How to Apply to a Master's Degree in Scandinavia in 2020

Latest UN reports say Finland, Norway and Denmark are the happiest countries to live in, even for foreigners. So, applying to a Master’s degree in a Scandinavian country might be about more than just getting top-notch education. You might find out that your overall student life is...well...happy!

If you are ready for a Nordic study experience, we are here to guide you through the application process with this guide.

Find Masters in Scandinavia

Before we start, you should know that the most popular study options for English-taught Master’s in Finland, Norway, Sweden and Denmark are:

Master’s admission requirements in the Nordic countries

After comparing admission requirements in the Nordic countries for English-taught Masters, we found out that there are only a few minor differences in terms of admission criteria and required documents.

The basic general requirements for any Master’s programme is to have pursued and graduated from a Bachelor’s programme of at least 3 years.

Common application documents in the Nordic countries:

  • High school diploma
  • Copies of Bachelor’s degree diploma/an official university statement saying you will soon graduate
  • Transcript of records
  • Original diplomas and original official translations
  • A motivation Letter
  • Identification document scan + passport photos
  • CV

Same language requirements everywhere

If you are from an English-speaking country or you have pursued your Bachelor’s degree in the English language, you will not have to take a language proficiency test in the Scandinavian countries.

If this is not your case, you should know that Nordic universities accept the same language proficiency tests for English-taught programmes. These are:

  • TOEFL
  • IELTS
  • C1 Advanced
  • Pearson PTE Academic

Differences in application documents and requirements

Although at many Master’s programmes in Scandinavian countries you need similar application documents, there are also a few important differences which we will outline next:

  • In Finland, most Master’s programmes at Universities of Applied Sciences require you to pass an entrance exam.
  • In Norway, you have to provide GMAT and GRE scores in order to apply to certain Master’s programmes.
  • In Denmark, you might need to have your Bachelor’s degree studies recognised by The Danish Agency for Science and Higher Education.

apply to universities in Scandinavia

Centralized application systems versus applying individually

Sweden and Finland give you the possibility to apply to a Master’s degree via centralized systems, which allow you to apply to over 3 programmes at the same time.

In Sweden, you can send your application through the UniversityAdmission.se website, which allows you apply to all accredited universities in Sweden and choose a list of up to 4 preferred Master’s programmes.

In Denmark, you can also make a centralized application via the Optagelse.dk website, where you can apply to up to 8 programmes, but the system is used for Bachelor’s programmes. At the end, you will only receive one university offer, which you must confirm in order to enrol at the programme. For Master’s degrees, students generally apply via the university and programme website.

In Finland, you can apply to a Master’s degree via a centralized system, but only if you are applying to Universities of Applied Sciences (UAS) via the Studyinfo.fi website. In this way, you can select up to 6 Master’s programmes to apply to. Unlike Denmark, where you receive only one offer, in Finland you can receive several offers of admission, but you are allowed to accept only one.

Note that at many Finnish UAS, there are also entrance exams scheduled after you submit your application. However, if you have a joint application, you will sit only one entrance exam for all your programme options.

To use these centralized application systems, follow these basic steps:

  • Create a user account (not necessary in Finland)
  • Search for courses and programmes
  • Fill out and send in your application
  • Pay your application fee, if required
  • Upload your required documents
  • Follow your application
  • Receive your admission result
  • Reply to any offers of admission

Important to remember: You are not obliged to submit your Master’s application via centralized systems. You can also apply individually to each study programme using the official university website.

Norway is the odd one out, meaning that you can only apply to Norwegian Master’s degrees via each programme's website. Furthermore, most Norwegian universities do not accept applications by post.

University application deadlines in Nordic countries

In all Nordic countries, application deadlines for Master’s degrees differ from programme to programme, so that’s why it is important to check deadlines on the university website. Here are some typical deadlines: 

First session application deadlines:

  • Denmark: February-March
  • Finland: January-April
  • Norway: December-March 
  • Sweden: October-January

Second session application deadlines:

  • Denmark: September-October
  • Finland: September-October
  • Norway: October-December
  • Sweden: June-September

apply to universities in Nordic countries

Tuition fees and living costs in the Nordic countries

If you come from an EU/EEA country, then you will not have to pay tuition fees to study at public universities. However, if you are from outside the EU/EEA, then you will only find free of cost Masters in Norway. The other countries charge tuition fees, with Finnish universities being the cheapest ones for a non-European student.

To help you figure out which Nordic country you should choose for your Master’s programme, it might help you to have a general idea about tuition fees if you are from outside the EU/EEA, and about living costs in each of Scandinavian country.

Norway

  • Average tuition fees for Master’s degrees: free for all international students
  • Student living costs: 900 - 1,300 EUR/month

Denmark

  • Average tuition fees for Master’s degrees: 6,000 - 16,000 EUR/year
  • Student living costs: 750 - 1,500 EUR/month

Finland

  • Average tuition fees for Master’s degrees: 8,000 - 18,000 EUR/year
  • Student living costs: 700 - 1,100 EUR/month

Sweden

  • Average tuition fees for Master’s degrees: 7,500 - 25,500 EUR/year
  • Student living costs: 700 - 1,000 EUR/month

Compare Masters in Scandinavia

Final Master’s application tricks

Regardless of which country and university you want to apply to, it’s best to make sure you fit the admission requirements, so be sure to check them. Also, if you don’t want to risk postponing studying abroad, you should apply to more programmes at the same time. Here are a few universities that you should consider:

You can also check out the Studyportals Scholarship to get some help on financing your studies abroad.

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