Tuition Free Universities in Norway – Everything You Need to Know

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Looking to get education in Norway via tuition free universities in Norway? in this comprehensive article, we bring you everything you need to know about free tuition in Norway universities. Learn about Norway education system, masters in Norway, PhD in Norway, cost of living in Norway, Norway life and lot more.

Norway is country known for its natural beauty, deep history and rich culture. Its public educational system is one of the best in Europe. Annually, Foreign students go in droves into The Kingdom of Norway because it’s a welcoming country with the population of just a little over 5 million citizens

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Norway has repeatedly been ranked as ‘the best country to live in’ by the United Nations, this is based on factors like average levels of education and income, life expectancy, human rights and cultural freedom.

Education is of utmost priority in Norway, as it spends nearly 7% of its gross domestic product (GDP) on education. Norway is rated for its high literacy rate, educational levels/standards and material wealth. This could be partly due to right appropriation of its offshore oil and gas deposits, Norway has the fourth-highest per capita income in the world.

Norway has one of the highest standards of living in the world so, this implies that it is also one of the most expensive countries to live in. However, when it comes to education, Norway can pride itself on free, high quality education even for international students. If you are an ambitious student seeking to improve and boost your future career possibilities while also enjoying your life, then Norway deserves to be on the top of your list.

Norway is known as a ‘knowledge nation’ as it prides itself as a home for lifelong learning where education- Basic to Tertiary is free and of the highest quality. Norway is also the home of the “Nobel Prize” and has no less than 13 Nobel Prize winners as citizens.

Watch now? Top Best Countries to Get Longest Work Permit After Graduation

a.       Norway Education System

Norwegian public universities and university colleges are known for quality and tuition free education. The environment is pretty informal in nature. Teachers are easily approachable, teaching often takes place in small groups and as a student, you are encouraged to develop a critical mind.

The Norwegian system of higher education can either be Public or Private and can further be divided into: specialized, comprehensive university and university colleges (these concentrate mainly on the provision of undergraduate-level education improve and vocationally focused subjects.)

There are 44 education institutions in Norway, the majority (38) of them being public while others are private. The system includes nine comprehensive universities (all public), eight specialized universities (e.g. in arts, music, sports, theology) and 27 university colleges focusing on undergraduate education.

In line with the Bologna process which Norway Higher Education operates on, the structure is arranged in the 3 – 2 – 3 model; in other words, a three-year bachelor degree, two-year masters degree and a three-year doctoral program.

The University of Oslo, a public institution for instance charges only a semester fee of NOK600 ($73) for ancillary services including health, counseling, and access to student privileges such as reduced fares on public transport.

The private sector education is only partly financed by the government. Hence private schools and colleges levy tuition fees. For example, the private sector Norwegian Business School (BI) charges an MBA program annual fee of NOK 76,400 ($9,300) for Norwegian students and NOK 87,400 ($10,650) for foreign students.

In Norway, the educational system is organised and highly automated as students can have access to a variety of educational resources online. A typical example is this, upon acceptance into a Norwegian institution to study any course, a student can apply online from any country to Lånekassen (Norwegian State Educational Loan Fund) for financial support of higher education in Norway if need be.

Best Subjects to Study in Norway

  • Life Sciences and Biotechnology
  • Agricultural Science
  • Natural Sciences
  • Energy and Sustainability
  • Social Sciences
  • Digital Media, Animation and Visual Arts
  • Marketing & Management Studies
  • IT & Technology
  • Tourism & Hospitality
  • Ecology
  • Marine Studies
  • Architecture

The public higher education institutes of Norway (universities and specialised universities) all have self-accreditation rights and can organise and award their own degrees. Private institutions must have their postgraduate degrees accredited by the Norwegian Agency for Quality Assurance in Education (NOKUT). NOKUT plays the key role in the governance of all higher education institutions.

In Norway’s education system, Universities are the main higher education research and teaching institution. They usually offer a range of postgraduate degrees and have extensive academic powers enabling them to accredit their own programmes.

Public specialised universities are much like standard universities but offer postgraduate courses in a focused area of research. While Private specialised Universities also provide courses in specialised areas of research, they require external accreditation.

Although Norway is a small country, its higher education system can challenge those of larger nations and a significant number of Norwegian universities feature in international ranking tables. There are several cities in Norway with one or more universities and large numbers of students, this major cities Oslo, Bergen, Trondheim, Tromsø, Kristiansand.

Using information based on the latest Times Higher Education World University Rankings, QS World University Rankings and Academic Ranking of World Universities, the top 5 ranked Norwegian Universities are between 62 – 600. They are namely University of Oslo, University of Bergen, Norwegian University of Science and Technology, UiT The Arctic University of Norway and Norwegian University of Life Sciences.


Norway offers many undergraduate programs in English. You can study courses in humanities, social sciences, law, theology, mathematics and natural sciences, business, education, medicine, dentistry, energy, engineering etc. Of a truth, you won’t find too many course options at the undergraduate level to choose from unlike institutions in the US, UK, Canada, Australia etc.

You can also opt for a one-tier master’s degree which allows you to combine your bachelor’s and master’s in a single continuous program lasting five years – this is often offered for architecture, business management, engineering, dentistry. These programs are taught in English language. Amazingly, teaching and learning is done in proximity to nature.


At the Masters level, Norway offers close to 200 different programs which are taught in English Language. Students from outside the Scandinavia region who are considering studying in Norway may have a concern as regards language barrier. However, Norwegians generally have very high English language proficiency, and learn English at school as kids. Don’t be surprised, most Norwegians are fluent speakers of English.

Norway offers high-quality education and does not charge any tuition, this way students benefit from free of charge first-hand learning, by taking part in lectures, field trips or research. You’ll also have the opportunity to be taught by qualified lecturers who are active researchers who are among the international elite in their academic fields.

All masters’ programmes have a duration of two years. Generally, one full year of the programme is devoted to writing your master’s thesis this is called ‘Thesis year’. This invariably means you have an entire year to delve deep into a field and focus on the research that you are truly passionate about. Although, the thesis is your personal research work, you will have assigned your academic supervisor guiding your efforts and activities throughout the second year.

During the Masters’ program, students have access to a private working space where you get the priviledge of a private desk within their faculty during their two-year programme. Some might even get their own working space in shared departmental offices. In all these offer you the opportunity to connect with other students in the faculty, as well as providing a stable study area where you need not compete with other students for space or air.


A Norwegian PhD also enables you to study in a beautiful country, international learning environment with an array of unique natural phenomena that might not be experienced anywhere else.

PhD programmes in Norway are third-cycle education qualifications following the “Bologna process. As such, you will be required to perform research and write a PhD thesis.

The advantages to studying for a Norwegian PhD degree are just too numerous. This is exemplified by its excellent higher education system, which delivers admirable teaching and research. Although, Norway has a small number of Universities, yet these institutions often outperform what may be expected of them.

Doctoral research and PhD are being undertaken in 24 of Norway’s Universities. The PhD duration is a minimum of 3 years and in some scenarios, 4 years. The Academic calendar begins in August and ends in June.

A typical PhD in Norway normally lasts three years duration. However, for a PhD programme which involves institutional duties and sometimes specialist training, you may be employed by your university for a four year period.

Often, PhDs in Norway follow a structured format. This typically involves a training component prior to commencing your doctoral research and thesis writing. You may also be considered a member of the university employee with accompanying employment rights and benefits. In this case, you will have teaching and administrative responsibilities to juxtapose.

Much like in the UK and most parts of the world, post-graduate students are assigned a senior researcher as a supervisor. They are to regularly oversee and evaluate the processes of research work, project execution and thesis writing.

Your PhD thesis will be read by a committee of at least three senior academics, with a minimum of one external examiner. After the thesis has been examined and approved by the committee, your research must be defended orally through at least one lecture and a public thesis defense before a reviewing committee of institutional opponents.

An important and appealing aspect of PhD study in Norway is that tuition is free for all students, but the country has a high cost of living. To this end, some form of maintenance funding is usually necessary. Most doctoral candidate subsidise this, either through university employment (and the associated responsibilities) or through part-time work.

In some schools, PhD researchers are considered employees and you will earn a doctoral salary and associated worker’s rights. There are a limited number of funding opportunities for international students. These are usually intended to cover maintenance costs during your study. A lot of these scholarships and grants have limititations and prerequisites that should be noted. Examples include:

Also watch: Top 10 Unpopular Scholarships in Europe for International Students below

Foreign students from outside the EU are allowed to work for about 20 hours per week during the semester and full-time during breaks. There is also an excellent opportunity for international students from developing nations to win scholarships. The level of competition is always intense, so it’s better to apply as early as possible if you want to become one of the few lucky winners that are awarded by Norwegian government each year.

PhD applicants in Norway must have Masters degree in a relevant subject area. A corresponding degree may also be acceptable – you could check the eligibility of your qualifications at the Norwegian Agency for Quality Assurance in Education (NOKUT).

You will also be required to provide other typical PhD application documents. Some materials that may be required include:

  • Certified copies of all documents relevant to your educational background
  • A funding plan for your studies (for the full 3-4 years of full-time study, plus information about the funding source and type)
  • A statement describing any significant scholarly or material resource requirements
  • The name of at least one proposed academic supervisor (unless stipulated otherwise)

In Norway, PhD programme applications are like formal job applications. To complete admission, a written contract must be signed between the doctoral candidate, your supervisor, and the university or The Research Council of Norway (or an industry partner / funder, if appropriate).

b.      Norway student visa

The Norway Student Visa is a type of visa given to aspiring students who wants to get into country for the main purpose of studying. If your course of study will extend more than 3 months, then you will be required to apply for Norway student residence permit. The residence permit will only be granted if you attest that you will return to your home country after your education. You can’t work with this permit as it will last only for the period of your planned study.

In Norway, visas are only valid for a period of up to 90 days. Therefore, you will require a student residence permit, health insurance and a Norwegian identity number. Your University will be able to advise and assist you with your visa process.

Candidates can apply for the visa online, from within Norway or through the Norwegian embassy. However, most students will eventually need to hand in a paper application form to their closest Norwegian embassy or consulate.

How to Apply for Norway Student Visa: Step By Step

  1.  Online Registration

You must register online before you can apply for the Norway student visa. Online registration is a mandatory one for visa applications. Go to the online application portal and register yourself, then click on the application form and fill it completely. Please, remember to choose the student residence permit when applying if your course duration is more than three months.

  1. Submit Application

You can submit it at the Norwegian Embassy closest to you. You should take along all supporting documents to the application center. Your biometric data will be collected at the visa application center.

  1. Track application

After submission process is completed, you will then need to track your application progress so that you will be informed on when to go for your passport collection.

When applying for Norway student visa, it m might be necessary not have to book an interview. All you have to do is fill the application form and submit it.

NB. A student residence permit in Norway is only  granted under the pre-signed condition that the students would return to their country of legal permanent residence upon completion of their studies.

In order to be granted a Norway student visa, you must first have been admitted to a field of study at a University or College. After receiving your letter of admission, you are to contact the nearest Norwegian Embassy or Consulate for information on the study permit application procedure.

When you tender your student residence permit application form, you must also provide your passport (having at least three-month validation), along with other necessary documentation. These are some documents you will need to submit:

  • A completed application form
  • Receipt of application fee payment (NOK 5,300 = US$650)
  • Police registration certificate
  • A valid passport
  • Birth certificate
  • 2 recent passport photos (white background)
  • Letter of admission sent by the chosen institution
  • Cover letter
  • Health/medical insurance.
  • Proof of sufficient financial funds for the entire period of study, including funds to support any accompanying family, which should be in a Norwegian bank account (it not easy to open an account in a Norwegian bank without the Norwegian identity number, so the alternative is to deposit the specified amount into the account designated by your school). It is important that you prove you have access to NOK 116,369 for each of the 10 months academic year (approximately US$14,350)
  • Evidence accommodation (such as a house, apartment, bedsit or room in a hall of residence)
  • Return ticket arrangements proof. This would serve as evidence that you will leave Norway once your residence permit expires 
  • Employment contract (applicable to employed PhD students)
  • Completed and signed UDI documents, which should be print and submitted along with other necessary documents

Requirements and procedures for obtaining a student residence permit will depend upon your country of origin.

Visa Application Fees

The approved standard visa application fees for the Norwegian student visa is €60, payment is to be made online using a credit/debit card on the application portal. An important notice to take is that you might be charged extra fee for biometric data collection for The Visa Information System.

Visa Application Process

You must complete your online registration, before proceeding to apply for your Norway student visa, it is mandatory for all visa applications. Ensure that you choose the student residence permit when you are applying.

The visa applications are submitted at the visa application centers. Applications submitted will be assessed by the Norwegian Embassy which is then forwarded to the Directorate of Immigration (UDI) in Norway for consideration.

To complete the visa application process, you must bring along all your original travel supporting documents, the application cover letter and a clear photocopy of all your supporting documents as well.

Biometric Data Collection

Biometric details will be collected from you at the visa application center for the visa information system; this helps to ascertain your identity and travel status. This is a quick, process that captures a facial image and the 10 fingerprint scan.

Your face must be clearly visible before a photograph to be taken. If you wear a head or neck covering for religious reasons you must ensure your face is clearly visible, from the bottom of your chin to above your eyebrows including both cheeks. Removal of eye glasses when the photograph is taken might also be necessary.

Visa Processing Time

The student visa application process takes duration of 30 working days or thereabout. You can track your visa application with your visa application reference number and date of birth online or check the stated processing times.

The processing period for student residence permits will vary and may take two months or so, therefore it is advisable to apply as soon as you are able. If your application is successfully granted, you must then obtain a residence card/permit. This serves as a proof that you have the right to live in Norway and it is to be issued by a local police station in Norway so you are required to visit the police station within seven days of your arrival in Norway.

Student residence permit

After being granted a Norwegian student residence permit, you will also be granted a permit to work part-time in addition to your studies, up to 20 hours per week and full-time during university holidays. You can renew your study permit via the online Application Portal Norway at least three months before it expires, providing evidence of sufficient funds to support yourself, as well as satisfactory Study Progression report in Norway (to be issued from your faculty). The UDI will also use your Study Progression Report to confirm that you can continue to be issued a work permit. You must be making satisfactory progress in your studies to continue to be able to work part-time.

You can apply for a permit to work full-tiime, if you can substantially prove that the work is relevant to your studies.

Upon completing your studies, you are eligible to apply for a residence permit for up to six months to seek employment as a skilled worker.

You must be able to prove you have become qualified to work as a skilled personnel during your time studying in Norway, or that you had specialist training before your stay in Norway and then undertook further education in Norway. Another condition is that you must also satisfy the requirements to be able to provide financially for yourself and your family (if applicable) and have a solid job offer.

Non-European Union/Swiss students who are studying in Norway for more than one year, upon registering at a Research institution and after receiving a student residence permit will be insured under the Norwegian National Insurance Scheme

Nordic students (Danish, Finnish, Icelandic and Swedish students) are automatically entitled to healthcare coverage, if they are registered in the National Population Register.

c.       Steps to apply to Norway universities

Most Norwegian Universities, Business Schools and other higher education institutions each have their own unique rules. You should go to their official University webpages, where you will find an entire list of details. There you will find the deadlines, the requirements and a link directing you to the university’s page, where you can begin your official application.

Depending on the university chosen, specific documentation would be required. Always check the university website for specific admission requirements and contact the appropriate university officer in case you have any questions. Applications and admissions processes are usually handled by the university to which you are applying.

Almost all applications are done through the online application system, application forms are available on the various university websites, and often require an certain application fee to be paid. After you must have completed the application form, attach the necessary documents to be emailed to the university.

Admission lists are often announced by the end of spring. If you want to study at a private university, you will usually be required to pay the tuition fees for the first semester.

 Learning the Norwegian language is not compulsory, but you will need an English certificate for your studies in Norway. The following are acceptable:

  • C1 Advanced
  • Pearson PTE

You should make enquiries of your choice programme what test and what grade you should get, so you don’t have problems during your official application.

Evidence you can speak the language in which the programme will be taught is required from everybody, no matter their country or degree, even for the Norwegians you will need a language proficiency certificate as well.

General application documents

A student has to present:

  • A Bachelor’s degree or its equivalent of at least 3 years of study (it must include courses relevant to the programme you applied for)
  • An English proficiency test

Norway has the Norwegian Agency for Quality Assurance in Education (NOKUT), which sets the minimum requirements that depend on each student’s home country. Check the GSU-list, the Norwegian database for country-specific information.

For example:

  • UK students need a GCE with at least 3 A-Levels or Cambridge Diploma (3 Principal Subjects + Global Perspective and Research) or a combination of A Levels and Cambridge Pre-U Principal Subjects in 3 different subjects.
  • US students must present High School Graduation Diploma + 1 year university / college studies in academic subjects or 3 Advanced Placement Tests with at least grade 3.
  • Indian students require English test and two other certificates that can prove university education.
  • Nigerian students don’t require any English test, Senior School Certificates (SSCE) in 6 subjects (English, Mathematics and Science) with 1 other certificate is required.
  • South African students only need to tender a National Senior Certificate.

Also, the ‘each with its own’ rule reappears here, as well, so always check programmes for additional requirements.

University application deadlines for Norway

  • Application period for foreign students who want to start the following autumn usually begins from 15 October – 15 March
  • August: autumn courses start

Some universities in Norway have “pre-qualification” deadlines that are earlier than the above stated, so remember to look for this as well.

D. cost of living in Norway

Although, the high-quality education available in Norway is free, you still have to pay for study materials, living and amenities in this country, which on the contrary is quite expensive. But for this very high cost of living, you get a commensurate high living standard, benefits such as free education, quality health care, and ready access to the beautiful natural environment.

Norway in general and its capital Oslo in particular are well known for being very expensive but Combining studies with amazing outdoor adventures is a whole lot of fun. The experience of the Aurora Borealis (“Northern lights”), the magnificent mountains, the beautiful midnight sun, the Fjords, the alluring coastline etc. are simply unforgettable. Nature is never far from wherever you are located in Norway, even for the unadventurous you would also get to simply enjoy the fresh air, clean water and lots and lots of space.

Students will have to pay a semester fee of NOK 300-600 each semester (approximately €32 – 64 or $37 – 74) in order to take an exam. This fee must be paid in full as it covers membership in the local student welfare organization and entitles you to several benefits such as campus health services, counseling, access to sports facilities and cultural activities.

Living Expenses could be approximated to NOK 116,369  per year. As a general rule, the Norwegian Directorate of Immigration requires the money to be deposited in a Norwegian bank account.

Non-EU Students can work part-time for a maximum period of 20 hours per week during studies in Norway. An application for a work permit should be accompanied by a statement from the institution confirming that the work will not affect the study progress of the student. A letter from the employer is required, stating that the student has received a job offer must also be submitted.

Students are usually allowed to work on full time basis during semester breaks. Please note that the majority of institutions do not have on-campus work-study programs, and most times foreign students will have to compete in the regular job market. With a total population of around 5 million people, Norway is a welcoming country that is ready to be explored.

The cost of housing and others expenditures eats into a student’s budget so it’s important to be Penny wise; Pound foolish by planning one’s expenses.

  • Students can use the library actively by borrowing books than buying new ones. Also searching for online versions otherwise known as Soft books that can be accessed and read for free.
  • Make use of the nature in your leisure time. It’s free.
  • You can also take food and drink to the campus cafeterias rather than buying coffee every day and eating out. Eat packed lunches, cook at home for yourself and your friends.
  • Live cheaply by renting a room from the student housing authority.

Experiences, however come for free or are cheaper than normal in Norway, nature is free and right at your doorstep. Its also been discovered that one of Europe’s cheapest airlines operates in Norway, so you could get to travel and explore a lot. The tickets are cheap for voyages within Norway and to cities in Europe.

Living student life on a shoestring budget is possible in Norway when you are smart and prudent

Apart from the high cost of living, Norway is known worldwide as a peaceful and safe democratic country that favours equality. It is also known to offer a high quality of life in many aspects. Norway is ranked number 1 on the Human Development Index (2018), and has been awarded “the best country in which to live” according to the United Nations Development Programme (Human Development Reports).

e.   Free Tuition Universities in Norway

The following are the Norwegian public tuition free higher education institutions, they comprise of Universities, University Colleges, Specialized Universities, Military University Colleges. They free to attend except for the payment of the levies highlighted above. The cost and application process of these tuition free public institutions are explained in our previous article.

Public University

University of Bergen

University of Oslo

University of Stavanger

University of Tromso

Western Norway University of Applied Sciences

Norwegian University of Life Sciences

Norwegian University of Science and Technology

OsloMet – Oslo Metropolitan University

University of Agder

Nord University

Public University College

Buskerud and Vestfold University College

Bergen National Academy of the Arts

Harstad University College

Hedmark University College

Lillehammer University College

Narvik University College

Nesna University College

Nord-Trondelag University College

Norwegian Naval Academy

Norwegian Police University College

Oslo National Academy of the Arts

Sámi University of Applied Sciences

Sogn og Fjordane University College

Stord/Haugesund University College

Telemark University College

Volda University College

Ostfold University College

Public Specialized University

Molde University College

Norwegian Academy of Music

Norwegian School of Economics

BI- Norwegian Business School (formerly Norwegian School of Management)

Norwegian School of Sport Sciences

Oslo School of Architecture and Design

Public (military) University College

Royal Norwegian Air Force Academy

Norwegian Defense School of Engineering

Norwegian Military Academy

Watch Now: 5 Hidden Truths About Tuition Free Universities No one Talks About

f.      List of Norway Universities with Tuition fee

Students in these institutions on the other hand are required to pay certain amount of money as tuition to pursue their courses. The schools in this category are not solely Government owned or sponsored but are either Public-Private partnership or fully Private owned.

Private university colleges with accredited programs

Ansgar School of Theology and Mission (located in Kristiansand)

Arkivakademiet (located in Oslo)

Atlantis medisinske høgskole (located in Oslo)

Baptistenes Teologiske Seminar (located in Stabekk)

Barratt Due Institute of Music (located in Oslo)

Bergen Deaconess University College (located in Bergen)

Bergen School of Architecture (located in Bergen)

Betanien Deaconal University College (located in Bergen)

Bjørknes College (located in Oslo)

Campus Kristiania (located in Oslo)

Den norske balletthøyskole (located in Oslo)

Noroff University College (located in Kristiansand)

Norwegian Eurythmy College (located in Oslo)

Norwegian University College for Agriculture and Rural Development (located in Klepp)

Private University College

VID Specialized University

Noroff University College

NLA University College

School of Mission and Theology

Private Specialized University

MF Norwegian School of Theology

For further reading about all Norway’s Higher Institutions, requirements, location, courses, fees and admission dates


Tere are so many fantastic reasons to go to Norway for studies. Norway is ranked in the top 5 of the countries with the highest performing graduates, therefore studying in this country is totally worth it.

Quick tips to remember about education in Norway: Tuition free Public Education, High standard of living, Land of natural beauty, English Proficiency requirement, Egalitarian society, Unique research and learning environment.

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  • Ifeoma Chuks is a naturally-skilled writer. She has written and contributed to more than 6000 articles all over the internet that have formed solid experiences for particularly aspiring, young people around the globe.

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