Universities in Scandinavia With the Lowest Tuition Fees

Universities in Scandinavia With the Lowest Tuition Fees

Sabrina Collier

Updated November 4, 2023 Updated November 04

Scandinavian countries are increasingly popular with international students, with thousands attracted to living and studying here by the region’s strong academic reputation and extremely high quality of life. In fact, the happiest country in the world, according to the World Happiness Report, is currently Norway, followed by Denmark and Iceland.

Unfortunately, studying in such a paradise is expensive, as living costs are very high. Also, tuition in most Nordic countries is only free for EU students, which might put you off if you’re looking to study in Scandinavia and are from outside the EU. However, there are ways to come and study here without being filthy rich. Here’s our guide to the universities with the lowest tuition fees for international students, allowing you to study at a top Scandinavian university without breaking your budget.


This one is a bit of a cheat, since all students, regardless of nationality, can study for free at any public university in Norway, at all study levels. You will need to pay a small semester fee, however, which is typically only NOK 300-600 (~US$38-76). Tuition fees may be charged for some specialized postgraduate programs.

Norway’s four entrants in the QS World University Rankings® are all public, with the University of Oslo ranked highest (and consistently in the global top 150). The language of instruction is normally Norwegian, but an increasing number of English-taught programs are available, particularly master’s degrees.


Until recently, Finland was also free for all students, but it’s now introduced tuition fees for non-EU students. While students from the EU/EEA/Switzerland can study in Finland for free, non-EU students need to pay tuition fees of at least €1,500 per year (~US$1,840). However, most students will pay between €4,000 and €20,000 (~US$4,900 – 24,500) depending on their course. You can find links to the exact non-EU tuition fees for your chosen university and read about the scholarships they have available on this page on the official Study in Finland website.

The universities in Finland with the lowest tuition fees are:

  • Metropolia University of Applied Sciences: €1,500 a year for a Master’s in Construction and Real Estate Management
  • VAMK - Vaasa University of Applied Sciences: €4,000 (~US$4,900) per year for bachelor’s degrees, €5,000 (~US$6,100) per year for master’s degrees
  • University of the Arts Helsinki: €5,000 per year
  • Karelia University of Applied Sciences: €5,500 (~US$6,735) per year
  • Saimaa University of Applied Sciences: €4,300 (~US$5,260) for bachelor’s degrees, €5,100 (~US$6,240) for master’s degrees, or €1,500 per year for a double degree

There is good news however. Non-EU PhD students can continue to study in Finland for free. Also, those adept at languages can study in Finnish or Swedish for free at all levels. To get your language skills up to scratch, you might be able to travel to Finland on a short-term visa to take part in a language course before your main studies.


Like Finland, free tuition only applies for EU/EEA/Swiss students, so if you’re a non-EU student you’ll pay tuition fees of around €6,000-16,000 per year (~US$7,350-19,600). The University of Southern Denmark is one of the cheaper Danish universities, with fees of €6,500 (~US$8,000) per year for a bachelor’s level business or social sciences degree, or €8,500 (~US$10,400) at master’s level. At the University of Copenhagen, Denmark’s highest-ranked university, English-taught master’s degrees start at DKK 40,000 (~US$6,600) per year (example given is for an MSc in Geography and Geoinformatics).


EU/EEA/Swiss students can also study in Sweden for free, while non-EU students pay fees around SEK 80,000-140,000 (~US$9,950-17,400) depending on the course. As is typical at most universities around the world, tuition fees for medical degrees are among the most expensive, with the prestigious medical university Karolinska Institutet charging from SEK 165,000 (~US$20,600) upwards per year for its programs. Lund University, the highest-ranked university in Sweden, is comparatively cheaper, with courses such as a BSc in Development Studies or International Business available for 100,000 SEK (~US$12,500) per year. Or, you can choose to study at Stockholm University, where non-EU students currently pay fees of 90,000 SEK (~US$11,200) per year at the university’s business school for both bachelor’s and master’s degrees, in addition to an application fee.


Not (geographically speaking) part of Scandinavia, but certainly culturally similar, the most affordable way to study in Iceland is by studying at one of the country’s four public universities: the University of Iceland, the Agricultural University of Iceland, Hólar University College and the University of Akureyri. There are no tuition fees for any students at any of these public universities, but you will need to pay an annual registration fee of ISK 75,000 (~US$730). If you’re from outside the EU/EEA, you’ll also need to pay a small application fee. Tuition fees are charged at private universities, and will be higher for non-EU/EEA students.

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This article was originally published in January 2018 . It was last updated in November 2023

Written by

The former Assistant Editor of TopUniversities.com, Sabrina wrote and edited articles to guide students from around the world on a wide range of topics. She has a bachelor's degree in English Literature and Creative Writing from Aberystwyth University and grew up in Staffordshire, UK. 

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