Iceland Higher Education

Iceland has many foreign students, and some universities have courses in English. With a Danish high school diploma, you can apply for higher education in Iceland on an equal footing with Icelanders.

Iceland is located in the North Atlantic approx. 800 km northwest of Scotland. The country has a very varied nature with mountains, fjords, glaciers and volcanoes. Approx. 65 percent of the population lives in Reykjavik, which is the northernmost capital of the world.

The fishing industry is the most dominant industry in Iceland, but energy production is also a large industry. Most of the production comes from hydropower, and a lot of research is done into geothermal energy production, as Iceland has many hot springs. In addition, many new industries are emerging, especially in high technology, biotechnology and also in software development.

The Icelandic education system is divided into four levels: kindergarten, primary school for children aged 6-16, continuing school education for all who have completed primary school or have reached the age of 18, as well as universities and higher education institutions for those who have completed a secondary education. On the Nordic website you can read more about the Icelandic education system.

Iceland is not a member of the EU, but participates in the EEA (European Economic Cooperation Agreement). This means, among other things, that Iceland is part of the EU’s education programs. Iceland applied for EU membership in 2009 and is through just over a third of the negotiating chapters with the EU. In May 2013, the Icelandic government decided to suspend the accession negotiations.

Worth knowing

Higher education in Iceland

Iceland generally receives many students from abroad, among other things through educational programs and co-operation agreements with the Nordic countries and the EU.

Denmark has entered into a co-operation agreement with the other Nordic countries on higher education. The agreement means that you as a Danish citizen are free to apply for admission to a higher education in another country in the Nordic region, including Iceland.

If you are already in education, and you want to continue your education in Iceland, you can apply to have your exams transferred to your new place of education.

Most institutions of higher education use the ECTS credit system in parallel with the Icelandic credit system. An Icelandic study point corresponds to two ECTS points.

The academic year is divided into an autumn semester, which runs from the beginning of September to the end of December, and a spring semester, which runs from the beginning of January to the end of May.


There are 8 institutions of higher education in Iceland. The University of Iceland is the largest university, while most other universities and institutions are specialized and offer a limited number of programs.

Private educational institutions are approved by the Icelandic Ministry of Education and receive state support. Private institutions may charge tuition fees, while state institutions may only charge registration fees.

Information about the individual institutions and their programs can be found via Studyiniceland

Qualifications at higher level:

  • Diploma / certificate: 1-2 years of short higher, vocational education.
  • Baccalaureatus (BA, BS and others): 3-4 year bachelor’s degrees.
  • Post-graduate diploma / certificate: issued after 1 to 2 years of study after a bachelor’s degree.
  • Candidate’s degree (Candidatus grad): obtained after completing 5-6-year professional educations in, among other things, medicine, theology and law. The type of education is being phased out, except for studies in medicine and dentistry.
  • Master’s degree (MA, MS and others): master’s degree obtained after 2 years of study after a bachelor’s degree.
  • Doctoral degree, (PhD degree): obtained after 3 to 4 years on the basis of a master’s degree or a candidatus degree.

Application for higher education
Iceland does not have a central application and admission system for higher education. You should instead apply directly to the institution you want to be admitted to.

Admission requirements
A Danish upper secondary education provides access to apply for admission to a higher education in Iceland. Many institutions have access restrictions either based on grade point averages or an entrance exam, e.g. doctor and the physiotherapy studies.

Work experience is part of the admission requirements for some of the vocational programs.

Language skills
Teaching in higher education takes place in Icelandic, but more and more courses in English are being set up as exchanges with foreign universities increase.

You do not have to take an English language test to follow instruction in English.

Information on Icelandic language courses can be found on the University of Iceland website.

deadlines The application deadline is between 15 March and 1 June, depending on where you apply.

Recognition of foreign educations in Denmark
If you have completed a publicly recognized education abroad, you can have it assessed by the Danish Agency for Research and Education.

Vocational training in Iceland