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Why Study a Masters Degree in Sweden?

by Gemma Halder

Sweden is home to the Noble Prize and its academic research is internationally renowned. Swedish universities are free to structure their own courses and programmes as they choose and there is a vast array of Masters courses on offer. Postgraduate study is therefore flexible and student-centric, with an emphasis on group work. You will also find a diverse student population, with a high percentage of women (60%) and mature students.

A third of Swedes go on to higher education and the country also attracts around 30,000 foreign students each year. English is widely spoken.

Sweden is a modern, highly developed society with liberal attitudes to individual lifestyle choices. Living standards are some of the highest in the world. Although the country is sparsely populated, immigrants make up more than 10% of its 9 million residents. In addition to academic excellence, Sweden offers international students a vibrant cultural hub in Stockholm, sophisticated nightlife in cities such as Malmö and Gothenburg, and the chance to explore its stunning scenery of forests, lakes, mountains and long coastlines.

Swedish Universities

The Swedish higher education system consists of universities and university colleges. The structure of Swedish postgraduate degrees conforms to the Bologna Process, in line with other European countries, so your Swedish Masters will be recognised by universities and employers worldwide.

Sweden has 52 universities and university colleges, most of which are state funded. There are approximately 600 English-language Masters degrees to choose from. You could also study a Masters degree in Swedish if your language skills are up to scratch.

Higher education institutions in Sweden have close links with local industry and business communities and can each offer specialised study programmes.

How long do Swedish Masters degrees take?

You can either do a one-year Masters degree (known as a ‘magisterexamen’) or a two-year Masters (‘masterexamen’). The masterexamen may be conferred by state universities and higher education institutions that are approved for research in at least one discipline and by private institutions that are licensed to award Doctorates and Licentiate degrees in a particular discipline.

Two-year Licentiate degrees, equivalent to an MPhil in the UK, are also available, as are PhDs which take four years to complete.

Accommodation and living costs

The currency is the Swedish Krona (SEK). Living costs in Sweden are high and Stockholm is more expensive than other towns and cities.

The estimated cost of living for a student in Sweden is SEK 7,300 per month. Membership costs for student unions are between SEK 50 – 350 per semester.

There is a shortage of student housing in the established university cities of Stockholm, Lund, Uppsala and Gothenburg and costs are therefore likely to be higher. Student accommodation in cities ranges from SEK 2,500 – 4,500 per month for a room. For medium-sized and smaller towns, you can expect to pay between SEK 2,000 – 4,300 a month.

Swedish universities are not responsible for providing accommodation to students. You should contact your university’s student union as soon as possible to enquire about finding accommodation. Some unions will guarantee you accommodation if you apply early enough.

You can choose to live in private accommodation (such as a rented apartment) or student dormitories, depending on your preferences. Living in student accommodation will offer more opportunities to meet other international and Swedish students. Private flats are advertised in local newspapers, on the internet and around universities. Flats may be furnished or unfurnished. If you choose to live in a student dormitory, there are usually between 6-15 single rooms in a corridor (bear in mind that corridors will be mixed-sex). These rooms have basic furnishings with access to a shared kitchen, dining room and often a communal TV room.

Fees and funding

If you are from a European Union (EU) or European Economic Area (EEA) country or Switzerland, university admission and tuition are free. Students from other countries will have to pay tuition fees. Each university sets their own fees, which usually range from SEK 80,000 – 140,000 per academic year. Expect to pay significantly higher fees for medicine and art degrees. Fee-paying students are also required to pay an admission fee of SEK 900.

The Swedish Institute offers a limited number of postgraduate scholarships for international students. The number of available scholarships varies from year to year and competition is intense.

Most universities in Sweden also offer scholarships to highly qualified students from outside the EU/EEA. Contact individual institutions for more details.

Entry requirements

The minimum entry requirement for Masters courses in Sweden is three years of Bachelor’s-level study.

If you want to study a course that is taught in English and you are not a native speaker, you may have to demonstrate your language skills through the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) or the International English Language Testing System (IELTS). For courses taught in Swedish, you may have to take tests or complete a Swedish language course before beginning your studies.

If you are currently studying for a Masters in the UK you may be able to spend time studying in Sweden through the Erasmus scheme.

How to Apply

Applications are made through the University Admissions in Sweden online system and you can apply for up to four Masters courses. You should print off the cover sheet from the website and send it by post along with copies of academic certificates and any other proof of qualifications, as requested. A letter of intention or essay may also be required by different universities.

Deadlines for most courses are in mid-January.

Visas and immigration

Citizens of EU/EEA countries do not need a visa or residence permit to study in Sweden but you must register with the Swedish Migration Board before the end of your first three months in the country.

If you are from a non-EU country you will need a residence permit. To be eligible for a residence permit you must meet the following criteria:

  • be enrolled onto full-time study in Sweden;
  • have comprehensive health insurance that covers the period you are in Sweden (if you plan to study for less than one year);
  • be able to support yourself financially for the period of study;
  • have a valid passport.

Where can I find out more?

The Study in Sweden website has more information about postgraduate study and living in Sweden.

Search our database now to find detailed information about Masters courses offered by Swedish universities.

This article kindly written for FindAMasters.com by Gemma Halder. It may not be reproduced without permission.

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