The Swedish education system

The Swedish Council for Higher Education evaluate foreign qualifications and how they are comparable to the Swedish education system.

All higher education is divided into first, second and third cycle courses and programmes. For a larger version, please click on the below image.

Image describing the Swedish higher education system. The web page contains the information in text.

Upper secondary education in Sweden

A programme in upper secondary education may lead to an upper secondary diploma. The higher education preparatory programme (Högskoleförberedande examen/Higher education preparatory diploma) with six national programmes has a general education content.
Vocational programme (Yrkesexamen / Vocational diploma) with 12 national programmes has a vocational content. The vocational diploma can give access to higher education only if supplemented with passing grades in specified courses in Swedish and English. All upper secondary programmes have a duration of three years.

Swedish higher vocational education

Swedish higher vocational education:

  • is at post-secondary level
  • is designed in close cooperation with the labour market
  • has content and focus that vary with the needs of the labour market
  • theory is alternated with practice – work-integrated learning at a workplace is included on the programmes
  • is organised by municipalities, county councils, higher education institutions or private businesses

Higher vocational education diploma

A higher vocational education diploma covers at least 1 year of full-time study.

Advanced higher vocational education diploma

An advanced higher vocational education diploma covers at least 2 years of full-time study, with at least 25% of the time being spent in work-integrated learning.

Find more information on post-secondary vocational education

Swedish higher educational qualifications

All higher education is divided into courses and programmes in the first, second and third cycle of the Bologna Higher Education Qualifications Framework.

The Swedish credit system högskolepoäng (hp) is based on the ECTS, whereas one week of full-time studies represent 1.5 hp, and one year of studies represent 60 hp.

  • General degrees in the first cycle are the Higher education Diploma (högskoleexamen), 120 hp,  and the degree of Bachelor (kandidatexamen), 180 hp.
    General degrees in the second cycle are the degree of Master (one year) (magisterexamen), 60 hp and degree of Master (two years) (masterexamen), 120 hp.
    General degrees in the third cycle are the degree of Licentiate (licentiatexamen), 120 hp and Degree of Doctor (doktorsexamen) 240 hp, or 120 hp after the Licentiate degree.
  • Fine arts degrees are offered at all levels.
  • Professional degrees are offered in the first and second cycles.

Swedish higher education qualifications are described in the following ordinances: SFS 1993:100 and 1993:221.

Professional qualifications

Professional qualifications are awarded in the fields of engineering, health care, agriculture, law, education, etc. Professional qualifications may be offered within either the first or the second cycle. Programmes leading to professional qualifications may vary in length depending on their content and may stretch over two cycles. Some professional degrees (approximately 15) are awarded only after one-tier integrated programs.

Framework for qualifications

Since 2015 Sweden has a framework for qualifications, SeQF, comprising all levels of education, based on the European Qualifications Framework for Life Long Learning (EQF-LLL). More information about SeQF.

Higher Education Ordinance, annex 2 (1993:100)

National Qualifications Framework NQF-EHEA 2011 (pdf)

Last updated: 22 September 2022