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The Ultimate Guide to Pursuing a Master's Degree in Sweden (2024)

This guide covers everything you need to know as an international student pursuing a Master's degree in Sweden: from program research and admission process to funding options.

Nov 21, 2023
  • Student Tips
  • Study Abroad
  • Education
The Ultimate Guide to Getting a Master's in Sweden

✨ 5-second summary

  • Swedish universities are known for high academic standards, and their focus on independent research and critical thinking.
  • Sweden provides robust connections with industry, giving students practical learning and research opportunities.
  • Access positions in academia, industry, and entrepreneurship - particularly in high-tech and innovative sectors.

Sweden, with its high-quality education system and internationally recognized universities, is a prime destination for international students. The country boasts numerous higher education institutions, offering over hundreds of Master's programs in English across numerous fields.

Sweden's academic and social culture is known for its focus on independent research and critical thinking, attracting a large number of international students each year.

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Master's degree in Sweden: a quick intro

📌 KEY TAKEAWAYS

  • Degrees from Swedish universities are highly respected internationally.
  • The universities' strong ties with industry provide opportunities for practical learning and research.
  • Master's programs typically take 1-2 years to complete.

Swedish Master's programs are renowned for their innovative approach and academic excellence, offering a broad spectrum of specializations to meet your diverse academic interests and career goals.

These programs, typically spanning one to two years, perfectly balance advanced theoretical knowledge with practical implementation, ensuring you acquire in-depth understanding and hands-on skills.

How long is a Master's study in Sweden for international students?

A Master's degree in Sweden generally takes one to two years to complete. Most Master's programs in Sweden are two years long, but many universities offer one-year programs for international students.

This duration can vary based on whether you choose a full-time, part-time, or an accelerated study track.

Why study in Sweden?

Sweden is increasingly acknowledged as a prime destination for international students.

It consistently features among the top choices for study abroad destinations, known for its high-quality education and innovative learning environment.

It's a popular choice for international students due to hundreds of available Master's programs in English.

Why pursue a Master in Sweden?

  • Educational innovation: Swedish universities are known for their forward-thinking educational methods and research-led teaching.
  • Career opportunities: A degree from a Swedish university is highly regarded internationally.
  • Scholarship availability: Sweden offers various scholarships specifically for international students.
  • Connections with industry and research: With strong ties to the industry, Sweden provides excellent opportunities for research and practical learning.
  • Wide range of programs: With numerous programs across various fields, Sweden provides ample choices to align with your academic and professional goals.

How to choose the right Master in Sweden

📌 KEY TAKEAWAYS

  1. Consider your academic interests and anticipated career outcomes from a Master's in Sweden.
  2. Investigate university-industry collaborations, curriculum relevance and faculty expertise.
  3. Compile key information about potential universities and programs, including tuition fees, scholarships, deadlines, application requirements, and program highlights.

Navigating through the selection of the perfect Master's program in Sweden, given its extensive range of universities and courses, can seem daunting. However, it can be broken down into a few structured, though challenging, steps.

Step 1: Define your goals and plans

Reflect on your interests, strengths, and long-term career aspirations.

  • Which academic field interests you the most?
  • What career outcomes do you anticipate from your Master's degree in Sweden?

Step 2: Conduct thorough research

  • University-industry collaborations: Look for Swedish universities that have partnerships with leading corporations and research institutes, offering valuable networking opportunities and early career prospects.
  • Relevance of curriculum: Ensure the program’s curriculum aligns with your career goals, including opportunities for research or internships.
  • Faculty expertise: Investigate the expertise and accomplishments of the faculty in your desired field, including their research, publications, and mentorship opportunities.
  • Program accreditation: Check for accreditation and student testimonials to gauge the program's quality and reputation.

Step 3: Organize your findings

Organize your findings in a list or a spreadsheet, noting down the key aspects of potential universities and their programs:

  • Tuition fees
  • Scholarship opportunities: Note the availability of financial aid and scholarships.
  • Application deadlines
  • Application requirements: Consider language proficiency requirements, course prerequisites, and degree requirements.
  • Program highlights: Look for unique courses, facilities, evaluation methods, and opportunities for internships or exchange programs.
  • Application fees: Include this information if applicable.
Master's programs in Sweden - notes

How to apply for a Master’s degree in Sweden

📌 KEY TAKEAWAYS

  • Prepare academic transcripts, a personal statement, recommendation letters, an academic CV/resume, and proof of language proficiency (Swedish or English).
  • Mention specific program aspects, be concise yet comprehensive, and highlight your fit to the program's objectives.
  • Use the appropriate online portal for application (universityadmissions.se or antagning.se), and be mindful of the application deadlines.

Step 1: Gather documents

Applying for a Master's degree in Sweden involves a detailed process, requiring several important documents.

While the requirements may vary by university, international students should prepare the following key documents:

  • Academic transcripts: Get official transcripts from your undergraduate degree, which show your course and grade information.
    • The Swedish kandidatexamen is the degree received after completing studies at the Bachelor's level.
    • You'll need an equivalent of kandidatexamen to apply for Master's studies.
  • Personal statement: Craft a personal statement to showcase your motivation and suitability for the Swedish Master's program.
  • Letters of recommendation:
    • Swedish universities often require recommendation letters that endorse your academic abilities and potential.
    • Give your referees enough time to write meaningful recommendations.
    • Provide enough details on the specific program or major for which you're applying.
  • Academic CV/Resume: Create a detailed resume that includes your educational background, work experience, research projects, publications, certifications, and other skills relevant to the Master's program.
  • Proof of language proficiency:
    • Non-native Swedish/English speakers may need to provide proof of language proficiency.
    • For English, IELTS or TOEFL are the most common.
    • There are lots of ways of learning Swedish.
    • Check the language requirements and minimum score thresholds for your chosen program.

💡 PRO TIPS

1. Exact entry requirements based on your home country

You can see a breakdown of exactly what documents you'll need to apply for a Master's in Sweden based on your country of origin on the dedicated UniversityAdmissions.se page.

2. Official translations

If your documents were not issued in Swedish or English, you may need to get an certified translation - signed by a public notary.

Make sure to check your chosen university’s website for any specific instructions.

How to stand out in your application

Here are some tips to make your application stand out:

How to stand out in your Master's in Sweden application

  • Be concise: Limit your resume and personal statement to one page each (500-700 words for the personal statement), unless otherwise specified.
  • Tailor your application: Reference specific professors, research projects, or aspects of the Sweden university that align with your interests and goals.
  • Highlight your fit for the program: Explain why you are drawn to the specific master's program and your potential contributions to the university's academic community.
  • Ask "so what?" often: This helps ensure that every piece of information you include underlines your suitability and commitment to the program.
  • Be confident: Highlight your academic achievements, including major projects, awards, or publications relevant to the field.

Step 2: Start applying

Use the right application portal

When applying to Swedish universities for your Master's program, it is crucial to use the correct online application portal:

Note:

While both of those websites are essentially the same platform, they were separated due to the differences in application processes for domestic and international students.

  • International students are students from outside Sweden.
  • Domestic students are students who are either

Don't forget the deadlines!

Swedish universities typically have specific deadlines for Master's program applications.

Autumn semester (begins in August/September)Most applications close around January
Spring semester (begins in January)Deadlines often fall in mid-August.

Make sure to note down the specific deadlines for the universities you're interested in.

Ideally, you should submit your application well ahead of the deadline, for a few reasons:

  • In case you want to make any last-minute changes
  • If the university requests edits to your application (i.e. if the document is poorly scanned, or a transcript wasn't translated)
  • To give universities and the Swedish government enough time to process your application
  • To prevent program start delays due to larger-than-expected demand

How much does it cost to get a Master's degree in Sweden?

📌 KEY TAKEAWAYS

  • Master's programs in Sweden are free for EU/EEA, Swiss citizens, and some residents, while others may pay between SEK 80,000 and SEK 140,000 per year.
  • An application fee of SEK 900 applies if tuition fees are not exempted.
  • Monthly living costs range from SEK 8,000 to SEK 11,000, and non-EU/EEA students need a student visa, showing financial capability (around SEK 9,450 per month in 2023).

How much does Master's degree cost in Sweden? Here's a breakdown of the main costs you'll encounter:

How much does it cost to get a Master's in Sweden? - Cost breakdown infographic

Note: SI stands for "Swedish Institute"

Tuition fees

You can get a Master's in Sweden for free if you're:

  • A Swedish citizen
  • A permanent resident in Sweden
  • Temporary resident on a non-student visa
  • From an EU/EEA member country or Switzerland

If you're an international student from outside of EU/EEA, and don't meet any other tuition fee exemption criteria, you'll most likely have to pay tuition fees.

These fees vary depending on the university and program, with a general range from SEK 80,000 to SEK 140,000 (approximately €7,800 to €13,600) per academic year.

Here's a breaktown of the tuition fees for Master's programs at some of the most popular universities in Sweden:

UniversityEU/EEA/Swiss citizens and Swedish residentsNon-EU/EEA/Swiss citizens
KTH Royal Institute of TechnologyFreeSEK 180,000
Karolinska InstituteFreeSEK 165,000 - 200,000
Lund UniversityFreeSEK 120,000 - 200,000
Uppsala UniversityFreeSEK 180,000

Note: The numbers above are rough average of costs per academic year - the exact fees may differ depending on the program.

It's vital to check the specific university websites for detailed information on any tuition fees that might apply to your chosen program.

Application fee

Students who don't need to pay for tuition also don't need to pay the application fee.

However, if you're not exempted from paying tuition fees, you'll also need to pay SEK 900 application fee for each semester you submit an application for.

It doesn't matter how many courses or programs you apply for in that semester.

Living expenses

Living costs in Sweden can vary based on the city and your lifestyle.

On average however, international students should budget approximately SEK 8,000 to SEK 11,000 (about €780 to €975) per month.

This estimate includes accommodation, food, local transportation, health insurance, telephone/internet, study materials, and leisure activities.

Student visa and the financial requirement

Student visa for non-EU/EEA/Swiss citizens

If you're not from EU/EEA/Switzerland, you'll need to apply for a student visa. To apply for a Swedish student visa, you'll need:

  • A valid passport (needs to be valid until the end of your study)
  • An acceptance letter from a Swedish university.
  • Proof of financial means to support yourself during your studies (this amount was SEK 9,450 per month for 2023, and in 2022, it was SEK 8,694/month).
  • Proof of comprehensive health insurance if your study period is less than a year.

The visa application fee for students is generally around SEK 1,500 for adults.

The financial requirement

If you're from a non-EU/EEA country, you'll need to show proof that you're able to afford your life in Sweden in order to apply for a student visa.

The exact amount varies between years. For example, it was:

  • SEK 9,450 per month in 2023
  • SEK 8,694 per month in 2022

You can prove that you have enough money to support yourself via:

  • Personal bank statements
  • Scholarship(s)
  • A sponsor (you'll need a sponsor letter)
  • Proof of employment
  • Grants and loans

You can learn more about the financial requirement on the Swedish Migration Agency's page on student visas.

Travel costs

Local travel

In Sweden, you just need to buy one local public ticket, and it covers all forms of transport in that designated zone (one notable exception is airport transport - you usually need to purchase a separate bus/train ticket for those).

You can purchase and keep your public transport tickets on your mobile phone. Student discounts are widely available.

Here are some local public transport apps you can download:

  • SL: to get around the Stockholm County
  • Skånetrafiken: for travel within Skåne County (and to purchase tickets to Copenhagen)
  • Trafikgoteborg: for travel within Gothenburg
  • SJ: the national train company
  • Flixbus: long-distance travel via bus

Exploring Sweden on a budget

Here are some suggestions on inexpensive options for experiencing Sweden:

  • Take advantage of SJ's Last Minute deals to save on train tickets
  • Consider renting a bike via CityBike if you're visiting a new city
  • Visit museums in Stockholm for free, and explore the city with free guided walking tours
  • Avoid dinners at sit-down restaurants, check out the local saluhall (market hall) for more affordable tasty meals
  • Discover Gothenburg's Naturhistoriska Museum - entry is free!
  • Take a walk Sweden's national parks
  • Participate in fika (coffee break), an iconic Swedish tradition
  • Try out tunnbrödsrulle, the staple of Swedish street food

International travel

Sweden is an excellent choice if you're planning on exploring Europe while pursuing your Master's studies. As a member of the EU and the Schengen Area, Sweden offers the advantage of borderless travel, allowing easy access to numerous European destinations.

The country is well-connected to other European nations through an extensive network of buses, trains, and flights, facilitating convenient travel across the continent.

Here are some popular international travel destinations from Sweden from Malmö:

CityTravel viaPrice
CopenhagenTrainSEK 135-145
HamburgPlaneSEK 600-750
ViennaPlaneSEK 190-200
ManchesterPlaneSEK 600-800
GdanskPlaneSEK 150-250

Health insurance

If you're coming to Sweden to get a Master's degree, you won't need to get a health insurance as you'll be registered at Skatteverket (the Swedish Tax Agency), and thus eligible for public healthcare.

However, if you were a tuition-paying student coming to study a course that's less than 3 months long, you'd need to get health insurance.

Master's scholarships in Sweden for international students and other funding options

📌 KEY TAKEAWAYS

  • You can apply for various scholarships, such as the SI Scholarships, university-specific grants, and the Erasmus Mundus Joint Master's program.
  • Both EU/EEA and non-EU/EEA students can work part-time without specific hour restrictions while pursuing their studies.
  • The Swedish job market is competitive, especially for English-speaking roles, so it'd be good to learn Swedish to increase your odds.

Master's scholarships in Sweden for international students and other funding options

Scholarships

Navigating the funding landscape for your Master's degree in Sweden as an international student involves exploring various options.

In this section, we'll highlight the funding and scholarship opportunities available for Master's students in Sweden.

Master's in Sweden scholarships

Grants and bursaries in Sweden

In Sweden, a range of grants, bursaries, and assistantships are available to international students pursuing Master's degrees, providing financial support for those engaged in research or assisting professors.

Several Swedish research organizations and universities offer funding schemes for postgraduate research. For example:

  • Swedish Institute (SI) Scholarships: These are designed for international students and cover tuition fees, living expenses, and a travel grant.
  • University-Specific Scholarships: Many Swedish universities offer grants based on academic merit or research focus to Master’s students.
  • Erasmus Mundus Joint Master Degrees: These are prestigious, integrated, international study programs offered by consortia of higher education institutions. They provide scholarships for EU and non-EU students.

Part-time work in Sweden

For students in Sweden, including EU/EEA and non-EU/EEA citizens, part-time work can be a viable option to support their studies:

  • EU/EEA Citizens: There are no official restrictions on the number of hours you can work while studying in Sweden.
  • Non-EU/EEA Citizens: You are allowed to work without any official limitation on hours alongside your studies, as long as you maintain your study progress.

Finding a student job

It's important to note that the job market in Sweden is very competitive, especially for roles in English. This means that:

  1. You'd have a better chance of landing a job if you learn Swedish
  2. Part-time work should act as supplementary income and not the primary source of funding

This is especially true since studies are quite rigorous in Sweden, and universities will expect you to prioritize your degree program over other things.

Where to get a student job

Part-time job opportunities for students in Sweden can be found both on campus and within the local community.

  • Swedish universities often have a career services page for job opportunities
  • Online job portals like Indeed and StudentJob are also commonly used

Graduate careers in Sweden: jobs in Sweden for English speakers

📌 KEY TAKEAWAYS

  • You can delve into academia, contributing to research and potentially pursuing a PhD.
  • Post-study, you can apply for a 12-month job seeker visa, provided you meet certain requirements like program completion and proof of financials.

Upon completing your Master's degree in Sweden, a world of diverse career paths awaits you.

The knowledge, skills, and professional network you've developed during your studies in Sweden will pave the way for a variety of exciting career opportunities.

Here are some potential career directions you might explore:

Pursue a career in academia

With a Swedish Master's degree, you can immerse yourself in the academic sphere, contributing significantly to research in your chosen field.

This path can also serve as a foundation for pursuing a PhD. Swedish universities are often keen on offering teaching and research roles to recent Master’s graduates, providing a platform to continue their academic journey.

Embark on an industry career

The specialized knowledge and advanced skills obtained from your Master's degree in Sweden are in high demand across a range of industries.

Sweden, known for its innovation and high-tech industries, presents numerous opportunities in fields such as engineering, finance, technology, and marketing.

Become an entrepreneur

Your Master's degree from Sweden equips you with the skills necessary to initiate your own business venture or to become a groundbreaking entrepreneur. Sweden's dynamic startup ecosystem, known for its supportive environment for new businesses, provides ample opportunities for funding, mentorship, and participation in incubator programs, helping turn your innovative ideas into successful enterprises.

Job seeker visa

Once you've completed your studies in Sweden, you can apply for a residence permit extension to look for work.

This visa will grant you permission to stay in Sweden for exactly 12 months (it can't be more or less).

In order to qualify for this visa, you must meet the following requirements:

  • You successfully completed a program that was at least 2 semesters long
  • Your passport must be valid during your stay in Sweden
  • You must submit your application before your student permit expires
  • You must be able to support yourself during the job search period
  • You must have a comprehensive healthcare insurance
Sara Evans

Author

Sara is the Content Designer at Keystone Academic Solutions, in charge of creating and curating content for students across the globe. Due to her background in UX and teaching, she's always in pursuit of new ways of presenting information more clearly.

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