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A Masters in Iceland offers diverse cultural opportunities and a high quality of life in extraordinary surroundings.
Though it’s one of the most sparsely populated countries in Europe, Iceland is home to over 1,200 international students – around 5% of its total student population. Along with more traditional academic subjects, renewable energy and eco-friendly sciences are top of the agenda for this green island.
This guide explains everything you’ll need to know about Iceland’s universities and postgraduate degrees, including fees, funding and visa requirements. We’re also keeping an eye on the effect of coronavirus on students in Iceland.
Iceland has a grand cultural and educational tradition dating back to the Icelandic Sagas, written around the thirteenth century. It’s also the location of what is widely considered the world’s first parliament, first convened in 930!
This rich heritage, combined with a lunar landscape and unique geological features, make Iceland an unforgettable place to study a postgraduate degree. Here are some of the reasons why you should study a Masters in Iceland.
|Masters Study in Iceland - Key Details|
|Oldest University||University of Iceland (1911)|
|Course Length||2 years|
|Typical Fees (Domestic / EU)||€550|
|Academic Year||September to May|
For the latest information on the impact of coronavirus on studying a Masters in Iceland, please check the official Study in Iceland page for updates.
There are currently seven higher education institutions in Iceland – four public and three private. These universities reflect a range of Iceland’s academic specialisms: two are agricultural institutions and one is an academy of the arts, while the remaining four offer a wide variety of Masters programmes.
University degrees in Iceland are organised into the Bologna system of three consecutive cycles: Bachelors, Masters, Doctorate. Masters students are therefore categorised as ‘Second Cycle’ students.
All higher education institutions in Iceland are accredited by the Ministry of Education, Science and Culture. However, universities in Iceland are highly autonomous, and have a lot of control over their curriculum. As a result, you may find that similar programmes vary in duration and style in different institutions.
If you’ve studied in a European country before, Iceland’s system will be fairly familiar to you. Postgraduate studies at Masters level last between six months and two years, and are worth 30-120 ECTS credits. The workload for one year corresponds to 60 credits.
Teaching methods vary somewhat between programmes and level of study. In most cases there is a combination of lectures, seminars, individual assignments and group work. In technical and science programmes, laboratory work and practical training are more common teaching methods.
Universities in Iceland offer both taught and research Masters programmes. Research Masters consist of a substantial research project overseen by a supervisor, while taught programmes consist of modular teaching ending with a dissertation.
Assessments throughout the academic year involve written, oral and practical examinations, with examinations usually taking place at the end of each semester.
You can use our course listings to search and compare Icelandic Masters degree programmes.
Public universities in Iceland don’t charge tuition fees for its Masters programmes (at least not in the conventional sense) but you will have to pay an annual registration fee of around €550.
Private universities in Iceland do charge tuition fees. Depending on the course, the institution and your nationality, these can be anywhere between approximately €4,290 and €15,880 per year.
Some universities offer merit-based grants, but you’ll need to contact the university directly to find out more.
The Icelandic Research Fund (IRF) is aimed at students in research studies, providing funding for research projects approved after a proposal. It is more commonly aimed at PhD students, but Masters students can also apply.
The Icelandic Student Innovation Fund (ISIF) is a similar source of funding. Projects take place over the summer, and you are provided with a supervisor to oversee the work.
Erasmus+ scholarships are also available to EU students and could cover your travel and accommodation costs. See our guides to Erasmus Masters funding for more information.
There is no central portal for Masters applications in Iceland, but the overall application process is relatively simple.
You’ll usually need a Bachelors degree in a relevant subject to enroll on an Icelandic Masters programme. Depending on the language of instruction, you may need to supply proof of your proficiency in Icelandic or English.
Applications must be made directly to the university, so deadlines and processing periods differ. Generally, application deadlines are between March and June each year, but are sometimes as early as February for international students.
In research-oriented programmes, students must reach an agreement with a supervisor on a research project for their Masters thesis, and then file a joint application with that supervisor for a specific research project. The project must then be accepted by a review committee for the student to be allowed to enter the programme.
As mentioned above, proof of proficiency is usually asked for when you are applying for a programme of study in a second language. Other documents may include:
International students are usually charged an application fee of around €50.
EU/EEA students who are covered by an EHIC (European Health Insurance Card) are eligible to pay the same rate as Icelandic nationals when visiting a doctor. You must take your EHIC card and passport with you when you visit your local clinic to be eligible to pay the lower fee.
If you’re not an EU/EEA national, it’s vital to arrange private healthcare insurance before you arrive in Iceland.
If you’re an EU/EEA citizen, you don’t need a visa to study in Iceland. However, you do have to register your legal residence at Registers Iceland once you’ve arrived in the country (Registers Iceland is the civic registry of Iceland).
You’ll need the following documents with you to do this:
If you’re from outside the EU/EEA, you must apply for a residence permit before you arrive in Iceland, as soon as you’ve received an acceptance letter from your university.
To apply for a residence permit, you must contact the Directorate of Immigration in Iceland. Alongside the application form, you will need to provide:
When you arrive in Iceland, you then need to visit the Directorate of Immigration to supply them with your passport, travel documents and housing certificate.
After your application has been processed, you’ll receive an Icelandic ID number and residence permit card.
Permits are usually issued for six months or one semester at a time. You must apply for a renewal at least four weeks before your permit runs out.
Employment opportunities are increasing in Iceland every year, especially in geological sciences, business and finance. These areas predominantly employ Icelandic speakers, however. If you haven’t managed to crack the language, then industries such as computer programming, gaming, and tourism may be more your niche.
If you decide to move home, you will still have broadened your horizons. Studying abroad provides you with superb language and interpersonal skills. Having challenged yourself with embracing a new culture, you will be able to show employers your adaptability and resilience in new situations. You will also be considered more culturally conscious, and as such better at dealing with cross-cultural situations. You may even wish to consider PhD level research as your next step.
You can use our course listings to search and compare Masters degree programmes in Iceland.
Last updated 20/07/2020