How to Study in Iceland for Free

A small country with the population of 338,349 (2017) offers you surely world class education through its 7 higher education institutions. There are almost 18,000 enrolled students with only a 5% of international students. Iceland does want to increase the number of international students. The local language is Icelandic and the currency is Icelandic króna whereas the capital ‘Reykjavik’ provides a good range of educational institutions with excellent levels of higher education. Hold on, almost 24 hours f long sunshine a day in Summer will give a new look to your life here!

Currently there are 7 universities in Iceland for international students which all provide state of the art educational standards. Each has its own criteria for admission.



Whilst the majority of the programs are in Icelandic, there are some English programs offered for international students at all seven universities, particularly at the University of Iceland, where about 1100 international students study. Each university has its own language requirement for the programs it offers. You must demonstrate your English language skills by taking TOEFL, IELTS (Academic), or Cambridge English (CAE or CPE) examinations. TOEFL 79 or IELTS 6.5 is the minimum score for undergraduate and graduate degrees. On the other hand, some institutions require a higher TOEFL score, up to 83 overall, for select graduate programs. Some universities even accept 6.0 score in IELTS for a master degree program such as Bifröst University.



Tuition prices for overseas students vary by university. Iceland’s largest university provides educational programs with no tuition payments. However, students must pay annual registration fees of only ISK 75,000 (USD 616) and some students can pay reduced registration fees of ISK 55,000 (USD 451) if they enroll in the middle of the academic year ( in January). Students who are ineligible or disabled are also charged reduced fees. Reykjavik University, on the other hand, charges international students a high tuition cost of at least USD 6,800 per semester.



In higher education institutions, there is no centralized admissions system. Each of Iceland’s seven institutions has its unique admissions requirements, and any inquiries should be sent to the international office. If you are interested in studying in Iceland, please contact the international offices of the aforementioned public and private universities so that you have all of the necessary information to apply. A year is divided into two semesters: fall and spring. Get information from the university regarding the changing deadlines. Normally, you must apply in April for the fall semester and in August for the spring semester.



Because there is no centralized admission system in Iceland, universities set their own admission standards for international students. Read on for additional information on each level offered by Iceland’s seven higher education institutions:

1.  Bachelor’s degrees

A certificate from a higher secondary school is required. Except in medicine, economics, and law, most colleges do not have admission or entry tests. Several nations, such as Pakistan and India, may have comparable recognized educational levels required for admission. In such circumstances, students must contact the international office to determine whether their credentials are sufficient to be considered. On the plus side, 14 years of study from these countries is completely sufficient for entrance to the bachelor’s degree level.

2. Master’s degrees

In most situations, a three to four-year education (equal to 180 to 240 ECTS credits) is required to enter a master’s degree program. The same is true here in that the university admissions office may allow students with lower grade point averages in specific situations.



You may be exempt from providing a TOEFL or IELTS score if one of the following criteria is met:

  • You have completed at least one full year of full time higher education, taught in English, at an accredited higher education institution in an English speaking country (UK, USA, Ireland, New Zealand, Australia, Canada)
  • You have completed a Bachelor’s or Master’s degree in English (English BA or English MA)
  • You have an IB (International Baccalaureate or European Baccalaureate diploma (English-taught programmes only))

Admission without IELTS or any other English language competency credentials is possible. If you have already studied in English medium of instruction, the university may accept your admission application without IELTS. In this instance, you must obtain a certificate of confirmation from the most recent university confirming that you completed your degree in English. Additionally, if your preferred university in Iceland accepts this documentation, they must state in the final unconditional admission letter that you are excused from submitting the English language requirement. The Icelandic immigration board usually accepts it as adequate.



Bachelor degrees (B.A., B.S., B.Ed.)  are mostly offered by University of Iceland and couple of other universities. The duration of bachelor’s degree is almost three to four years of study (180-240 credits).

Postgraduate certificates are offered in some subjects after one year of postgraduate study.

Masters degrees (M.A., M.S. – meistaragráða) are mostly offered by:

After two years of successful postgraduate study, the degree is conferred. A major thesis or research project is also required as part of the curriculum.

Doctorate degrees (Ph.D.- doktorsgráða) are currently awarded by only 2 following universities:

PhD degrees are only awarded to persons who have successfully finished a doctorate program and defended a doctoral thesis.



Once again, no specific granting body is in charge of handling scholarship applications. Each year, universities determine whether to provide a variety of scholarship programs to international students. Scholarships are now available from the following universities:

Students interested in studying Icelandic language, literature, and history at the universities listed above may be eligible for scholarships from the Icelandic Ministry of Education, Science, and Culture, which awards these scholarships on an annual basis. Are you interested? Then check out the handling of this at the Icelandic Government Scholarships Programme is at the Árni Magnússon Institute for Icelandic Studies – The Sigurður Nordal office.



Foreign students are permitted to work part-time in Iceland while pursuing their degrees. As an EU national, you are not need to obtain authorisation to work part-time. Students from other countries must obtain work authorization, sometimes known as a temporary work permit for students. This allows you to work 15 hours per week and may be full-time during professions. To apply for a temporary work permit as an international student, you must have the following documents:

  • proof of admission into an Icelandic university as a full time student
  • a working contract from your intended employer
  • the work duration and timing must not exceed to 40% of your study duration



Students can find cheaper housing depending on whether they live in a shared flat system or their own private flat. The pricing range varies from 300 USD to 500 USD depending on location. For more information on costs and availability, consult with Icelandic Student Services (Félagsstofnun stdenta) and Keilir, the Atlantic Centre of Excellence. As an international student, you may be eligible for a variety of housing perks.



Living cost is really high in Iceland. So you must keep in mind all the expenses before you choose to study in Iceland.

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