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Masters Study in Sweden – A Guide for 2021

With globally respected universities, large numbers of Masters programmes in English and free tuition for EU, EEA and Swiss students, it's no surprise that Sweden attracts plenty of international postgraduates.

This page offers an introduction to Masters study abroad in Sweden, including advice on universities, courses and applications. Elsewhere on this site you can read a guide to Swedish university rankings and Swedish Masters fees and funding. We’re also keeping an eye on the effect of coronavirus on students in Sweden.

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Postgraduate opportunities in Sweden – what’s on offer for 2021?

Studying a Masters in Sweden means having the opportunity to live and study in a country that has always valued individual and collective intellectual endeavour: Sweden is home to the Nobel Prize and its academic research is internationally renowned. Swedish universities are free to structure their own courses and programmes as they choose and there is a vast array of Masters courses on offer.

Sweden is a modern, highly developed society with liberal attitudes to individual lifestyle choices. Although the country is sparsely populated, immigrants make up more than 10% of its nearly 10 million residents.

Here are a few reasons to consider a Masters degree in Sweden:

  • Free tuition – If you’re an EU, EEA or Swiss national, you won’t have to pay any tuition fees.
  • High living standards – Sweden has some of the highest living standards in the world, frequently appearing at the top of various quality of life metrics.
  • Innovative economy – Sweden has a long history of innovation – think Spotify, Ikea and H&M – making it a great place to start your own business or find work with an existing multinational.
  • Stunning scenery – With countless forests, lakes, mountains and beaches, Sweden’s outdoor opportunities mean you’ll never be stuck for somewhere to visit on a weekend.
  • Work during your studies – There aren’t any limits on the numbers of hours you can work as an international student in Sweden, so you can earn money alongside your Masters (study load permitting!).

Masters Study in Sweden - Key Details
Universities 39
Oldest University Uppsala University (1477)
International Students 30,912
Course Length 1-2 years
Typical Fees (Domestic / EU) None
Academic Year September to June

Coronavirus updates for international students at Swedish universities

For the latest information on the impact of coronavirus on studying a Masters in Sweden, please read the official Study in Sweden COVID-19 guidance page. Here you can find updates regarding the possibility of on-campus teaching and the effect on residence permit applications.

Swedish universities

The Swedish higher education system consists of universities (universitet) and university colleges (högskolor). In general, universities have the authority to award PhD degrees, while most university colleges don’t. Also, universities tend to be more research-oriented, and university colleges are usually geared towards applied sciences. However, there isn’t always a clear distinction between the two, and institutions will often use the terms interchangeably.

The structure of Swedish postgraduate degrees conforms to the Bologna Process. In line with other European countries, Masters degrees are classified as ‘second cycle’ degrees (Bachelors are ‘first cycle’ and PhDs are ‘third cycle’. This means that your Swedish Masters will be recognised by universities and employers worldwide.

Sweden is home to 39 universities. There are approximately 900 English-language Masters degrees to choose from. You could also study a Masters degree in Swedish if your language skills are up to scratch.

Swedish university rankings

Despite its comparatively small size, the Swedish higher education system is one of the most respected in Europe – and the world. Find out more with our postgraduate guide to Swedish university rankings.

Top 10 Swedish Universities in 2021
University THE 2021 QS 2021 ARWU 2020
Karolinska Institute =36 - 45
Lund University =103 97 151-200
Uppsala University =111 =124 77
Stockholm University 183 =181 69
University of Gothenburg =191 202 101-150
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.

Swedish university cities

Although Sweden is relatively small in terms of its population (not its geographical area!), this Nordic nation has lots of different options when it comes to university cities. Whether you’re looking for a vibrant cultural hub in Stockholm, sophisticated nightlife in Gothenburg or a quaint university town like Uppsala, you’ve got plenty to choose from.

Course types

Sweden is a member of the European Higher Education Area and a signatory of the Bologna Process.

This means that its postgraduate programmes follow a recognisable international format. Swedish Masters degrees build upon undergraduate study in a related subject and offer the opportunity to acquire more advanced subject knowledge and conduct more independent work in areas of your own interest and growing expertise.

Masters programmes

A Masters in Sweden can either be a one-year or two-year degree. Usually this will include about 75% coursework and 25% research for a thesis project.

As in other countries, this thesis will normally be an independent research task, or a substantial practical exercise, depending on your discipline. In addition, Swedish universities have close ties to industry, and often facilitate thesis work at companies or organisations.

Sweden uses the ECTS (European Credit Transfer and Accumulation System) with Masters degrees being worth 60 or 120 ECTS credits, depending on their length.

In Sweden, 60 ECTS credit Masters are known as magisterexamen, while 120 ECTS credit Masters are called masterexamen.

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Masters fees and funding in Sweden

If you are from a European Union (EU) or European Economic Area (EEA) country or Switzerland, application and tuition are free. Students from other countries will have to pay an application fee of €85 as well as tuition fees.

Each university sets their own fees, which usually range between €7,575 and €25,570 per academic year. The average fee is €12,215, but you should expect to pay significantly higher fees for medicine, architecture and art degrees.

The Swedish Institute offers a number of postgraduate scholarships for international students. The number of available scholarships varies from year to year and competition is intense.

Most universities in Sweden also offer scholarships to highly qualified students from outside the EU/EEA. Contact individual institutions for more details.

Swedish postgraduate funding

Looking for more detailed information about the cost of postgraduate study in Sweden and the kinds of financial support available? Check out our full guide to Masters fees and funding in Sweden.

Applying for a Masters in Sweden

Sweden is a friendly and welcoming country, with large numbers of international students. But, as with any study abroad experience you should allow plenty of time for your application.

The first step should be to contact your university and confirm their entry requirements. They may also have an international office with staff able to provide specific advice and guidance on your application.

The following are general guidelines for applications to study a Masters abroad in Sweden.

Entry requirements

The minimum entry requirement for Masters courses in Sweden is a completed Bachelors degree.

If you want to study a course that is taught in English and you are not a native speaker, you may have to demonstrate your language skills through an English language test such as the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) or the International English Language Testing System (IELTS). For courses taught in Swedish, you may have to take tests or complete a Swedish language course before beginning your studies.

Some universities may also have their own specific entry requirements. You can find out more by viewing individual Swedish Masters degrees in our database.

If you are currently studying for a Bachelors or Masters in the UK you may be able to spend time studying in Sweden through the Erasmus scheme. Contact the international office at your university or department to find out more.

Students from England, France, Spain, Turkey and Luxembourg are also able to apply for an Erasmus+ Masters loan to study a full postgraduate degree abroad in Sweden.

Application process

Applications for a Masters in Sweden are made through the University Admissions in Sweden online system and you can apply for up to four Masters courses at once. You should print off the cover sheet from the website and send it by post along with copies of academic certificates and any other proof of qualifications, as requested. A letter of intention or essay may also be required by different universities.

Deadlines for most courses are in mid-January.

The application deadline for non-EU students is in mid-January for studies commencing the upcoming autumn term. For EU students not requiring a residence permit, the deadline is in mid-April. Exact deadlines are available for individual Swedish Masters degrees in our course listings. You can also view information on specific course deadlines via the University Admissions Sweden website.

Masters student visas in Sweden

Visa information for UK students in Sweden

UK students will no longer be EU citizens from the 2021-22 academic year onwards. This means you may be considered as an international student when studying in Sweden. You may be subject to different visa requirements and fee rates, unless otherwise stated.

Citizens of EU/EEA countries do not need a visa or residence permit to study a Masters in Sweden.

If you are from a non-EU country and plan to be in Sweden for longer than three months, you will need a residence permit. To be eligible for this you must meet the following criteria:

  • be enrolled onto full-time study in Sweden
  • have comprehensive health insurance that covers the period you are in Sweden (if you plan to study for less than one year)
  • be able to support yourself financially for the period of study
  • have a valid passport.

Further information is available from the Swedish Migration Agency.

Next steps

Sweden has a vibrant and diverse economy, with many opportunities for international postgraduate to remain in the country and make use of their new skills. You may also consider continuing your postgraduate studies in Sweden at PhD level.

Working in Sweden after your Masters

The exact requirements for this will depend on your nationality:

  • EU, EEA and Swiss students are normally able to live and work in Sweden without restrictions.
  • Other international students are entitled to remain in Sweden as jobseekers for up to six months after their course finishes. If they find suitable work during this time they can apply for a longer term work permit.

For more information on working in Sweden as an international student, visit the Swedish Migration Agency website.

PhD study in Sweden

Sweden is also a popular destination for international PhD students. And, as a Swedish Masters graduate, you'll be well placed to take advantage of some of the great research opportunities on offer at the country's universities.

For more information, see the guide to PhD study in Sweden on

Further information

For more advice and information on postgraduate study in Sweden, visit the official Study in Sweden website.

Search for a Masters in Sweden

Ready to start looking for your ideal study abroad opportunity? Browse and compare Masters degrees in Sweden on

Last updated 26/11/2020

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