Study in Iceland
Thanks to the Vikings, Iceland isn’t named after the fact that it’s an icy place (at least not anymore). But, make no mistake – Iceland has plenty of snow and glaciers, just like its ice-covered counterpart, Greenland. Iceland is also a place full of mythical wonders, located in the North Atlantic Ocean, with active volcanoes and glacial rivers covering its tiny land area – a land of fire and ice, if you will.
Ranking number 3 on the World Happiness Index, Iceland is home to peaceful and adventurous people. For international students, if you want to find a unique place to pursue your Master’s or Bachelor’s degree, you’ll find plenty of mountains to climb in Iceland.
Why study in Iceland?
1. Public universities are free
If you want to enrol at Icelandic public universities, rejoice! There are no tuition costs you need to worry about; there's only a registration fee of 100–250 EUR, which allows you to spend money on travelling, finding great accommodation, or buying enough clothes to keep you warm.
2. English is widely spoken
English may not be an official language, but almost any local speaks it fluently. That's because English is taught as a second language in schools. So, drop any fears about language barriers or being misunderstood — you won't have to face them here. Actually, you shouldn't be surprised to discover that many Icelandic people speak other foreign languages as well, including Danish, German, French, and others.
3. Experience the local tradition of Science Trips
There's a local habit called "vísindaferð". It takes place on Fridays, when groups of students often visit a local organisation or an interesting place/attraction. You will enjoy taking part in small tasks, being given a tour, and savouring a few snacks and drinks.
4. Live in one of the most eco-friendly countries
Thanks to its abundant natural resources, Iceland is one of the most eco-friendly nations in the world. Around 80% of its energy needs are covered by hydro and geothermal power. In Reykjavik, they even had hydrogen-powered buses at some point, and there are initiatives to bring them back!
5. Visit local landscapes and try out relaxing activities
It's no secret that Iceland has some of the most beautiful and iconic natural landscapes. While living here, you should visit places like the Gullfoss Falls, the Thingvellir National Park, Seljalandsfoss, the active geysers, the Hallgrimskirkja modern cathedral, etc.
And don't forget abut the hot springs — courtesy of geothermal activity — which allow anyone to enjoy a warm and relaxing bath at any time during the year!
What is it like to study in Iceland?
Universities in Iceland are known for having small classroom sizes. This means that, as a student, you don’t need to feel intimidated to ask questions or participate in a discussion. Plus, your instructors will be able to give you extra, individual assistance if you need it.
While you attend university in Iceland, you’ll also be able to enjoy a thriving social life outside of your classes. With plenty of mountains and volcanoes to climb, or rivers to sail, you’ll be able to immerse yourself in plenty of Icelandic culture, while also getting your Bachelor’s or Master’s degree.
What to study in Iceland?
Did you know that 1 in 10 Iceland residents will publish a book at some point in their lives? There must be some incredibly smart people there! What do all of those geniuses study? Well, if you’re going to Iceland for your Bachelor’s or Master’s degree, you can find a range of programmes and subjects to expand your mind.
Here are some disciplines for you to consider in Iceland:
- Legal Studies in Iceland
- Cultural Studies in Iceland
- Computer Science degrees in Iceland
- Environmental Studies in Iceland
- Management degrees in Iceland
Which universities and colleges to attend in Iceland?
Keep in mind what we said above: university education in Iceland is very, very new. So, universities are just learning how to walk and find their balance. But if you’re interested in studying in Iceland, a wonderful university for you to keep in mind would be University Centre of the West Fjords.
How to apply
Each university in Iceland has its own system on their website that allows future students to apply for and enrol in their degree programmes. So, once you select the university of your choice, you can go through their application and submit your materials there.
Here are some of the basic requirements you’ll need for every application:
- A scan of your diploma (high school or Bachelor’s degree)
- A transcript/record of your previous courses
- A scan of your passport and/or birth certificate
- Your CV
- Testing scores
- Evidence of scholarship or funding
- Letters of recommendation (between 2-3)
- Portfolio and/or writing samples
Helpful ways to make sure you qualify for a university in Iceland
Take Preparation Courses
These kinds of courses enable degree-seeking students to get an extra educational boost just before they start their Master’s degree or other post-graduate degree programmes.
Try a pre-M.B.A., pre-Law, or pre-Medicine programme, as well as any other foundation or preparation courses that will allow you to study in the degree programme of your choice.
Improve your English through an English-language prep course
If you’re attending a degree programme in Iceland you will need to prove that your language skills are good enough to participate in the classes and understand the lectures. These courses will also prepare you for any of the English-language tests that universities require.
To apply to study in Iceland, you’ll need to provide proof you have a diploma for your English proficiency.
The certificates generally accepted by the universities in Iceland are:
Still, you should always check on your university’s website, just to be sure what the exact requirements are.
Living in Iceland
Let's take a closer look at tuition and living expenses in Iceland:
If you study at one of the public universities in Iceland, you won’t have to pay any tuition fees. You will, however, have to pay a one-time, non-refundable registration fee, ranging between 100 and 250 EUR.
Private universities are a different story. Their tuition fees can be quite expensive and they change depending on whether you’re an EU/EEA or non-EU/EEA student. Always check the official university website to find out what tuition applies to you.
Living costs in Iceland
Because of its rather isolated location and tundra climate, living in Iceland can be quite expensive. But plenty of international students manage to get by thanks to the inexpensive tuition prices. Plus, with all of the natural beauty and landmarks all over Iceland, there are plenty of ways to have fun for free.
In general, you should prepare a minimum of 900–1,000 EUR/month. Here is a breakdown of living costs in Iceland:
- accommodation: 600–800 EUR/month, sometimes higher depending on the type of housing
- food and groceries: 300–400 EUR/month
- monthly transport pass: 37 EUR; students might receive discounts
- books and study materials: 250 EUR/semester
- leisure activities: 150–180 EUR/month
- three-course meal for two at a mid-range restaurant: 90 EUR
- 1 litre of milk: 1.10 EUR
- 1 loaf of bread: 2.50 EUR
- 1 cappuccino: 3.60 EUR
The Republic of Iceland is a country of northwestern Europe, comprising the island of Iceland and its outlying islets in the North Atlantic Ocean between Greenland, Norway, the British Isles, and the Faroe Islands. Iceland is a part of the world- encircling undersea mountain system that is the locus of new crust formation. About 11% of Iceland is covered by glaciers. By far the largest of the ice caps is Vatnajökull in Southeast Iceland with an size equal to all the glaciers on the European mainland put together.Interesting facts about Iceland
- In a survey conducted in 1998, a majority of Icelanders (at least, at the time) believed in Elves. I’m sure living in Iceland can give you that feeling too, if you’re there long enough.
- There are zero mosquitos in Iceland.
- Iceland prohibited beer consumption until 1989. Can you think of anything bleaker?
- There is no McDonalds in Iceland. What a magical place!
- In 2011, when Iceland was updating its constitution, they allowed the public to make suggestions via Facebook. Press “like” for due process; “share” for taxation with representation!
Universities, colleges and schools in Iceland
- University of Iceland (1 Distance Learning course)
How to Apply to a Master's in Iceland
If you've decided to study a Master's degree at a university in Iceland, you will have to gather the right documents to prove that you fit the university requirements. Provide complete personal information, previous qualifications, financial information, and a personal statement.
What documents do I need to provide to apply in Iceland?
To apply to a university in Iceland you will likely be asked to provide some of the following documents:
- birth certificate;
- recent photos;
- your passport or national identity card;
- one or more reference letters from past employers or teachers;
- copies of past diplomas or certificates, including your graduated Bachelor's degree;
- academic transcripts;
- letter of intent;
- Curriculum Vitae;
- Some form of proof that you can support your stay in the country during your studies.
Depending on the subject or specialization of your chosen Master's, you might also be asked to provide scores for additional tests like the GRE, GMAT or LSAT. Check if your programme requires any of these, or others.
The list of documents depends on the specific requirements of universities in Iceland so you might be asked to include additional documents. It’s also likely you’ll have to provide official English translations of your documents, or translations in the local language.
Prove your English skills
Because you’ll study an international degree in English, you'll have to present a language certificate. Some popular options for international students are IELTS, TOEFL or C1 Advanced language certificates. You’ll have to meet a minimum language score set by the university, and your test scores shouldn’t be older than 1-2 years. If you don’t meet the minimum language requirements, you will have to improve your skills and scores by taking an English preparation course.
Application deadlines for Iceland
The deadlines for applying to a Master's in Iceland are usually during summer (June-July), or in winter (January-February). Keep in mind that some universities don’t have application deadlines, which means you can apply whenever you are ready.
To avoid delays or missed deadlines send your required documents with plenty of time in advance.