Sweden is a developed and beautiful country that is located in the Northern part of Europe, between Norway and Finland. Many people don’t realize that it also has a way to get into Denmark, which is a bridge and tunnel hybrid that is referred to as the Øresund. It is a member of the European Union, and is number three in terms of size (450,295 square kilometers (173,860 sq mi)). The capital of the country is Stockholm. It is bordered on the East by the Baltic Sea and is separated in from Norway in the west by the Skandema, a Scandinavian mountain chain.
In this section, we’re going to help you get a better idea of how your life is going to be while you are studying in Sweden. Specifically, we are going to look at the government, the history, and climate, geography, and topography. These different factors will help you to get a better overall understanding of the country before you make a final decision about studying there.
Why Study in Sweden?
It is a big step to study abroad, and the options are nearly limitless. So what makes Sweden stand out as a study destination? What makes it so different from other countries that you could go to? Why would you want to go there as opposed to other countries? Let’s take a look at some of the most popular reasons for people to study in Sweden.
You can learn teamwork in a way that is unique to Sweden
Studying in Sweden is unique, and you will not find an experience like it anywhere else in the world. Swedish educational institutions provide an exciting as well as open environment, with a strong focus on cooperation. This will give you valuable skills that you cannot find at other universities across the world. The global job market rewards ambitious, innovative and perceptive team players, and you will be able to show that you are a team player because of the education that you get there. You will also learn techniques for working in a team that you may have never considered had you studied somewhere else that encouraged individuality over teamwork.
Swedish Universities have some of the best Advanced Degree Programs in the world
Swedish master’s degree program offer unique opportunities to turn theory into practice. Many programs also work closely with the industry, offering students the possibility to combine study and practical work. You can take internships, apprenticeships, and even work part time in fields that are related to your Advanced degree studies. That means that you will get both the hands on experience and the ability to apply what you are learning to what you are doing. Knowing how to turn theory into practice can give you distinct advantages over your peers when you go into the workforce upon completing your degree.
You can discover your strengths and reach your fullest potential
Swedish universities will encourage their students to work on your strengths and talents, instead of thwarting creativity. The knowledge system is student-centric and your work with your teachers is usually informal, as opposed to the more formal “student/master” feel that you may get in other situations. Most professors go by their first names, instead of their titles. This is likely due to the egalitarian culture that they hold close, which means that they don’t hold themselves over anyone, but see everyone as equal. Because of this, they value initiative and independent thinking. You are at the center of your education, not some cut and dry educational system that only exists to force you to meet standards. You take an active role in the process.
You will be surrounded by innovation and creativity
Innovative research is done by both Swedish companies and universities. The Swedes embrace creativity and institution, and are proud of what their minds have been able to create. The results of this research and creativity have generated several successful inventions that are known throughout the world. Check out some of the innovations that wouldn’t have existed without Swedish ingenuity:
- Computer mice, Bluetooth technology, and other external computing devices
- Ball bearings and other technologies related to the manufacturing industry.
- Pacemakers, kidney dialysis devices and other health care devices that save lives every day.
- Spotify, Skype and other internet technologies.
Chances are, you use at least some of these products every day. If you don’t, you can at least name what a few of them are. And these are just some of the examples of Swedish ingenuity; there are even more products that you may come across while looking for items that Swedes have invented or made, and the innovation is going to play a role in encouraging you to expand your mind.
Sweden has numerous large multinational organizations that are in the forefront of the world when it comes to innovation and technology. Not sure if you have ever purchased items or used services from a Swedish company? Here are some of the most well known companies that you will find around the world, but are based or were started in Sweden:
- Atlas Copco
- H&M (clothing company)
You’ve probably heard of several of these companies, and you may even own products from one or more of them. If you decide to study in Sweden, you will be surrounded by some of the most innovative people and companies in the world. The environment in Sweden helps to encourage imagination, and if you study there, you can be part of the changes that Sweden gives to the rest of the world.
It won’t be easy, but it will be worth every minute of hard work
Some people may be scared off by the prospect of coursework being difficult, but there are actually a number of different courses in Sweden that will make you work very hard. As mentioned above, Sweden is very proud of its history as an academic powerhouse, and you can be part of that process as well. Academics and education are highly prized; Sweden stands out as the home of your prestigious Nobel Prize, which is known throughout the world as a prized academic award. It’s not going to be an easy path to achieving your goals and dreams, but you will get the best education possible when you study at a Swedish university.
You can find your program of interest in Sweden
No matter you want to study, you can find it in Sweden. There are dozens of schools, and there are hundreds of different undergraduate and post graduate programs throughout the country, depending on where you decide to study. The fields vary as well; even though a lot of what we listed above is in regards to innovation, there are also a number of different universities that focus on social sciences (psychology, sociology), medical fields, and other fields that aren’t as “technical” but are just as important. There are some universities that offer hundreds of courses in dozens of departments, so you can even personalize your program to exactly what you are looking to pursue and achieve.
Sweden is diverse and embraces diversity
Swedes actually pride themselves in speaking two or more languages. Almost every Swede that you will meet speaks English, Swedish, and usually a couple more languages from some of the other counties in the European Union (German and French are popular). Many of the companies in Sweden will work in English, many universities offer courses in English, and you will hear many Swedes use English in everyday conversation. Because of the sheer number of innovative companies in Sweden, there are people from around the world in the country on a daily basis. So, as a Free Mover or Exchange Student, you will feel like you fit right in because everyone is just as different as you may feel. The neat thing about the diversity in Sweden, however, is that no matter how many different people may come in and out of the country; Sweden does not lose its cultural identity. The longer you stay in the country, the more you will come to appreciate that trait.
As you can see, there are literally dozens of reasons for you to consider studying in Sweden. And these aren’t even the only ones that you should be considering! If you think you’re ready to start your journey toward studying in Sweden, make sure to keep looking around this site. We have tons of resources that you can use in order to help you make your decisions and so that you find the university that is right for you. So come on, check out what Sweden has in store for you and your future.
Sweden Visas and Immigration
With any study abroad destination, you are going to have to take a look at whether or not you need visas, passports, residential passes, or other paperwork in order to stay in the country for your studies. Sweden is no different, but because of the agreements that are found across the European Union, you will find that applying for residence in Sweden is going to be different than doing so for countries outside of the EU. If you are not from the EU, then you may also see some different processes that you have to go through in order to obtain your visa. So what do you have to do to determine whether or not you are eligible to study in Sweden, with or without a visa? We’re going to take a closer look in this section.
EU/EEA places and Nordic Countries
If you reside in an EU/EEA country legally (citizenship, legal residence) that is not considered to be a Nordic country, then you are able be in Sweden, whether for work or study, without a visa or documentation for 90 days or more. Within that first 90 days, you need to register your presence in the country with the Migration Board or you run the risk of being deported.
There is, of course, a little bit of paperwork that you need to submit in order to declare your presence and intent to study in Sweden. To register, you must an acceptance letter or something else that proves that your acceptance to a university. It can also be at a secondary level, especially because of how the Sweden secondary education system is set up (see you can find more information in our section on the Education system in Sweden). You must have sufficient funds for the living expenses that you will accrue while you are residing in Sweden, and you must provide proof of medical insurance that is valid for use in Sweden.
Please note that if you are a citizen of Switzerland, you must apply for documentation as well, which we talk about in the above section. But, it takes much less time for you to apply for documentation as a Swiss citizen than it does in other areas of the world, and they will need less information to process your permit. Those who reside in Nordic countries legally and/or are citizens of those countries just need to let the Migration Board know that they are in the country for studies. This doesn’t require much paperwork at all; you merely need to send them your acceptance letter and evidence of your residence in a Nordic country.
If you do not meet any of the qualifications that are listed above (EU, EEA, Nordic countries or Switzerland), then you are considered to be a Non-EU/EEA student and you will have to get documentation in the form of a permit and/or a visa in order to go study in Sweden. If you intend to reside in the country for 90 days or less, you usually don’t need any documentation unless your home country is one that is required to do so by the Migration Board. If you plan on studying longer than 90 days, you require specific documentation before you start your period of studying in Sweden. This also includes a fee of SEK 1000, and you must pay for your first semester of university before you can be approved for your permit.
During the application for your Sweden VISA, you have to show possession or earning power for enough money to last you through all of your studies. You must have SEK 73000 available to you over a ten month period (the other two months do not need to be covered, because the Migration Board that you are working while studying or that you will go to your home country during your breaks). The numbers will vary if you have family (children, a spouse) that you are bringing with you to Sweden.
If you have proof of free housing (dormitory, etc) during your time in the country, then the fee’s amount will be adjusted (since most of the money for the proof of finances is to ensure shelter for you while you are staying in the country). Students that are utilizing a scholarship, a grant, or another type of financial aid should give the Migration Board the information they need about this as well, because your amount will be adjusted for the financial aid that you will be receiving. In order to obtain your documentation in a timely manner, you should apply for your documentation as soon as you know that you’ve been accepted to a Swedish University.
What is in your application? Here is a brief list to review what we discussed above.
- At least 2 (3 is recommended) photographs for your passport.
- 2 copies of your passport. Your passport must last at least 6 months past the date of your arrival to Sweden.
- Any acceptance letters for universities and/or secondary school that you have been accepted to, with a copy of each.
- 2 copies of whatever current degrees and diplomas that you currently possess.
- All proof of financial means, including scholarships, grants, loans, and other financial aid. It can also include free housing agreements and other agreements. Bank statements, credit statements, and other financial statements are acceptable, and they do not have to be converted to SEK before you hand them in.
You need to renew your permit every single year, because your permit runs out within 365 days of the start of your permit (unless the time allocated on the permit is shorter, then it will run out at that point). All renewal information is taken care of by your local Swedish Migration Board office, and they will give you all of the information that you need in order to reapply for your visa.
Universities and Higher Education in Sweden
There are a number of universities throughout Sweden, and the number is based on the Higher Education Ordinance of 1993. Most of the universities that you will find throughout Sweden are publicly funded, with only a handful of them being private. In this section, we’re going to take a look at each of the universities located in Sweden and any relevant information that you would like to know about them.
Uppsala University is located in Uppsala, Sweden, in the central region of the country. Established in 1477, it is easily the oldest university in Sweden (there are debates on whether or not Lund is older, which we will discuss next). This university has played a large role in the history of Sweden and had a lot of influence on the history, culture, and other factors of Sweden, probably due to its age. Many of the academic traditions that you see at Swedish universities were started here, including the ‘white cap’ phenomena among Swedish students. There are over 23,000 students at Uppsala currently, with over 6,000 employees that work for the university.
Lund University was established in 1666, even though its roots go back to 1425, when a monastery opened its doors to educating others. Because the actual university was not established until 1666, it is not considered to be older than Uppsala. It is considered to be one of the top 100 universities in the world, and it is also one of the largest universities in Scandinavia. There are currently 47,000 students attending Lund University; there are eight faculties (colleges, departments) with almost 300 different programs. It also has a number of connections to universities in other countries.
The University of Gothenburg is the third-oldest of the existing Swedish universities. It currently has almost 25,000 students that attend on a full-time basis, which ranks it among the largest in this region of Europe. There are currently eight faculties that offer a number of different courses; so many, in fact, that Gothenburg is considered to have the most diverse course offerings in Sweden, and among some of the most variety that you will find in the entire world. The programs range from liberal arts, to biological sciences, to social sciences and humanities, and a number of other concentrations. There are over 57 departments at the university, and they are adding new programs of study all of the time. Mix this together with the fact that the university is known for its high job placement rate (after students complete their programs) and you understand why the University of Gothenburg is one of the most popular universities in the country.
Stockholm University is a public university that focuses on the natural sciences and social sciences. Like many of the public universities in Sweden, Stockholm University is large, with over 65,000 students attending every single year. On many lists, this university is listed as one of the top 200 universities in the entire world. The research that they do is based on helping the community as much as possible and for developing creativity and innovation in the world. They have over 70 departments at the university, and they work with government centers and institutions to help give their students the best educational experience possible.
The Karolinska Institutet, sometimes called the Royal Caroline Institute, is a university in Soina, Sweden. Originally started in 1810, it was actually in Stockholm first, and then relocated to this populated suburb. There is a second campus located in Flemingsberg, which is another suburb of Stockholm. Much of the work at this university is done in the medical field, and is one of the oldest medical schools in the country. Among other medical schools, Karolinska Institutet is considered to be one of the best that there is in this region of Europe, and is in the top 50 around the world.
Umea University is a university in the northern region of Sweden. It was started in 1965, and since then has become one of the best “young” (under fifty years old) universities in the world. It is also a favorite of many students who study abroad and go to Sweden; it ranked 1st in the International Student Barometer of satisfaction. There are currently 36,000 students (17,000 of which attend full-time). There are more than 4,000 employees who work at the school as well.
Royal Institute of Technology
The Royal Institute of Technology referred to as KTH due to its Swedish name, is another university in Stockholm. Founded in 1827, it became the first university in Sweden to put a major focus on technological advances. It is one of the best technology schools in Northern Europe, no matter who you ask. All of their programs, both undergraduate and graduate, focus on technology, science, engineering, and other related fields. There are currently 16,000 students that study at the university, with about 2,000 of those students at the graduate level of study.
Linköping University is a state-run, public university that was given full status as a university in 1975. The university has focuses in a number of fields, including liberal arts, education, medicine, and technology. Their layout has 14 large departments that fall under the different faculties as listed above. If you are looking for a university that has open dialogue with the community around them in order to help students get the best education possible, Linköping University is it. It has over 18000 students that attend the university every single year.
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences
Agriculture is a very large part of the Swedish livelihood and economy, and the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences is at the core of this. Even though its main campus is located in Uppsala, it actually has a number of campuses throughout the country. This is so they can have the greatest reach to the greatest number of farmers and other agricultural business. All of their faculties focus on fields related to agricultural and natural sciences, including animal science, agriculture, natural resources, landscaping, and forestry. They currently have about 5000 students that study at the various campuses throughout the country.
Luleå University of Technology
The Luleå University of Technology is located in the northern section (Norrland) of Sweden, and is actually the technology university that is situated the furthest north. They have several campuses, each of which has a different focus (the main campus has every focus). Astronomy, Wood technology, Computer Gaming, Music, Media, and a number of other technology fields are studied at the various campuses. It was started in 1971, and it became a university in 1997.
Karlstad University is a public Swedish university that was founded in 1977, but became a university in 1999. Originally, this university was part of the University of Gothenburg. There are a number of programs, courses, and certificates that can be earned at this university, most of which focus on social sciences, education, and technology. There are currently over 12,000 students that attend the university every year.
Örebro University was originally part of Uppsala University; it was used to offer classes in the 1960’s. In 1977, the university became its own entity, and became a university in 1999. They offer medical degrees and social work degrees to their students. Örebro also puts a lot of emphasis on gender equality, both in Sweden and around the world. They currently have 8600 students and have about 1100 people on staff.
Mid Sweden University
Mid Sweden University is found in central Sweden, actually, in the region that is almost exactly the center of the country of Sweden. They have three campuses throughout this region. They offer a number of different degrees at every undergraduate and graduate level, and have done so since 2005 when they added a Master’s program to their repertoire. Natural sciences, engineering, technology, social sciences, humanities, and education courses and programs are offered at Mid Sweden University. There are over 22,000 students between all of the campuses.
Linnaeus University is a public state university that has three separate campuses (one main campuses, two satellite). This university is actually a merger between two former universities (Växjö and Kalmar) and the two were combined in 2010. Both of the original universities were campuses of other colleges before they got individual university status and then merged. With the merger, there are currently 15,000 students that attend courses and programs at the university across all campuses.
University of Borås
The University of Borås offers a number of technical courses, and is the primary university for Library and information studies and Fashion studies in the country. They also offer a number of liberal studies programs, medical programs, and a number of other classes. This university puts a lot of focus on helping their students to get hands on experience; for example, their textile classes are actually done at an old textile mill. The university has almost 7,000 students that attend every single year.
Malmö University is a university college that has a large percentage (30%) of students that are from other countries. This is a fairly young university college, only having started in 1998. Most of the programs at Malmö focus on helping the world get better, so they include environmental programs and technology programs. Like Borås, they try to help their students get well-rounded, hands on education that involves a lot of work with companies and other entities that can help them get that education. There are currently over 13000 students in the various programs at Malmö University.
Dalarna University College
Dalarna University was started in 1977 in a town northwest of the capital city of Stockholm. Of the 18000 students that currently attend the university, about half of them study at the main campus, whereas the other half study via online courses (distance education) or at a satellite campus in Borlänge
Halmstad University is a public higher education institution, not a university as its name would suggest. It is a university college, meaning that it does not grant PhD’s, but it offers courses to supplement them. Most of Halmstad’s courses focus on technology and innovation. They currently have about 9,000 students that are studying in over 50 courses at both the graduate and undergraduate levels.
Kristianstad University College
Kristianstad University College is a university college (no PhD’s) that was established in 1977. It moved to its current location in 1995, and focuses on education, social sciences, medical sciences, business, and engineering. There are currently over 12,000 students studying at this university college.
Skövde University College
Skövde University College is a university college (cannot grant PhD’s) located in central Sweden; it was started in 1977. There are about 11,000 students that attend the college very year. Skövde offers programs in information technology, social sciences, liberal arts, health services, and a number of other fields.
Gävle University College
Gävle University College is a university college (cannot grant PhD’s) that is found in Gävle, Sweden. It started in 1977 and offers 45 different degrees, both at graduate and undergraduate levels. It focuses on a number of subjects, including education, technology, and liberal arts. There are currently almost 15,000 students that attend Gävle University College every year.
Stockholm School of Economics
The Stockholm School of Economics is one of the best economics and business schools in Europe and number 26 in the world, and if you are able to be accepted there, you will get an excellent business education. It is a private school (one of only a handful in Sweden) that receives most of its funding from fundraising and private donations. They offer every level of education and also offer a number of courses for those who are in business but are not seeking a degree. There are about 1700 full time students that attend the school yearly.
One of the most important things that you need to ask yourself before studying abroad in any country is how much it’s going to cost you to live there. In this section, we’re going to explore some of the things that could affect the cost of living while you are in Sweden, and how you can plan for that properly. All of the numbers in this section are going to be in the Swedish Krona (SEK), but you can use a conversion calculator to help you get an idea of how these numbers convert to the currency that you are used to in your home country.
Here is a general idea of a standard student budget in Sweden. All of these are per month, as opposed to yearly.
- Food: Approximately SEK 2000 per month.
- Accommodation: Anywhere from SEK 2000 to SEK 4500 per month, depending on where you live. Follow the link to learn more about finding accommodations in Sweden.
- Medical care: SEK 250
- Leisure and Travel: SEK 1200
- Utilities (if applicable): SEK 500-800 depending on your living circumstances. If you live in a dormitory, you can
That doesn’t include any tuition fees or anything else that may come up, making that budget somewhere between SEK 6000 and SEK 9250, depending on where you live and what you will be doing while you are studying in Sweden.
So where do these numbers come from? The numbers will vary depending on exactly what part of Sweden you are living and studying in, but you can get a basic idea on the cost of living from several websites. Here are some of the numbers that you will be looking at.
- Sit down dinner: SEK 100 to 150; lunch is cheaper, from SEK 55 to 85. Doesn’t include beverages.
- Alcoholic beverage: SEK 40 (beer) to SEK 75 (wine)
- Coffee: SEK 30
- Soda or water bottle: SEK 15
- Monthly transportation pass: SEK 700
- 1 liter of gasoline: SEK 14 to 15
- Electricity: SEK 500/month
- Internet and phone: SEK 200/month
- Other utilities (depending on the flat you are in): SEK 100 to 300/month
Of course, these costs are going to vary depending on what you do and what you don’t do while you’re in the country. You can live there on a very limited budget if you want to, but that means that you will have less money to enjoy your time in Sweden.
Learning how to budget is a big part of adulthood, and studying overseas can help you to learn quite quickly. Sit down and use a spreadsheet or a budgeting program to determine what your monthly costs will be, and then start to figure out how you are going to meet those monthly costs. Make sure to put a little spending money in there as well, since you will want to enjoy some fun with the friends that you are going to make while you are there. This guide can actually help you a lot as you are figuring out your budget and finances, and it will help you determine exactly what you need to enjoy your time studying abroad, instead of stressing over it.
The good thing is that there are plenty of ways for you to get the money you need. Since most student visas allow you to work during your stay in Sweden, you should be able to afford anything that comes your way in terms of finances. We have more information on working while studying here, and you can also find information from your student union or the admissions office at your university.
You will have to prove that you have enough funding to attend university in Sweden (which we talk more about in our Visas and Immigration section), and you won’t want to have to worry while you are studying overseas.