July 25, 2024

Iceland is becoming a popular destination for international students from all over the world who want to study in Europe due to the high standards of education and well-equipped universities.

This short guide will take you through what tuition-free study in Iceland for international students looks like.

Below is some basic information for international students who want to study in Iceland.

  • Location: Iceland is a Nordic island country located between Norway and Greenland.
  • Capital: Reykjavik
  • Climate: Iceland has a mostly mild coastal climate with cool summers and mild winters.
  • Population: 360,000 people. The population is cosmopolitan with people coming from various cultural backgrounds.
  • Language: The official language is Icelandic, though English is also widely understood and spoken.
  • Culture: Iceland has a rich and unique culture that emphasizes music, literature, and the arts.
    Higher Education System in Iceland

Universities and Colleges
Iceland has several universities and colleges that offer a wide range of undergraduate and postgraduate programs.


Universities in Iceland offer bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral programs in various fields. These are mostly offered in Icelandic. Some graduate programs are however offered in English.

Research and Innovation


Higher education institutions in Iceland emphasize strongly on research and innovation as part of the study program with cutting-edge research being carried out in most disciplines.


There are increased efforts to attract foreign students and scholars to pursue their studies in Iceland.


University tuition fees in Iceland are lower than those in other European countries. International students are required to pay either registration fees or tuition fees, depending on the university. Also, there are a few funding and scholarship opportunities available.

Student Life

There are several extracurricular activities like sports and cultural gatherings that international students can participate in. They can also join clubs and organizations which often hold social gatherings for their members.
List of Universities in Iceland

Public Universities

University of Iceland
Holar University College
University of Akureyri
Private Universities

Reykjavik University

Iceland University of the Arts
Bifrost University
Agricultural University of Iceland.

Academic Calendar

The university academic calendar in Iceland generally has two semesters as follows:

  • Fall Semester (Autumn Semester) – This semester begins in late August or early September. Classes run from September to December.
  • Winter Break – This starts in late December and runs until early January.
  • Spring Semester – This semester lasts from January to May or early June.
  • Summer Break – This lasts from June to August. During this period students do internships, research projects, or summer courses. The beginning of the summer break marks the end of the academic year.


There are no government scholarships offered for international students. There are however some scholarships offered by individual institutions. These include:

Reykjavik University Scholarships
This institution offers scholarships for full-time students at both graduate and undergraduate levels.The Sustainable Future Scholarship is a partial fee scholarship offered to international graduate students.

International undergraduate students have the opportunity to be on the Dean’s list, which offers them the opportunity to get a partial fee scholarship.

Language Study Scholarships
There are scholarships available for the study of the Icelandic language, history, and literature. These are offered at the University of Iceland and Reykjavik University.

Admission Requirements

Below are the general admission requirements that apply to most of the universities.

a) Educational Requirements

Bachelor’s Programs – The applicant should have completed a high school or matriculation examination or its equivalent. Note that some study programs e.g. medicine, law, and economics may have additional entry requirements.

Graduate Programs – The applicant should have a bachelor’s degree in a subject that corresponds to the targeted graduate program.

b) Language Proficiency

Undergraduate programs are taught in Icelandic, while graduate programs are taught in both Icelandic and English.
International students applying for undergraduate programs must show proficiency in Icelandic, while those applying for graduate programs must produce either TOEFL or IELTS test results to show they are proficient in English.

c) Application Process

There is no central admission system in Iceland, so applicants must apply directly to the universities for admission.
Application deadlines are also set by the universities, usually falling within the spring semester preceding admission in the autumn semester.
Some universities require international students to pay an application fee.

d) Visa and Residence Permit

International students from outside the EEA and EFTA need a student visa and/or a residence permit to study in Iceland.
These requirements are dependent on the applicant’s nationality and the duration of the selected study program.

University of Iceland

The University of Iceland is one of the private universities in Iceland that does not charge tuition fees.
Admission requirements

Undergraduate: Applicants should have done an Icelandic matriculation exam (studentspróf) or be able to show proof of having attained an equivalent level of study.

Graduate: Requirements are based on the individual faculties at which the programs are offered.

Language of instruction

All the courses at the undergraduate level are taught in Icelandic. At the graduate level, there are a few courses taught in English.

Application Fee

All citizens of countries outside the EEA/EFTA who apply for studies at the University of Iceland are required to pay an application fee of ISK 8000. This fee facilitates the processing and handling of applications and is charged as part of the application process.

Registration Fee

The annual registration fee at the University of Iceland is ISK 75,000.
New students joining the University in the spring semester must, however, pay a registration fee is ISK 55,000.


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