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The basics
Sweden: Applying to University

Applying to study in Sweden

Our breakdown of the application process to study abroad in Sweden

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Despite the nation’s intimidatingly unique higher education system, the amount of higher level study applications in Sweden has risen sharply over the past few years. With a unique teaching style, credit system and academic culture, applying to study in Sweden may seem daunting, but once you know what’s required you’ll find it’s remarkably straightforward. Let our guide to the applications process help make things clear.




The Swedish academic system is quite unique and is organised via a system of three cycles comparable to distinctions between undergraduate (including Bachelors studies), Masters and Doctorate levels of study in the UK. Programmes each have a specific credit requirement that students must meet via completion of either a collection of separate subjects within the same university, or of a full study programme with a set quota of compulsory and optional subjects. Students completing separate subjects may be awarded a diploma or degree provided they have completed an appropriate amount of credits in an acceptable combination.  


Students are advised to begin research at least an academic year in advance and directly confirm home credit equivalents for proposed subjects undertaken abroad. The Swedish system is less prescriptive in tying subjects to specific study areas, and students should be absolutely sure their proposed course of study will correspond directly to the credit requirements of their home university.


Remember: thousands of students have successfully applied and studied in Sweden before, and will most likely have some insight that will help you organise your study load. Students should keep an eye on student forums and make use of student resources offered by university admissions and international offices. It is also a good idea to directly contact your host institution with any questions you might have.


Intake and Deadlines

The Swedish academic year starts at the end of August and finishes at the end of June. A catalogue of international courses is available every January for applications for both semester one (August) and semester two (January). Non-EU students are strongly urged to apply for intake in semester one in order to allow enough time to sort out immigration, financial and housing requirements.


Sweden uses a centralised, pooled admissions system universityadmissions.se that allows all international students to apply electronically for different courses and programmes. Applications for intake into both Bachelor and Masters programmes close on January 15 for a start in semester one of the same year, and August 15 for mid-year intake. Intake dates for PhD programmes are set specifically by each institution.


There are also additional admission rounds in April for a start in August, and October for a start in January. Admission decisions for these rounds however are made only a short time before semesters are due to start, and so non-EU students are not encouraged to apply in these rounds as they will most likely not have enough time to apply for relevant resident permits.

Click here for a full list of all available programme deadlines

Learn more about the Swedish university admissions system


What documents will I need?

Acceptance into a programme within a given study cycle requires proof of academic qualifications that are equivalent to the credit requirements of the cycle that precedes it. For example, entrance into a Masters programme (cycle two), requires that students hold a Bachelors degree or equivalent (cycle one).


Credit requirements can sometimes be met by undertaking additional, advanced courses such as internationally recognised bridging programmes. International students must be able to demonstrate proficiency in English, mathematics or Swedish, depending on the nature of their studies. The Swedish system is compatible with the European Credit Transfer and Accumulation System (ECTS).


All documents submitted through the Swedish admissions system must also meet relevant translation requirements. Applicants of selected nationalities may also be required to submit additional, country-specific information.


All students will need to submit proof of identification documents including a photocopy of their passport photo page and another identification document that contains personal data, such as a driver’s licence. All documents must be stamped and signed by the issuing institution or relevant authoritarian body.


EU students will need to certify copies of their identification documents to prove they have the right to be exempt from fees. To do this, another person will need to sign and print their name on the student’s documents, as well as providing their phone number for verification by the host.


Non-EU students must also be sure to pay their application fee before February 3, even if they have applied for a scholarship.


Different universities may also outline separate admission criteria depending on the nature of study, such as a research proposal, CV or statement of purpose. These details should be pursued directly with the host institution, and also retrievable via the admission service website.

Learn more about the ECTS


How do I apply?

You can apply directly to a university through the national Swedish university admissions website universityadmissions.se


Application Tips

The applications process to study in Sweden is multi-tiered and requires submission of different types of supporting documents. Students must be absolutely sure that they meet all the requirements as set by the centralised admissions body, their host institution and any additional requirements set out by their specific study programme.


Students applying for more than one programme will be evaluated for their first preference first, and so must be sure to rank their applications in order of preference. If your application for your first choice is successful, your other applications are automatically deleted from the system.


The higher education teaching model in Sweden is based around the motto ‘freedom with responsibility.’ Students required to submit a statement of purpose are advised to keep this in mind when trying to convince admissions officers why they want to study in Sweden. Ask yourself: how do you hope to apply this attitude to your studies, and how can studying at your specific institution help you do this?


Now that you’ve got an idea of what you need to do, why not browse courses in Sweden now and start planning your study abroad adventure?


Useful Links

The Swedish Higher Education System... Simplified

Student living costs in Sweden