Higher education in Sweden
Higher education in Sweden is divided into three levels, or cycles – first cycle (Bachelor's level), second cycle (Master's level) and third cycle (doctoral level). All higher education at Uppsala University is offered in the form of courses. Students can apply to get admission to a freestanding course or to a degree programme which is a package of courses that leads towards a degree.
At the national level, the Ministry of Education and Science is responsible for higher education and research. Sweden has a higher education degree structure and other reforms in line with the current European-wide Bologna process aiming at harmonizing higher education structures in Europe.
Tuition and application fees
Students who are not citizens of the EU/EEA or Switzerland will be liable to pay tuition and application fees for courses and programmes at Swedish universities. Prices are decided by each university and will provide overall costs in full, which means that they contain the premium including management, reception, service and marketing.
Read more about the tuition fees at Uppsala University.
Language of instruction
A great number of freestanding courses and study programmes are accessible to international students. Swedish is, although, the usual language of instruction for the basic level. Uppsala University offers a wide array of programmes and courses taught in Swedish. All students with sufficient and documented knowledge of Swedish, and also of English, can apply for these programmes and courses if they also meet the rest of the eligibility requirements.
At the advanced level Uppsala University offers a substantial amount of Master's programmes and a few Bachelor's programmes taught in English. Uppsala University does not offer any beginner courses in Swedish. You can find out where such courses are being held, and other ways to learn the Swedish language, at the Swedish Institute's website. Formal exchange students, however, are offered courses in basic Swedish and Master's students can be accepted if there is space available.
Teaching and learning at Uppsala University is based on the concept that students take responsibility for their own learning and development, with the support of teaching staff. Unlike many countries around the world, the academic environment in Sweden is informal and highly interactive. Here, students are on a first name basis with their professors, and are free to engage in discussions and express their points of view. Lectures, laboratory work, seminars, group work, excursions, distance learning and independent study are just some of the teaching methods used by the university. As a student, you should feel confident engaging in classroom activities and sharing your thoughts, ideas and feelings.
Bachelor's programmes vary in length from 3 to 5 1/2 years. Each programme consists of courses of varying length. The Bachelor's programmes are designed to meet different educational requirements. A full study programme comprises a number of courses in a particular field of study - such as business, humanities or natural sciences - and leads to a degree.
Only a few programmes at the Bachelor's level are taught in English. For the greater part of the first degree programmes, knowledge of Swedish is absolutely necessary for admission since the language of instruction is Swedish.
Uppsala University offers a substantial selection of Master's programmes taught in English. They are normally open to both foreign and Swedish students with a Bachelor’s degree (a Swedish Kandidatexamen) or an equivalent degree. The total length of the Master's programmes is from one to two years and leads to a Degree of Master (One Year and Two Years respectively).
Postgraduate studies consist of a number of courses and a doctoral dissertation in which the doctoral student carries out an individual research project. The length of the studies to get a doctor’s degree is four years. It is sometimes possible to conclude the PhD studies with a licentiate degree after two years. In most cases, prior knowledge of Swedish and particularly English is useful in order for your studies to be meaningful.
Uppsala University offers over 2000 independent courses, so called freestanding courses, stretching over all disciplines and from the basic level to the advanced levels of study.
Courses are usually offered in traditional university field of studies, such as the natural sciences, the social sciences and the humanities. Freestanding courses vary in length but most frequently from 7,5 to 30 credits, in other words between 5-20 weeks in length.
The university decides on an annual basis which courses it wishes to offer, although the course offerings do not change substantially from one year to the other. In Sweden, studies are usually confined to one subject at a time during a given semester which is different from, for instance, the case in the USA.
In Sweden, admission to one freestanding course does not automatically lead to admission to additional studies towards a degree. Admission is only granted for that specific course on that specific admission occasion.
Most of the courses are taught in Swedish, so therefore knowledge of Swedish at the academic level is necessary. Although the number of courses taught in English is growing, there is a priority for exchange students for admission to undergraduate courses taught in English.
Credits and Grades
The duration and extent of programmes and courses is expressed in a system of credits equivalent to ECTS credits - that is, you take 30 credits per semester for full time studies. A full academic year corresponds to 60 credits, thus, one semester corresponds to 30 credits. Furthermore, one semester corresponds to 20 weeks and one week corresponds to 40 hours of study. Each week of full-time study is worth 1.5 credits.
The grading system differs between faculties and disciplinary domains. You can read about this in more detail in the following document: Grading System. The grade “Fail” does not appear on an official transcript of records.
It is very important to note that if a student receives a passing grade, no re-takes or supplemental assignments can be done to receive a higher grade, nor can a student be re-registered on the course.
The academic year in Sweden is divided into two semesters. The academic year consists of 40 weeks (20 weeks per semester), and begins with the autumn semester and finishes with the spring semester. There are no formal holiday periods during the semester. There are however short breaks over Christmas and Easter.
Autumn 2019: 2 September – 19 January (weeks 36–03)
Spring 2020: 20 January – 7 June (weeks 04–23)
Autumn 2020: 31 August – 17 January (weeks 36–02)
Spring 2021: 18 January – 6 June (weeks 03–22)