Education is a defining pillar in the future career development of an individual. Modern education systems have modified their grading criteria and curriculums to suit the ever-increasing needs of the professional world and industries. This has led to many countries adopting advanced teaching techniques and innovative education to provide students with world-recognized degrees.

Norway is considered a leader in these countries as it strongly emphasizes quality education. In international yearly assessments, it boasts its position as a top performer. The Norwegian education system provides equal opportunities to all the students enrolled in their universities.

Although the cost of living in Norway is slightly high, the degrees offered here are relatively affordable. It is cost-effective, as most of its public universities provide degrees free of cost for EU/EEA students without compromising on quality. However, for students enrolling in Norwegian universities that are outside of EU/EEA, there is a tuition fee set for each degree level.

To understand the full spectrum of higher education in Norway for an international student, we have put together a detailed article for our readers below.

Types of Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) in Norway

Learning possibilities are not restricted to a limited type of institutes in Norway. The country offers several various types of educational facilities for international students. These are described below.

1. Universities / Public Universities

The first and foremost type we want to discuss is public Norwegian universities funded by the Norwegian government. They have a focus on theoretical education as well as research. They offer bachelor’s, master’s, and Ph.D. in different disciplines. Their admission criteria are tough and require outstanding previous academic records to get accepted.

A comprehensive range of disciplines like engineering, information technology, chemistry, human sciences, health and medicine as well as artificial intelligence are taught here. All public Norwegian universities have the ECTS grading system employed in the institute.

Norway’s publicly funded research institutions and specialized universities have the autonomy to create and grant their own degree programs. Students from EU/EEA countries can study free of charge in these public universities, but for other international students, there is minimal fee.

Some of the famous public Norwegian universities are the University of Oslo, the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU), the University of Bergen, and the University of Tromsø – The Arctic University of Norway.

2. University Colleges

The educational approach at university colleges is more practical, with an emphasis on vocational education and the development of students’ skills for particular careers. Although they do participate in research, it is usually on a smaller scale and is more related to their professional degrees.

The bachelor’s degree and professional bachelor’s degree programs are the main offerings of university colleges. In comparison to universities, university colleges tend to have less strict admissions policies, which allows a greater number of candidates to apply. University colleges get funds from the government, with some receiving additional assistance from industrial partnerships or private donations.

Some Norwegian university colleges are Western Norway University of Applied Sciences (HVL), University College of Southeast Norway (USN), and Sørlandet University College (USN)

3. Specialized Higher Education Institutions

For a more professional approach, Specialized Higher Education Institutes provide learning and degrees in specific fields within Norway. They provide degrees at the bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral levels.

To prepare students for specific careers such as medicine, engineering, business, science, music, etc, they play a critical role. They also grade their students according to the ECTS grading system and modify the grades according to their specialized courses.

Here are some examples of such Norwegian institutes: Molde University College – Specialized University in LogisticsOslo School of Architecture and Design (AHO), VID Specialized University, Norwegian School of Sport Sciences (NIH), and Norwegian Academy of Music (NMH).

4. Private Institutions

The fourth type of education offered in Norway is through private universities, which demand a fee in terms of getting a modern degree. These are not only academically diverse but also offer education opportunities for students with lackluster grades.

Bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral level education is available here. Graduate degrees from private schools must be approved by NOKUT, the Norwegian Agency for Quality Assurance in Education. NOKUT is an essential part of the administration of every university in the country.

Their admission criteria are relatively flexible but can be expensive due to the considerable fee structure. ECTS grading system is used here as well to assess the student’s performance.

Some of the highly sought-after private universities in Norway are as follows: BI Norwegian Business School, MF Norwegian School of Theology, Religion and Society, Kristiania University College, VID Specialized University, and NLA University College.

Types of Degree Levels in Norway

Now let’s take a look at the types of degree levels that foreign students can opt for and their benefits.

1. Bachelor’s Degree (First Cycle)

An undergraduate course in Norway lasts up to three years and the student has to complete 180 ECTS credits for this. The Norwegian bachelor’s degree follows the Bologna Process framework. This is to allow education to be compatible with the European Higher Education System.

Two main types of bachelor’s degrees are offered in Norway, which are Universitets- og høgskolegrader (through universities based on theory and practice) and Yrkesfaglige høgskolegrader (for specialized career courses). Each year of bachelor’s study is divided into two semesters.

Certificates of secondary education, along with language proficiency in English or Norwegian, are required to get admission to a bachelor’s degree here. Obtaining a bachelor’s degree from the University of Oslo is a great example in Norway, and it opens up the door for a prosperous career.

2. Master’s Degree (Second Cycle)

Next, we have the master’s degree, which is an exceptional opportunity and can be completed in two years from a Norwegian institute. Two types of master’s degrees are offered in Norway, which are M.Sc. and MA in several disciplines. Students need to earn at least 120 ECTS credits to complete their master’s degree here. These are the standards and can vary slightly according to the institution.

A minimum GPA of 3.0 or equivalent in undergraduate studies, a certificate of secondary education, a statement of purpose, and language proficiency are the admission requirements for a master’s in Norway.

Research opportunities and international exposure are two advantages offered by obtaining a master’s degree from Norway. The master’s degree from the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) is a prime example, offering a diverse range of courses.

3. Doctoral Degree (Third Cycle)

Ph.D. is another degree offered in Norway, and it takes three to four years to complete. It provides a terrific opportunity to delve into advanced knowledge and research of a specific discipline. The student has a chance to make original contributions to the specific subject within this degree.

A total of 180 ECTS credits are the criteria to complete a doctoral program here. The coursework requires 35–40 credits and the research needs 135–150 credits. Admission criteria for a Norwegian doctoral program are challenging and require a stark academic record.

A GPA of 3.5 in master’s studies, demonstrated research experience, a well-written research proposal and language skills are the things required to gain admission. To elaborate on this, the doctoral program at the University of Bergen is exceptional and contributes to innovative research.

FAQS About Higher Education in Norway

What Grading System Does Higher Education in Norway Use?

The standardized grading system used and accepted for higher education in Norway is the European Credit Transfer and Accumulation System (ECTS) grading scale. For several courses and modules, it is a common framework that evaluates the student’s overall performance. This scale also aids the credit transfer of a student across different institutions.

For one degree program, ECTS has different letter grades and numerical values for different courses within it. An average of these grades is the exact grade obtained by that student. It is a transparent system and is accepted worldwide, reflective of a student’s ability in that degree.

ECTS enables students to enhance their skill sets and abilities by accumulating credits. European firms recognize ECTS grades, indicating an individual’s educational achievement and improving their employability. Apart from this grading scale, credit-based grading and narrative grading are also employed in some Norwegian institutes, but they are not as widely recognized.


Norway being a Scandinavian country brags about its beautiful landscape and strong economy. Another factor that makes the country attractive for international students is its top-notch education system, with several degree opportunities. Its worldwide accepted education system and lauded institutes have made it a great contributor to modern education.


We hope this article helped you get all the information regarding higher education in Norway effectively. Do visit our Study in Norway for valuable tips and insightful articles. Unsure of what course to take? Check out the Available Programs in Europe for more study options!

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.

Share this article via

Leave A Comment