Study in Sweden
Study in Sweden, with the help of our guide, 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 having a total population no bigger than a large city. Swedish businesses such as Ikea and Volvo are known around the world, and in bouffant-haired 70s pop aristocrats ABBA and director Ingmar Bergman, for example, it has contributed greatly to the world of popular culture.
- 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)
- Historical nation with its roots in the Middle Ages, breaking from the Hanseatic league in the 16th century to become Sweden proper
- Population of 9,593,000 and total landmass of 173,745 square miles make it one of the most sparsely populated nations in the world
- Member state of the European Union
- Last involved in an armed conflict in 1814
- 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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Why study in Sweden?
Modern-day Sweden is known for its sense of social justice and fairness: is has the highest level of wealth equality in the world, publically funded healthcare is available for all, homosexual couples enjoy the same rights as heterosexual ones, and it enjoys one the world’s lowest gender pay gaps. Add on striking northern European beauty, and free tuition for EU students (fees for non-EU students were introduced recently) and you have a pretty strong case for studying in Sweden!
But what are universities in Sweden like? As you’d expect from a nation whose economy is driven by science and technology, the answer is very good! Five of its eight ranked institutions make the top 200 of the 2012/13 QS World University Rankings, led by Lund University and Uppsala University at 71 and 81. Beyond the ranked institutions, the Karolinska Institute, a specialist medical school, and the Stockholm School of Economics are both highly regarded in their fields.
Studying a master’s or PhD? Read our graduate-level guide to 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 Sweden include many of the nation’s most prestigious institutions, including the Royal Institute of Technology (142), Stockholm University (ranked 171) and the Karolinska Institute.
A large student and immigrant population make this famously attractive city a vibrant and cosmopolitan place. It isn’t, however, famous for its nightlife – partially due to it being rather pricey – but if you’re into a more chilled out way of life, that isn’t necessarily a bad thing…
Lund is a small city, which dates back to the 10th century, and is known as something of a hub for high-tech companies. The city’s position at the southern tip of Sweden means that it offers plenty of opportunities for travel, but, if you find yourself in Lund, it will only be for one reason: its university.
Universities in Lund include the second oldest university in Sweden, Lund University, which is also the country’s highest ranking institution. If you choose to study here, don’t expect a crazy nightlife – though there are plenty of bars around to cater for the large student population.
Sweden’s fourth biggest city, Uppsals is a small leafy canal-lined town which boasts its very own castle. Universities in Uppsala include Sweden’s oldest and second highest ranking institution, Uppsala University (81),
Like many of the other cities here, Uppsala is a rather quiet, and reserved, and may well suit those who are more focused on their degrees than their social life. However, that said, there are plenty of students around, so there’s still scope to let your hair down when you need to! It’s located towards the east of the country so is well placed for trips to Eastern Europe.
Sweden’s second biggest 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 University of Gothenburg (193) and the Chalmers University of Technology (223).
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.
Umeå is by far the most northerly of these cities, an ideal 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 outside the Arctic Circle.
Though it is a small, remote town Umeå is no backwater. It is known for being something of research hub, and boasts a respectable nightlife and enough culture to have earned this fast-growing city the title of European Capital of Culture 2014. Universities in Umeå are led by Umeå University, which is ranked within the world's top 300.
Swedish university admissions
For Swedish university admissions, you should use the centralized University Admissions application portal. University is free for Swedish citizens and citizens of EU countries. However, fees have been introduced for non-EU citizens. These are set by the universities; you can expect to pay somewhere between SEK80,000 and 180,000 (around US$12,000-27,000) depending on your degree.
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, assure 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.
- 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 SEK7,300 (around US$1,100) a month for at least ten months out of every year of your stay, on top of your fees (the first installment of which must be paid before you’ll receive your permit). You must have enough money for the whole period of study the first time you apply. This sum is reduced if you are receiving free lodging or food, or if you have a scholarship.
- You will have to renew your permit annually.