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Masters in Norway

by Mark Bennett

Perhaps the best thing about studying a Masters in Norway is its welcoming attitude to overseas students and egalitarian approach to higher education. All Masters programmes in Norway are free from tuition fees and many are delivered in English. It's for these reasons that the country already hosts around 10,000 foreign students at various levels of study.

This page covers everything you need to know about postgraduate study abroad in Norway, with information on universities and courses and advice on applications, visas and funding.

Masters Study in Norway - Key Details
Universities 40
Oldest University University of Oslo (1811)
International Students 9,240
Course Length 2 years
Typical Fees (Domestic / EU) None
Academic Year August to June

Why study a Masters degree in Norway?

What's more, when it comes to expanding horizons and offering unique experiences, few destinations for postgraduate study abroad can compete with Norway. The country is situated along the uppermost edge of the Scandinavian Peninsula - in the far north of Europe - which means parts of Norway experience a phenomenon known as the 'midnight sun', during which the sun never sets but sits at the horizon for several weeks. During part of winter, meanwhile, the sun sits below the horizon in northern regions for entire 24 hour periods. At other times of the year Norway's high latitude offers an excellent place from which to view the aurora borealis.

As well as offering these peculiar (and spectacular!) sights, Norway's location also translates into some unique research opportunities and experiences. Part of the country's territory is located within the Arctic, with pioneering scientific research projects ongoing in collaboration with some of Norway's top universities. Alternatively, if your research interests take a humanities bent, you'll be uniquely placed to study the history and culture of exploration and survival in the far north, with archives and heritage materials ranging from Viking settlement to early polar voyages.

What's it like to study abroad in Norway?

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

Universities for postgraduate study in Norway

Norwegian higher education providers may be either public or private, but the majority are state run and accredited. In total there are seven state universities in Norway and 22 state university colleges. These institutions each provide a relatively comprehensive range of subjects and conduct research in a range of fields. There are also nine specialised universities and two national arts colleges, plus a range of private providers offering accredited courses.

The majority of students in Norway (around 85%) study at state institutions and these are where you are most likely to find yourself whilst studying for a Masters degree in Norway. Subject coverage is likely to be broadest at universities, where Masters programmes are often in departments pursuing active research agendas in relevant subject areas. University colleges tend to focus on professional Bachelor's programmes, but also offer some taught postgraduate degrees.

Higher education in Norway follows the standards established by the Bologna process, with 'first cycle' Bachelor's programmes followed in turn by 'second cycle' Masters degrees and 'third cycle' PhD qualifications. This means that a Norwegian Masters programme will provide you with a qualification that will be recognised internationally and also meet the conditions for further postgraduate study in other countries.

Norwegian Masters degrees

The Norwegian academic year runs from August to June, with winter and spring holidays and a longer vacation between June and August. Of course, as a Masters student in Norway, you will most likely use this longer vacation to carry out research and writing for the dissertation component of your degree.

Norwegian Masters degrees normally run for two years and consist of 120 ECTS credits. In some cases second cycle programmes equivalent to Masters degrees only consist of 90 ECTS credits of formal study, but these are only applicable to candidates with existing training and work experience in the relevant field.

Course content

Teaching on Masters programmes is similar to that for Bachelor's degrees, with a combination of lectures, seminars, workshops and tutorials employed as relevant to different subject areas. Individual universities are free to design curricula that they deem appropriate, but you will usually find that most courses adopt similar methods to those in other countries with a series of modular units completed in semesters of study. All Masters degrees in Norway require candidates to complete an independently researched dissertation, which usually takes place at the conclusion of a programme.

Credit weighting and grading

Norway uses the ECTS system to assign value to modules. Each of these will be assessed individually on a scale running from A-E (with F denoting a 'fail') and their credit weighting will decide how much of your final grade they determine. The dissertation will usually be assigned a substantial credit value (usually between 30 and 60 ECTS credits depending on the amount of time dedicated to the project). This reflects the importance of the research and self-directed study skills it serves to assess at postgraduate level.

Assessment of a Norwegian Masters thesis

The assessment of a Norwegian Masters thesis may involve an oral examination in addition to the written evaluation.. This is sometimes referred to as the 'final Masters degree examination' and involves two components. You will first be required to give a presentation of your work to an open audience. You will not usually be questioned at this stage, but will instead proceed to a closed session with your examiners who will assess you orally for a set period. Having to present a public lecture and undertake an oral defence of your Masters thesis may seem a little daunting at first, but it's a great opportunity to invite some friends and family to take pride in your success (and show them what it's like living in Norway). Plus, success in these examinations will look great on your CV whether you're applying for a PhD programme or seeking professional employment with your Masters degree.

Search for a Masters in Norway

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

Applying for a Masters in Norway

Admission to a Masters programme in Norway usually requires a Bachelor's degree in a relevant subject area. Beyond this higher education providers will set their own criteria for candidates. As a general rule you should be able to provide certification of previous qualifications and be prepared to give a statement of your interest in the course and its suitability to your experience and career goals. International students may also be asked to prove that they have the necessary financial means to support themselves in Norway during the period of their studies (whether through personal resources or external funding).

Recognition of qualifications

As a member of the European Higher Education Area (EHEA) and a participant in the Bologna process, Norway is usually able to recognise foreign qualifications (particularly those from within Europe) with relatively little difficulty. Your prospective institution should be able to alert you if there are likely to be any difficulties in your case. You can contact the Norwegian Agency for Quality Assurance in Education for further information about the recognition of your qualifications.

Language requirements

A large number of Masters programmes in Norway are delivered in English is widely spoken by many of the population. For this reason, you won't usually need to learn Norwegian in order to study in Norway. However, if English is not your first language you may need to take a test of English proficiency. You can read more in our guide to English language tests for international postgraduate students.

Even if your programme doesn't require you to speak Norwegian, you might like to consider learning a little of the language. Norwegian can appear challenging (with two written forms and numerous dialects) but in practice Norwegian is no harder to learn than most other European languages and carries the added bonus of being quite similar to other Scandinavian languages such as Danish and Swedish.

Masters student visas in Norway

As a Masters student in Norway you will usually need to acquire a student residence permit from the Norwegian Directorate of Immigration in order to remain in the country for over three months. Exceptions apply to students from Nordic countries (Iceland, Denmark, Sweden and Finland) for whom a residence permit is not required.

Applications for a residence permit should be made to a Norwegian Foreign Mission in your home country. You can use Norway's official web portal to locate your nearest mission or embassy.

It is possible to arrive in Norway without a pre-approved residence permit, but you will need to ensure you can acquire one within three months if so.

The documents required for a residence permit application will usually include:

  • A completed application form with attached passport photograph.
  • Proof of acceptance at a recognised learning institution.
  • A statement proving that you possess sufficient maintenance funds.
  • Proof of valid health insurance, either through a private policy or reciprocal scheme.

If you are normally resident outside the EU, EEA and Switzerland you may also need to provide:

  • Documentation of accommodation.
  • An outline of your proposed studies.

A processing fee of kr1,100 ($133 USD) applies to permit applications, but this is waived for citizens of EU, EEA and EFTA countries.

The Norwegian Directorate of Immigration (UDI) website offers more information on immigration regulations and requirements for specific countries.

Norwegian identity numbers

As a Masters student in Norway you will usually need to remain in the country for over six months. This means you should register with the National Registry and receive an identity number. This will allow you to open a bank account and get a student card.

Health insurance

As a result of reciprocal agreements, most students in Norway will be covered by Norway's own Norwegian National Insurance Scheme for the purposes of emergency care and necessary treatment. Exceptions may apply if you are not covered by social security arrangements in your home country and are not a student of an EEA or Nordic country or Switzerland. You can find more information from Nordsoc, the Nordic Social Insurance Portal.

Masters fees and funding in Norway

The best news about tuition fees in Norway is that, technically, there aren't any! As part of the country's commitment to higher education for all people, university study at Bachelor's, Masters and PhD level is free. This also applies to international students. A small semester fee of kr300-600 ($37-73 USD) may apply to postgraduate students, but this also grants you membership of the Student Welfare Organisation and provides various associated benefits including reduced prices on public transport.


Though you won't normally pay tuition fees on a Norwegian Masters degree, you will find that the cost of living in Norway is relatively high. For this reason it is usually desirable to secure some form of external funding to cover maintenance costs during your time studying in Norway. A number of funding and scholarship packages exist to help you.

  • Semester grants support students carrying out research on Norwegian topics in Norway and are applicable to all levels of study. They cover accommodation and maintenance for a one to three month period and may be an excellent source of support during the dissertation stage of your programme (particularly if you are carrying out research at archives or facilities away from your normal place of study).
  • The Erasmus programme supports postgraduate students to study internationally within Europe, either through the older Erasmus Mundus programme or the new Erasmus+ scheme that has replaced it. You can read more about postgraduate funding through Erasmus here.
  • Nordplus Higher Education supports students from Nordic or Baltic countries to study in other Nordic or Baltic countries and their funding may be accessible to certain postgraduate students in Norway.
  • YGGDRASIL (the Young Guest and Doctoral Researchers' Annual Scholarships for Investigation and Learning in Norway) provides mobility grants to highly qualified young researchers funded by the Research Council of Norway. This funding is normally designed for PhD students and early career researchers, but may be accessible to exceptional Masters students - particularly those who can demonstrate an intention to progress on to a doctoral programme in Norway.
  • The Quota Scheme supports students from developing countries as well as those from Eastern European and Central Asian regions. It applies to English-language courses at Masters level, as well as PhD students.
  • The High North Fellowship Programme is specifically designed to support students from Canada, the USA, Russia, Japan and South Korea, who intend to study in the northern part of Norway. It is funded through the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and offers travel grants as well as a monthly stipend of around kr9,440 ($1,140 USD).
  • The Norwegian State Educational Loan Fund is primarily intended for Norwegian citizens (but is open to some foreign citizens depending on their country of residence and their connection to Norway). This fund offers repayable loans ) and non-repayable grants to cover the cost of studying in Norway.


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 Norway, or elsewhere.

After graduation - careers and opportunities with a Norwegian Masters degree

Studying a Masters in Norway will provide you with a high quality, internationally recognised qualification that will help support you in various future career goals, whether you intend to continue on to PhD level research or take up a job outside the academy. In addition, Norway offers a host of opportunities that, as well as offering unique experiences during your degree, will continue to enhance your CV long after you graduate. As a Masters student in Norway you will have demonstrated your ability to adapt to strikingly different geographical conditions and to embrace different cultural perspectives. You may also have taken the opportunity to learn a foreign language that will be of use across the Scandinavian region and further demonstrate your adaptability and resourcefulness to prospective employers.

Ultimately, whether you choose to pursue Norway's unique research opportunities or to take up a professional post in your country of origin, your time spent studying a Masters in Norway will be both memorable and valuable.

Search for a Masters in Norway

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

Last updated - 03/11/2016

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