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

The latest UN reports say 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 receiving an excellent education. You might find out that your overall student life is...well...very happy!

We've put together an application guideline to make your life a lot easier. So, let's dive right in!

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Popular degree subjects in Scandinavian countries

The following are the most popular study options for English-taught Master’s in Norway, Sweden, and Denmark:

Master’s admission requirements in Scandinavia

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

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

Common application documents in Scandinavia:

  • High school diploma
  • Copies of Bachelor’s degree diploma/an official university statement confirming you will soon graduate
  • Transcript of records
  • Original diplomas and official translations
  • A motivation letter
  • Identification document scan and 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 Denmark, Norway, or Sweden.

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

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'll outline next:

  • 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.

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Centralised application systems versus applying individually

In Sweden, you can send your application through the UniversityAdmission.se website, which allows you to 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 centralised application via the Optagelse.dk website, where you can apply to up to 8 programmes, but the system is used for Bachelor’s programmes. After completing the process, 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.

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

  • Create a user account
  • Search for courses and programmes
  • Fill out and submit your application
  • Pay your application fee, if required
  • Upload the required documents
  • Check the status of 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 centralised systems. You can also apply individually to each study programme using the official university website.

Norway is the odd one out, where there is no centralised system. You can only apply to Master’s degrees via each programme's website. Furthermore, most Norwegian universities do not accept applications by post.

University application deadlines in Scandinavian countries

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

First session application deadlines

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

Second session application deadlines

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

apply to universities in Nordic countries

Tuition fees and living costs in Scandinavian countries

To help you figure out which Scandinavian country you should choose for a Master’s programme, it might help you to have a general idea about tuition fees and living costs:

Norway

  • Average tuition for EU/EEA students: no tuition (free) at public universities
  • Average tuition for non-EU/EEA students: no tuition (free) at public universities
  • Student living costs: 900 - 1,300 EUR/month

Denmark

  • Average tuition for EU/EEA students: no tuition (free) at public universities
  • Average tuition for non-EU/EEA students: 6,000 - 16,000 EUR/year
  • Student living costs: 750 - 1,500 EUR/month

Sweden

  • Average tuition for EU/EEA and students from other Nordic countries: no tuition (free) at public universities
  • Average tuition for non-EU/EEA students: 7,500 - 25,500 EUR/year
  • Student living costs: 700 - 1,000 EUR/month

Although Switzerland is not part of either the EU or EEA, its citizens still benefit from the same policies that apply to EU/EEA nationals — so, no tuition fees at public universities in Denmark, Norway, or Sweden.

Compare Masters in Scandinavia

Final Master’s application tips

Regardless of which country and university you want to apply to, it’s best to make sure you meet 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 to consider:

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

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