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.

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 (förskola) from the age of about 1.5 years 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, maths and science.

Since classes are conducted in languages other than Swedish many international residents tend to choose privately run 'free schools' (friskolor) for their children's education, though many public Swedish schools also provide education in different languages.

As a primer, our article about how to choose and apply to the right school in Sweden is a great place to familiarise yourself with the Swedish school system in general.

Free education in Sweden

Education in förskola, grundskola and gymnasium is free up until the age of 20. This applies to not only public schools, but also private schools.

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.

Universities in Sweden

Looking for a university experience unlike any other? With some of the top-ranked universities in the world, a multitude of programs offered in English and a multicultural educational environment, attending college or university in Sweden might be the perfect fit for you.

How do Sweden’s universities rank in the world?

Sweden’s universities are consistently ranked as some of the best in the world. As recently as 2020, three of Sweden’s universities – Karolinska Institute (Stockholm), Uppsala University and Stockholm University – were ranked within the top one hundred universities in the world

Sweden’s universities have also been awarded prizes for their international qualities, an award given out by the Swedish Foundation for International Cooperation in Research and Higher Education. According to this rating, Stockholm School of Economics, the Royal Institute of Technology (KTH) and Chalmers University of Technology in Gothenburg are the most international universities in Sweden. This rating was based on scores in six different categories: research, students, PhD students, education, faculties and management.

Other benefits of attending a university in Sweden

While rankings are important, there are other aspects of student life to consider as well. The fact that English is widely spoken, that Sweden is a democratic country with a high standard of living and an already international population have all contributed to the percentage of international students in Stockholm’s universities rising greatly in recent years.

Another perk of attending university in Sweden is that after graduation, you’re allowed a full year after you graduate to find a job or set up a business. So if you decide that you’re not ready to leave after your education is over, you’ll have plenty of time to plan your next steps and extend your stay.

Last but not least, by going to university in Sweden you get to experience a completely different culture. Just like your home country, Sweden’s academic system has traditions, but they’re probably traditions that you haven’t experienced before. From an April bonfire to perpetually being 15 minutes late, here are some of Sweden’s strangest academic traditions that you would get to be a part of during your university experience in Sweden.

University fees in Sweden

Tuition fees for college and universities are subsidised for Swedish as well as EU/EAA citizens. Living expenses are paid by student loans, but generally can be paid back at a low interest rate over a longer period of time.

For students not from these regions, scholarships are available from places like the Swedish Institute and the Swedish Council for Higher Education.

Read More