Universities and Colleges in Sweden


The universities in Sweden are ideal for international students. Almost ninety percent of the population speak English and accordingly universities also offer many English-language study options.

The cost of living in Scandinavia is high, but the universities make up for it: studying at universities in Sweden is free for EU citizens. However, this does not lead to poor quality equipment or studies. Some of the universities are even regularly among the top places in the most important global rankings.

Universities in Sweden at a glance

In Sweden there are a total of eighteen institutions that are also allowed to award full academic degrees in the postgraduate area.

At universities, students can obtain a bachelor’s or master’s degree, do a doctorate, complete further training or study for limited periods such as a semester abroad.

Fourteen of these are state universities (Universitet):

  • Uppsala University
  • Lund University
  • University of Gothenburg
  • Stockholm University
  • Karolinska Institutet
  • Umeå University
  • Royal Institute of Technology
  • Linköping University
  • Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences
  • Luleå University of Technology
  • Karlstad University
  • Örebro University
  • Mid Sweden University
  • Linnaeus University

In addition, there are a number of other universities and educational providers such as University Colleges (Högskolor).

Uppsala University and Lund University

Founded in 1477 and 1666, Uppsala University and Lund University are by far the oldest universities in Sweden. All the others were founded in the 19th century or later.

Uppsala University is the oldest university in all of Scandinavia and has been one of the top 100 universities in the world in rankings for years. It is closely related to Swedish culture; its historical library, the Carolina Rediviva, is particularly noteworthy.

Lund University is also a highly respected university that repeatedly receives awards for its high level of research and teaching. It is also reliably at the top of global rankings.

Swedish Higher Education Authority

The Swedish Higher Education Authority ( Universitetskanslerämbetet ) is a state body responsible for checking and maintaining the quality standards of state universities. It also assesses the extent to which universities are suitable for awarding academic degrees.

Legal aspects, efficiency and statistics of the universities are also the responsibility of the SHEA. For example, it monitors whether the rights of students are being respected and whether the institutions are using their resources effectively.

University Colleges

The Swedish University Colleges ( Högskolor ) are comparable to the universities, but differ from them in one big detail : With a few exceptions, they cannot award doctorates. Only some university colleges in Sweden that specialize in a particular area are allowed to offer doctoral programs in that area.

To obtain this right, the university college concerned can apply to the Swedish Higher Education Authority ( Universitetskanslersämbetet ). It must indicate the area in which it would like to specialize for the award of doctoral degrees. The SHEA makes its decision on this basis.

University colleges in Sweden at a glance

Most university colleges in Sweden are state-owned. This means that they are subject to the same laws and regulations as other government agencies. Only a handful are privately organized and independent. But these institutions also work on the basis of an agreement with the state.

Students at university colleges can earn diplomas, bachelor’s, and master’s degrees. The first stage ( first cycle ) includes the diplomas, which last two years, and the bachelor’s degrees, which last three years. During the course, the participants learn technical basics as well as scientific work.

This is followed by the second level of study ( second cycle ) with a one- or two-year master’s degree. At the third level ( Third Cycle ), which is only available in exceptional cases at the University Colleges in Sweden, students obtain a doctorate (PhD, Doctor of Philosophy ). On average, this takes them around four years.

Usually the courses are offered in Swedish, but the University Colleges now also offer English-language courses for international students.

Grading System in Sweden

In Sweden, a country located in Europe according to holidaysort, there are two ways to obtain an academic degree : Either you follow a program with a study plan set by the university or you put together your own courses.

Swedish notes

In many educational systems it is common that the exams are not written until the end of the semester. It’s different in Sweden; Here, smaller tests usually take place over the entire lecture period in the courses and seminars. There is also no overall grade at the end of the course.

In the courses they take, the students collect so-called “ Högskolepoäng ” (university points), which correspond to the EC TS points ( European Credit Transfer and Accumulation System ). They quantify the workload of the students. The more points you get, the higher the academic degree in the end.

For example, you need 180 points for a Bachelor’s degree and 300 points for a Master’s degree. For a better understanding: In each semester, students can gain 30 Högskolepoäng, so they need six semesters for the Bachelor’s degree.

The grading system in Sweden at a glance

The grading system in Sweden does not provide for classical grades, but only assigns the grades “ väl godkänd ” (VG; good passed), “ godkänd ” (G; passed) and “ underkänd ” (U; not passed).

As part of the Bologna process, some universities have introduced a new rating scale to facilitate standardization:

Grade Importance Correspondence
A. Utmärkt Excellent
B. Mycket bra Very good
C. Bra Well
D. Tillfredsställande Satisfying
E. Tillräckligt Sufficient

With a touch of the F or the student has not passed inspection. There is also the Fx gradation, with which the performance would almost have been sufficient. With a straight F, however, the student has to do a lot of work again in order to pass the exam.

Universities and Colleges in Sweden