Courses in Sweden

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Population: 9,500,000
# of Students: 430,000*
# of Int. Students: 42,000*
# of Institutes: 51
Education Expenditure: 63‰ of GDP
Academic Year: Runs from August to June
*= Approx. total

Study in Sweden

Sweden is an open, multicultural society with a long tradition of welcoming international students. Currently, more than 40,000 foreign students study in Sweden, making for a vibrant, international study environment. Swedish universities are renowned for their investigative research and independent thinking, and this reputation is cemented with nationally certified degrees and rigorous quality control. Research and innovation have been hallmarks of Swedish higher education ever since the first university was founded in the 15th century.

Why Study in Sweden?

Experience a culture of innovation

One of the world’s most modern countries, Sweden is the birthplace of many successful international corporations. Innovative research at Swedish universities and companies has resulted in a number of successful inventions.

Some examples are Bluetooth for mobile phones, the online music streaming service Spotify, and pacemakers. These fairly recent inventions build on a long history of excellence in academia and research. Sweden is the home of the prestigious Nobel Prize and has highly acclaimed universities dating back to the 15th century.

Develop skills for tomorrow

Studying in Sweden is different. Swedish universities have an open climate, with a strong focus on group work. This will give you invaluable skills for the future. The global job market values ambitious, innovative and perceptive team players. Swedish universities foster these qualities through a forward-thinking culture where you’re close to the latest ideas and trends.

Swedish master’s degree programs offer a plethora of opportunities to turn theory into practice. With a choice of more than 600 master’s programs, you’re bound to find the one to develop your skills for tomorrow’s challenges. Many programs also cooperate closely with the industry, offering students the possibility to mix study and practical work. This gives you distinct advantages over your peers when entering the job market.

Sweden has three universities in the top 100 and eleven in the top 500 of the 2011 edition of the Academic Ranking of World Universities compiled by Shanghai Jiao Tong University.

Reach your full potential

Swedish universities will encourage you to discover and develop your true strengths and talents. The education system is student-centric and relations between students and teachers are informal. As a student in Sweden you’re expected to address your teachers by their first name.

Personal initiative and independent thinking are prized. You will be required to take an active role and contribute with your opinions and ideas at lectures, seminars and in group discussions.

Taking the initiative and questioning old presumptions is rewarding, especially in the long term. It will give you the opportunity to develop your individual strengths and refine your academic abilities.

English is spoken by all

Almost all Swedes speak fluent English. Many Swedish companies use English as their official working language. International students find that this prevalence of English makes adapting to their new surroundings all the easier.

Research & Careers in Sweden


Swedish research is wide-ranging and well respected internationally. Swedish researchers are especially prominent in the fields of natural science, medicine and technology. Most publicly funded research is carried out at universities. Many teachers are involved in both teaching and research, while also supervising PhD students. However, even the private sector invests a great amount of resources in research and development.

Knowledge and research clusters

Several of these R&D-intensive companies are grouped in clusters throughout Sweden. Examples of these clusters are Kista Science City (Stockholm) with focus on ICT, life sciences in “Medicon Valley” (Skåne) and Biotech Umeå, and space research around Kiruna. Some of the most prominent Swedish companies with large research divisions are Electrolux, Ericsson, SCA, and Volvo. Sweden is the EU’s “Innovation Leader” according to the latest Innovation Union Scoreboard, and has defended this position since 2006.

Some 18,000 research students are currently enrolled in Sweden. Research in Sweden has an international approach, and exchange is seen as an integral part of the system. About 20% of all research students have a non-Swedish background. PhD students are usually fully funded by a research salary from their university, and can apply for grants and scholarships for additional funding or international research trips.

To be admitted to a postgraduate research position, a student must hold a university degree equivalent to a bachelor’s degree or higher, with a major in the same subject as the intended field of study. In most cases a master’s degree is required. Foreign students wishing to study for a PhD in Sweden are advised to prepare with a master’s degree in Sweden first, if a relevant program is available in English. A Swedish master’s degree is likely to improve a student’s chances of being admitted to a PhD program.

Career & Working in Sweden

If you are enrolled at a Swedish university or university college you can work in Sweden during the course of your studies without a work permit. You do, however, need a residence permit if you stay for longer than three months.

All universities are required to publicly announce open research positions. These PhD and job announcements can be found on universities’ websites, and an overview of PhD jobs is also provided.
If you have received a job offer after you have finished your studies, you are free to stay in Sweden to work. More liberal labor migration laws came into force in December 2008, making it easier to move to Sweden for work for non-EU citizens. As English is spoken by everyone and many international companies with English as their corporate language are based in Sweden, plenty of opportunities are available for qualifieds non-Swedish speakers. Dedicated information for interested job-seekers from outside the EU/EEA is available for learning more about working in Sweden.

Living in Sweden

As a student in Sweden, you will have ample opportunity to make new friends. A good part of your social life will revolve around your student union. The union can often help you with finding accommodation and other practical matters. Do make sure you are covered by adequate health insurance while in Sweden.

Swedes tend to be active and sporting activities are popular among students. Sporting clubs and societies organize a wide range of activities on campus at most universities and university colleges. Taking part in these activities is probably the best way to meet new people and take a break from studying. To find out more about these activities, just ask a fellow Swedish student or pick up a copy of your local newspaper. You also have an invaluable social resource in your local student union.

Student unions

Student unions have long been the natural meeting point for new students and many offer services of different kinds to foreign students. Some have so-called host or mentor programs in which students already enrolled at university meet visiting students on arrival and introduce them to the city and fellow students. You can get in touch with your union through your university or university college and ask about the services they provide to foreign students.

When you join a union you will receive a student card that entitles you to benefits and discounts on domestic travel. Many shops also offer student discounts. Other services include updated information on activities on and off campus and help in most matters relating to your stay in Sweden. Best of all, perhaps, is the chance to take part in interesting social activities and meet new people.

About Sweden

Innovation and corporations

Sweden has a number of large multinational corporations, such as telecom equipment provider Ericsson, automotive companies Volvo and Scania, household appliances corporation Electrolux, bearing manufacturer SKF, and high-tech engineering groups Sandvik and Atlas Copco. Some products to have come out of these companies are the ball bearing, Tetra Pak beverage packaging system, three-point seatbelt, dialysis machine and internet applications such as the online music service Spotify and calling solution Skype.

The deep-rooted creative environment has made Sweden a strong nation within design, fashion and music, with well-known international brands such as furniture giant IKEA and clothes retailer H&M. Sweden is also one of the largest music-exporting countries in the world.

Strong links to research

Sweden is one of the world's most committed investors in basic research; spending in the field of research amounts to almost 4 percent of GDP to research and development, making Sweden the top-ranking country in the EU in that respect. What further distinguishes Sweden is the high proportion of university-based research, which makes possible a strong connection between research and education. Lecturers are encouraged to pursue research and to continuously develop their skills, while professors regularly teach - even at introductory levels.


Despite its natural riches, Sweden is a country built on people. Over the last century, Swedish dependence on timber and iron ore has given way to an emphasis on human resources. Today, knowledge is Sweden's prime asset, with education kept in the public domain and developed to a standard that ranks consistently among the highest in OECD statistics.

In international politics, Sweden has built a reputation as a nation of mediators. The country pursues non-alignment in international conflicts and strives to offer a safe haven for diplomatic debate among warring factions the world over. As a result, the Swedes have seen a long list of important international positions entrusted to their fellow citizens.

Climate & environment

Sweden is a country where winter is winter and summer is summer. Although the northern tip of the country lies above the Arctic Circle, its climate is tempered by the Gulf Stream.

A leading country in environmental conservation, Sweden boasts great scenic beauty, and was the first country in Europe to protect the most vulnerable parts of its natural heritage. More than half of the country is covered with forest while lakes and rivers make up 10% of its surface area.

For more information please see – the official gateway to Sweden.

Institutes in Sweden

7 Short courses in Stockholm

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