Education in Norway

Norway offers you a unique student experience and Norwegian institutions of higher education welcome applications sent by qualified students from all over the world.

Internationalisation is a priority within all sectors of the Norwegian education system, and universities and university colleges are constantly working to facilitate for international students. Nearly 12 000 foreign nationals are currently enrolled at Norwegian institutions of higher education. International students may apply for admission to a variety of undergraduate and graduate degree programmes. You may come to Norway as student through established exchange programmes, institutional agreements, or as a so called “free mover”, where you arrange the stay by yourself (type of study, length and financing).

Quality education

With a wide range of high quality courses and great flexibility, Norwegian institutions prove to be an ideal study destination. From vocational subjects to postgraduate and doctorate level, there are plenty of opportunities for students to fulfil their ambitions. You will also benefit from the informal atmosphere at Norwegian universities and university colleges, where teachers are easily approachable and tuition often takes place in small groups. Most institutions also have well equipped computer facilities with free Internet access.

Study off the beaten track

In our northern corner of the world you can combine your studies with exciting outdoor activities, both winter and summer. You can see the Aurora Borealis (“Northern lights”), experience the midnight sun, fjords and mountains. Challenge yourself with skiing, white water rafting or climbing. Or simply enjoy the fresh air, clean water and lots and lots of space. As a student in Norway you will never be short of possibilities for unique nature experiences.


1. Exchange programmes

Many Norwegian institutions have bilateral exchange agreements with universities and university colleges in other countries. Most of these agreements involves that a student stays one or two semesters at the institution in Norway as part of a degree from the home university or college. In addtion, there are some exchange programmes on a national level.


Norwegian universities and university colleges have participated in the Erasmus action programme since 1992. Erasmus is part of EU’s programme for lifelong learning (LLP) and supports European activities of higher education institutions. Currently 2,199 higher education institutions in 31 countries are participating in Erasmus.

The Erasmus action is open to the participation of students in the following 31 countries:

the 27 Member States of the European Union

the 3 European Economic Area countries (Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway)

Turkey through the Erasmus Mundus-programme

If you are a student from an eligible country interested in coming to Norway on Erasmus exchange you will have to contact your current home institution and see if it has agreements with any institutions in Norway. You may also contact the National Agency (NA) for the Erasmus Programme in your country.

north2north Student Mobility Program
The north2north program is organised by the University of the Arctic, an international network of educational institutions dedicated to providing relevant and accessible post-secondary education to the people of the North. This means that your choice of exchange institutions consists of universities in circumpolar countries (United States, Canada, Iceland, Norway, Sweden, Finland and Russia).

As a north2north participant, you travel to another circumpolar institution for a period of 3-12 months. This time period is dependent on your needs and the structures of your home and host institutions. Successful applicants will receive a mobility grant to facilitate their stay at the host institution. The value of this grant varies.


The Barentsplus programme is designed to promote cooperation between Russian and Norwegian institutions of higher education in the Barents region. The programme is open for both students and teachers. Grants are



Whether you are just standing on the doorstep to higher education or are a higher level student looking to specialise within a subject area, Norwegian institutions can offer courses and programmes tailored to most needs. Look up and discover our unique student experience!

“Education for all” is the basic principle of the Norwegian education system. Regardless of social background, ethnicity, age or religion, persons should have equal opportunities to pursue a higher education degree. We encourage you to explore the various programmes offered at our universities and university colleges.

Quality assurance

Accessibility should not compromise with quality. Thus, in Norway we have a rigorous system for quality assurance in higher education. In order for Norwegian institutions to offer accredited programmes they either need an institutional accreditation or receive accreditation for individual courses based on a set of quality criteria. The accreditation is granted by an independent agency that performs a thorough evaluation prior to granting an accreditation.

Norway – in compliance with the principles of the Bologna process

When studying in Norway you are also studying in a country that has fully implemented many of the principles of the Bologna process. This includes a 3+2+3 degree system, diploma supplements and the ECTS (European Credit Transfer and Accumulation System). So when you have finished a degree or course(s) at a Norwegian institution, you hold papers that are transferable to many other countries.

Undergraduate studies

Today most students entering an institution of higher education for the first time are pursuing a Bachelor’s degree, or a professional degree programme like engineering, law or medical studies. As a foreign student you also have the possibility of obtaining an undergraduate level degree from a Norwegian institution if you meet the application requirements. Foreign students may also apply for a number of undergraduate courses not leading to a degree.

Bachelor’s degree

A Bachelor’s degree is awarded by all the state universities, specialised university institutions, university colleges and several of the private institutions. It is normally obtained after three years of study.

The two national university colleges of the arts offer a Bachelor’s degree of four years’ duration.

Currently there are very few Bachelor’s programmes that are offered in English at Norwegian institutions.

The “Høgskolekandidat” degree (“University college candidat degree”)

The “Høgskolekandidat” degree is obtained after two years of study. This degree may be built upon to obtain a Bachelors degree. The degree is offered at some state university colleges and a few private institutions. Please note that the number of subject areas that are available under this degree is limited.

Currently there are no “Høgskolekandidat” degrees offered in English.

Masters programmes

More and more students are pursuing a Masters degree. Norwegian institutions are constantly working to design Masters programmes that will give students in-depth knowledge, research experience and an attractive degree for future employers.

A Masters degree is awarded by the universities, specialised university institutions, several university colleges and some private institutions. The degree is normally obtained after 1 ½ -2 years of study and typically consists of 120 “studiepoeng”/ECTS.

An important part of this degree is independent research work of between 30-60 “studiepoeng”/ECTS credits leading to a Thesis.

Admission to a Masters degree programme is usually based on a completed Bachelor’s degree. However, in special cases admission may granted based on other criterias. The basic admission requirements may vary depending on institution and course.

An increasing number of Norwegian institutions are offering Masters programmes where the language of instruction is English. Currently there are over 170 courses available in our online catalog.

Professional degree programmes

Various professional qualifications are awarded by all the state higher education institutions and a number of the private higher education institutions. These programmes/degrees are of four to six years’ duration and cover both regulated and non-regulated professions.

PhD programmes

The Doctoral Degree (Ph.D.) is awarded after three years of study following completion of a Masters degree or a professional degree/programme. Doctoral programmes, which are essentially research programmes, are offered by all university-level institutions, some state university colleges and a few private institutions.

The degree is made up of a training component equivalent to no less than 30 “studiepoeng”/ECTS (1 semester of full-time study) and a dissertation. The dissertation is an independent piece of scientific work that meets international standards within its subject area. If the dissertation is approved, it has to be defended at a public disputation.

The formal entrance qualification for the Ph.D. study is a Master-degree (2 years research master), or a corresponding degree from professional training schools (e.g. psychology, dentistry, medicine, law), or equivalent qualifications.

A number of Ph.D. programmes are designed as a four-year programme where 25 per cent of the time is reserved for teaching at lower level courses.

Some institutions offer two types of doctoral degrees: The “organised” doctoral degree is called Ph.D. (philosophiae doctor). This degree includes obligatory formal training and supervision in addition to the dissertation which is the main focus of the Ph.D.

The second type is a “free” doctoral degree which is called Dr. philos. (doctor philosophiae). No formal training or supervision is included in this degree, and this is typically not part of the institutions’ formal Ph.D. programme or Research schools. The scientific status of the two degrees is the same.

More and more Ph.D. programmes in English are being offered at Norwegian institutions. You should contact each institution individually for more information.

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Student mobility and international cooperation are key objectives for the Norwegian Ministry of Education and Research. Currently, over 12 000 foreign students are studying in Norway and we look forward to welcoming many more.

Norway is one of the leading countries conforming to the guidelines from the Bologna Process in European higher education. The degree system based on the Bachelor’s, Masters and Ph.D. structure has been successfully implemented, together with the ECTS credits system. By adapting to the European standard in higher education it is easy for students at Norwegian institutions to obtain recognition of their qualifications in other countries.

The internationalisation of higher education has been a key factor for the development of programmes where the language of instruction is English in Norway. For the scool year 2007/2008 more than 200 Masters programmes taught in English are available to students, covering a variety of subject areas. Some of the institutions are also offering English-taught programmes at the Bachelor’s level.

There are about 70 public and private institutions of higher learning located throughout Norway, from Kristiansand in the south to Svalbard in the North

Norwegian higher education system

Norway has six accredited universities, six accredited specialized university institutions, 25 accredited university colleges, two accredited national colleges of the arts and 29 private institutions of higher education with either institutional- or programme accreditation.

The Norwegian system of higher education comprises all the institutions and/or programmes that are accredited. With the exception of some private university colleges, all higher education institutions are state-run. In general, tuition is not required for study at Norwegian higher education institutions, although fees may be imposed for certain professional education programmes, further and special education programmes and studies at private institutions.

In addition to their teaching activities, all the higher learning institutions, and particularly the universities, are responsible for conducting basic research as well as researcher training, primarily by means of graduate-level studies and doctoral degree programmes.


Since 2003 Norway has been following the objectives of the Bologna process in the European higher education. Most of the elements have been implemented through the Quality Reform. Central to the reform has been implementation of a 3 + 2 + 3 degree system with a Bachelor’s, Masters and Ph.D. structure following the European standards [see Fig 1 above].

With the introduction of the new degree system it has become easier for students who complete all, or part of their education in Norway, to obtain recognition for their qualifications in other countries.

Credits system and grading

The academic year normally runs from mid-August to mid-June. Courses are measured in “studiepoeng” according to the ECTS standard (European Credit Transfer System credits). The full-time workload for one academic year is 60 “studiepoeng”/ECTS credits.

Grades for undergraduate and postgraduate examinations are awarded according to a graded scale from A (highest) to F (lowest), with E as the minimum pass grade. A pass/fail mark is given for some examinations.

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Completing a university degree is often considered to be an expensive endeavour and tuition fees are usually making up the bulk part of the cost. Norwegian universities and state university colleges as a rule do not charge tuition fees for international students. However, you should take into consideration that living expenses in Norway are higher than in many other countries.

“Nothing is for free” is a saying that is true in many cases. But in Norway it is possible to get quality education without having to pay tuition fees. If certain prerequisites are met you could also be eligible for financial support that can pay for your living expenses. Through various fellowship programmes, scholarship schemes or student loans, international students can receive funding for a full degree or a limited number of semesters.

I want to study in Norway but need financial support. What do I do?

How you can financially support your stay in Norway will depend on several factors:

– your current country of legal residency

– your current home institution

– your previous education

– what institution/degree/subject area you are seeking admission to

We recommend that you first contact the International Office at your home university to see if institutional agreements with a Norwegian institution exist. Also, check our scholarship section to see if you are eligible for support through any programmes or schemes.

Tuition fees

The majority of Norwegian institutions of higher education are publicly funded. And the Norwegian government considers access to higher education for all to be an important part of the Norwegian society. Thus, there are normally no tuition fees at state universities and university colleges in Norway. This also applies to foreign students, no matter which country you come from.

No tuition fees

Generally, students at state universities and university colleges do not pay tuition fees. This is true for all levels, including undergraduate studies, Masters programmes and Ph.D. programmes. However, students will have to pay a semester fee of NOK 300-600 each semester. In order to take an exam this fee will have to be paid in full. But the fee also grants you membership in the local student welfare organisation, which in turn entitles you to several benefits. These benefits may include on campus health services, counselling, access to sports facilities and cultural activities.

Payment of the semester fee is also neccessary to get an official student card that, among other things, gives you reduced fares on most forms of public transport and lower ticket prices to various cultural events.

Programmes and courses with tutition fees

Most private institutions have tuition fees for all their programmes and courses. But the fees are usually significantly lower than those of comparable studies in most other countries. Also, foreign students don’t pay higher tuition fees than Norwegian students.

State universities and university colleges may have tuition fees for a few specialised programmes. Typically these programmes are at the Masters level.
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Most Norwegian institutions have various bilateral agreements with foreign institutions of higher education. These agreements are usually designed for the mutual exchange of students, researchers and teachers. However, there are national programmes that offer scholarships and other types of funding for international students wishing to study in Norway. Certain restrictions and prerequisites apply for all these programmes. In addition, there are various stipends available offered by private and non-profit organisations.

SIU is a Norwegian agency that promotes international cooperation in education and research. SIU is a public administrative body under the Ministry of Education and Research and administrates several programmes where foreign students are eligible for financial support.

Quota Scheme

The Norwegian government provides scholarships for students from developing countries and countries in Eastern Europe and Central Asia through the Quota Scheme. The objective of the scheme is to promote the internationalisation of higher education. Currently, the scheme provides full scholarships for a total of 1 100 students, of which 800 are from developing countries and 300 from Eastern Europe and Central Asia.

Each year universities and university colleges in Norway are allocated a certain number of quota students. The scheme normally includes courses taught in English at Masters and Ph.D. level, in addition to certain professional degrees. In order to find out which courses are available under the scheme, please contact the institutions directly.

The application deadline varies depending on course and institution. To learn more about the Quota Scheme and find out if you are eligible to apply, please visit the website of The Norwegian Centre for International Cooperation in Higher Education (SIU).

Norad’s Programme for Master Studies (NOMA)

(former Norad Fellowship Programme and The Norwegian Capacity-Building Programme)

Norad’s Programme for Master Studies provides scholarships for students from developing countries to study Masters and Diploma programmes at institutions in the South.

The aim of all educational activities within the NOMA is to educate staff in public and private sector as well as NGOs in the South. Masters programmes will to a greater extent than earlier be established and developed in the South in close collaboration with Norwegian institutions.

Around 110 students are accepted into the programme every year. Please note that 2006 will be a transitional year from the former Norad Fellowship Programme (NFP) to the new NOMA orogramme. This means that there will be no application round for students in the fall of 2006. The application round for students will open after February 2007. To learn more about the programme and find out if you are eligible to apply, please visit the website of the NOMA programme. (click here)

The Research Council of Norway is a national strategic body and funding agency for research and innovation activities. The Research Council covers all fields of research and innovation and works together with research institutions as well as the private and public sectors to reach the national financial goals and quality targets set in this area.

Norwegian Government Scholarships

The Norwegian Government, through the International Scholarship Section (IS) of the Research Council of Norway, offers each academic year a pool of scholarships for advanced students and young researchers. The government scholarships are designed to promote contact and mobility between Norwegian and foreign students and researchers and institutions of higher learning and research. The scholarships are open to all areas of academic studies and research, including applied and performing arts.

The scholarships are intended to finance a temporary stay of up to one academic year, and are not intended for completing an education/degree in Norway. To learn more about the scholarships and find out if you are eligible, please see the website of the International Scholarship Section (IS) of the Research Council of Norway. (click here)

Fellowship Programme for Studies in the High North

The Fellowship Programme for Studies in the High North is a programme for studies at institutions of higher education in Northern Norway and forms part of the Norwegian Government’s High North Strategy. Candidates will be selected through institutional agreements, meaning that individual fellowship applications from prospective students is not accepted in this programme. Fellowships may be awarded to students from Russia, the USA and Canada. At least half of the fellowships will be awarded to students from Russia. To learn more about the The Fellowship Programme for Studies in the High North and find out if you are eligible to apply, please visit the website of The Norwegian Centre for International Cooperation in Higher Education (SIU). (click here)


The Erasmus programme offers students from EU/EEA-countries enrolled at European higher education insitutions the possibility to study abroad as a part of their degree to supplement their studies. Exchanges last between 3 and 12 months. For more information contact your home university or the national agency of your country. To learn more about the Erasmus-programme and find out if you are eligible to apply, please visit the website of the European Commission.

The Norwegian State Educational Loan Fund

The Norwegian State Educational Loan Fund (“Lånekassen”) is primarily directed towards Norwegian citizens. However, some foreign citizens may be eligible for support. If you are a foreign citizen, your right to financial support from the Loan Fund depends on your connection to Norway, which country you come from and on what grounds you have a residence permit.

Support from the Norwegian State Educational Loan Fund consists of a loan and a grant that will cover the costs of studying in Norway. You will only have to repay the loan. If you have children with a residence permit who live together with you in Norway, you may be eligible for further support. If you work while you are a student, the support may be reduced.

You need admission to a Norwegian educational institution in order to apply for financial support and you need a residence permit before any support is paid out.

To learn more about the Loan Fund and find out if you are eligible, please see the website of the Norwegian State Educational Loan Fund. (click here)

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The importance of transparency and mutual recognition of diplomas as a crucial complement to the free movement of workers

The possibility of obtaining recognition of one’s qualifications and competences can play a vital role in the decision to take up work in another EU country. It is therefore necessary to develop a European system that will guarantee the mutual acceptance of professional competences in different Member States. Only such a system will ensure that a lack of recognition of professional qualifications will become an obstacle to workers’ mobility within the EU.

Main principles for the recognition of professional qualifications in the EU 

As a basic principle, any EU citizen should be able to freely practice their profession in any Member State. Unfortunately the practical implementation of this principle is often hindered by national requirements for access to certain professions in the host country.

For the purpose of overcoming these differences, the EU has set up a system for the recognition of professional qualifications. Within the terms of this system, a distinction is made between regulated professions (professions for which certain qualifications are legally required) and professions that are not legally regulated in the host Member State.

Steps towards a transparency of qualifications in Europe 

The European Union has taken important steps towards the objective of achieving transparency of qualifications in Europe:

– An increased co-operation in vocational education and training, with the intention to combine all instruments for transparency of certificates and diplomas, in one single, user-friendly tool. This includes, for example, the European CV or Europass Trainings.

– The development of concrete actions in the field of recognition and quality in vocational education and training.


Going beyond the differences in education and training systems throughout the EU 

Education and training systems in the EU Member States still show substantial differences. The last enlargements of the EU, with different educational traditions, have further increased this diversity. This calls for a need to set up common rules to guarantee recognition of competences.

In order to overcome this diversity of national qualification standards, educational methods and training structures, the European Commission has put forward a series of instruments, aimed at ensuring better transparency and recognition of qualifications both for academic and professional purposes.

–         The European Qualifications Framework

The European Qualifications Framework is a key priority for the European Commission in the process of recognition of professional competences. The main objective of the framework is to create links between the different national qualification systems and guarantee a smooth transfer and recognition of diplomas.

–         The National Academic Recognition Information Centres (NARICs)

A network of National Academic Recognition Information Centres was established in 1984 at the initiative of the European Commission. The NARICs provide advice on the academic recognition of periods of study abroad. Located in all EU Member States as well as in the countries of the European Economic Area, NARICs play a vital role the process of recognition of qualifications in the EU.

–         The European Credit Transfer System (ECTS)

The European Credit Transfer System aims at facilitating the recognition of periods of study abroad. Introduced in 1989, it functions by describing an education programme and attaching credits to its components. It is a key complement to the highly acclaimed student mobility programme Erasmus.

–         Europass

Europass is an instrument for ensuring the transparency of professional skills. It is composed of five standardised documents:

1. CV (Curriculum Vitae),
2. Language passport,
3. Certificate supplements,
4. Diploma supplements, and
5. Europass-Mobility document.

The Europass system makes skills and qualifications clearly and easily understood in the different parts of Europe. In every country of the European Union and the European Economic Area, national Europass centres have been established as the primary contact points for people seeking for information about the Europass system.




AIESEC, pronounced “eye-sek”, is the largest student- exchange organization in the world. It was founded in Europe in 1948 and has grown to over 80 countries with over 50,000 members on 700+ university campuses. Our mission is to contribute to the development of our countries and their people with an overriding commitment to international understanding and cooperation. Our primary activity is facilitation of work abroad exchange programs between its member countries.


ESU – The European Students’ Union is the umbrella organisation of 47 national unions of students from 36 countries. The NUSes are open to all students in the country regardless of their political conviction, religion, ethnic or cultural origin, sexual orientation, social standing, run and controlled by students, which hold democratic elections and are run on democratic lines, they are autonomous and independent in their decision-making and which are representative.