Latest UN reports say Finland, Norway and Denmark are the happiest countries to live in, even for foreigners, so applying to a Master’s degree in a Scandinavian country might be about more than you getting a top-notch education. You might find out that your overall student life is... well... happy!
If you are ready for a Nordic study experience, we are here to guide you through the application process with this comparative guide.
Before we start, you should know that the most popular study options for English-taught Master’s in Finland, Norway, Sweden and Denmark are:
- Economics Masters in Denmark
- Biology Masters in Denmark
- Business Administration Masters in Sweden
- Environmental Sciences Masters in Sweden
- Masters in Industrial Engineering in Norway
- Masters in Chemistry in Norway
- Masters in Language Studies in Norway
- Masters in Management in Finland
- Masters in Materials Science and Engineering in Finland
Master’s application requirements in Nordic countries
Comparing application requirements in Nordic countries for English-taught Masters we found out that there are only a few minor differences in terms of admission criteria and required documents.
The basic general requirements for any Master’s programme is to have pursued and graduated from a Bachelor’s programme of at least 3 years.
Recurrent application documents in Nordic countries:
- High school diplomas
- Copies of completed Bachelor’s degree diploma/ an official university statement saying you will soon graduate
- Transcript of records
- Original diplomas and original official translations
- A motivation Letter
- Identification document scan + passport photos
Same language requirements everywhere
If you are from an English-speaking country or you have pursued your Bachelor’s degree in English language you will not need a language proficiency test in Scandinavian countries.
If this is not your case, you should know that Nordic universities accept the same language proficiency tests for English taught programmes. These are:
- C1 Advanced
- Pearson PTE Academic
Differences in application documents and requirements
Although at many Master’s programmes in Scandinavian countries you need similar application documents there are also a few important differences which we will outline next:
- In Finland, most Master’s programmes at Universities of Applied Sciences require you to pass an entrance exam.
- In Norway, you have to provide GMAT and GRE scores in order to apply to certain Master’s programmes.
- In Denmark, you might need to have your Bachelor’s degree studies recognised by The Danish Agency for Science and Higher Education.
Centralized application systems versus applying individually
Sweden and Finland give you the possibility to apply to a Master’s degree via centralized systems which allow you to apply to over 3 programmes at the same time.
In Sweden, you can file your application through the The UniversityAdmission.se website which allows you apply to all credited universities in Sweden and choose a list of up to 4 preferred Master’s programmes.
In Denmark, you can also make a centralized application via the Optagelse.dk website where you can apply to up to 8 programmes but the system is used for Bachelor’s programmes. At the end, you will only receive one university offer, which you must confirm in order to enrol at the programme. For Master’s degrees, students generally apply via the university and programme website.
In Finland, you can apply to a Master’s degree via a centralized system, but only if you are applying to Universities of Applied Sciences (UAS) via the Studyinfo.fi website. In this way you can select up to six Master’s programmes to apply to in Finland. Unlike in Denmark where you receive only one offer, in Finland you can receive several offers of admission, but you are allowed to accept only one.
Note that at many Finnish UAS there are also entrance exams scheduled after you submit your application. However, if you have a joint application you will sit only one entrance exam for all your programme options.
The basic steps to use this centralized application systems are:
- create a user account (not necessary in Finland)
- search for courses and programmes
- fill out and send in your application
- pay your application fee, if required
- upload your required documents
- follow your application
- receive your admission result
- reply to any offers of admission
Important to remember! You are not obliged to submit your Master’s application via centralized systems. You can also apply individually to each programme and university you are after.
Norway is the odd one out, meaning that you can only apply to Norwegian Master’s degrees via each programme's website. Furthermore, most Norwegian universities do not accept applications by post.
University application deadlines in Nordic countries
In all Nordic countries application deadlines for Master’s degrees differ from programme to programme, so that’s why it is important to check deadlines on the programme website. Here are some typical deadlines:
First session application deadlines:
- Denmark: February-March
- Finland: January-April
- Norway: December-March
- Sweden: October- January
Second session application deadlines:
- Denmark: September-October
- Finland: Septembe -October
- Norway: October-December
- Sweden: June-September
Tuition fees and living costs in Nordic countries
If you come from a EU/EEA country then you will not have to pay tuition fees to study at public universities. However, if you are from outside the EU/EEA then you will only find free of cost Masters in Norway. The other countries charge tuition fees, with Finnish universities being the cheapest ones for a non-European student.
To help you figure out which Nordic country you should choose for your Master’s programme, it might help you to have a general idea about tuition fees if you are from outside the EU, and about living costs in each of Scandinavian country.
- Average tuition fees for Master’s degrees: 5,000-10,000 EUR/year
- Student living costs: 900- 1,300 EUR/month
- Average tuition fees for Master’s degrees: 6,000- 16,000 EUR/year
- Student living costs: 750-1,500 EUR/month
- Average tuition fees for Master’s degrees: 3,000- 6,000 EUR/year
- Student living costs: 700-,1,100 EUR/month
- Average tuition fees for Master’s degrees: 5,000- 10,000 EUR/year
- Student living costs: 700-,1,000 EUR/month
Final Master’s application tricks
Regardless of which country and university you want to apply to, it’s best to make sure you fit the admission requirements, so be sure to check them. Also, if you don’t want to risk postponing studying abroad, you should apply to more programmes at the same time. Here are a few university picks that you can consider:
- Chalmers University of Technology in Sweden
- Jönköping University, in Sweden
- University of Bergen, in Norway
- NHH Norwegian School of Business, in Norway
- University of Jyväskylä, in Finland
- University of Helsinki, In Finland
- Roskilde University, in Denmark
- IT University of Copenhagen, in Denmark
Finally, if you feel you need help to apply to your dream-programme, don’t hesitate to seek admission counselling. Best of luck to you!