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Masters Study in Denmark - A Guide for 2020

Denmark’s higher education system is one of the best known in Northern Europe and its reputation for excellence and innovation is well-deserved. Studying a Masters in Denmark is an opportunity to tap into this great education system, with internationally renowned universities, a great selection of English-language Masters and no tuition fees for EU/EEA nationals.

Combined with its famously high quality of life, friendly society and safe environment, Denmark makes for a fantastic postgraduate study destination. We’re also keeping an eye on the effect of coronavirus on students in Denmark.

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Postgraduate opportunities in Denmark – what’s on offer for 2020?

Often named by international surveys the happiest people in the world, the Danes are renowned for their fondness of hygge (a quintessentially Danish term for cosiness and warmth). Denmark is also well-known for its eco-friendliness, boasting some of the most bike-centric cities outside of the Netherlands. And there’s a lot more besides to savour about life in Denmark if you’re interested in studying a Masters there.

  • No tuition fees – If you’re an EU/EEA national, you won’t have to pay anything for higher education in Denmark.
  • World-class universities – Despite only having eight universities, Danish institutes feature prominently in international league tables.
  • International outlook – With over 30,000 international students, Denmark is a welcoming place for foreigners.
  • Free Danish lessons – Denmark is so keen to help new arrivals settle in that the Danish government offers free language classes to international students and workers!

Masters Study in Denmark - Key Details
Universities 8
Oldest University University of Copenhagen (1479)
International Students 33,602
Course Length 2 years
Typical Fees (Domestic / EU) None (subject to conditions)
Academic Year September to June

Coronavirus updates for international students at Danish universities

For the latest information on the impact of coronavirus on studying a Masters in Denmark, please read the Danish Ministry of Higher Education and Science’s COVID-19 guidance page. Here you can find updates regarding exams, the reopening of universities and more.

Danish universities

There are three types of higher education institution in Denmark: universities, university colleges and academies of professional higher education. Only universities (as well as university-level institutions of fine and performing arts, design and architecture) deliver Masters and PhD programmes.

Considering the size of its university sector (only eight universities), Denmark has a remarkable track record with six of the country’s universities in the top 400 (2018-19 Times Higher Education World University Rankings).

Higher education in Denmark is fully compatible with the Bologna Process, the European qualification framework characterised by a three-cycle system (Bachelor-Masters-Doctorate), with one level leading to the next.

Danish university rankings

A relatively small size (and relatively small higher education system) hasn't stopped Denmark competing with other countries in global rankings. Several Danish universities feature in academic league tables for 2019.


Top Danish Universities in 2020
University THE 2020 QS 2020 ARWU 2019
University of Copenhagen 101 =81 26
Aarhus University 115 145 60
Technical University of Denmark =184 112 101-150
Aalborg University 201-250 =324 201-300
Copenhagen Business School 201-250 - 701-800
University of Southern Denmark 251-300 =372 301-400
Roskilde University 601-800 - -
Information in this table is based on the latest Times Higher Education World University Rankings, QS World University Rankings and Academic Ranking of World Universities. Visit their websites for more information.

Do university rankings matter for postgraduates?

University league tables can help you in your search for a Masters degree, but you need to know what to look for. Our guide to university rankings for Masters study can help.

Course types

As is common in European countries, Masters programmes in Denmark consist of compulsory courses, elective courses and thematic courses. You can often choose between a general track, or a specialisation within your programme.

The main pedagogic model in Denmark is problem-based learning. Teaching is delivered through lectures, seminars, practical and theoretical exercises, study visits and project work. Your Masters studies will end after the production of a thesis, based on a large project corresponding to six or nine months of work. Some universities allow you to work on your thesis independently or as part of a group.

Universities often have good links with the private and public sector as well as other institutions, so there will be opportunities to opt for placements and study abroad.

Candidatus is the name for a Masters in Denmark. The title of Masters is then made up of the degree (Cand., short for Candidatus) and the discipline in which it was studied.

Language requirements

There’s an excellent range of Danish Masters programmes delivered in English – one of the largest for a non-English speaking country. And this is not just to attract international students; a number of local students, whose English language skills are excellent, opt for English-taught education.

If you want to try your hand at learning Danish while you're studying, there's no excuse not to, with the government offering free Danish lessons to all international students and workers.

Search for a Masters in Denmark

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Masters fees and funding in Denmark

The Danish government covers tuition fees for all EU, EEA and Swiss citizens. If you’re from outside of the EU/EEA, however, you will be liable to pay fees ranging from around €6,000 to €16,000. At the top end of this scale, you’ll find specialised Masters courses such as MBAs.

Funding

A number of scholarships and grants are available from the institutions and from public funded schemes. See our guide to Masters scholarships in Denmark for more information.

Applying for a Masters in Denmark

As per the Bologna three-cycle framework, you’ll need an internationally recognised Bachelor's degree of a good standard to study a Masters degree in Denmark. For more information about international qualification recognition, consult the official Ministry of Higher Education and Science website.

You will also need to demonstrate proof of proficiency in the language of instruction for your course (usually Danish or English). Proficiency in English is generally demonstrated through an English proficiency test, such as the IELTS or TOEFL. For entry into a Masters programme, the level required will be a minimum of IELTS 6.5 or TOEFL iBT 83. You will usually be exempt from this requirement if you are a native English speaker or can demonstrate that you have acquired proficiency through prior learning in an English-speaking institution.

If your course is taught in Danish you should check with your university whether it requires international students to take a language test.

Application procedure

There is often a set application period for Masters programmes. The deadline is commonly the April before a September start for EU citizens, and as early as January for international students. You will need to have all your documentation by the application deadline. An application fee is often required.

To apply, you will need:

  • An original or certified copy of your academic transcript from your Bachelor degree. If the transcript is in another language than English or a Scandinavian language, you will have to provide an official English translation.
  • A certified copy of your Bachelor diploma. If you have not yet completed your degree, you will have to provide a letter from your university stating the planned award date.
  • Descriptions of courses undertaken in your Bachelor degree relevant to the programme you are applying for (for example, a course handbook).
  • An up-to-date version of your CV.
  • A photocopy of your passport. This is to determine your fee status.
  • Proof of English language proficiency.

Masters student visas in Denmark

Nordic and EU citizens

If you are a Nordic citizen, or a national of an EU country, you won’t need a visa or residence permit to study a Masters in Denmark. However, if you’re staying for more than six months, you do need to register with the Danish authorities.

If you’re an EU/EEA citizen, you need a residence permit for any stays over three months. You can get a residence permit at your local Statsforvaltningen (State Administration) upon arrival in Denmark. Each region of Denmark has one office responsible for awarding residence permits. You will need to bring your passport, one passport photo and your 'letter of admission' when you apply.

Non-EU citizens

Non-EU citizens need a residence permit to study in Denmark. This should be applied for and received before going to Denmark. When your institution sends your letter of admission, you will receive an application form called 'ST1' which you need to complete to apply for your residence permit.

Applying for a residence permit

The application process for a residence permit is a relatively lengthy process (taking two to three months) and universities advise that for a September start (as is usual in Denmark) the latest date you can apply for your residence permit is 1 May. However, you should start the application process as soon as you receive the letter of admission and the ST1.

The first step is to contact the Danish consulate or embassy in your country for guidance on making an application for the residence permit.

The application process starts by creating an online ID and paying a fee online as per the Danish Immigration Service’s instructions. You will have to demonstrate that you have the financial means to support yourself and your studies, through bank statements or scholarship letters. The Danish Immigration Authorities have set a minimum equivalent of around €835 per month over the course of your studies.

You will then receive a reply from the consulate or embassy within two to three months. When you arrive in Denmark and have registered with the Danish authorities (like Nordic or EU/EEA citizens would – see above), your residence permit ('residence card type Z') will be posted to your Danish address. The residence card serves as proof that you have been granted a residence permit

Next steps

Employability has always been high on the Danish government’s agenda and higher education institutions are expected to prepare their graduates for the job market.

Masters degrees are, in any case, considered an asset by many employers, along with international experience and language skills – not just in Denmark but also the world over.

Most universities have career services which offer services such as coaching, CV clinics or job searches. It’s also worth contacting them if you are planning to stay in Denmark to work, as they’ll have a good knowledge of the local labour market.

Search for a Masters in Denmark

Ready to start looking for your ideal study abroad opportunity? Browse and compare Masters degrees in Denmark on FindAMasters.com

Last updated 20/07/2020

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