Sweden lying in the northern part of Europe is the third largest country in Western Europe, though it is only about the size of the state of California. The capital is Stockholm and the population about 9 million. The official language is Swedish and
the Lutheran Church of Sweden is the official State church.
Through the centuries Sweden has been historically intermixed with Norway and Denmark. Boundaries have shifted between the three nations. Sweden was once a great naval power and incorporated some territory from its neighbors. However, after the defeat
of Sweden, the country was reduced to its present size. Since 1814, Sweden has not been involved in any war and pursues a foreign policy of nonalignment in peace-time and neutrality in wartime.
Sweden is a constitutional monarchy with a parliament government. The King`s role is principally ceremonial. The country is a social welfare state. In addition to many personal benefits, study allowances are provided for students at the university level.
Sweden is actively involved in the Nordic Council in cooperation with Denmark, Finland, Iceland, and Norway. This cooperation extends to the education sector and has led to much freer movement to work and to study anywhere within the five countries.
The Swedish educational system has been firmly under government control for many years. Educational laws define all the programs of study. The most recent educational law was in 1993, which affected the whole educational system from primary school through
doctoral studies. It made radical changes for many study programs and permitted more independence for institutions as to the number of students and programs offered. The law changed many credential names and required lengths of study. The Ministeriet för utbildning och forskning still approves degree qualifications and the degree titles
which can be awarded. Official English translations have been created for all tertiary credentials. There are now a number of private institutions at the tertiary level, but programs and degrees must be approved by the national Ministry.
Sweden also participated actively through a multilateral or bilateral agreement with most European exchange programs and agreements. This participation has led to increases in program requirements in some fields, e.g. nursing. The country, like many in
Europe, has also adopted the terms Bachelor or three year degrees and Master for four year degrees.
Primary and Secondary Education
Education is compulsory through grade 9. All areas must provide secondary education through grade 12 to all students who wish to attend. About 50% of secondary school graduates continue into the tertiary sector.
Swedish program requirements are given in points. One year of study equals 40 points. English names of credentials are official Swedish terms, determined by a government agency, which do not always agree with U.S. terminology and equivalency. Most tertiary
documents will be presented in English. All tertiary programs require the Avgängsbetyg for admission. Most tertiary credentials give access to further tertiary study.
The letter P in brackets (P) indicates credential is a Professional Degree. This type of degree may be conferred simultaneously with a Kandidatexamen or Magisterexamen.
General Comments on Evaluating Credentials from Sweden
Most documents issued for English-speaking countries by Swedish institutions will be issued in English. The National Agency for Higher Education has established official English translations of all tertiary credentials.
The high school leaving certificate (Avgängsbetyg) is required for admission to all tertiary programs. There is no national entrance examination. For most programs, however, there are additional specific entrance requirements as to the courses
taken at the secondary level. Some programs require work experience as well.
Tertiary programs are defined by the number of points required; 40 points generally equals one year of study. The Diploma, which can be awarded by all universities and tertiary institutions, is awarded after an 80-point program (two years of full-time
Sweden, like many other European countries, has adopted the terms “Bachelors degree” for programs requiring 120 points or three years of study, and “Masters degree” for one to two additional years. Institutions in the U.S. will
need to decide whether to accept the Swedish Bachelors degree (as well as that of many other European countries) as the equivalent of a U.S. four-year Bachelors program or only the equivalent of three years of undergraduate study. The Swedish Bachelors
degree programs are strictly oriented toward the subject matter of the major.
Special points to remember: the term examen means “degree,” not “examination.” The official translation as “Bachelor of…” or “Master of…” does not necessarily agree with U.S. evaluation
of the degrees.