2016-06-22 14:07:06

Denmark attracts many foreign students every year thanks to its prestigious universities and developed higher education system.

If you are planning to study in Northern Europe, you might want to consider Denmark for its prosperous economy, high living standards, and well-developed higher education system. Thanks to the presence of world-class universities and institutions, it has been the choice of many foreign students over the years.

The higher education system

There are more than 600 programs taught in English to choose from in the Danish higher education system. Institutions can be broken down into the following categories:

  • Universities
  • University Colleges  
  • Business Academies
  • Artistic Higher Education Institutions
  • Schools of Maritime Education & Training

The different types of programs available are as follows:

  • 2–2 ½-year Academy Profession (AP) Programs (geared toward business and industry)
  • 3 ½–4 ½-year Professional Bachelor’s Programs (degrees for specific professions, e.g. nursing)
  • 3-year University Bachelor’s Programs (academic degrees)
  • 2-year Master’s Programs
  • 3-year PhD Programs

Top-up degrees are available for some AP degrees, allowing AP students to achieve a Bachelor’s without having to start from the beginning.

The Danish marking system differs from that of other countries. Grades are given on a seven-point scale. The following chart from the Danish Ministry of Education helps clarify the system.

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Admission requirements

Assessment of qualifications

All applicants to the Danish higher education system must have an upper secondary (high school) finishing exam that is equivalent to a Danish finishing exam. You can visit the Ministry of Higher Education and Science’s website to see if your exam meets the requirements. If your exam is not listed, or if you are unsure, you may apply to have your qualifications assessed.

Check directly with the individual institution to which you are applying for any specific requirements.

Language proficiency

Any non-native English speaker applying to a program taught in English must be able to prove a certain level of English proficiency with a test like the TOEFL or IELTS. Be sure to check with the individual institution to find out which tests are accepted and what the minimum score requirement is. Native English speakers are not required to submit a test score.  

Likewise, applying to a program taught in Danish requires proof of Danish proficiency, usually an exam called studieprøven.

Undergraduate Admissions

In addition to an exam equivalent to a Danish upper secondary finishing exam and the proper language qualifications, certain other conditions may need to be met for undergraduate admissions:

  • Specific subjects passed at a certain level
  • Specific subjects passed with a minimum grade
  • Minimum overall GPA
  • Passed entrance exam or interview

Postgraduate and PhD admissions

Admission to a Master’s program requires proof of Danish or English proficiency (depending on the program) and an internationally recognized Bachelor’s degree or equivalent.

Admission to a PhD program in Denmark requires a recognized Master’s degree or equivalent.

To see if your degree is recognized, go to the Ministry of Higher Education and Science’s website to apply for assessment of your foreign qualifications.

How to apply

Registration for undergraduate programs generally opens a couple of months before the application deadline. Registration forms are available directly from the institution or at Optagelse.dk. The deadline for programs starting in August or September is the 15th March. Courses beginning in January or February have a deadline of the 1st September. Deadlines for postgraduate studies can vary.

No matter which program you are applying for, make sure you carefully read the specific requirements laid out by your institution.

Student residence permit

Permits for Undergraduate and Graduate Students

A student residence permit can be granted on the following conditions:

  • You have been granted admission to a higher educational program
  • You speak the language of instruction
  • You can document sufficient means to support yourself

You can bring certain family members on a student residence permit

 Good to know:

Foreign students generally do not qualify for Danish study grants (SU).

You are allowed to work up to 20 hours a week (full time in June, July, August)

PhD candidates

A PhD residence permit can be granted on the following conditions:

  • You have been granted admission to a PhD program
  • You speak the language of instruction
  • You can document that you are being paid by the university or a company connected to the PhD program OR that you have sufficient means to support yourself

You can bring certain family members on a PhD residence permit.

You may work full-time at the university at which you are enrolled, or you may work 20 additional hours a week (full-time in June, July, August).

 Good to know:

  • PhD students to not qualify for Danish study grants (SU)

Applying for a residence permit

Applying online is the easiest way to get a residence permit. The first part of the application will be filled by the Danish higher education institution who will then provide you with a reference code and access code for your part of the application.

If you cannot apply online, printable forms are available. Procedures are the same; however, documents will have to be sent by post.

Visit the official joint website of the Danish Immigration Service and the Danish Agency for International Recruitment and Integration to find the application forms.

 Useful links:

Study in Denmark: Official website for international students of higher education
Study in Denmark: Institutions
Danish Business Academies
Danish Immigration Service and Agency for International Recruitment and Integration: Higher Education
Programs in Danish

We do our best to provide accurate and up to date information. However, if you have noticed any inaccuracies in this article, please let us know in the comments section below.