Studying in Sweden for an international student means adjusting quite quickly to a new environment, people, language, routines, education system, etc. The goal of this blog post is to make one of these parts easier by introducing the Swedish University System.
Course vs. program
blog post is to make one of these parts easier by introducing the Swedish University System.
Course vs. programme
When you are applying to study in Sweden, one of the things that you should understand is the system of credits. Credit is a certain number of points that you obtain after completing a course or a programme. In Sweden, you get 60 credits for finishing one year of full-time academic studies. It is also possible to transfer credits from another university if you had previously done a similar course at a different school. Then you don’t have to repeat the same course again.
What is a course?
A course at a university is a certain part of your program. You would typically gain 5-15 credits for a course depending on its length and level of difficulty. At some universities, you are
allowed to apply for free-standing courses and combine them to obtain a degree. I would however recommend contacting the university in advance to find out whether they accept it and how you can do it properly.
What is a programme?
Applying for a programme is the more common way to pursue Higher Education. A programme consists of several courses that you attend in a specific order to obtain the necessary number of credits required for a degree. In Sweden, you can choose to study for Bachelor’s, Master’s, or PhD programme. To learn more about what you can study or the difference between the levels of programmes, check out this post by Lauren.
Academic year – parts
The academic year in Sweden usually lasts 10 months. It consists of two parts called semesters. What I really like is that typically you study two mandatory courses in the first half of a semester and another two in the second half (there are exceptions depending on the course). That way, you are able to focus in-depth on the two subjects of study and you don’t feel as overwhelmed as if you studied all courses at the same time. It is a nice change for me since I feel like I am able to focus better and hence learn more. So how do the semesters actually look like?
1st semester (Autumn – Winter)
The academic year starts at the end of August for the autumn semester. It is expected that you arrive at least a week or two before the start so you have enough time to move to your new accommodation and deal with any necessary paperwork. And I recommend beginning your search for accommodation as early as possible, then you don’t have to deal with it after your school year starts. For me, it was a bit of a struggle and the first month in Sweden I spent moving from one Airbnb to another while looking for a place to live. Finally, I found one apartment thanks to a Facebook group. There are several ways to find the accommodation that would suit you, so do proper research.
During this semester, you will need to adjust to a new environment, people, system, and the weather. 💧🌞☔ Make sure to read up on the tips, so you are well prepared for the Swedish winter.
For someone who does not travel a lot, it might be hard to settle in a new location. You need to remember not to worry, we have all been through it. It gets a lot easier with time. My friend Nozie has some tips on settling in that can offer you guidance.
After you get through the first semester, you can enjoy a Christmas break 🎄. It starts sometime around the middle of December, depending on the university and ends at the beginning of January. So, winter in Sweden can be really exciting! With the snow and Christmas atmosphere, I think there is a lot to look forward to!