Best universities in Denmark

Explore the top universities in Denmark using data from the Times Higher Education's World University Rankings

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September 14 2020


With the Scandinavian peninsula to its north and Germany to its south, Denmark is a draw for students from across the world. It has excellent English-language study opportunities at a wide range of great learning institutions. Tuition is free for Swiss students and any citizen of the European Economic Area.

Historically, Denmark has been a seafaring nation and the massive Arctic island of Greenland remains an autonomous Danish dependent territory. William Shakespeare, who never visited the country, set his most famous tragedy, Hamlet, among the machinations of the Danish royal court. While Denmark retains a monarchy to this day, the Danish royals are now figureheads of a constitutional democracy.

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Denmark is a socially progressive nation with a long history of secular, democratic ideals such as freedom of expression and equal rights for all citizens. This includes a history of liberal thinkers such as philosopher Søren Kierkegaard and the German physician who became de facto regent of Denmark, Johann Struensee.

Such is the level of English fluency in Denmark that it is possible to get by as a student without needing to know Danish – although many Danes will appreciate students who make the effort to learn the language.

Below are the best universities to study at in Denmark according to the Times Higher Education World University Rankings 2021

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Top 3 universities in Denmark

1. University of Copenhagen

The University of Copenhagen is one of the premier European universities, with a campus in the centre of Denmark’s thriving capital. It consistently performs well in social sciences and the humanities.

The university is an established research centre, which belongs to the prestigious International Alliance of Research Universities, a network of research-intensive institutions which also includes University of California, Berkeley, University of Oxford, University of Cambridge and Yale University

While many courses at the university are taught in Danish, English courses are also plentiful at Copenhagen for both undergraduate and postgraduate degrees in a wide range of fields, from experimental medicine to theology. The university operates on a credits system, giving students the opportunity to take new courses in different schools each semester, so students here have more flexibility than they would, for example, in the United Kingdom.

Founded in 1479, the university has had countless influential figures pass through its doors, such as astronomer Ole Rømer, who was the first person to measure the speed of light. Famous alumni also include two recent Danish prime ministers, Lars Løkke Rasmussen and Helle Thorning-Schmidt. The university has an established and extensive alumni network for students who wish to use its resources and contacts upon graduating.

2. Aarhus University

Aarhus is a city on the east coast of Denmark’s Jutland peninsula and the university campus is located in the city centre. As well as being a leading research institution, Aarhus is a university well known for its arts subjects. 

There are more than 60 courses taught in English at Aarhus at both an undergraduate and postgraduate level. A Danish green-card programme allows international students to stay in Denmark up to six months after the end of their degree, and Aarhus has a dedicated job bank established to help graduates find a job in their field in this time.

Former secretary general of NATO Anders Fogh Rasmussen is an alumnus of Aarhus, as is Lene Hau, a physicist who led a team at Harvard that was able to slow and stop light. Co-founder of Google Maps Lars Rasmussen (no relation to Anders) also attended.

3. Technical University of Denmark

Located 15 kilometres north of Copenhagen, the Technical University of Denmark (DTU) stands at the forefront of engineering institutions across the European continent, having merged with five other research centres in 2007.

Undergraduate courses are taught in either Danish or English, with degrees such as a BSc in general engineering offered in English. The master’s programme with a focus on modern engineering is taught entirely in English. The university also offers courses in conversational Danish and strives to find accommodation for all of its foreign exchange students.

An example of the ground-breaking research undertaken at the university is the work in creating translucent concrete, a scheme that is part of the EU-funded Brightwall project involving embedding optic fibres into concrete to create a screen.

Nobel Prize in Literature laureate Henrik Pontoppidan attended the university when it was still a polytechnic. In more recent years, attendees have included Andreas Mogensen, the first Dane to fly in space, and Danish international footballer Ebbe Sand.

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Top universities in Denmark 2021

Click each institution to view its full World University Rankings 2021 profile 

 World University Rank 2021  Denmark Rank 2021  University   City 
 84  1 University of Copenhagen  Copenhagen 
 106  2 Aarhus University  Aarhus 
 =187  3 Technical University of Denmark  Lyngby 
 201–250  =4 Aalborg University  Aalborg 
 201–250  =4 Copenhagen Business School  Copenhagen 
 251–300  6 University of Southern Denmark  Odense 
 601–800  7 Roskilde University  Roskilde 

Read more: Best universities in the world

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