Best universities in Sweden 2017

Explore the top universities in Sweden using data from the Times Higher Education's World University Rankings
November 9 2016

Uppsala University

Uppsala University
Uppsala University

View universities in Sweden ranked in the 2016-17 World University Rankings


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. The Archipelago of Gothenburg is a favourite tourist attraction. Whether you want to see the Northern Lights, go skiing, wander botanical gardens or hit the shops, Sweden is perfect.

It may have a reputation for chilly weather but the climate varies depending on which part of the country you’re in. Winters can be cold and dark but the summers are bright with long hours of sunshine. Götaland, where the cities of Gothenburg and Malmö are located, has milder weather, while further north in Svealand, where the capital Stockholm is, there is more frequent snow. Norrland is sparsely populated and has seen brisk sub-zero temperatures in past winters.


- Best universities in Europe


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.

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.

Find some of Sweden’s best universities below:

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, biomedicine, biomedical laboratory science, psychology, psychotherapy, public health sciences, dentistry, dental hygiene, midwifery, nursing, specialist nursing, audiology, odontological prophylaxis, optometry, physiotherapy, radiography, occupational therapy, and speech and language pathology.

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: Hugo Theorell, 1955, for his work on oxidation enzymes; Ragnar Granit, 1967 (shared), for discoveries about visual processes in the eye; Ulf von Euler, 1970 (shared), “for discoveries about humoral transmittors in the nerve terminals; Sune Bergström and Bengt Samuelsson, 1982, for their work on prostaglandins and related biologically active substances.

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.

Uppsala University

Founded in 1477, Uppsala University is the oldest university in Sweden and began with a strong emphasis on theology. It had around 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 numbers applying to study 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: Professor Allvar Gullstrand, 1911 (Medicine), for his work on the dioptrics of the eye; otologist Robert Bárány, 1914 (Medicine), for his work on the physiology of balance; Professor The Svedberg, 1926 (Chemistry), for his work on disperse systems; Archbishop of Sweden Nathan Söderblom, 1930 (Peace), for promoting unity across Christian churches; Professor Manne Siegbahn, 1924 (Physics), for research on X-ray spectroscopy; Professor Arne Tiselius, 1948 (Chemistry), for his research on electrophoresis and adsorption analysis; former Secretary-General of the United Nations, Dag Hammarskjöld, 1961 (Peace), for his peacekeeping efforts; and Professor Kai Siegbahn, 1981 (Physics), for contributing to the development of high-resolution electron spectroscopy.

University of Gothenburg

Established in 1891 and given full university status in 1907, the University of Gothenburg has established a reputation as one of Sweden’s foremost research institutions. Located in the city centre of Gothenburg, the second largest city in the country, the university has a strong research focus. It is close to the coast and around 80 per cent of all marine research in Sweden is carried out at the University of Gothenburg.

The university has eight faculties – Fine, Applied and Performing Arts; Education; Social Sciences; Arts; Information Technology; Science; the Sahigrenska Academy (medicine, odontology and health sciences); and Business, Economics and Law. It takes a cross-discipline approach and has proved a popular choice for students, frequently ranking among the top universities in the world.

There are around 30 research centres at Gothenburg. Most of the courses are taught in Swedish but the university offers around 70 undergraduate courses in English. The university has a number of campuses designated to particular departments – for example, journalism students are based at Campus Linné, while political science students are at Campus Haga.

The university library was established originally as the Göteborg Museum Library in 1861 but has since expanded extensively. A key aim of the university is to be innovative, and with thousands of researchers at the university, there is much opportunity to further your studies past undergraduate level.

Among the university’s alumni are author and journalist Jonas Jonasson, who wrote The Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared; philosopher Nick Bostrom; poet and critic Susanna Roxman; and actor Martin Wallström. US politician Hillary Clinton was given an honorary doctorate by the university in 2007. 

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