Studying in Iceland|Costs & Requirements

Have plans of studying in Iceland? Iceland is a small but beautiful island country located in the North Atlantic Ocean. It is sparsely populated with less than four hundred thousand people. Its capital city is Reykjavik and over 60% of the population resides there.

It’s the fourth most developed country in the world according to the Human Development Index. It is also the third most literate country in the world with a 99 percent literacy rate. Iceland publishes more books per capita than any other country in the world.

This is because 10 percent of its population have authored a book at one point in their lives. With a high literacy rate like this, the country has the potential to create more jobs further improving an already impressive economy and social status.

This is already evident in the country has an unemployment rate of 2.7 percent. In this article, we’ll talk about studying in Iceland, the costs, as well as some universities to study in Iceland.

Some fun facts you need to know about Iceland

  • Iceland runs almost entirely on renewable energy.

  • The crime rate in the country is so low that the police don’t carry guns and violent crime is almost none existent. This makes it the safest country in the world and has been voted so twelve times in a row, now.

  • While the official language is Icelandic, 98 percent of the general population speaks English. So an immigrant who only speaks the English language will have almost no communication issues.

  • The official sport is football? No, it’s handball.

  • Iceland has no standing military, and it’s the only member of NATO to do so. However, provides facilities and land as part of its military contribution. This is due to their strategic location on the map.

Things to note concerning the Iceland education system 

Higher Education in Iceland is divided into three tiers:

  • First-tier – is the undergraduate level. Most courses in this tier take three to four years to complete. Courses like medicine, engineering, etc. 

  • The second tier – is the post-graduate level. Most Master’s degrees take one or two years to complete.

  • The third tier – is the doctoral level. Depending on what you’re studying, it might take three to five years to complete.

Iceland being a small nation is home to only seven universities. Four state universities and three private universities.

Tens of thousands of students are studying in Iceland and international students make up five percent. Generally, most programs are taught in Icelandic but English is offered to foreign students.

The academic calendar in Iceland runs from September to May and involves two holidays asides from the Christmas break – Spring break and Summer break.

Education in Iceland’s public universities is also free, even for international students. The only payment required is the registration fee of ISK75,000.

Private universities though reserve the right to and do charge International students. Tuition fees in Iceland’s private universities could range from over ISK500,000 to ISK2,000,000.

If you desire to know more about Iceland’s education system. You can visit this website.

Admission requirements for studying in Iceland

The first thing you need to present is your high school transcript.

For many of the universities in Iceland, your high school diploma is not enough for studying in Iceland, and they may require a one-year diploma in a university or your first-year transcript.

For those seeking a Master’s degree, a transcript of their previous degree.

The second thing is English Proficiency. Although not all programs require TOEFL or IELTS.

Another requirement is a letter of recommendation. It could be a former tutor, preferably. Usually, two or three letters of recommendation.

Another is your statement of purpose.

You need to explain or give reasons why you are vying for a particular program or course, and why you chose the particular university.

In addition to these, you will also be needing a scanned copy of your passport and birth certificate.

Studying in Iceland Scholarship

Scholarships are a great help to your finances, especially as an international student in Iceland.

Fortunately, there are scholarships offered by universities, the government, and international organizations, for those considering studying in Iceland.

For example, Reykjavik university offers scholarships to only international students in their school of energy.

Depending on your university of choice, you can contact your school to inquire about any scholarship opportunities they might be willing to offer.

Cost of living in Iceland

Tuition is free for all international students in Iceland, however, a registration fee of about ISK75,000 is required. Private universities charge tuition fees ranging from over ISK500,000 to ISK2,000,000.

The cost of studying in Iceland is inexpensive but the same can’t be said of the cost of living.

Iceland is one of the most expensive places to live in Europe with prices being about forty percent higher than in the US.

Expenses on housing, food, books and study materials, and public transportation will keep your budget at nothing less than ISK 250,000 per month.

Working and Studying in Iceland

International students are allowed to work while studying in Iceland but only for a maximum of twenty hours a week, so as not to affect their studies.

Non-EU students though are mandated to present a copy of their student residence permit and contract of employment by the employer. Fortunately, the average work per hour in Iceland is just over $30.

Tuition Free Universities in Iceland for International Students

Below are some of the universities in Iceland to consider.

Reykjavik University

Situated in the capital city of Iceland, is Reykjavik University, the largest private university in Iceland.

Despite being 24 years old with a population of fewer than 4,000 students and 250 staff. It is ranked the 53rd best young university in the world. 

The university boasts of the following departments namely, 

  • Business:

Programs taught in English:


– Marketing (MSc)

– Corporate Finance (MSc/MCF)

– Information Management (MSc/MIM)

– Human Resource Management and 

Organizational Psychology (MSc/MHRM)

– Tourism and Hospitality Management (MSc/MTHM)

– Innovation and Entrepreneurship (MSc/MINN)

– Ph.D. Business

– Ph.D. Psychology

– Reykjavik University and University of Southern 

Maine Summer School

Programs taught in Icelandic with selected modules available in English 

– Business Administration (BSc)

– Economics (BSc)

– Accounting and Auditing (MAcc)

– Psychology (BSc)

– Clinical Psychology (MSc)

  • Computer Science:

Programs taught in English

– MSc Computer Science

– MSc Language Technology

– MSc Software Engineering

Programs taught in Icelandic with selected modules available in English 

– Diploma in Applied Computing

– BSc Computer Science

– BSc in Computer Science with Business Minor

– BSc Discrete Mathematics and 

Computer Science

– BSc Software Engineering

  • Law

Programs taught in Icelandic with selected modules available  in English:

– ML Law

A selection of graduate courses are taught in 

English every semester and it is possible to 

complete an ML program fully in English.

Examples of graduate courses in English:

– International Law and the Arctic

– Refugee Law

– International Protection of Human Rights

– International Courts and Dispute Settlements

– Intellectual Property Rights in 

International Commerce

– The Philip C. Jessup International Law Moot 

Court Competition

– International & European Energy Law

  • Engineering

Full degree programs offered in English: – MSc Civil Engineering – MSc Electrical Power Engineering

(Iceland School of Energy)

– MSc Electrical Power Management (Iceland School of Energy)

– MSc Engineering Management – MSc Financial Engineering – MSc Mechanical Engineering – MSc Mechatronics Engineering – MSc Biomedical Engineering – MSc Sustainable Energy  (Iceland School of Energy)

– MSc Sustainable Energy Engineering 

(Iceland School of Energy)

– PhD Engineering and Applied Sciences

Programs taught in Icelandic 

with selected modules available 

In English: – BSc Biomedical Engineering – BSc Civil Engineering – BSc Electrical Engineering – BSc Engineering Management – BSc Financial Engineering – BSc Mechanical Engineering – BSc Mechanical and Energy Engineering – BSc Mechatronics Engineering – BSc Sports Science – MEd Sport and Health Education – MSc Exercise Science and Coaching

  • Iceland School of Energy

In a country considered the “greenest” economy in the world, the school of energy offers students insights into the impressive amount of expertise Iceland boasts of in renewable energy.

Tuition fees are not free at Reykjavik University, it does not offer accommodation and only offers scholarships for international students studying at the school of energy.

For more information, you can visit the university website here.

University of Iceland

The University of Iceland is the largest and oldest university for students who have plans of studying in Iceland to consider.

It is among the top 200 universities in the world. Boasting over 16,000 students comprising 1,500 international students.

The university is made up of five schools and twenty-six faculties and offers over 400 study programs.

It is also the only university in Iceland offering undergraduate and graduate programs in all the major disciplines. The five schools are:

  • School of Education
  • School of Engineering and Natural sciences.
  • School of Health Sciences
  • School of Humanities
  • School of Social Sciences

For more information, you can visit here.

Akureyri University

Located in the city of the same name, north eastern part of Iceland. This university offers a wide spectrum of study programs both undergraduate and graduate.

It operates three schools:

School of Health Sciences:

  • Faculty of Nursing
  • Faculty of Occupational therapy

School of Business and Sciences:

  • Faculty of Natural Resource Sciences
  • Faculty of Business Administration

School of Humanity and Social Sciences:

  • Faculty of Law
  • Faculty of Psychology
  • Faculty of Social Sciences
  • Faculty of School Development

For more information, visit here.

Bifröst University

This is a private, non-profit institution outside Iceland’s capital city of Reykjavik. Founded in 1918, Bifröst has a tested reputation of training students excellently in the major disciplines needed in the society and economy.

Bifröst offers both undergraduate and graduate programs in Business, Law, and Social Sciences. It also offers a one year foundation program for students who didn’t meet full entrance educational requirements. Departments and programs include:

Department of Business

  • BS in Business Administration with emphasis in finances

  • BS in Business Administration with emphasis in Marketing

  • BS in Business Administration with emphasis in sustainable management

  • BS in Business Administration with emphasis in Service Management

  • BS in Business Administration with emphasis in Project Management

  • BS in Business Administration with emphasis in Business Intelligence

  • BS in Business Administration with emphasis in Retail Management

  • Diploma in Business Administration and Retail Management

  • MS / MLM in Leadership and Management

  • MS / MLM in Leadership and Management with emphasis in Human Resources Management

  • MS / MLM in Leadership and Management with emphasis in Project Management

  • MS / MMM inMarketing

Department of Law:

  • BSc in Business Law

  • ML / MBL in Business Law

  • Postgraduate Diplomas in Business Law.

Department of Social Science:

For more information, visit here

Hólar University

Hólar University is a specialized university that offers undergraduate and graduate degree in three disciplines – Aquaculture and Fish Biology, Equine studies, and Tourism studies.

For more information.

Academy of the Arts, Iceland

The Iceland Academy of Arts is one of the favourite destinations for students considering studying in Iceland. They offers programs in fine arts, theatre, dance, music, architecture, and art education.

The academy promotes creative thinking and produces one of the best there is.

Below are a list of courses offered:

Design & Architecture:

  • Architecture
  • Fashion Design  
  • Visual Communication 
  • Product Design 
  • MA Design 
  • MArch

Performing Arts:

  • Theatre and Performance Making
  • Acting
  • Contemporary Dance Practices
  • MFA in Performing Arts 

Arts Education:

  • Diploma
  • MA or M.Art.Ed. in Arts Education

Fine Art:

  •  BA Fine Art
  • MA Fine Art
  • MA Curatorial Practice


  • Diploma – Vocal/ Instrumental
  • Vocal/ Instrument  B.Mus.
  • Church Music
  • Music Communication
  • Composition
  • European Master in Music
  • MA  Composition
  • Instrumental / Vocal education BA
  • Instrumental / Vocal Education MA

For more information, visit here

The Agricultural University of Iceland

This is a very small unique university, the only university in Iceland that teaches agriculture on a vocational level. Founded in 2005, it has 471 students and 92 staff.

It’s main focus is on conservation and sustainable use of land and animal resources, including traditional agriculture, horticulture and forestry, etc.

For more information, visit here

Frequently Asked Questions About Studying in Iceland

Is education free in Iceland for international students?

Yes. If you are studying in a public university in Iceland, you won’t have to pay any tuition fees. However, you will be needed to pay an annual registration fee.

Can international student work in Iceland?

Students who are non-EEA/EFTA citizens may apply for a work permit for a position of up to 15 hours a week during the school year.

Work permit is necessary before employment may commence.

Can foreigners study in Iceland?

Yes foreigners can study in Iceland. However, depending on where you are from, you may need to apply for a visa before your studying in Iceland journey can start.

Is English spoken in Iceland?

Yes. English has been and continues to be taught as a second language in the schools, so almost every person in Iceland is fluent in English.

Is it easy to get student visa to Iceland?

If you are from a country outside of the European Economic Area and/or EFTA, and you have plans of studying in Iceland, getting a visa is simple and you will be needing the following documents for the process:

  •  Student visa application form

  • – Proof of registration at the university

  • – Medical insurance details

  • – A secure housing certificate

  • – Medical certificate (if required)

  • – Criminal record certificate

  • – Proof of financial support (i.e bank statements) amounting to ISK 180, 550/ EUR 1,434 per month

  • – Photocopy of passport

  • – One (1) passport-sized photograph

  • – Receipt for payment of the residence permit application


Apart from the very functional educational system, here are more reasons why you should consider studying in Iceland.

  • We did mention earlier that Iceland’s crime rate is very low with violent crime almost non-existent. It’s practically the safest country in the world, with stories of children being left outside unsupervised till diner times, and the police without weapons.

  • Iceland is full of nature. It’s no wonder it’s called the land of Ice and Fire.

  • Icelanders are friendly people. Being a small country, they have a strong sense of community. You will always feel welcome wherever you go to.

  • Iceland may be one of the most expensive places to live in Europe but the majority of the population can afford it because of the high average income or salary.

Still have plans of studying in Iceland? or do you have other plans? Iceland will always be a great destination for everyone. Do you have challenges that could stop you from studying in Iceland? Please share your thoughts below.

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