Icelandic universities are centres of knowledge and part of the international educational and scientific community. All universities offer advisory services for students and prospective students. Distance learning is also offered in several universities in Iceland.
There are seven universities in Iceland. Three are privately funded and four are publicly funded. Public universities do not charge tuition fees although they charge an annual administration fee which all students must pay.
Universities in Iceland
The largest universities are the University of Iceland and Reykjavík University, both located in the capital, followed by the University of Akureyri in northern Iceland.
Icelandic universities are centres of knowledge and part of the international educational and scientific community. All universities offer advisory services for students and prospective students.
The Icelandic academic year runs from September to May and is divided into two semesters: autumn and spring. Generally, the autumn semester is from the beginning of September until late December, and the spring semester from the start of January until the end of May, although some disciplines may vary.
Public universities do not have tuition fees although they do have an annual registration or administration fee which all students must pay. Further information about fees can be found on the websites of each university.
International students either attend Icelandic higher education institutions as exchange students or as degree-seeking students. For exchange options, please consult the international office at your home university, where you can get information on partner universities, or contact the international student services department of the university you plan on attending in Iceland.
Study programmes and degrees
University-level educational institutions consist of various study programmes and departments within those programmes, research institutes and centres, and various service institutes and offices.
Formal criteria for higher education and degrees are issued by the Minister of Higher Education, Science and Innovation. The arrangement of instruction, research, studies, and educational assessment is decided within the university. Recognised degrees include diploma degrees, bachelor’s degrees, awarded on completion of basic studies, master’s degrees, on completion of one or more years of postgraduate studies, and doctoral degrees, on completion of extensive research-related post-graduate studies.
Those who intend to study at a university must have completed a matriculation examination (the Icelandic University Entrance Examination) or equivalent examination. Universities are permitted to set specific entrance requirements and to have students sit an entrance examination or status examination
Students who have not completed the matriculation examination (Icelandic University Entrance Examination) or a comparable examination but who, in the opinion of the relevant university, possess equivalent maturity and knowledge may be matriculated.
Universities following an approval by the Ministry of Education are allowed to offer preparatory study programmes for those who do not meet the matriculation requirements.
Distance learning is offered in several universities in Iceland. Further information about that can be obtained from the websites of the various universities.
Other university centres
Sprettur - Supporting promising youth with immigrant backgrounds
Sprettur is a project at the Division of Academic Affairs at the University of Iceland that supports promising youth with immigrant backgrounds who come from families where few or none have higher education.
The goal of Sprettur is to create equal opportunities in education. You can find more information about Sprettur here.
Student loans and support
Students at secondary-school level who pursue authorised vocational education or other approved work-related studies or pursue university studies can apply for a student loan or student grant (subject to certain restrictions and requirements).
The Icelandic Student Loan Fund is a lender of student loans. All further information concerning student loans may be found on the fund’s website.
University students are offered many types of grants for studies and research, here in Iceland and abroad. You can read more about student loans and various grants in Iceland here. Secondary school students in the rural areas who need to attend a school outside of their own local community will be offered either grants from the local community or an equalisation grant (jöfnunarstyrkur – website only in Icelandic).
The families or the guardians of secondary students with low incomes can apply for a grant from the Icelandic Church Aid Fund for expenses.
- Ministry of Education and Children
- The Icelandic Student Loan Fund
- Study in Iceland
- International collaboration - International Division at University of Iceland
- Studying - island.is
- University Centre of the Westfjords
- University of Iceland – Research centre in Snæfellsnes
- Sprettur - Supporting promising youth with immigrant backgrounds
Public universities do not charge tuition fees.