Education structure of Sweden

Category: Study Destinations
Posted on September 27, 2019

The school system of Sweden oversees compulsory and voluntary schools. In the past, the government directly controlled the schools, which later reformed, which led the State to take place. Therefore, a system of decentralization was in a place that gave the local authorities more voice in the running of schools. The government acts as an advisory role to meet the academic standards for all schools to strive for excellence.

The government set several significant reforms were :

  • Vocational upper secondary schools should offer a three-year program
  • A full year more than prior schooling
  • Programs in secondary school and higher education to suffice the needs of school students
  • Improvement of Institutes of higher education concerning degree system requirements.

State schools in Sweden are free, and the State looks after the expenses related to :

  • Education
  • All costs for teaching materials
  • Computers
  • Media services
  • School meals
  • Health care
  • Transportation to school



There are many options for children who are below five years old. They can attend:

  • Childcare
  • Preschool
  • Nursery Schools

National Agency for Education oversees childcare that includes preschool children and nursery schools. There are after-school childcare sites to look after toddlers while their parents are at work or indulged at something.


Compulsory Education

The compulsory education system includes:

  • Compulsory school - Grundskolan
  • The Sami school - Sameskolan: School for Sami-speaking children who live in the north of the country
  • Specialskolan - schools for pupils with impaired hearing
  • Grundsärskolan - education for pupils with learning disabilities

Municipalities are obliged to arrange primary classes for children who are six years of age, and since it is compulsory schooling, participation in the class is mandatory. It is mandatory to attend nine years of education for children who are aged seven to sixteen. Children and young people receive education in the national school system.

Primary school also called Grundskola to have two stages:

  1. The first five years - Lag- och mellanstadiet
  2. The last four years - Högstadiet - Lower secondary education

Children can attend public schools or private schools in their locality. Public schools are free, and private schools run in a voucher system. Private schools run after approval from the State and follow the educational guidelines that are set up by the Swedish Government. This approach leads to enrollment in independent and private schools for free.

The base curriculum for primary and lower secondary education in Sweden has several compulsory courses and, some optional ones for senior groups. The second mandatory language is English and starts during the first five years of primary school. A third language can be German, French, or Italian.

Secondary Education - Gymnasieskola

Students who are nearly 16 years old and have completed their primary and lower secondary education attend upper secondary level. The study lasts until the student reaches the age of 20 or complete the level studies.

Swedish secondary education is for three years and is open to all pupils who have completed the nine compulsory years of schooling.

There are 17 different national programs with a combination of compulsory and optional elements. Moreover, these programs have 13 vocational options and four academic choices with some special programs for the disabled.

The eight common core subjects within the 17 national programs include:

  • English
  • Mathematics
  • General Science
  • Religion
  • Social Studies
  • Swedish
  • Arts and Physical Education & Health

The Swedish examination system does not rely on a final examination, but it works on continuous assessment throughout upper secondary education.

The four grades given throughout schooling are:

  1. Pass with special distinction
  2. Pass with distinction
  3. Pass
  4. Fail

Examinations can be

  • Written
  • Oral
  • Project assessments
  • Combination of the above three

Higher Education

Sweden has nearly about 41 higher education institutions, first cycle universities, and Universities. The most prestigious universities are:

  • Lund
  • Uppsala
  • Stockholm
  • Umea

The most popular degrees are humanities, but there is a boost in science studies as well. The undergraduate courses are taught in English and Swedish. Masters program has attracted many international students, with more than 400 masters courses taught in English.

Universities academic year runs for 40 weeks, which makes up two semesters.

  1. The first semester runs from August to January
  2. The second runs from January until June

Sweden's Higher education has adapted to the European standard, which has three cycles:

The first level - grundniva: It runs for two years, after which the student obtains a University Diploma which is known as Högskoleexamen. The University Diploma is usually vocational, while the three-year program is general studies.

After the general studies of three years, one can obtain the kandidatexamen. After which the continuation to the advanced level (advanced nivå) follows, which also corresponds to the European masters.

The master's program is for a year - Magisterexamen or two years - Masterexamen

The final level - Forskarniva lasts for two or four years and results in either of Licentiatexamen or Doktorsexamen. This level is equivalent to Ph.D.


How to apply to universities?

  • For a basic level of studies, students have to prove they have obtained a certificate of completion of secondary education. The best universities usually select students based on their performance.
  • Foreign applicants have to pass the official Swedish language qualification (TISUS). Students whose native language is not English may also have to give the TOEFL and get a minimum score of 173 points.
  • The Cambridge First Certificate is a recognized diploma where students have to achieve at least a grade B.
  • For masters and doctoral studies, students have to have a Bachelor level degree. There are more than 400 master courses taught in English.


Healthcare and Disabled Students in Higher Education

  • Swedish are entitled to get free medical care from the government through University and college health centers.
  • Disabled students are given special attention by Swedish universities with proper facilities on most institutions to meet their requirements.


Top Universities and Courses in Sweden

  • Lund University
  • KTH, Royal Institute of Technology
  • Uppsala University
  • Chalmers University of Technology
  • Stockholm University

Top courses:

  • Aviation
  • Design Studies
  • Engineering Studies
  • Humanities Studies
  • Life Sciences
  • Architecture Studies
  • Journalism and Mass Communication

We hope that the information provided will be useful and helpful to equip with the necessary skills and knowledge to move up in your career. All the Best.

Bhumika Sharma
Bhumika Sharma

Bhumika has more than 4 years of experience as a software engineer. Having done MCA from Dayananda sagar Institutions, Bangalore and BCA from Sikkim Manipal University, Sikkim, she found her calling as the head researcher at PlanAll. In her free time, her 5 year old daughter, Mishka, keeps her busy and happy.

Priti Jog
October 07, 2019 - 07:48am
Priti Jog October 07, 2019 - 07:48am

Thank you for such a wonderful blog and sharing.

Diwang Varma
October 02, 2019 - 12:41pm
Diwang Varma October 02, 2019 - 12:41pm

Awesome info! I am really thankful.

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