cities, and has plenty of pubs and bars. The port town is also renowned for its continental feel and its friendly locals, and has a charming historical district of its own, so you needn’t feel like you’re missing out. Gothenburg is also featured in the QS Best Student Cities index, at 54th, reflecting the great student experience it has to offer.
A small and student-centered city, Lund dates back to the 10th century, and is known as something of a hub for high-tech companies, as well as being famed for its excellent university. The second oldest university in Sweden, Lund University is the country’s highest ranking institution, at 73rd in the QS World University Rankings 2016-2017. The city’s position at the southern tip of Sweden means that it also offers plenty of opportunities for travel, making it a good choice for students keen to explore more of Europe in between semesters.
Sweden’s fourth-largest city, Uppsala is a leafy canal-lined city which boasts its very own castle. It’s home to Sweden’s oldest and third-highest ranking institution, Uppsala University (joint 98th in the world). Like Lund, Uppsala appeals not only for the prestige of its university, but also for its lively student community. Though small, both Uppsala and Lund have vibrant student scenes, including opportunities to find student jobs in the bars and other organizations at the heart of student life. Located towards the east of the country, about an hour’s drive north of Stockholm, Uppsala is also well placed for trips to the rest of Europe.
Much further up the eastern coast, Umeå is by far the most northerly of the locations mentioned here, offering a base from which lovers of the wilderness can strike out and enjoy the stark beauty of northern Sweden. If you’re feeling brave, it is a mere 400km from the Arctic Circle. But, though fairly small and remote, Umeå is no backwater. It is known for being something of research hub, with a sizable student population, reasonable nightlife and enough culture to have earned the title of European Capital of Culture in 2014. Umeå University is ranked within the world's top 300, and the city is also home to a branch of the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (ranked 7th in the world for agriculture and forestry).
Swedish university admissions
For Swedish university admissions, you should use the centralized University Admissions application portal, Universityadmissions.se. University is free for Swedish citizens and citizens of EU countries. However, fees have been introduced for non-EU citizens. These are set individually by each university, and you can expect to pay somewhere between SEK90,000 and 150,000 (around US$10,560-17,595) depending on your degree. Non-EU students must also pay an application fee of SEK900 (US$106) – this remains the same no matter how many courses or programs you apply for.
Student visas for Sweden
Student visa requirements for Sweden differ depending on whether or not you are from an EU nation.
EU and Swiss nationals:
- You do not need a visa.
- Unless you are from a Nordic nation, you will have to register with the Swedish Migration Board within three months of your arrival. This can be done in person, by post or online (note that the Stockholm municipality of Solna has slightly different regulations).
- You will need to prove that you have been accepted onto a course, show that you have enough funds to cover your stay and provide evidence that you have acquired health insurance in order to get your registration certificate.
- Swiss nationals will also need to get a special residence permit, for which you will need to follow a similar procedure.
If you are not from the EU/EEA:
- You will require a residence permit in order to study in Sweden, which you can get from your local Swedish embassy. The application cost for both student residence permits and a permit to seek employment after completing your studies in Sweden is SEK1,000 (US$117).
- In order to obtain a study permit you will need to prove you have been admitted onto a course, that you have comprehensive health insurance and that you can support yourself for the duration of your course. At present, you are required to have SEK8,010 (around US$940) a month for at least 10 months for every year of your stay, in addition to your fees (the first instalment of which must be paid before you’ll receive your permit). You must have enough money for the whole period of study at the time of your initial application. The required amount is reduced if you are receiving free lodging or food, or if you have a scholarship.
- You will need to renew your permit annually.