Iceland is an island country in the North Atlantic Ocean. It is often called the Land of Fire and Ice because the island has both volcanoes and glaciers. In between, it is dotted with more natural wonders, such as natural ice caves, the Dettifoss Waterfall, The Blue Lagoon, and many others.

People also experience a high quality of life in Iceland since the country ranks one of the highest in terms of peacefulness, healthcare, internet connectivity, and most importantly, education. This explains over 18000 international students currently in the country as degree-seeking students or exchange students. In this article, we will be looking at the best universities in Iceland for international students.

Top Universities in Iceland for International Students

1. Reykjavík University (RU)

Reykjavík University is the best university in Iceland for international students and is located in the capital. The institution’s core activities are teaching and research and emphasize interdisciplinary work and a hands-on approach. Two schools are organized into seven departments. The School of Social Science teaches business, psychology, sports science, and law, while the School of Technology handles computer science, engineering, and applied engineering. Most programs are taught in Icelandic. But there are several English-taught courses across undergraduate disciplines, while Master’s and Ph.D. programs are fully taught in English.

RU opened the first Artificial Intelligence laboratory in Iceland. They work with Honda in creating software for the ASIMO humanoid robot, and a group of students has created an Autonomous Underwater vehicle. Many more projects are being done in RU’s state-of-the-art facilities, expert faculty, and local and global funding.

2. University of Iceland

The University of Iceland is the largest and oldest institution of higher education in Iceland. It is considered by Icelanders as an important stepping stone towards the nation’s independence. When it was established in 1911, the University of Iceland taught theology, medicine, and law. This top university in Iceland expanded through the years and is now organized into five schools after a major reconstruction in 2008. These are the schools of Social Sciences, Health Sciences, Humanities, Education, and Engineering and Natural Sciences. There are several English-taught programs, as well as language programs other than English.

In addition to academic faculties, the university manages over sixty research institutes and seven rural research stations. The most notable include a Category2 Foreign language institute and a Nordic Volcanological Center.

3. University of Akureyri

The University of Akureyri, one of the best universities in Iceland for international students, has been providing first-rate higher education in Iceland since 1987. As one of the young universities in the country, the institution is dynamic and modern. The university is the largest provider of distance education, with around one-half of the students attending learning through the modern platform. Besides the wide reach of distance education, the university also receives many international students, from exchange programs like Erasmus and Nordplus, as well as regular degree-seeking students.

International students can choose from a variety of subjects to study at the University of Akureyri. Its faculties include social science, education, law, occupational therapy, nursing, natural resource sciences, and business administration. It has also established Polar Law and West Nordic Studies programs with partner universities to teach students relevant issues in the region like climate change, boundary disputes, and other societal agendas.

4. Bifröst University

Bifröst University, or Háskólinn á Bifröst, is a i that specializes in Business administration, Law, and Social Sciences. It offers language and foundational courses for students to achieve the full requirements of Icelandic university study. The university provides distance learning programs as well, so learners from all over the world can experience unique and high-quality Icelandic education.

Students enrolled regularly at the university, however, experience the beautiful environment of Iceland, in addition to effective teaching and generous research opportunities. Bifröst is one of the two campus universities along with Hólar University College. It boasts high-end on-campus residences, libraries, and sports and recreational facilities that will make international students feel more than welcome.

5. Iceland University of the Arts (IUA)

The Iceland University of the Arts is a private university and the only institution offering university-level degrees in the arts. It promotes progressive thinking in the arts industry to stimulate innovation in many other fields. Students can choose their program from five departments: Design and Architecture, Fine Arts, Music, Theatre and Dance, and Art education. These programs, and all of the university’s works, are guided by their values which are curiosity, understanding, and courage.

This top university in Iceland is an active member of international cooperations, as well as bilateral agreements through Erasmus and NordPlus programs. It also has strong industry connections abroad and locally, and international students are at the forefront of the art scene in Iceland. The IUA partners with the Iceland Symphony Orchestra, the Iceland Dance Company, the State Broadcasting Service, and many more prestigious arts organizations.

FAQs about Studying in Iceland

Is Iceland Good for International Students to Study In?

Iceland has seven nationally accredited universities offering higher education in almost all fields of study. Universities are leading in technology and medicine, as well as specialized degrees in the arts, literature, and polar studies.

Most of these universities are run by the state, meaning both EU and non-EU nationals do not need to pay tuition fees but minimal registration fees only. The medium of instruction is Icelandic, but many courses are offered in English, which is the country’s second language.

Check Also: Available Programs for International Students

Can International Students Work in Iceland While Studying?

International students in Iceland are allowed to work while completing their degrees. However, the allowable work hours may vary depending on their nationality. Students with EEA/EFTA citizenship can work freely without any work permit. Non-EEA/EFTA nationals, on the other hand, need to apply for a special work permit and may work for up to 15 hours a week only.

Can International Students Stay in Iceland After Graduation?

EEA/EFTA citizens can easily move to Iceland once they prove they can financially support themselves and other dependents. Non-EEA/EFTA students who have completed their studies in Iceland may renew their residence permit for another six (6) months from the date of their graduation. During this period, they can look for employment in their field of expertise. Foreign graduates must first secure a contract of employment with an Icelandic company and then proceed to the immigration department to apply for residency.


We hope that this article on the best universities in Iceland for international students was helpful. Make sure to also check out the Available Programs in Europe!

About the Author: Hyun Lee

Hi! I am Hyun, and I am the founder at Global Scholarships. I've received a full-tuition scholarship at Birmingham-Southern College and a $1,000 Burger King Scholarship for my undergraduate degree and was offered a fully funded scholarship consisting of tuition, living stipend, and health insurance for computer science Ph.D. program at North Carolina State University. You can read more about my scholarship journey here. If you are interested, you can follow me on Linkedin where I regularly write about scholarship opportunities.

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