Education in Sweden for international residents

Swedish flag flying in Gamla Stan, Stockholm - Photo: Jonathan Brinkhorst/Unsplash
Swedish flag flying in Gamla Stan, Stockholm - Photo: Jonathan Brinkhorst/Unsplash

From preschools to universities, Swedish education is high-quality, affordable and available to all. But as a non-native resident, it can be hard to navigate the options available to you. Whether you are looking for an Executive MBA or just want to find an English-language elementary school where your children can thrive, we have compiled information on all of the different types of education in Sweden.

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What is the school system like in Sweden?

In Sweden, children are required to attend school from age 6 to age 16 and these ten years are referred to as grundskola. However, most children participate in preschool/kindergarten (förskoleklass) from the age of about 1,5 years old and the vast majority of young people attend high school (gymnasium) from ages 16 to 19/20.

Grundskola can be further broken down into elementary school (lågstadiet) for years 1-3, middle school (mellanstadiet) for years 4-6 and junior high school (högstadiet) for years 7-9. The courses in grundskola follow a national curriculum which emphasises studies in Swedish, English, math and science.

While many international residents tend to choose private/free schools (friskolor) for their childrens’ education since classes are conducted in languages other than Swedish, many public Swedish schools also provide education in different languages. Please check out our page on educating international children in Sweden for more information.

After gymnasium, young adults can apply to universities or other secondary education. Please check out our pages on Swedish universities and postgraduate programmes such as MBAs, Masters and PhDs for more information.

Free education in Sweden

Education in förskoleklass, grundskola and gymnasium is free up until the age of 20. This applies to not only public schools, but also private schools, known as free schools (friskolor).

Regarding colleges and universities, tuition fees are subsidised for Swedish as well as EU/EAA citizens. There are some scholarships available for students not from these regions, through the Swedish Institute and the Swedish Council for Higher Education. Living expenses are paid by students, but generally can be paid back at a low interest rate over a longer period of time.

More information about education for international residents in Sweden: