Even though Norway is a popular study destination among international students, getting into the country and managing expenses could be challenging. However, you wouldn’t have to worry because there are many tuition-free universities and other low-cost options in the country that offer high-quality education.
Public universities in Norway charge no tuition fees from EU/EEA/Swiss, which is why students from across the world fly in for their higher education. Being free of tuition expenses doesn’t mean studying in Norway is entirely free, rather you will have to bear other minor expenses in addition to living expenses during your stay in the country. This article lists some of the top tuition-free public universities in Norway for international students.
Must-know Facts for Students Planning to Study in Norway
Tuition-Free Learning Opportunities in Norway
For a long time, free education was readily available for international students, however, from 2023, only the citizens of the EU/EEA and Switzerland enjoy the luxury of tuition-free education in the country. Even if you are eligible for tuition-free education, you would definitely incur other expenses like accommodation, living expenses, books, and other levies from the university.
If you are a student from outside the EU/ EEA and Switzerland, and you are not an exchange student, then you will have to pay tuition fees. However, with the right knowledge you could manage to lower your academic costs and support your education in Norway. While there are no government scholarship offers to study in Norway, you can easily find a number of foundations and schemes that are aimed at providing scholarship opportunities for international students. You can also supplement your finances by working part-time- 20 hours a week if you are from outside the said regions, and full-time during the semester breaks.
General Requirements and Admissions Process
In order to apply for tuition-free education or higher education in Norway in general, you would have to have a strong application. It’s best to be informed of the admission process, the academic requirements, and the costs you would incur during your stay in the country. Depending on your country of origin, the programs you are applying for, and your educational background, your application might be considered or rejected. For general information about admission processes for Bachelor’s programs click here and for Master’s programs click here.
While most top-tier universities offer programs entirely in the Norwegian language and would require you to prove your proficiency in the language, English-taught programs have stringent rules too. An IELTS, TOEFL, or Duolingo certificate might be required depending on the university you’ve applied for.
Tuition-Free Universities in Norway for EU/EEA/Swiss Students
Norwegian universities are recognized for the industrial exposure and quality of education they have to offer. Here are some of the top public universities in the country that offer free education for EU/EEA and Swiss students.
1. University of Oslo
Founded in 1811, the University of Oslo is the oldest and one of the largest universities in Norway. It offers study programs in humanities, law, mathematics, natural sciences, medicine, and other disciplines. The world-recognized education provider is ranked #117 in the QS World University Rankings of 2024, making it one of the best not just in Europe, but around the world.
Just like most top universities in the country, Bachelor’s programs here are offered in the Norwegian language for which you will have to provide certified proof of proficiency. Master’s and Ph.D.’s are mostly offered in English, making it convenient for international students to keep up with the curriculum.
2. University of Bergen
The University of Bergen, otherwise known as UiB, is yet another top university in Norway that provides tuition-free education. The university was established in 1946, and to date has over 14000 students enrolled. There are both local and international students who benefit from the tuition-free education, however, from 2023, only EU/EEA and Swiss students will be able to study here tuition-free. The QS World University Rankings of 2024 placed this university at #281.
At the University of Bergen, there are no specific study programs for international students, and as such, these programs are all conducted in the Norwegian language. The over 25 master’s programs offered in the university across fields such as humanities, aesthetic studies, medicine, and natural sciences are all conducted in English. Students who study tuition-free here at this university would have to pay a nominal semester fee.
3. The Arctic University of Norway
The University of Tromsø, better known as the Arctic University of Norway is a state-governed institution that provides tuition-free education. It was established in 1968 and is known for its high-quality research facilities. It is the Northernmost university in the country and is recognized as one of the most international-friendly universities, with over 10% of its 12000 students coming from overseas. Master’s programs are offered across a number of disciplines including Engineering, Computer Science, and Tourism.
The university offers only 2 bachelor’s programs and over 24 master’s programs. All the master’s programs at the University of Tromsø are conducted in the English medium. Education here is entirely free of any tuition fees for students from the EU and Switzerland, except for a semester fee that all students have to pay.
4. Norwegian University of Science and Technology
One of the largest universities in Norway, the Norwegian University of Science and Technology operates as a government-funded technological institution in the country. It was established in 1996 as a result of merging several institutions, and today has two main campuses located in the city of Trondheim.
The QS World University Ranking of 2024 placed the university at #292 for its excellence in a wide range of indicators including teaching facilities and quality of education. The university boasts a large student body of nearly 40,000 students with roughly 8% of them being international students. Programs are awarded across disciplines including Engineering, Arts, and Humanities. Tuition fees are charged only to students from outside the EU/ EEA/ EFTA.
5. Norwegian University of Life Sciences
The Norwegian University of Life Sciences, as is now known, was initially established in 1859 as the Norwegian Agriculture Postgraduate College. It went on to become a university college in 1897 and then a full-fledged university in 2005. The university has currently garnered a lot of attention as one of the best universities in the country for disciplines like biosciences, chemistry, business, and veterinary medicine.
The Norwegian University of Life Sciences has one of the lowest enrollment rates with over a fifth of the enrollments being from overseas. Only one English-taught bachelor’s program in International Environment and Development studies is available here. Other Master’s and Doctoral programs are also popular among international students.
6. University of Agder
Formerly established as the Agder University College in 1994, and has become a public university in 2007, the University of Agder has become one of the popular public schools in Norway. It has a sizable student population enrolled in fields like Fine Arts, Humanities, Engineering, and Sciences. The university is known for its active involvement in interdisciplinary studies and research topics such as AI, Gender Studies, and more.
Apart from the semester fee, accommodation expenses, textbooks, and transportation, there are no tuition fees charged for citizens of the EU/ EEA and Switzerland. Exemptions are also made for international students who reside in Norway or have any other close connections to Norway.
7. Nord University
Nord University is one of the recently established state-owned higher education providers that has multiple campuses across the country. The university therefore boasts a total of over 11,000 students both local and international, across fields like Nursing, Health Science, Education, and Business.
For international students, Nord University offers programs at all levels in the English language. Starting from the academic year of 2023, non-EU/ EEA/ EFTA applicants are required to pay tuition fees. However, the university also offers exemptions to some students, which you might have to be on the lookout for if you are considering applying for a program here.
Scholarships for Non-EU/EEA/Swiss Students Studying in Norway
It shouldn’t discourage you if you are a student from out of the EU/ EEA and Switzerland for not being eligible to study tuition-free at one of the above prestigious universities. There aren’t government or university-based scholarships offered in Norway, however, there are other external scholarships that you could make use of as an international student. Here are some of those scholarships you could apply for.
1. Erasmus Mundus Joint Masters Scholarships
- Scholarship Page | Offered by: European Commission
- Scholarship Amount: 1400EUR per month
- Eligible Degrees: Master’s
The Erasmus Mundus Joint Masters Scholarship is a merit-based scholarship offered to high-performing students from around the world to provide them with an opportunity to study at a European University. Best-performing students could expect to get even full-funded scholarships for the programs they wish to follow. This includes travel expenses, visa expenses, and living allowances.
The scholarship applies to master’s programs that could be joint or multiple degrees from two or more different higher education providers. Applications are generally accepted between October and January for courses commencing in the following academic year. Having a Bachelor’s degree or an officially recognized equivalent is a prerequisite to applying for this scholarship.
2. Nordplus Higher Education Grant
- Scholarship Page | Offered by: Nordic Council of Ministers
- Scholarship Amount: 330EUR per month
- Eligible Degrees: Bachelor’s, Master’s
The Nordplus Higher Education Grant is a popular scholarship grant for students intending to study in Nordic and Baltic countries. It is aimed at bachelor’s and master’s students and is focused on promoting collaboration between higher education institutions and other third parties.
Most students who get transfers and exchanges to other universities in the region can apply for this scholarship. The prerequisite is that at least 3 institutions from 3 different participating countries are involved in your transfer.
Part-time Work for International Students in Norway
In addition to scholarships, most international students also look to part-time employment in order to supplement their finances during their stay in a foreign country. Governments have placed many restrictions as to whether students are allowed to work and if so for how many hours a week.
Part-time work is restricted to 20 hours a week for international students when classes are in session. Students from the EU/EEA and Switzerland can work as much as they want, even while being enrolled as full-time students. During holidays, all students are permitted to be employed full-time. There are no additional permits required to work as it is a given upon receiving your study permit to pursue higher education in the country.
Working part-time or as an intern in a relevant field can not only help manage your finances, but it can also be a great opportunity to gain work experience.
If you are from the EU/ EEA or Switzerland, you can study at these prestigious Norwegian institutions free of any tuition fees. However, international students from the rest of the world need not worry because there are multiple scholarships and working opportunities that could facilitate studying at these universities.
We hope that this article on tuition-free universities in Norway was helpful. You can also find more information on different European universities and scholarship opportunities on the Europe Scholarships Page!