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Masters in Denmark

by Dr Nathalie Mather-L’Huillier

What do you think of when you consider Denmark? Vikings? The pastries? Beer and bacon? Fairy tales? How about its postgraduate offering? 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 means the opportunity to tap into this great education system, with its internationally renowned universities. And yes, you'll also be able to enjoy the great Danish food, drink and history whilst you're there!

Masters Study in Denmark - Key Details
Universities 20
Oldest University University of Copenhagen (1479)
International Students 29,941
Course Length 2 years
Typical Fees (Domestic / EU) None (subject to conditions)
Academic Year September to June

Universities for postgraduate study in Denmark

There are three types of higher education institution in Denmark: Universities, University Colleges and Academies of 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 five of the country’s eight universities in the top 400 (2012/13 QS World University Rankings), the University of Copenhagen leading the way at 51.

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.

What's it like to study abroad in Denmark?

Want to know more about life for international students in Denmark? Our detailed guide covers everything from accommodation and living costs to culture and entertainment.

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 2017.

The Top Danish Universities in 2017
University THE 2016-17 QS 2016-17 ARWU 2016
Aarhus University =98 117 65
University of Copenhagen 120 68 30
Technical University of Denmark 176 109 151-200
Aalborg University 201-250 374 201-300
Copenhagen Business School 251-300 - -
University of Southern Denmark 251-300 390 301-400
Roskilde University 501-600 - -

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.

Danish Masters degrees

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 there is also a good deal of 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 universities 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 which it was studied.

Language requirements

The range of Danish Masters programmes delivered in English is 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. This means that doing your Masters in Denmark offers an international experience whilst studying with the people from your host country.

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

Applying for a Masters in Denmark

As per the Bologna three-cycle framework, to undertake a Masters degree in Denmark, you will be required to hold an internationally recognised Bachelor's degree of a good standard or equivalent. For more information about international qualification recognition, consult the official Ministry of Higher Education and Science. 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 94-101. 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 will need to check with your university in order to find out 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 April of the year directly preceding 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.
  • Course descriptions of courses undertaken in your Bachelor degree relevant to the programme you are applying for, for example, a course handbook could be supplied.
  • An updated version of your CV.
  • A photocopy of your passport. This is to determine your fee status.
  • Proof of English language proficiency.
  • A completed application form (not at all universities).

Masters student visas in Denmark

Nordic and EU citizens

If you are a Nordic citizen, or a national of an EU country, you will not need a visa or residence permit to study a Masters in Denmark. However, if you are staying for more than six months, you do need to register with the Danish authorities. If you are an EU/EEA citizen you need a residence permit for any stays over three months. Residence permits may be obtained at the Regional State ' Admisnistration Statsforvaltningen' 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 obtained 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 - 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 May 1st. However, you should start the application process immediately upon receipt of the letter of admission and the ST1. The first step is to contact the Danish consulate or embassy in your country, or affiliated with your country, for information on how to apply 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 and/or scholarship letters. The Danish Immigration Authorities have set a minimum equivalent of k4,200 ($635 USD) per month during your intended stay.

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

Masters fees and funding in Denmark

The Danish Government covers tuition fees for all EU/EEA citizens. If you are from outside of the EU/ EEA), you will be liable to pay fees (this was recently introduced and is a matter of great debate in Scandinavia, see our article on Finland). However, the fee levels for Masters in Denmark are around k50,000 per year ($7,600 USD) . Fees will be higher for specialised Masters courses such as an MBA, which can be as much as k119,000 ($18,000 USD) per year.


A number of scholarships and grants are available from the institutions and from public funded schemes.

  • University scholarships
    Universities and their constituent faculties sometimes award scholarships to specific groups of students for some of their Masters programmes. In addition, Danish higher education institutions receive a limited number of government scholarships each year to fund highly qualified full-degree students from non-EU/EEA countries and Switzerland.

    The scholarships are administered by the Danish institutions of higher education, each of which decides which students will receive a scholarship. The government scholarships can be given as full or partial tuition fee waivers and/or grants towards covering your living costs. You should enquire at the institution of your choice for further details.
  • The Council on International Educational Exchange have grants available for American students to study abroad:
  • Fund for Education Abroad
  • Fulbright Commission
    American students in higher education wishing to study in Denmark may be able to apply for a Fulbright scholarship. Further information is available at the Denmark-American Foundation and the Fulbright Commission.
  • The Danish Government Scholarships under the Cultural Agreements
    These scholarships are aimed at highly qualified exchange students and young researchers who wish to immerse themselves in studies of the Danish language and culture or other fields of study related to Denmark; such as design, architecture, environmental studies, and other related fields. These Danish Government scholarships are offered to students from a number of European countries and students from Russia, China, Japan, Israel and Egypt. To find out more, consult the dedicated website.
  • The Danish State Educational Support (SU)
    The Danish State Educational Support (SU) is generally only awarded to Danish residents. As an international student you may however, apply for equal status in so far as the state educational support is concerned. You may be granted equal status according to Danish rules and EU law. For details on how to apply, visit the website of the Danish Education Support Agency.
  • Joint-Masters and Erasmus Mundus
    For a detailed list of Erasmus Mundus programmes which include a Danish institution, visit this website.
  • Several scholarship programmes for both EU and non-EU students are listed at the EU-database Ploteus


Our own postgraduate funding website provides a comprehensive database of small grants and bursaries available to support postgraduate study around the world, including travel bursaries, living cost support, fee waivers and exchange programmes. Click here to start searching for funding to study a Masters in Denmark, or elsewhere.

After graduation - careers and employment with a Danish Masters degree

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. Most Masters programme descriptions will include a list of the competencies you can expect to gain during your degree and examples of careers that former students have entered.

Masters degrees are, in any case, considered as an asset by many employers as is 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 is also worth consulting them if you are planning to stay in Denmark to work as they will 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 - 31/10/2016

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