Study in Iceland: the ultimate guide for a Short Course in 2024

The Ultimate Guide to Studying in Iceland in 2024

Browse all short courses in Iceland

  • Sep-May Academic Year
  • 1 Listed Institutes
  • 2,000 Int. Students
  • 19,000 Students
  • 345,000 Population

Study in Iceland

Thanks to the Vikings, Iceland isn’t named after the fact that it’s an icy place (at least not anymore). But, make no mistake – Iceland has plenty of snow and glaciers, just like its ice-covered counterpart, Greenland. Iceland is also a place full of mythical wonders, located in the North Atlantic Ocean, with active volcanoes and glacial rivers covering its tiny land area – a land of fire and ice, if you will.

Ranking number 3 on the World Happiness Index, Iceland is home to peaceful and adventurous people. For international students, if you want to find a unique place to pursue your Master’s or Bachelor’s degree, you’ll find plenty of mountains to climb in Iceland.

Why study in Iceland?

1. Public universities are free

If you want to enrol at Icelandic public universities, rejoice! There are no tuition costs you need to worry about; there's only a registration fee of 100–250 EUR, which allows you to spend money on travelling, finding great accommodation, or buying enough clothes to keep you warm.

2. English is widely spoken

English may not be an official language, but almost any local speaks it fluently. That's because English is taught as a second language in schools. So, drop any fears about language barriers or being misunderstood — you won't have to face them here. Actually, you shouldn't be surprised to discover that many Icelandic people speak other foreign languages as well, including Danish, German, French, and others.

3. Experience the local tradition of Science Trips

There's a local habit called "vísindaferð". It takes place on Fridays, when groups of students often visit a local organisation or an interesting place/attraction. You will enjoy taking part in small tasks, being given a tour, and savouring a few snacks and drinks.

4. Live in one of the most eco-friendly countries

Thanks to its abundant natural resources, Iceland is one of the most eco-friendly nations in the world. Around 80% of its energy needs are covered by hydro and geothermal power. In Reykjavik, they even had hydrogen-powered buses at some point, and there are initiatives to bring them back!

5. Visit local landscapes and try out relaxing activities

It's no secret that Iceland has some of the most beautiful and iconic natural landscapes. While living here, you should visit places like the Gullfoss Falls, the Thingvellir National Park, Seljalandsfoss, the active geysers, the Hallgrimskirkja modern cathedral, etc.

And don't forget abut the hot springs — courtesy of geothermal activity — which allow anyone to enjoy a warm and relaxing bath at any time during the year!

What is it like to study in Iceland?

Universities in Iceland are known for having small classroom sizes. This means that, as a student, you don’t need to feel intimidated to ask questions or participate in a discussion. Plus, your instructors will be able to give you extra, individual assistance if you need it.

While you attend university in Iceland, you’ll also be able to enjoy a thriving social life outside of your classes. With plenty of mountains and volcanoes to climb, or rivers to sail, you’ll be able to immerse yourself in plenty of Icelandic culture, while also getting your Bachelor’s or Master’s degree.

What to study in Iceland?

Did you know that 1 in 10 Iceland residents will publish a book at some point in their lives? There must be some incredibly smart people there! What do all of those geniuses study? Well, if you’re going to Iceland for your Bachelor’s or Master’s degree, you can find a range of programmes and subjects to expand your mind.

Here are some disciplines for you to consider in Iceland:

Which universities and colleges to attend in Iceland?

Keep in mind what we said above: university education in Iceland is very, very new. So, universities are just learning how to walk and find their balance. But if you’re interested in studying in Iceland, a wonderful university for you to keep in mind would be University Centre of the West Fjords.

How to apply

Each university in Iceland has its own system on their website that allows future students to apply for and enrol in their degree programmes. So, once you select the university of your choice, you can go through their application and submit your materials there.

Here are some of the basic requirements you’ll need for every application:

  • A scan of your diploma (high school or Bachelor’s degree)
  • A transcript/record of your previous courses
  • A scan of your passport and/or birth certificate
  • Your CV
  • Testing scores
  • Evidence of scholarship or funding
  • Letters of recommendation (between 2-3)
  • Portfolio and/or writing samples

Helpful ways to make sure you qualify for a university in Iceland

Take Preparation Courses

These kinds of courses enable degree-seeking students to get an extra educational boost just before they start their Master’s degree or other post-graduate degree programmes.

Try a pre-M.B.A., pre-Law, or pre-Medicine programme, as well as any other foundation or preparation courses that will allow you to study in the degree programme of your choice.

Improve your English through an English-language prep course

If you’re attending a degree programme in Iceland you will need to prove that your language skills are good enough to participate in the classes and understand the lectures. These courses will also prepare you for any of the English-language tests that universities require.

English-language tests

To apply to study in Iceland, you’ll need to provide proof you have a diploma for your English proficiency.

The certificates generally accepted by the universities in Iceland are:

Still, you should always check on your university’s website, just to be sure what the exact requirements are.

Living in Iceland

Let's take a closer look at tuition and living expenses in Iceland:

Tuition fees

If you study at one of the public universities in Iceland, you won’t have to pay any tuition fees. You will, however, have to pay a one-time, non-refundable registration fee, ranging between 100 and 250 EUR.

Private universities are a different story. Their tuition fees can be quite expensive and they change depending on whether you’re an EU/EEA or non-EU/EEA student. Always check the official university website to find out what tuition applies to you.

Living costs in Iceland

Because of its rather isolated location and tundra climate, living in Iceland can be quite expensive. But plenty of international students manage to get by thanks to the inexpensive tuition prices. Plus, with all of the natural beauty and landmarks all over Iceland, there are plenty of ways to have fun for free.

In general, you should prepare a minimum of 900–1,000 EUR/month. Here is a breakdown of living costs in Iceland:

  • accommodation: 600–800 EUR/month, sometimes higher depending on the type of housing
  • food and groceries: 300–400 EUR/month
  • monthly transport pass: 37 EUR; students might receive discounts
  • books and study materials: 250 EUR/semester
  • leisure activities: 150–180 EUR/month
  • three-course meal for two at a mid-range restaurant: 90 EUR
  • 1 litre of milk: 1.10 EUR
  • 1 loaf of bread: 2.50 EUR
  • 1 cappuccino: 3.60 EUR

About Iceland

The Republic of Iceland is a country of northwestern Europe, comprising the island of Iceland and its outlying islets in the North Atlantic Ocean between Greenland, Norway, the British Isles, and the Faroe Islands. Iceland is a part of the world- encircling undersea mountain system that is the locus of new crust formation. About 11% of Iceland is covered by glaciers. By far the largest of the ice caps is Vatnajökull in Southeast Iceland with an size equal to all the glaciers on the European mainland put together.

Interesting facts about Iceland
  • In a survey conducted in 1998, a majority of Icelanders (at least, at the time) believed in Elves. I’m sure living in Iceland can give you that feeling too, if you’re there long enough.
  • There are zero mosquitos in Iceland.
  • Iceland prohibited beer consumption until 1989. Can you think of anything bleaker?
  • There is no McDonalds in Iceland. What a magical place!
  • In 2011, when Iceland was updating its constitution, they allowed the public to make suggestions via Facebook. Press “like” for due process; “share” for taxation with representation!

Universities, colleges and schools in Iceland


How to Apply to a Master's in Iceland

If you've decided to study a Master's degree at a university in Iceland, you will have to gather the right documents to prove that you fit the university requirements. Provide complete personal information, previous qualifications, financial information, and a personal statement.

What documents do I need to provide to apply in Iceland?

To apply to a university in Iceland you will likely be asked to provide some of the following documents:

  • birth certificate;
  • recent photos;
  • your passport or national identity card;
  • one or more reference letters from past employers or teachers;
  • copies of past diplomas or certificates, including your graduated Bachelor's degree;
  • academic transcripts;
  • letter of intent;
  • Curriculum Vitae;
  • Some form of proof that you can support your stay in the country during your studies.

Depending on the subject or specialization of your chosen Master's, you might also be asked to provide scores for additional tests like the GRE, GMAT or LSAT. Check if your programme requires any of these, or others.

The list of documents depends on the specific requirements of universities in Iceland so you might be asked to include additional documents. It’s also likely you’ll have to provide official English translations of your documents, or translations in the local language.

Prove your English skills

Because you’ll study an international degree in English, you'll have to present a language certificate. Some popular options for international students are IELTS, TOEFL or C1 Advanced language certificates. You’ll have to meet a minimum language score set by the university, and your test scores shouldn’t be older than 1-2 years. If you don’t meet the minimum language requirements, you will have to improve your skills and scores by taking an English preparation course.

Application deadlines for Iceland

The deadlines for applying to a Master's in Iceland are usually during summer (June-July), or in winter (January-February). Keep in mind that some universities don’t have application deadlines, which means you can apply whenever you are ready.

To avoid delays or missed deadlines send your required documents with plenty of time in advance.

Interesting programmes for you

Find Short Courses in Iceland

Numerous education initiatives in the world were formed to promote international cooperation and academic exchange between universities as well as attract students and staff worldwide. This focus on international student education provides high quality programmes in various fields of study and prepares students for future careers anywhere in the world.

Studying, for instance, in Australia, Asia, Europe or America represents a wide range of opportunities to see the world and interact with other students from different countries. Different study options allow students to hold a job during their study years in order to pay for their education, if they wish to do so. Online programmes help you get an international education without having to leave home.

The number of English-taught short courses in Asia, Australia, Europe and The United States are continuously rising in popularity in the last few years. Many countries offer English-taught study programmes, including: Australia, China, Denmark, Finland, Belgium, Italy, Switzerland, France, Spain, Sweden, Germany, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, the United States and more. Other English short courses may be found in the rest of the European countries as well.

Short courses / Summer Courses

Short courses offer a great variety of subjects for a short and fixed period. This period can vary between a week to six weeks, depending on country, institution and course. This is an excellent opportunity to gain academic, cultural and social experience if you are not able to access long-term study opportunities. A wide variety of countries and institutions offer summer and short courses in all kinds of subject areas. It is a great opportunity to get some background information for your own research, to learn a language or to gain knowledge on a related topic.

Sometimes summer and short courses provide students with short-term housing. Therefore, it is useful to find out if housing is included in the fee of the summer or short course you wish to apply for.

Discover other countries

The Netherlands is a very popular study destination. Internationals choose this beautiful country because Dutch universities are some of the best in Europe, the living standards are high, foreigners are always welcome, and you get to live in one of the happiest and safest countries in the world. The Netherlands is also renowned for innovative technologies and engineering solutions, which is reflected in the wide range of Engineering degrees offered by universities. English is spoken by around 90% of Dutch citizens, so forget about language barriers. Also, bike lanes and the “cycling culture” will help you to stay fit and healthy, and there are diverse job opportunities and internships for international students.
Finland is an excellent choice for all internationals and especially for EU/EEA students who can study at local public universities for free. The beautiful Nordic country has one of the best education systems in the world and ranks among the safest and happiest nations in the world. You can also choose from over 400 English-taught programmes. In your spare time, you can explore the breathtaking Finnish nature and landscapes, as well as the numerous lakes that give the country the nickname ‘The Land of a Thousand Lakes.’ From here, you can easily travel to neighbouring countries like Norway, Denmark, Sweden, Russia, or Estonia.
Ireland is among the top countries in the world in terms of quality of life, peace, safety, and development. It represents an appealing blend of beautiful landscapes, English-speaking environments, and a strong, welcoming, and rich culture — of which the Irish people are very proud. International students also enjoy the full support of Irish universities, which hire and train staff that are able to help with accommodation, studies, visa details, or any other challenge.
Norway is a paradise for anyone who wants to study abroad for free. Public universities don’t charge any tuition fees. This policy applies to all international students, regardless of their nationality. The academic standard is very high, and professors are easy to approach, always willing to go the extra mile for their students. Additionally, classes are organised in small groups, which further improves learning and cooperation. You can choose from a wide range of English-taught programmes, and you don’t need to worry about language barriers outside of classes either, because most Norwegians speak English as a second language. Internationals should find it easy to adapt to Norway’s society, which is based on equality and fair opportunities — reflected both in the legal system and in people’s behaviour.
Greece is the cradle of European civilization and the birthplace of philosophy. Greek universities and colleges have a long history in academics, attracting international students from all over the world. Classes are not typically formal, so you can expect open discussions between students and professors, in line with the classical philosophical debate tradition. EU/EEA students don’t pay any tuition at public universities, while non-EU/EEA citizens pay low fees. In Greece, you’ll also enjoy the well-known local hospitality and the wonderful Mediterranean climate. There are many landmarks and monuments waiting to be explored, including the Acropolis, Delphi, the Parthenon, and many others.
Sweden is a very ambitious, eco-friendly, and visionary country. For example, by 2040, it aims to produce all its energy from renewable sources. Universities play an important role in achieving development goals, thanks to their world-class research facilities. If you’re from the EU/EEA, you can study at public universities for free. As a student, you will discover and easily adopt the three main values of Swedish society: freedom, equality, and sustainability. These values are reflected in every aspect of the local society, and you’ll quickly learn to appreciate them. Language barriers are also almost non-existent since around 80% of Swedes speak English.
Switzerland has one of the most advanced free-market economies, which is reflected in the high living standards and the satisfaction of people living here. In terms of higher education, Swiss universities are constantly ranked among the best in Europe, and they shine in areas like Business, Tourism, Culinary Arts, and Engineering. When compared to Western universities, tuition fees in Switzerland are affordable, and all studies — especially PhD programmes — are world-class. You’ll have the opportunity to develop in a multilingual environment and try learning international languages like German, French, or Italian. If you settle down here, the unemployment rates are low, and salaries are well above the European average.
United Kingdom
United Kingdom
Universities in the UK are some of the most highly regarded in the world, and for good reasons. Some of the world's most highly regarded research takes place in British universities, which are regularly featured in international rankings. While studying in the UK, you will be able to develop in a highly multicultural environment with high chances of pursuing lucrative careers after graduation. The teaching in the UK is designed to encourage new idea generation, encouraging individual research and group cooperation, through class discussions and creative assignments.
Canada is one of the most popular study destinations in the world due to its high focus on the quality of its universities and its emphasis on attracting international students who can later immigrate. Canadians are very welcoming to international students and they invest a lot into making sure students are safe, treated fairly, and enjoy their stay in the country. Study in one of the strongest economies in the world while enjoying a high living standard and a flexible study environment. Classes have smaller student groups ensuring everyone gets the attention they need, and encouraging group assignments and debates.
United States
United States
The United States is home to some of the most prestigious universities and colleges in the world. With over 150 universities featured in international rankings, the U.S. has some of the best business schools, medical schools, and engineering schools. Universities and colleges in the U.S. are well known for academic flexibility and ways to customize your study experience with optional studies and extracurricular activities. Depending on where you will be studying, you will be able to visit iconic places like the Statue of Liberty, Empire State Building, Goldengate Bridge, The Grand Canyon, Mount Rushmore, Disney's Magic Kingdom Park, and much more.
Israel attracts international students through high standards of education and a wide range of English-taught degrees. Local universities shine in areas like Technology, Sciences, Business, and Entrepreneurship. In fact, Israel is a renowned land of innovation, having earned itself the nickname ‘Start-Up Nation’. While living and studying here, you will discover a wonderful culture developed throughout 4,000 years of history; different cultural influences are noticeable everywhere, especially in Israeli food, art, and history. In major cities, English is widely spoken, so communication shouldn’t be a problem. In your spare time, you can visit one of the over 400 nature reserves and 80 national parks.
By studying in Australia you will take advantage of the great student environment both inside and outside classrooms. In addition to some of the best business and engineering schools in the world, you will be able to explore a greatly developed country that still retains its wild side with its warm climate, beautiful beaches, and the Great Outback, with over 500 national parks. Many Australian universities provide internships and work placements, preparing students early on for the job market.


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