Highlighted courses in Iceland

Why Study in Iceland?

There are many notable higher education institutions located in Iceland. The oldest institution was founded in 1911, meaning that you will be getting a modern and up to date education. You will find very few traditional and outdated practices, with the institutions aiming to use only the most relevant teaching methods. This equips you for the 21st century labour market, and focuses on your employability. Whilst all universities are authorised by the Ministry of Education, Science and Culture, they do have freedom over the content of their courses. This means that a course by the same name at two separate institutions may teach very differently.

You will find seven universities in Iceland. Three of these are private, and the remaining four are public universities. The two largest universities are located in the capital city, Reykjavík. There are around 18,000 students enrolled throughout all of the institutions, with 5% of these being international students. Higher education institutions in Iceland are aiming to increase their international student intake, so are extremely welcoming.

Icelandic institutions offer courses in many different fields, but there are some that specialise. For example, the Agricultural University of Iceland is a research focused institution, offering courses in agriculture and environmental sciences. There will be a course for everyone in Iceland, so take a look and see what there is for you!

About Iceland

A Nordic island country located just south of Greenland, Iceland is home to just 350,000 people. This small population makes it the most sparsely populated country in Europe. It is one of the most volcanic regions in the world, and more than 13% of the country is covered by snowfields and glaciers. Over half of the country’s population live in the capital, which is very modern and developed.

The tourism industry is very active in Iceland, with many people travelling to the country to experience the way of life. You will be able to visit the famous hot springs, travel to the glaciers and maybe even glimpse the Northern Lights. These incredible sights are the reason that Iceland has attracted television and film crews for years. You might recognise the scenery from the television show Game of Thrones, or films such as Star Wars: The Force Awakens and Rogue One.

You will find a vibrant culture coupled with an interesting history. Iceland offers cultural attractions alongside a truly unique study experience. Any international student would well prepared for the job market.

An orange lighthouse pictured in front of a body of water
This lighthouse is located in Snæfellsjökull National Park, Iceland. Snæfellsjökull is one of three national parks in Iceland, and is very popular with tourists

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Cost of Studying and Living in Iceland

Iceland uses the Icelandic Króna (ISK) as its currency.

Your tuition fees will depend on whether you study at a public or private university. If you choose to study at a public institution, you will not be required to pay tuition fees no matter where in the world you are from. You will need to pay an annual registration fee of around ISK 75,000. If you are not an EEA student you will also have to pay an application fee, which is around ISK 8,000. If you choose to study at a private institution you will have to pay a tuition fee. Depending on the your institution of choice, course and nationality, this tuition fee can be anything from ISK 540,000 to ISK 2,000,000 per year. There are scholarships and grants available to international students, but they can be competitive and are usually merit-based. For information about funding assistance, contact your chosen institution.

The living costs in Iceland are similar to that of other western countries. Some universities recommend that you budget for around ISK 120,000 per month. This will cover your accommodation costs, groceries, travel, study materials and any other living costs. If you plan to live in one of the bigger cities, your living costs are likely to be higher.

Another cost that international students need to consider is health insurance. If you are from an EU/EEA country and hold an EHIC card, you will be able to access the same healthcare as Icelandic citizens,at the same price. If you are from any other country, you need to ensure you have valid health insurance for the duration of your stay in Iceland. You should either purchase a health insurance policy that is valid in Iceland, or check that your current policy will cover you whilst you are in Iceland. If you need to purchase health insurance and require guidance, contact your institution.

Iceland Student Visas

Depending on where you are from, you may need to apply for a visa in order to study in Iceland.

If you are from an EU/EEA country, you will not need a visa to study in Iceland. You will, however, need to register with the local authorities if your studies are longer than three months. If you are from any other country, you will need to apply for a residence permit, which acts as a student visa. If you are studying for a bachelors or masters, your permit will be valid for six months at a time, meaning that you will need to renew it. If you are a doctorate student, your permit is issued for 12 months at a time. Your permit needs to be renewed within four weeks of expiry.


The official and national language of Iceland is Icelandic.

The majority of the population is fluent in English, so communicating with people shouldn’t be difficult. It is recommended however, that you try to learn as much Icelandic as possible. This will help with your everyday life, as well as being a great skill to display on your CV/resume.

If you wish to learn some Icelandic before your arrival in the country, there are many different options. You can pay for a tutor, take a university language course, or use online resources. Icelandic Online is an online language course run by the University of Iceland and is completely free.

Many courses are taught in English, due to the increasing number of international students choosing Iceland. Whether you choose to study in English or Icelandic, you will need to provide proof of your proficiency. If you do not meet the required standards, it is common for institutions to offer language courses to help you to improve.



The capital and largest city in Iceland, Reykjavík is home to over 127,000 people. The city is the country’s centre for culture, history and learning, as well as a popular tourist destination. Reykjavík is believed to be the location of the first permanent settlement in Iceland, established around AD 870. The city is considered to be one of the cleanest, greenest and safest cities in the world, making it the perfect place to study!

Located in the city of Reykjavík you will find three universities, two of which are private. Reykjavík University, founded in 1988, is the largest private university in Iceland. It is a bilingual institution, meaning that they offer courses in English and Icelandic. Also in Reykjavík is the Iceland Academy of the Arts, offering the only university level degrees in the arts in Iceland. They have five departments, including Fine Arts, Music and Dance, among others.


Located in the north of Iceland, Akureyri is home to almost 19,000 people. Nicknamed the ‘Capital of North Iceland’, the city is an important port and fishing region. In the 20th century, cities such as Akureyri experienced an influx of residents moving in from the countryside. Whilst fishing and commerce have been the main economy for the city, higher education is a growing sector.

Located in Akureyri you will find the University of Akureyri, a public institution founded in 1987. The university has 3 faculties, and offers bachelors and masters courses in a variety of fields.

Universities in Iceland

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