Six reasons to study at Stockholm University in 2021

It’s a challenging time for universities everywhere. But some institutions and cities are better equipped than others to continue offering world class education even amid a pandemic.

Six reasons to study at Stockholm University in 2021
Photos: Niklas Björling/Stockholm University

If you want to start a university course next autumn, you need to be thinking about applying now. Here, we look at six reasons to choose Stockholm University – which offers bachelor's, master's and PhD level programmes – in 2021.

A global university: apply by January 15 for autumn 2021 entry to master's and bachelor's programmes at Stockholm University  – or click here for information on PhDs 

1. A top 100 global university

Stockholm University is ranked 69th in the Academic Ranking of World Universities 2020. Also known as the Shanghai Ranking, the prestigious list measures the quality of research at universities globally.

Key indicators include the number of “highly cited” researchers and how many articles a university has published in the renowned journals Nature and Science.

2. Tradition: the city of the Nobel Prize 

When it comes to academic tradition and achievement, nothing matters more than the Nobel Prize. The Shanghai Ranking itself takes into account the number of alumni and employed researchers who have won Nobel Prizes.

The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences. Photo credit: Getty Images.

Awarded each year since 1901, the world’s most prestigious international award for academic, cultural or scientific advances is administered by the Nobel Foundation in Stockholm. The Nobel Committees, who select the winners each year, include several Stockholm University researchers.

Want to test yourself at one of the world's top 100 universities? Apply by January 15

3. Modernity: a digitally advanced city

It’s not by chance that Stockholm is home to companies such as Spotify and Klarna. The Swedish capital offers cutting-edge modernity, as well as tradition. 

Students in Stockholm benefit from living in an international hub for technology and innovation. Sweden is now ranked second globally for innovation and Stockholm's thriving start-up scene and entrepreneurial spirit offer a host of opportunities for future career development.

And whether you’re attending face-to-face classes or studying remotely, you can be sure of fast internet speeds for any video sessions or urgent assignments. A ranking by Fastmetrics placed Sweden sixth globally for median download speeds in 2020.

4. You’ll be just fine speaking English!

Foreigners in Stockholm are often amazed by how easy it is to get by in English. In the latest English Proficiency Index, which looks at data from more than two million non-native English speakers, Sweden came fourth out of 100 countries and regions, while Stockholm was sixth among cities globally. 

Both easily qualify as “very high proficiency” – the highest category. The report accompanying the index notes that high levels of English enable connections that can help people in their careers, while also being “intrinsically valuable”.

Stockholm University offers 75 master’s programmes taught in English, as well as some bachelor's programmes – click here to find out more. Should you want to learn the local language, it's also worth knowing that the university offers free Swedish classes to all its international students. 

5. To focus on future jobs

The global economy has experienced huge disruption in 2020. But if you’re about to begin studying, this could be an opportunity to focus on the skills that will remain in demand – or perhaps even those that could help humanity avoid or deal with future crises.

Photo: Niklas Björling/Stockholm University

Stockholm University offers many courses, where you can learn such vital skills. For example, if you study life science, you could benefit from the unique technologies and expertise at SciLifeLab, a national resource funded by the Swedish government, in which Stockholm University is a partner, as well as the collaborations it fosters with industry and other partners. 

SciLifeLab was recently announced as the host for a 12-year funding initiative to support data-driven life science in Sweden, using AI and growing computing power to advance research in areas including molecular biology, precision medicine and epidemiology.

The initiative involves 3.1 billion Swedish kronor of funding from the Knut and Alice Wallenberg Foundation to foster the next generation of life scientists.

6. The stunning natural setting 

Stockholm University’s main campus is located in the middle of the Royal National City park, a ‘green lung’ that stretches around and through Stockholm.

As the world’s first national city park, it's an ideal place for walking and experiencing nature. On the modernist Frescati campus within it, you’ll also find a wealth of art, which was incorporated into the vision for the campus from the early planning in the 1960s, and lots of interesting architecture worth exploring.

Photo: Stockholm University

Stockholm as a whole is also one of a handful of European cities with 40 percent or more of public green space. The city's location, where Lake Mälaren meets the Baltic Sea, provides endless picturesque views over the water.

Stockholm University offers a wide range of programmes at bachelor's, master's and PhD level. Apply by January 15 to start your bachelor's or master's studies in Autumn 2021 – or click here for information on PhD studies.



‘They feel conned’: Swedish universities fight for PHDs hit by new residency rules

Sweden's top universities are to call for doctoral students to be exempted from Sweden's tough new permanent residency rules, arguing that it will damage both academic standards and national competitiveness.

'They feel conned': Swedish universities fight for PHDs hit by new residency rules
At Lund Technical University, a majority of doctoral students are international. Photo: Kennet Ruona/LTU

In a post on Wednesday, Astrid Söderbergh Widding, the chair of Association of Swedish Higher Education Institutions, said that Sweden’s universities had agreed to submit a joint letter to the government “very soon”, calling for parliament to put in place a special exemption for PHD students to make it easier to stay in Sweden after their studies. 

The parliament, she wrote, “should introduce an exemption for doctoral students and young researchers from the requirement to be financially self-sufficient”. 

Previously, doctoral students were eligible for a permanent residence permit if they had lived in Sweden with a residence permit for doctoral studies for four out of the past seven years. Apart from a slim set of requirements, this was granted more or less automatically.

But according to Sweden’s new Migration Act, which was introduced in July this year as comprehensive legislation to control the number of asylum applications, they now need to be able to additionally show that they can support themselves financially for at least a year and half.

The new law means that the rules for permanent residency are now the same for all categories of applicants, including doctoral students.

Stefan Bengtsson, the rector at Chalmers University of Technology, said that the change would mean as many as 400 to 500 doctoral students, many of whom have built up considerable expertise, might be unable to stay in Sweden.

“This makes for an uncertain future for those from outside of Europe who have applied to come to Sweden for an academic career, which is cause for great concern and disappointment among those who came here under other circumstances,” he told The Local. “Some of them may, of course, feel like they’ve been conned

But what was even more worrying, he said, would be the impact the change to the law might have in the longer term. 

“This change to the law could contribute to giving Sweden a bad reputation. This will create difficulties in recruiting internationally and damage our long-term skills supply.”


At Lund University, the majority of doctoral students in the science and technical faculties are from outside Europe, while Söderbergh Widding, who is also vice chancellor at Stockholm University, estimated that about half of doctoral students were international. 

Söderbergh Widding told the TT newswire that the change was “a devastating death blow”, which put to waste a “previously hard-won battle to make it possible for doctoral students to obtain a permanent residency permit after four years of studies”. 

She said in her letter that the change contradicted the research policy proposition from December 2020, which stated that the “number of foreign doctoral students who stay in Sweden should increase”, and said that giving residency to doctoral students was a good way to increase this.  

Ole Petter Ottersen, the rector of the elite Karolinska medical university, told the newswire that he thought the change in residency laws would damage Swedish competitiveness. 

“This is not good for Sweden. This will damage our ability to attract and recruit talent from other countries. For a country that lies on the periphery, the goal should be to make it easier, not harder, to recruit competence.”