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Challenge Yourself, Study in Sweden

With a population of 9 million, Sweden has recently been ranked second in the world as a provider of higher education after the U.S. So what is so attractive for a student to head to the Nordic land for further studies?
Sweden's capital city, Stockholm

With a population of 9 million, Sweden has recently been ranked second in the world as a provider of higher education after the U.S. So what is so attractive for a student to head to the Nordic land for further studies?

It is a big step to study abroad, and the options are almost unlimited these days. So what makes Sweden stand out as a study destination?

Ranked as Number 2 in the world for higher education

In a 2012 report from theMelbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research at the University of Melbourne in Australia, Sweden was ranked second in the world for provision of higher education. The same report placed the U.S. as first and Canada in third place. Compared with the other countries in the ranking list, Sweden scored high in international collaboration between researchers and Research and Development expenditure.

Additionally, the QS World University Rankings placed two Swedish universities - Lund University and Uppsala University as 71 and 81 on their current world's top 700 university list.

Encouraging independent thinking

Lund University campus 

Swedish universities are renowned for their investigative research and independent thinking. Much focus is placed on developing the student's ability to engage in critical thinking and develop an analytical mindset. Swedish universities are known for havingan open learning environment, with a strong focus on group work and cooperation.

This approach could be one of reasons that Sweden has generated a number of life-revolutionizing innovations and systems such as the pacemaker, the 3-point seatbelt, bluetooth, Skype and dynamites. The Scandinavian country is also the home of the Nobel Prize- the world’s most prestigious academic distinction.

On a per capita basis Sweden produces the most journal articles in the world. Tommy Sjöberg, a student pursuing an MA degree from the medical university Karolinska Institutet, confirms these high research ambitions.

“The students at Karolinska Institutet are already writing a Master’s thesis during their 7th semester as the university wants to keep up its high international reputation. As the reputation is so high abroad, we, as students have many options to choose from when we are doing our exchanges - and it makes us as very attractive to international employers after graduation,” he says.

Off to Study in Sweden

Students enjoy the lawns on the Umea University campus

Sweden currently has 51 universities and university colleges, all with their own special characteristics, courses, programmes, and atmosphere. Swedish universities and university colleges have a degree structure that conforms to the Bologna Process, a Europe-wide standardization drive for higher education.

The Swedish academic year is divided into two semesters. The autumn semester begins at the end of August and lasts until mid-January with a short break at the end of December. The spring semester runs from mid-January to the beginning of June. Full-time studies correspond approximately to a 40-hour work week. Students normally study only one course at a time. Exceptions include technology subjects, where several courses may be studied at the same time.

Universities and university colleges in Sweden are free to structure courses and programmes according to their own needs, but using a common credit system. This provides students a greater measure of control over their own education.

Vibrant student life and work life balance

Yes, we have not mentioned the obvious yet, but of course, Sweden being a Nordic country does get cold and snowy during winters (October-March)! The weather does not seem to scare too many exchange students though - approximately 20% of new students in Sweden come from abroad.

Daphne Goh, age 22, is studying in Sweden, having come from Singapore. She is studying Engineering and Business Management at The Royal Institute in Stockholm. We asked her a few questions on her student experience so far:

Why did you choose Sweden for your higher studies?

I had the choice to choose between Sweden, USA or China. Sweden presents itself as a very unique and enticing opportunity that in normal times would seem like a faraway dream for someone in far-flung Singapore in South East Asia. The epicentre of an innovative business culture, good work life balance, and strong educational credentials of the universities here made it an ideal place to study and work at the same time.

What is the best experience being a student in Sweden?

The student life! Living in a student hostel in Sweden which attracts students from all around Europe and the world, means that I have the chance to interact with people from diverse cultural and ethnic backgrounds. This makes for a very vibrant student life, learning about new cultures, habits, mindsets and ideas on a daily basis.

So you want to apply to a Swedish University?

The beautiful city of Stockholm 

It is important to remember to check the university you are applying to, and apply as early as possible – for as an international student, you will need to also ensure that you receive your Swedish residence permit in time for the start of the academic semester.

Applications are done online, and all generally require submission of school grade reports and records, as well as proof of proficiency in the English language. Some universities may also require essays and a letter of intent. Check the individual university you are applying to, for more on this.

Swedish universities tend to work on two academic semesters – each lasting about twenty weeks. The academic year begins with the Autumn Semester, which begins in August, and runs until January. This is followed by the Spring Semester which starts in January and goes until June. June, July, and August are the summer holiday period. 

For application to the International Bachelor or Master’s Degree programmes taught in English, check the programme and university you are applying to, for dates of application.

The general rule of thumb is that students applying for Autumn semester studies will need to get there applications in between mid-October and mid-January. For those applying to start in the Spring semester, the application period is from the beginning of June until mid-August.

To learn more on Studying in Sweden:

A yearly Scholarship Competition for Indian students that want to go to Sweden to pursue their masters.

Information on the Admission Process to Swedish Universities.

Read here about how to apply for a residence permit if you plan to study in Sweden


The Swedish Chamber of Commerce in India (SCCI) is an independent, non-profit networking organization with the mission to promote Swedish commercial interests in India and the development of trade, commerce and industry and economic, social and cultural relations between Sweden and India.
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