Swedish Higher Education

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Swedish Higher Education

The Higher education system in Sweden is divided into three levels: basic level (grundnivå), advanced level (avancerad nivå), and graduate level (forskarnivå).

Sweden has 41 higher education institutions, high school colleges (first cycle universities) and universities. The most prestigious universities are those of Lund, Uppsala, Stockholm and Umeå. The most reputed degrees have tended to be in humanities, although the government is now trying to boost science studies. Most undergraduate courses are taught jointly in English and Swedish. Masters tend to attract many international students, with more than 450 masters courses taught solely in English. The academic year is divided into 40 weeks, with two semesters. The first semester runs from the middle of August until the middle of January, and the second runs from the middle of January until June.

Since 2007, Swedish Higher education has adapted to the European standard and is divided into three cycles. The first level (grundnivå) consists either of a two year formation after which the student obtains a University Diploma (högskoleexamen), or of a three year course aimed at further education. The University Diploma is usually vocational, while the three year program tends to remain relatively general.

Those who have followed the three year course and obtained the kandidatexamen can continue to the advanced level (avancerad nivå), which corresponds to the European masters. The masters can last one year (magisterexamen) or two (masterexamen) and is a specialised course. The latter is usually designed for those who want to pursue further education.

The final or graduate level (forskarnivå) lasts two or four years and results either in a Licentiatexamen or in a Doktorsexamen, which is the equivalent of a PhD.

Application to universities

To be accepted into the basic level, students need to prove they have obtained a certificate of completion of secondary education. The best universities usually select students on the basis of their results. Most courses in the basic level are held in English and in Swedish, meaning that students will need to master both languages. Foreign applicants will usually need to pass the TISUS, the official Swedish language qualification. If English is not your native language you may also need to pass the TOEFL and obtain a minimum score of 173 points. The Cambridge First Certificate is a recognised diploma and you will need to obtain a B.

For the advanced level you will need to prove you hold a Bachelor level degree and you will be selected according to the type and quality of your degree, depending which master you choose. More than 450 master courses are taught in English and in this case you will not need any knowledge of Swedish. To attempt a Licentatexamen or Doktorsexamen you need to have obtained a master.

Tuition and Fees

In Sweden education is free, for both, Swedes and foreigners.

Further reading

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