Best universities in Sweden 2018

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

September 12 2017
Uppsala University

Sweden is a Scandinavian country renowned for its stunning vistas, history and culture. Its landscape is filled with lakes, mountains and forests and in the more urban areas, magnificent architecture couples with striking coast views. Along with fascinating galleries, museums and the Liseburg amusement park, you will have plenty to explore.

The population of around 10 million are spread across Sweden’s regions: Norrland in the north, Svealand in the centre, and Götaland in the south. Hundreds of islands are easily accessible by boat and the Archipelago of Gothenburg is a favourite tourist attraction. 

An ideal base for travelling around Europe, Sweden borders both Norway and Finland, and is close to Denmark. Locals primarily speak Swedish and Finnish, but English is widely spoken too, and the currency is the Swedish krona.


Best universities worldwide

Best universities in Europe
Best universities in the UK
Best universities in Germany
Best universities in the Netherlands
Best universities in the United States
Best universities in Spain


To study in Sweden as an international student, you will have to apply through the Swedish admissions website with an application form, evidence of your eligibility and proficiency in English, and meet the entry requirements of the qualification. You can choose a maximum of four bachelor’s programmes to apply to. Ensure you consult the individual universities for application procedures and deadlines.

However, for those who are finishing their secondary school studies, the deadline to apply for autumn places at Swedish undergraduate programmes is the previous January. Selection happens in March and many places will be taken by the time you get your results, although you may be offered a place if there is still availability. These are the best universities in Sweden based on the Times Higher Education World University Rankings 2018.

Top 5 universities in Sweden 

1. Karolinska Institute

Karolinska Institute prides itself on its world-class medical research. It frequently ranks as one of the best and most prestigious universities in the world to study medicine. 

Based in Solna, near the city of Stockholm, the university was founded in 1810 to train army surgeons. It has since expanded to include two campuses – the second is in Flemingsberg, further south of Stockholm.

The university offers a range of health and life sciences degrees and postgraduate qualifications. For undergraduates this namely consists of medicine, psychology, psychotherapy, dentistry, midwifery, nursing, audiology, optometry, physiotherapy, radiography, occupational therapy and speech and language pathology among others. 

The Karolinska University Hospital is located close by, where students undertake training and research. Exchange programmes are also in place with other universities internationally, including in Australia, China, Denmark, Finland and the Netherlands.

The Nobel Assembly at the university is among those entitled to submit nominations for the Nobel Laureate for physiology/medicine. Of the eight Swedes who have received the award, five studied at Karolinska.

In addition to these Nobel laureates, other notable alumni include Nobel Prize winner and neurophysiologist Torsten Nils Wiesel, Nobel Prize winner and physiologist Ulf von Euler, Nobel Prize laureate in medicine and scientist Hugo Therell, physician Lars Leksell, the investor of radiosurgery and Swedish politicians Ewa Bjorling and Bengt Westerberg.

2. Uppsala University

Founded in 1477, Uppsala University is the oldest university in Sweden and began with a strong emphasis on theology. It had just 50 students when it opened. Its historical background juxtaposes with its now very modern campuses situated in the city of Uppsala.

There are three disciplinary fields at the university: arts and social sciences, medicine and pharmacy and science and technology with about 70 undergraduate courses. Law, medicine and psychology are among the most popular choices for new students.

With increasing application numbers at Uppsala, the university is becoming more selective in its admissions process. It has also established exchange agreements with over 400 universities across the world.

Reflecting the university’s religious beginnings, the cathedral bell is rung at key academic ceremonies. Another of the university’s traditions is its white student cap, which was first worn in the 1840s by Uppsala students to identify themselves, and it is donned on 30 April, ‘Walpurgis Eve’, each year to celebrate the arrival of spring.

The university is also home to the oldest botanical gardens in the country, which has more than 9,000 species of plants. The gardens had been part of the Royal Castle and were donated by King Gustav III.

Crown Princess Victoria of Sweden graduated from the university with a bachelor of arts in 2009, while Alfred Nobel was given an honorary doctorate from there in 1893.

Eight winners of the Nobel Prize have been affiliated with the university. 


Student experience in Sweden

Why is going to a small university beneficial?
Students could soon invoke their consumer rights
Stockholm is named one of the best university cities 
Sweden is one of the best destinations to work in as an expat
The adequately sized university?


3. Lund University 

Lund University is a public university in Sweden located in the city of Lund and  also has campuses in Malmö and Helsingborg.

The university has more than 40,000 students, 3,000 of them postgraduate and 7,000 teaching staff, meaning that it is considered one of the largest universities in the country. 

Lund University library was established in 1668 - the same year as the university - and is one of Sweden's oldest and largest libraries. The university is also organised into more than 20 research centres and institutes.

The city of Lund itself dates back to 990 meaning that there was more than 1,000 years of history among the cobbled streets alongside more modern restaurants, shops and venues. 

The university colours are dark blue and bronze as and the motto is Ad utrumque, which translates to "Prepared for both the book and the sword.

4. Stockholm University

Stockholm University was founded as a college in 1878 and has had university status since 1960. 

It is home to more than 70,000 students making it one of the largest universities in Scandinavia. 

The university is set in the middle of the National City Park and is surrounded by extensive woodland, plants and trees, including some 800 species of flowering plants and over 100 species of birds, with the Baltic Sea inlet of Brunnsviken and beaches to its north.  

However the university is also a short metro ride from the city centre so students can experience the city's cultural attractions. 

5. KTH Royal Institute of Technology

KTH Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm is Sweden’s largest and oldest technical university. 

The university is a strong research and education institution covering a multitude of areas, including natural sciences, engineering, architecture, industrial management and urban planning.

Notable alumni include actor Dolph Lundgren, chief executive of Elsevier Erik Engstrom and co-founder of Volvo Gustaf Larson. 


Top universities in Sweden 2018

Click each institution to view its full World University Rankings 2018 results 

Sweden Rank 2018 World University Rank 2018  University City
1 =38 Karolinska Institute Stockholm 
2 =86 Uppsala University Uppsala
3 93 Lund University Lund
4 =134 Stockholm University Stockholm 
5 =173 KTH Royal Institute of Technology Stockholm 
6 =198 University of Gothenburg Gothenburg
7 201–250 Chalmers University of Technology Gothenburg
8 251–300 Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences Uppsala
8 251–300 Umeå University Umeå
10 351–400 Linköping University Linköping
10 351–400 Örebro University Örebro

Read more: Best universities in the world

Have your say

Log in or register to post comments

Related articles