Higher Education in Sweden
Sweden is a world leader in higher education, with three schools in the top 100 worldwide in 2010, as ranked by the Academic Ranking of World Universities. There are three levels of higher education programs – Bachelor, Master, and PhD or research. The Swedish government funds about 80 percent of the cost of higher education.
Why Study in Sweden?
About 600 masters programs are taught in English and around 30,000 international students currently study in Sweden.
Swedish universities encourage creativity, personal initiative and independent thinking. The academic environment is relaxed, with informal relationships between students and instructors. Students often work in small groups and spend less time with instructors. In addition, many masters degree programs partner with industry to provide real-world experiences that augment academic studies.
Sweden has 14 public universities and 20 public university colleges, as well as several independent institutions such as the Stockholm School of Economics. There are many specialized schools, such as the Royal Institute of Arts and the Royal Institute of Technology.
Tuition and Program Duration
Swedish, Swiss, EU/EEA and exchange students pay no tuition. In 2011, universities began charging tuition to students from other countries. Each institution sets its own tuition, about SEK 80,000 to 140,000 per year. Masters degrees in the arts can be much higher.
The Swedish government has instituted two scholarship programs for students who need financial assistance. One program is for students from developing countries and covers both tuition and living expenses. The other program is for other non-EU/EEA students and covers only tuition.
One year of full time study is equivalent to 60 credit hours compatible with the European Credit Transfer System (ECTS). There are two options for a masters degree:
1. The “Masterexamen,” which requires 2 years and 120 ECTS; the degree can only be awarded by research universities and institutions.
2. The “Magisterexamen,” which requires only 1-year and 60 ECTS; the degree can be awarded by all higher education institutes.
Program length depends upon the academic discipline and the institution offering the degree.
The academic year consists of two semesters, each about 20 weeks in length. The autumn semester runs from the end of August through the middle of January and the spring semester runs from the middle of January through June.
Businesses value the innovative thinking, practical experience and teamwork skills that graduates of Swedish institutions possess. International students are welcome to remain in Sweden after they graduate if they can find work, especially in areas where labor shortages exist such as engineering and accounting.
Most non-EU/EEA students who plan to stay for more than three months must obtain a residence permit before they arrive in Sweden. The residence permit costs SEK 1,000 and is not refundable; in addition, students should not apply for the permit until they have been accepted for full-time studies and paid for their first term. Students planning stays of less than three months require only a visa. Specific requirements vary by country.
Non-Nordic EU/EEA students may reside in Sweden for more than three months without a resident permit, but must register with the Migration Board within three months of arriving and demonstrate proof of higher education studies, health insurance, and living expenses.
Nordic, EU/EEA and Swiss students must register for health insurance in their home country and obtain a European Health Insurance card. Sweden also has reciprocal medical benefits with some countries, so students should check to see if they qualify for this benefit before seeking other insurance.
Students from other countries are eligible for Swedish health benefits if they are staying in Sweden for more than one year to study. This benefit is not automatic; students must register at their local tax office and the benefit can take several months to establish. Students who are staying for less than one year must obtain their own health insurance; however, many universities have low-cost programs for students.
International students who require a residence permit should plan their stay well in advance, as the process can be very lengthy.
Although Sweden is an EU member, the country still uses the krona (SEK) for currency. Popular credit cards such as Visa, MasterCard and Eurocard are widely accepted throughout the country.