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All About Education System in Norway

Updated on 17 November, 2023

Shivangi Mishra

Shivangi Mishra

Sr. Content Editor

If you've ever dreamed of combining world-class education with stunning landscapes, Norway is your destination. Norway offers a unique journey across education levels. In this blog, we'll delve into the excellence of the education system in Norway, where equal opportunities and higher education are within your reach.

Characteristics of Education System in Norway

Early Start with Kindergarten

  • Norway's strong emphasis on early childhood education includes access to kindergarten for one-year-olds.
  • This early exposure to structured learning environments aids in cognitive development and promotes socialization skills.
  • The government regulates both public and private kindergartens to ensure quality education for all.

Free and Compulsory Primary Education

  • Norway's dedication to providing free and compulsory education for ten years underscores its commitment to equal opportunities.
  • The National Curriculum outlines a standardized and comprehensive educational experience.
  • Guarantees for instructional hours and subjects for each grade ensure consistency.

Flexible Upper Secondary Education

  • After compulsory education, students enter upper secondary education with diverse educational pathways.
  • Students can choose between general studies, preparing them for university, or vocational programs that equip them with practical skills.
  • The system's flexibility allows students to switch between paths without significant academic setbacks.

Vocational Education and Training (VET)

  • Norway's VET programs integrate hands-on experience through apprenticeships.
  • Students graduate with both theoretical knowledge and practical skills, enhancing employability.
  • Diverse VET fields cater to a wide spectrum of career choices.

Higher Education Accessibility

  • The higher education system in Norway is accessible through multiple pathways, reducing financial barriers.
  • Public universities and university colleges offer tuition-free education.
  • Students can enter higher education via various qualifications and recognition of prior learning.

Primary and Secondary Education System in Norway

Primary Education System in Norway: 

Primary school education in Norway is the foundation of a student's academic journey, beginning at age six and lasting for seven years. This phase focuses on fundamental skill development and values, emphasizing inclusivity and equal access for all students. 

Notably, grading is not a part of the primary education system in Norway, fostering a nurturing and pressure-free learning environment. Municipalities in Norway fund and oversee primary schools, ensuring a commitment to quality education for every child.

Secondary School Education System in Norway: 

Secondary school, or lower secondary education, follows primary school in Norway and spans three years (grades 8 to 10). During this phase, students make crucial decisions about their educational paths, shaping their future academic or vocational pursuits. Students choose between subjects such as employment, foreign languages, or English specialization, and they have the flexibility to select elective subjects, allowing them to explore their interests. 

Lower secondary education equips students with a well-rounded education, preparing them for diverse academic and vocational opportunities in the next phase of their journey.

Levels of Study of the Norway Higher Education System

Norway's education system prioritizes quality and equal opportunities for all students through its higher education system.

 Initial Vocational Education and Training (IVET)

  • IVET programs lead to vocational competence or trade/journeyman's certificates.
  • The duration varies, with a typical structure involving two years in school and two years of apprenticeship in an enterprise.
  • After completing the in-school part, pupils can take a supplementary one-year program for general university admissions certification.

 Tertiary/Continuous Vocational Education and Training (CVET) (EQF Level 5)

  • CVET, or Continuing Vocational Education and Training, serves as a vocational alternative to higher education, negating the necessity for a Higher Education Entrance Qualification.
  • These CVET programs typically range in duration from six months to two years, offering considerable flexibility to accommodate individuals' employment commitments.
  • Mandatory accreditation by the Norwegian Agency for Quality Assurance in Education (NOKUT) is a key requirement for CVET programs.

Higher Education (EQF Level 6, 7, and 8)

  • Various forms of higher education institutions encompass universities, university colleges, and privately-run establishments.
  • Program offerings span from short-term, one-year supplementary courses to extensive PhD programs and specialized professional studies across diverse disciplines.
  • Grading follows the European Credit Transfer System (ECTS) scale.

Recommended Read: Best Education System in the World

Types of Higher Educational Institutes in Norway

Norway boasts a robust and comprehensive education system that caters to students of all ages and backgrounds. For Grade 12 to undergraduate students, it's essential to understand the various types of higher educational institutes available in Norway. 8 universities, 8 specialized universities, 2 university centers, 8 state universities, 2 national institutes of the arts, 8 private colleges with institutional accreditation, and 8 private colleges with approved programs and courses make up Norway's higher education system.


They offer a wide range of bachelor's, master's, and doctoral degrees in a variety of subjects. Universities are typically research-intensive and have a strong international reputation. Here are some top Norway universities-

  1. Nord University
  2. Norwegian University of Life Sciences (NMBU)
  3. OsloMet – Oslo Metropolitan University
  4. Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU)
  5. University of Agder

Specialized Universities/Colleges 

A specialized university or college is focused on specific academic fields, such as business, engineering, or the arts. They offer bachelor's and master's degrees in their chosen fields. Here are some top specialized colleges in Norway- 

  1. BI – Norwegian Business School
  2. MF Norwegian School of Theology, Religion and Society
  3. Molde University College – Specialized University in Logistics
  4. NHH Norwegian School of Economics
  5. Norwegian Academy of Music

University Colleges/Universities of Applied Sciences

University colleges offer bachelor's degrees in a variety of subjects. They typically have a strong focus on professional skills and applied knowledge.

  1. Ansgar University College
  2. Fjellhaug International University College
  3. Inland Norway University of Applied Sciences
  4. Kristiania University College
  5. Lovisenberg Diaconal University College

University Colleges with Accredited Study Programs

These universities only have specific accredited programs. They may apply to NOKUT for accreditation of study programs at all levels.

  1. Atlantis Medisinske Høgskole
  2. Barratt Due Institute of Music
  3. Bergen School of Architecture
  4. University College of Norwegian Correctional Service
  5. Høyskolen for yrkesfag

Understanding Norway's Grading System in Higher Education

Norway employs a grading system that diverges somewhat from those utilized in many other countries. In Norwegian higher education, the grading system adheres to the European Credit Transfer System (ECTS) rating scale. This system employs the letters A through E to denote passing grades, with F signifying a failing grade. Notably, A represents the highest attainable grade, while E denotes the lowest acceptable passing grade.

A: Outstanding

B: Very commendable

C: Commendable

D: Adequate

E: Satisfactory

F: Fail

Grading in Higher Education

Within Norway's higher education framework, you will encounter this grading structure across universities, colleges, and various educational institutions. Here is the detailed breakdown:

  • Course Evaluation: Professors assess your course performance based on assignments, exams, projects, and participation, determining your final grade.
  • Transcripts: Academic records display course grades, which are vital for tracking progress and applying for further studies or jobs.
  • Grade Average: Norway doesn't use GPA, but you can calculate it by averaging your grades like a B average equals 3.0.
  • Passing: Typically, you need an E or higher to pass, though program rules may vary.
  • Academic Honors: Some institutions recognize top achievers with distinctions or awards.

In summary, Norway's higher education grading system encompasses course evaluations, transcripts, grade averages, passing criteria, and the potential for academic honors. Norway's educational framework not only provides tuition-free learning but also emphasizes wisdom and development, making it an inspiring model for those pursuing their educational aspirations. 

Read More Education System Around the Globe:


Is the education system tough in Norway?

Norway's education system prioritizes equity and adaptability, ensuring all students receive quality education with the freedom to choose their educational paths, including accessible higher education for eligible candidates.

How is the education system in Norway ranked globally?

Norway consistently earns top global rankings for its education system thanks to its commitment to providing high-quality education, fostering inclusivity, promoting robust research and innovation, and maintaining a well-qualified teaching staff. 

What are the benefits of studying in Norway?

Studying in Norway offers top-quality education, affordability, safety, beautiful surroundings, research prospects, English programs, global networking, post-graduation opportunities, and a high quality of life. 

Shivangi Mishra

Sr. Content Editor

She is an experienced writer and journalist who has extensively covered the education sector in India and Abroad. Now helping Indian aspirants realise their foreign education dream by providing them with relevant content and information through upGrad Abroad. Amateur traveller, loves to read Architectural Digest!

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