Sweden is the fourth-largest country in Europe, characterized by dramatic landscapes and distinct seasons. Splendid mountains border the north, while fertile plains envelop the south. It has over 200,000 islands, mostly inhabited. Aside from the great outdoors, it is home to several old towns, castles, museums, and other historical artifacts. Furthermore, some of the cleanest cities in the world are in Sweden.

Swedish culture encourages egalitarianism, gratitude, and ‘lagom,’ which means everything in moderation. The country has progressive social policies on family life, health care, education, and children’s rights. Work-life balance is valued too. Taking all these together, Sweden promises a high quality of life. In this article, we will be looking at the best universities in Sweden for international students.

Is Sweden Good for International Students to Study?

Yes! The home of the Nobel Prize, Sweden is known for its high-quality teaching and research. Times Higher Education World University Rankings 2021 included 12 universities in Sweden, five of which belong to the top 200. Several programs are taught in English, especially at the Master’s and Doctorate levels. Most Swedes also have advanced English skills, which makes socializing easier.

Public universities in Sweden provide free education for the European Union (EU) and European Economic Area (EEA), Switzerland, and other Nordic countries. For non-EU/EEA nationals, tuition fees range between 7,500 – 25,500 EUR/year for Bachelor’s or Master’s programs. Ph.D. programs are free for all students regardless of their nationality. Furthermore, individual universities offer scholarships and collaborate with academic foundations around the globe. There is also the Swedish Institute which provides scholarships solely for international students.

The average living cost in Sweden is between 700 – 1200 EUR/month. The experience living in its student cities, however, is priceless. Expect total immersion in European culture in Stockholm. You can travel to Umea and see the Northern Lights. Perhaps you’ll enjoy first-class dining in Gothenburg. These and many other cities in Sweden provide a high quality of living, efficient transportation, and an overall conducive learning environment.

Check Also: Programs in Europe for International Students

Can International Students Work in Sweden While Studying?

According to the Swedish Migration Board, international students can work in Sweden alongside their studies. When you have a residence permit to attend a Swedish university or college, you can work as long as it is valid. Furthermore, there is no limit on the hours of work, regardless of your nationality.

Can International Students Stay in Sweden After Graduation?

After graduation, your stay and work in Sweden depend on your citizenship. EU and EEA nationals can immediately seek employment. Denmark, Finland, Iceland, and Norway citizens can work in Sweden even without a residence permit. However, they need to register with the Swedish Tax Agency.

On the other hand, non-EU/EEA citizens need to apply for a work permit through the Swedish Migration Board. It would help if you did before your residence permit for studies expires to receive the work permit while still in Sweden. Otherwise, you will have to apply from your country of origin.

To apply for a work permit, you must fulfill the following requirements: have an employment offer customary within the occupation or industry; a pre-tax salary of at least SEK 13,000; and an employer that provides proper insurance. For more details, please visit the Swedish Migration Board’s website.

Best Universities in Sweden for International Students

1. Karolinska Institute (KI)

Karolinska Institute, also Caroline Institute, is a university in Stockholm County dedicated to health sciences and medicine. It is a research-led institute that accounts for over 40% of medical research in Sweden, from patient-oriented studies to global health. The Nobel Prize in Physiology and Medicine is selected by the Karolinska Institute, as endowed by the award founder Alfred Nobel. Five researchers from the institute have won the said award in that category.

Since Karolinska consistently ranks in the top 10 medical institutions in Europe and among the top 50 universities globally, Karolinska Institute is the best university in Sweden for international students. Its programs, especially Doctorate degrees, are taught with an international focus. International students are offered a complimentary Swedish course upon admission.

2. Lund University (LU)

Lund University is one of Europe’s oldest universities, tracing its roots back to an old studium generale (medieval university) in 1425. Presently, the institution has nearly 270 programs and 1300 freestanding courses. Over 500 of these courses are held in English, making Lund University one of the best universities in Sweden for international students. Lund University is high-ranking in environmental sciences, developmental studies, geography, finance, and social policy. Lund is also a top performer in scientific journal publishings focusing on climate change, stem cell biology, and nanotechnology.

For international students, the university offers three types of preparatory programs before starting a degree. Student life in Lund centers on student unions, student nations, and The Academic Society.

3. Uppsala University (UU)

Uppsala University is Sweden’s first university and the oldest among all Nordic countries. Since 1447, it has been the backbone of higher education culture in Sweden. The white student cap of Swedish academe culture originated from this institution. Home of Nobel Prize winners, the university promises a world-class research environment and high-quality education.

Uppsala University has more than 50 master’s programs in medicine, science & technology, and humanities & social science taught in English. Bachelor’s programs in game design and energy transition are also in English. This top university in Sweden for international students also has an international buddy program, where a more experienced student will help you adjust to life at Uppsala.

4. Stockholm University (SU)

Stockholm University is Sweden’s largest university located in its dynamic capital city. At the core of the university’s teaching are societal development and sustainability. Stockholm University is renowned for its research contributions in public policy and political decision-making. Aside from intense civic engagements, SU has high-quality programs in human sciences and natural sciences.

Over 70 master’s programs are taught in English, and many of them are quite distinctive. These unique programs include Open eGovernment, Transnational Creative Writing, and Geomatics with Remote Sensing and GIS. Student unions, sporting activities, and exploring Stockholm are the mainstays of student life in SU.

5. University of Gothenburg (GU)

The University of Gothenburg, one of the best Swedish universities for international students, is a comprehensive university with broad-ranging education and research. It offers a first-class academic experience in over 2000 independent courses. Some of these are behavioral science, pedagogy, and language. There are also the arts, philosophy, and information technology. Research in GU is just as diverse, ranging from political science and logistics to gender studies and design.

Environmental and sustainability work is deeply set into the university’s goals, extending to the GU community and culture. Well-rounded student life is encouraged with elite sports and a dynamic campus.

6. Chalmers University of Technology (Chalmers)

The Chalmers University of Technology is a higher education institution in Gothenburg that focuses on natural science, technology, and architecture. It consistently ranked in the top 100 Engineering Universities in the world. Behind its teaching and research, the university aims to contribute towards national and global sustainable development.

Chalmers encourages creativity and independent problem-solving. Thus, the teaching strategy of the institution includes project-based assignments for hands-on experiences. The university also has close partnerships with international companies such as AstraZeneca, Volvo, and Ericsson.

7. KTH Royal Institute of Technology (KTH)

The largest technical university in Sweden is the KTH Royal Institute of Technology. Architecture, sciences, and engineering & technology are the main study areas in its five schools. Over one-third of technological research and engineering education in Sweden comes from this institution. Its present study focuses on future energy supply, climate change, and the elderly population’s quality of life.

This leading university in Sweden is all about innovation, interdisciplinary research, and modern teaching methods. The recently launched KTH Innovation Award embodies this tradition. This penchant for progress and diversity extends to its student body with over 100 different nationalities.

8. Örebro University (Oru)

Örebro University is one of the best universities in Sweden for international students with a vision for a knowledge-driven society. It offers a broad range of subjects, including AI and robotics, sports physiology, environmental forensics, and information technology. The university is dedicated to sustainable development. It integrates education and research towards this global goal. Its research work spans 36 subjects in medicine, science & technology, and humanities & social science.

As the university motto goes, knowledge is divine. Örebro University creates encouraging conditions for learning in physical and digital settings. Its science-based and evidence-experienced learning interests international students every year.

9. Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (SLU)

The Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences is the only one of its kind in Sweden. In 1977, it was formed from three existing separate colleges in agriculture, forestry, and veterinary medicine. Presently, it has four faculties in these fields. The university ranks third in the world in the subject of Agriculture and Forestry. SLU graduates work within environmental and food sectors internationally, such as the FAO and WWF.

The university supports international students, student exchanges, and academic agreements from universities around the globe. SLU also guarantees housing to non-EU/EEA nationals. Its four campuses are located in Uppsala, Umea, Skara, and Alnarp.

10. Umeå University (UMU)

Umeå University is the flagship university of Northern Sweden. As a top university in Sweden, Umea University is known for its high-ranking Institute of Design that later became a full Arts Campus for architecture, artwork, and design. The university also offers first-class education in business, technology, education, sport sciences, and culinary arts. Its research unit focuses on infection biology, arctic education, and Sámi & Indigenous research. It is presently expanding to artificial intelligence.

The creative learning environment in UMU complements its strong teaching and research strategy. The institution also participates in collaborative projects with Japan, South Korea, South Africa, and many more countries. Furthermore, international students are most satisfied with the university’s approachability and openness.


We hope that this article on the best universities in Sweden for international students was helpful. Make sure to also check out the Programs in Europe for International Students to know more!

About the Author: Hyun Lee

Hyun is the founder at Global Scholarships. He has received a full-tuition scholarship at Birmingham-Southern College as well as $1,000 Burger King Scholarship for his undergraduate degree and has been offered a fully funded scholarship consisting of tuition, living stipend, and health insurance for computer science Ph.D. program at North Carolina State University. Read more about his scholarship journey here.

Share this article via