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One of the best things 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.
Norway's location translates into some unique research opportunities and experiences. Part of the country's territory is located within the Arctic, with some of Norway’s top universities collaborating on pioneering scientific research projects.
If your research interests are more geared towards the humanities, 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.
These are some of the most compelling reasons to study a Masters in Norway:
|Masters Study in Norway - Key Details|
|Oldest University||University of Oslo (1811)|
|Course Length||2 years|
|Typical Fees (Domestic / EU)||None|
|Academic Year||August to June|
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.
Norwegian higher education providers may be either public or private, but the majority are state-run. 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 variety 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 state 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 meet the conditions for further postgraduate study in other countries.
Despite the relatively small size of its higher education system, Norway punches well above its weight in international ranking leagues.
As you can see in the table below, a few Norwegian institutions feature among the top 300 in the world across each major ranking system.
|University||THE 2019||QS 2019||ARWU 2018|
|University of Oslo||=121||135||62|
|University of Bergen||197||171||201-300|
|Norwegian University of Science and Technology||351-400||=363||101-150|
|UiT The Arctic University of Norway||401-500||=369||-|
|Norwegian University of Life Sciences||501-600||-||-|
|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.|
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.
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.
Teaching on Masters programmes is similar to that for Bachelors degrees, with a combination of lectures, seminars, workshops and tutorials. All Masters degrees in Norway require candidates to complete an independently researched dissertation, which usually takes place at the end of a programme.
Each module is 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).
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 life in Norway is like). 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.
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 between approximately €30 and €60 may apply to postgraduate students, but this also grants you membership to your university’s 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’s 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, many of which can be found on the official Study in Norway website.
You might be eligible to receive support through the Erasmus+ scheme, which provides funding for selected programmes like Erasmus Mundus Joint Masters, as well as Erasmus loans for students who want to study abroad.
Admission to a Masters programme in Norway usually requires a Bachelors 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 need to prove that they have the financial means to support themselves in Norway during their studies (whether through personal resources or external funding).
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.
A large number of Masters programmes in Norway are delivered in English, as the language is widely spoken by much of the population. For this reason, you won't usually need to know Norwegian 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 want 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.
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. A resident permit is not needed for students from Nordic countries (Iceland, Denmark, Sweden and Finland).
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:
If you are normally resident outside the EU, EEA and Switzerland you may also need to provide:
There is a processing fee for 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.
As a Masters student in Norway you will usually remain in the country for over six months. This means you should register with the National Registry and receive an identity number, which will allow you to open a bank account and get a student card.
Because 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.
Studying a Masters in Norway will provide you with a high quality, internationally recognised qualification that will support you in 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 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 back home, your time spent studying a Masters in Norway will be both memorable and valuable.
Last updated 18/01/2019