Free Degrees! And Other Reasons to Study in Nordic Countries | Top Universities

Free Degrees! And Other Reasons to Study in Nordic Countries

By Laura Bridgestock

Updated June 17, 2020 Updated June 17, 2020

Did you know that…in Norway and Finland, you can complete a bachelor’s degree at a public university free of charge, no matter where you come from?

There is a very small fee in Norway, of about US$50-100 per semester, but that gets you benefits such as campus health services, sports facilities and reduced prices on public transport and for cultural events.

You can also get an undergraduate degree free of charge in Sweden or Denmark, as long as you’re:

  • A citizen of a country in the EU (European Union),
  • A citizen of a country in the EEA (European Economic Area),
  • A citizen of Switzerland
  • A participant in an exchange program.

Sounds too good to be true, doesn’t it? Especially when you consider that these are some of the most developed countries in the world, with some of the best universities, cultured cities and beautiful scenery.

Where are the Nordic countries?

The Nordic countries

The Nordic countries are a group of countries in northern Europe, including Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Finland and Iceland (which doesn’t have free degrees). Greenland and the Faroe Islands, which are self-governing but technically part of the Kingdom of Denmark, are also included.

These countries have some shared history and culture, and they collaborate politically through the Nordic Council.

There’s an overlap with the region known as Scandinavia – which is Denmark, Norway and Sweden.

Why study in Nordic countries?

Norwegian fjord

I repeat: no tuition fees! But if that’s not enough, here are some other reasons to head north:

  • Excellent universities.Nordic countries have a very strong presence in the QS World University Rankings (see the table below), and their education systems are very well respected internationally.
  • High quality of life. All Nordic countries rank consistently highly in quality of life and development rankings, offering excellent healthcare, material wellbeing and political freedom.
  • Fantastic student cities.Stockholm, the Swedish capital, ranked 37th in the most recent QS Student Cities ranking, with three other Nordic cities – Copenhagen, Gothenburg and Helsinki – also included in the ranking.
  • Incredible natural scenery. Tranquil fjords, wild mountains, fishing villages, ski resorts – if you’re into the great outdoors, you’ll find plenty of it to explore here!

Top 10 universities in the Nordic Countries

Here are the top 10 universities in these countries, with their current position in the QS World University Rankings:

Top 10 Nordic Universities According to the QS World University Rankings 2021

Nordic Countries Ranking

World Ranking





University of Copenhagen




Lund University




KTH Royal Institute of Technology




Technical University of Denmark




University of Helsinki




University of Oslo




Uppsala University




Aalto University




Chalmers University of Technology




Aarhus University


What’s the catch?

Well, the main one comes back to cost – the region is notoriously expensive, so that free degree might turn out not to be such a good deal after all. Universities should be able to offer guidance on how much you should budget for, and you can see more advice in the links below.

Further information:

This article was first published in March 2012 and most recently updated in June 2020.

This article was originally published in March 2012 . It was last updated in June 2020

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Written by

The former editor of, Laura oversaw the site's editorial content and student forums. She also edited the QS Top Grad School Guide and contributed to market research reports, including 'How Do Students Use Rankings?'

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