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Structure of Educational System
Pre-higher Education System
Higher Education System
Administrative structure of higher education  
Admissions to Higher Education and Recognition


Types of higher education institutions:

Universiteter (Universities)

Vitenskapelige høyskoler (Specialized University Colleges)

Statlige høyskoler (State University Colleges)

Kunsthøyskoler (University Colleges of the Arts)

Private høyskoler (Accredited private institutions of higher education or private institutions of higher education with programme accreditation)


School leaving and higher education credentials:

Vitnemål Fra Videregående Skole



Candidatus/ta Magisterii Grad (phased out in 2005)

Sivilarkitekt (will be phased out in 2007)

Sivilingeniør (will be phased out in 2007)



Magister Artium (will be phased out in 2007)


Doctor (phased out since 2002/3)

Doctor Philosophiae

Philosophiae doctor




Pre-higher education:

Duration of compulsory education:

Age of entry: 6

Age of exit: 16

Structure of school system:


Type of school providing this education: Grunnskole, Barnetrinnet; Primary School

Length of program in years: 7

Age level from: 6 to: 13

Lower Secondary

Type of school providing this education: Grunnskole,Ungdomstrinnet; Secondary School

Length of program in years: 3

Age level from: 13 to: 16

Upper Secondary

Type of school providing this education: Videregående Skole;  Upper Secondary School

Length of program in years: 3

Age level from: 16 to: 19

Certificate/diploma awarded: Vitnemål Fra Videregående Skole


Length of program in years: 3

Age level from: 16 to: 19

Certificate/diploma awarded: Craft/Journeyman Certificate


Type of school providing this education: Apprenticeship

Length of program in years: 3

Age level from: 16 to: 19

Certificate/diploma awarded: Trade Certificate; Journeyman's Certificate

School education:

As from 1997, Norwegian children start school during the calendar year in which they reach the age of 6. Compulsory education covers 10 years and consists of three stages: primary stage grades 1-4 (age 6-10); intermediate stage grades 5-7 (ages 10-13) and lower secondary stage grades 8-10 (age 13-16). Upper secondary education lasts for three years. It consists of either general or vocational studies. General studies comprise the Foundation Course (first year), Advanced Course I (second year) and Advanced Course II (third year) leading to the Certificate of Upper Secondary Education. Vocational studies comprise the Foundation Course (first year), Advanced Course I (second year) and either Advanced Course II (third year) or Practical training/Apprenticeship (1-2 years) or a Trade skill test leading to a Certificate. The final examination (trade or journeyman's examination) is the same, regardless of whether training took place at school or in the workplace. Pupils in vocational courses are to be given the opportunity to obtain the additional qualifications required for higher studies by studying for one extra year.

Higher education:

All higher education institutions are subject to the authority of the Ministry of Education and Research. Higher education in Norway is mainly offered at state institutions, notably universities (6), specialized university colleges (6), university colleges (31) and art colleges (2). All accredited institutions, including private institutions, are covered by the same Act which entered into force on August 1, 2005. The degrees and titles that each institution can award and their professional and educational programmes, as well as the duration and specific requirements concerning breadth and depth are all laid down in the Royal Decree of 11 October 2002 (last revision 21 December 2005). In June 2001, the Norwegian Parliament (Storting) passed an extensive reform of higher education, the so-called Quality Reform. The main points include a new degree structure: Bachelor, of 3 years' duration; Master of 2 years' duration, and PhD of 3 years' duration; a credit system based on ECTS was introduced with 60 credits (studiepoeng) being equivalent to 1 year's full-time study; the possibility for some types of colleges to become universities; the redefinition of governing bodies and management of the institutions; an increase in student loans/grants; priority is given to the improvement of teaching and assessment; and the introduction of mutual and formalized agreements between students and institutions. Priority is given to participation in international programmes and exchange agreements. Higher education institutions strive to offer students a period of study abroad as a component of their degree programme. Institutions are encouraged to cooperate with public institutions in developing countries. More programmes in English have been introduced. Institutions have been given greater autonomy in academic and financial matters. They have the main responsibility for the quality assurance of their own provisions and for the follow up of quality development strategies and use of available resources. The Norwegian Agency for Quality Assurance in Education (NOKUT) was established on January 1 2003. Its purpose is to make decisions on general recognition of foreign education, to oversee the quality of Norwegian higher education by means of evaluation, accreditation and approval of quality systems, institutions, and course programmes. These tasks should be carried out in such a way that the institutions can use the results to develop their own quality system. NOKUT represents Norway in the ENIC-NARIC network and is the information agency described in the Lisbon Convention on Recognition.

Main laws/decrees governing higher education:

Decree: Lov om helsepersonell m.v. (last revised in 2003) Year: 2001

Concerns: Health care personnel training

Decree: Opplaeringslova (last revised in 2005) Year: 1999

Concerns: Teacher education

Decree: Royal Decree FOR-2002-10-11-1124 ( Year: 2005

Concerns: Degrees and Titles in Higher Education

Decree: Universities and University Colleges Act Year: 2005

Concerns: All public institutions of higher education, both public and private

Academic year:

Classes from: Aug to: Jun

Long vacation from: 15 Jun to: 15 Aug

Languages of instruction: Norwegian, English

Stages of studies:


University level studies:

University level first stage: Høgskolekandidat, Bachelor (new system) Cand.mag. (old system):

NEW SYSTEM: The Høgskolekandidat (College candidate) degree is obtained after two years  of study. This degree may be built upon to obtain a Bachelor's degree. The degree is offered at state university colleges and a few private institutions.The Bachelor's degree is awarded by all institutions subject to the Universities and University Colleges Act. It is obtained after a minimum of three years' study. The national university colleges of the arts offer a Bachelor's degree of four years' duration.OLD SYSTEM: The first degree, Candidatus/Candidata magisterii (Cand.mag.) was normally obtained after three-and-a-half years in Mathematics and Natural Sciences and four years in Arts and Social Sciences. The specialized Høgskolekandidat degree of two to three years' duration could be built upon to obtain a Some institutions offered a four-year Høgskolekandidat degree. The Cand.mag. degree was awarded by all universities, state university colleges, art colleges and a good number of other higher education institutions, both public and private, and could, in that sense, be described as a "national" degree. The pre-reform degree candidatus/candidata magisteri was phased out in 2005.

University level second stage: Master (new system), Candidatus/Candidata (old system):

NEW SYSTEM: The Master's Degree is a new degree created by the 2001 reform. Normally, it requires two years of study beyond the Bachelor's Degree. In some fields of study the Master's degree is awarded after a five-year one-tier programme. The degrees of Candidata/Candidatus medicinae/psychologiae/theologiae have been retained from the old system (see below). Studies last for six years. OLD SYSTEM: The second level (postgraduate) degree usually consists of one-and-a-half to two years' additional study and requires a main subject based upon the intermediate level examination in the same subject as the Cand.mag. degree. The degree is called Candidatus/Candidata (Cand.) followed by the name of the field of study. An important part of this degree is independent research work in the form of a thesis. Graduate degrees are offered by universities and university colleges, several state colleges and some private colleges. The pre-reform degree candidatus/candidata xxx (the various post-graduate degrees) will be phased out by 2007.

University level third stage: PhD, Philosophiae doctor:

The PhD degree programmes generally consist of three years of study following completion of the second level degree or other professional degree programmes and are essentially research programmes. The title Doctor Philosophiae is more general and can be obtained in all fields without a specific course of study. Doctor's Degree programmes are offered by the universities, most university colleges, some State colleges and several private institutions.


Teacher education:

Training of pre-primary and primary/basic school teachers

The minimum qualification to teach in pre-primary schools (førskole) is a Førskolelærer qualification which requires three years of training at university colleges of education. The minimum qualification to teach in primary schools (grunnskole, barnetrinnet) is an Allmennlærer (general subject teacher - 4 years of training) or Faglærer (single subject teacher) qualification which requires 3 years of training offered at colleges of education.

Training of secondary school teachers

Allmennlærer, Faglærer or a first university degree, based on 3 years' study, qualifies to teach in lower secondary schools. Allmennlærer with one year of additional subjects (one subject must have been studied for at least one year), a higher university degree requiring five to six years of study plus an additional one year of teacher training programmes qualifies to teach in upper secondary schools.

Training of higher education teachers

There are no official requirements but in practice all higher education teachers have a higher university degree.


Non-traditional studies:

Distance higher education

There are several distance education institutions offering more than 3500 courses. All courses must be approved by the Ministry of Education and Research. Most courses are vocational or lead to formal qualifications. Several schools are now cooperating with higher education institutions in setting up courses in e.g. Media Studies, Economics and Administration.

Other forms of non-formal higher education

The Norwegian Association for Adult Education (VOFO) is an umbrella organization for the study associations. VOFO also assists the Ministry of Education and Research in matters relating to information on adult education. 28,000 adults follow courses at university level.




Administration & co-ordination:

Responsible authorities:

Kunnskapsdepartementet (Ministry of Education and Research)

Head: Øystein Djupedal, Minister

Administrative officer: Toril Johansson, Director General, Department of Higher Education

PO Box 8119 Dep.
Akersgata 44
N-0032 Oslo

Tel: +47(22) 249090

Fax: +47(22) 249544




Role of governing body: Responsible for all higher education institutions


Universitets-og Høgskolerådet (Norwegian Association of Higher Education Institutions)

Head: Gunnar Stave, President

Administrative officer: Ola Stave, Secretary-General

Pilestredet 46 B
N-0167 Oslo

Tel: +47(22) 453950

Fax: +47(22) 453951




Role of governing body: To develop strategies for the Norwegian system of higher education institutions, to promote coordination and division of labour within the higher education sector and to serve as a common instrument for the member institutions in their international cooperation.


Nasjonalt organ for kvalitet i utdanninga - NOKUT (Norwegian Agency for Quality Assurance in Education)

Head: Oddvar Haugland

PO Box 1708 Vika
Kronprinsensgate 9
N-0121 Oslo

Tel: +47(21) 021800

Fax: +47(21) 021802




Role of governing body: Through evaluation, accreditation and recognition of quality systems, institutions and course provisions, the purpose of NOKUT is to supervise and help to develop the quality of higher education in Norway. In addition, it considers individual applications for general recognition of foreign qualifications. NOKUT is also the Norwegian ENIC-NARIC Centre responsible for providing foreign institutions and partners with information on the Norwegian educational system and the system for recognition of foreign higher education qualifications.


Senter for internasjonalisering av høyere utdanning - SIU (Norwegian Centre for International Cooperation in Higher Education)

Head: Knut Brautaset, Chairman of the Board

P.O. Box 7800

Tel: +47(55) 308800

Fax: +45(55) 308801




Role of governing body: SIU is a knowledge and service organization with the mission of promoting and facilitating cooperation, standardization, mobility, and the overcoming of cultural barriers to communication and exchange within the realm of higher education on an international level. The Centre is charged with the important task of coordinating national measures according to official Norwegian policy within the field of internationalisation. The Centre is Norway's official agency for international programmes and measures related to higher education. It is commissioned by several national and international public organizations to administer programmes within all levels of education. In addition to programme administration, SIU is responsible for promoting Norway as an education and research nation, as well as providing information and advisory services within the field of internationalisation in education.




Admission to university-level studies

Name of secondary school credential required: Vitnemål Fra Videregående Skole

Minimum score/requirement: Completed and Passed ("Fullført og bestått")

Alternatives to credentials: Applicants who do not have a secondary school leaving certificate but who:1) are 23 or more 2) can prove 5 years of work experience and education 3) have passed the required 6 basic subjects (Norwegian; English; civics; modern history; natural sciences and mathematics), are eligible for admission to higher education. It is also possible to be admitted to specific programmes on individual evaluation (realkompetanse).

Numerus clausus/restrictions: Medicine, Dentistry, Pharmacy, Psychology.

Other admission requirements: Admission may also be gained with other qualifications recognized as being on par with the general matriculation standard. Some fields of study have additional entrance requirements.

Foreign students admission

Definition of foreign student: Foreign citizens who do not have a permanent residence permit in Norway.

Admission requirements: Foreign students should have qualifications equivalent at least to a completed general education at the upper secondary level. For some countries, there may be additional requirements. For more information, refer to the Universities and Colleges Admission Service (UCAS) at or the Norwegian Centre for International Cooperation in Higher Education (SIU) at

Entry regulations: Students should inquire about visa regulations at Norwegian embassies or consulates. They should apply for a residence permit before arrival in Norway. A residence permit will often require a financial guarantee.

Language requirements: Students should have good knowledge of Norwegian (minimum mark: 3.0 / Norsk for utlendinger, trinn 3. Minimum mark: 500 / Bergenstesten, høyere nivå) and English assessed by TOEFL or IELTS (Minimum score of 500 in TOEFL and 5.0 points in IELTS). For more information, see

Application procedures:

Application closing dates:

For university level studies: 1 Mar

Recognition of studies & qualifications:

Studies pursued in home country (System of recognition/accreditation): The Norwegian Agency for Quality Assurance in Education (NOKUT)  supervises and helps to develop the quality of higher education in Norway.

Studies pursued in foreign countries (bodies dealing with recognition of foreign credentials):

Norwegian Agency for Quality Assurance in Education (NOKUT)

Norwegian ENIC/NARIC
PO Box 1708 Vika
0121 Oslo

Tel: +47(21) 021860

Fax: +47(21) 021802




Services provided & students dealt with: Through evaluation, accreditation and recognition of quality systems, institutions and course provisions, the purpose of NOKUT is to supervise and help to develop the quality of higher education in Norway. In addition, NOKUT considers individual applications for general recognition of foreign qualifications. As the Norwegian ENIC-NARIC Center, NOKUT is responsible for providing foreign institutions and partners with information on the Norwegian educational system and the system for recognition of foreign higher education qualifications. NOKUT promotes and facilitates the implementation of the joint Council of Europe/UNESCO-CEPES Convention on the recognition of qualifications concerning higher education in the European Region and promotes the dissemination and use of the Diploma Supplement.


Other information sources on recognition of foreign studies: Institutions of higher education. For professional degrees leading to regulated professions: various competent bodies.

Special provisions for recognition:

For the exercise of a profession: Access to a profession is subject to the Ministry responsible for the practice of that profession.

Multilateral agreements concerning recognition of foreign studies

Name of agreement: UNESCO/Council of Europe's Convention on the Recognition of Qualifications concerning  Higher Education in the European Region

Year of signature: 1999

References to further information on foreign student admissions and recognition of studies

Title: Recognition of foreign higher education qualifications (

Publisher: Norwegian Agency for Quality Assurance in Education (NOKUT)

Year of publication: 2004



National student associations and unions

Norsk Studentunion (NSU)

Thorvald Meyersgate 7
N-0555 Oslo

Tel: +47(22) 044950

Fax: +47(22) 044969




Studentenes Landsforbund (STL)

Thorvald Meyers Gate 7
0555 Oslo

Tel: +47(22) 044970

Fax: +47(22) 044989




Health/social provisions

Social security for home students: Yes

Cost/fee (per year): 0 (Norwegian Krone)

Social security for foreign students: Yes

Cost/fee (per year): 0 (Norwegian Krone)

Foreign student social security provisions: Does not cover costs for medication (except for chronic conditions), dental work or hospital stays. Requires a co-payment for consultations.

Special student travel fares:

By rail: Yes

By air: Yes

Available to foreign students: Yes

Student expenses and financial aid

Student costs:

Average living costs: 80000 (Norwegian Krone)

Home students tuition fees: Minimum: 0 (Norwegian Krone)

Maximum: 2000 (Norwegian Krone)

Foreign students tuition fees: Minimum: 0 (Norwegian Krone)

Maximum: 0 (Norwegian Krone)

Publications on student services and financial aid:

Title: Study Abroad 2005-2006

Author: UNESCO

Year of publication: 2005



Participation of country in multilateral or bilateral higher education programmes

Name of exchange programme: LEONARDO

Name of exchange programme: MUNDUS

Name of exchange programme: NORAD FELLOWSHIP PROGRAMME

Name of exchange programme: NORDPLUS

Name of exchange programme: NORTH2NORTH

Name of exchange programme: Quota SCHEME

Name of exchange programme: SOCRATES



Usual grading system in secondary school

Full Description: Marking on a scale from 0 to 6.

Highest on scale: 6

Pass/fail level: 2

Lowest on scale: 0

Main grading system used by higher education institutions

Full Description: A Common system based on the ECTS system (A-F) has been introduced.

Highest on scale: A

Pass/fail level: E

Lowest on scale: F





Data for academic year: 2005-2006

Source: IAU from Norwegian Agency for Quality Assurance in Education (NOKUT), Oslo, 2006

Note on Higher Education Institutions:

Copyright © IAU, World Higher Education Database (WHED)