Adult education

Last updated: 24 9 2018

Image Boken om Sverige
This material is from the book About Sweden.

It is common for adults in Sweden to study. Many people study because they want to develop within their profession or change career. Many people also study because it is interesting and fun to learn new things. Studying all your life is seen as something positive – this is called life-long learning.

Study guidance

If you are uncertain about what to study, you can turn to a study guidance office. This is an office where adults can get advice about different study programmes and jobs. Study guidance offices can usually be found in schools for adults in your municipality. Contact your municipality for more information.

The study guidance office can also help with:

  • ordering grades from the study programmes you have completed,
  • applying for different study programmes and courses,
  • information about what you need in order to get into a study programme or course, and
  • other information about education.

Guidance centre

If you are under the age of 20, you can get help withstudy guidance at a guidance centre. You can get help there with:

  • talking about which study programme or which job you want to choose,
  • applying for information about study programmes and jobs yourself, and
  • information about studying in other countries.

Swedish for immigrants – SFI

Swedish for immigrants (SFI) is a basic Swedish language course for adults whose first language is not Swedish. You can study SFI full time or part time. The course is free.

There are a variety of different specialisations within SFI, depending on what education you have. For example, there is a vocational SFI and SFI for people who have an academic or upper-secondary education.

You are entitled to participate in Swedish for immigrants from the age of 16 onwards. However, it is more common for those who are under 20 to learn Swedish is upper-secondary school instead. When you register for SFI, you have to take along your ID card, driving licence or passport.


Photo: Johnér

Municipal adult education – Komvux

Komvux is a school where adults can learn the same things as in compulsory school (Year 1-9). This is called basic adult education. If you do not have an education equivalent to Swedish compulsory school, you are entitled to basic adult education.

You can also study a Swedish upper secondary programme at Komvux. This is called upper secondary adult education. If you do not have an education equivalent to Swedish upper secondary school, you are entitled to upper secondary adult education.

At Komvux, there are also study programmes you can study after upper-secondary school. For example, continuing education. This is a vocational study programme for adults. If you complete upper-secondary studies at Komvux, you can apply for university college or university. The education at Komvux is faster that in normal compulsory and upper-secondary school. You must decide yourself how to plan your studies. You can study either during the day or in the evening. Studying at Komvux is free of charge, but you have to pay for books and study materials yourself. If you are over the age of 20, and study for at least 50 per cent of the time, you can apply for student grants and student loans from the Swedish Board for Study Support (CSN).

There are also adult education programmes for people with cognitive or mental impairments, for example. These programmes are known as Särvux.

Folk high schools

A folk high school is a school for adult students, offering courses at secondary and upper secondary levels as well as vocational training programmes at post-secondary level. Many folk high schools also offer on-campus accommodation. You can study various types of courses at folk high schools:

  • You can study general courses instead of upper-secondary school and sometimes compulsory school. You can study for one to four years, depending on your previous education. You study at a slower rate than at Komvux.
  • Special courses are courses focused on a specific subject. For example, you can study music or art. You can also learn a specific profession such as youth worker or treatment assistant.
  • Swedish for immigrants. Folk high schools may also offer SFI courses.

Each folk high school decides who is eligible to study at the school. The folk high schools have their own grading system. Studying at a folk high school can give you the general entry requirements for university or university college. This means that you have the knowledge necessary to study at university and university college.

Higher vocational education (HVE)

Higher vocational education is a form of education in which you can study towards a vocational qualification in a particular field. Higher vocational education is an alternative to longer study programmes at university and university college. Students have a lot of contact with businesses during their studies, through work placements/WIL (Work-integrated Learning).

Higher vocational education programmes are closely linked to careers. The aim is for the students to quickly find work after they complete the programme. Some higher vocational education programmes offer vocational Swedish as additional support. This is to support those who have a mother tongue other than Swedish.

In order to study a HVE programme, you must meet the general entry requirements for university or university college. This means that you have the grades in the subjects required in order to study at university and university college.


Photo: Johnér

University and university college

There are both university colleges and universities in Sweden. The difference between them is that a university must train researchers, which is not a requirement placed on university colleges. Study programmes at university colleges and universities provide the same number of points and degrees. There is at least one university college or university in every county.

Study programme or separate courses

A study programme contains several courses that then lead to a degree. Taking the degree means that you have passed all the exams and have completes the programme. You must study the majority of the courses in a study programme. However, there are some courses you can choose yourself. For example, in order to obtain a medical, social work, law or civil engineering degree, you must complete the appropriate study programme. If you study separate courses, you choose yourself which courses and in what order you study them. If you study full time, you study 60 credits each year.

Requirements for university and university college

In order to study a first-cycle university study programme, you must meet the general entry requirements. Sometimes you also need to meet specific entry requirements. This means that you must have studied certain upper-secondary school courses in order to get into a certain study programme at university college or university.

The following meet the general entry requirements:

those who have final grades from upper-secondary school and have passed at least 90 per cent of the programme,
those who have final grades from upper-secondary adult education and have passed at least 90 per cent of the programme,
those who have a Swedish or foreign education that is equivalent to Swedish upper-secondary school or upper-secondary adult education, forexample:

  • grades from folk high school and have studied courses that provide eligibility,
  • those who have in some other way obtained knowledge equivalent to Swedish upper-secondary school or upper-secondary adult education,
  • those who meet the general entry requirements or Denmark, Finland, Iceland or Norway, and
  • those who have, through Swedish or foreign study programmes or practical experience obtained the knowledge required to study a first-cycle university study programme.

If you have foreign qualifications, there are also requirements that you have sufficient knowledge of Swedish and English.

The specific entry requirements can vary depending on which study programme they apply to. Information about what specific entry requirements there are available from the university college or university at which the study programme is taught.

Higher education costs

Activities at universities and university colleges are mainly funded by the State.

Consequently, all university education is free, but you have to pay for books and other study materials yourself.

Visiting students who are going to study for a limited period and come from areas outside of the EU/EEA must pay a fee for their education.

If you study at least part time, i.e. 50 per cent, you have the right to apply for student grants and student loans from the Swedish Board for Study Support (CSN).


Validation means evaluating something that may be difficult to measure precisely. When you have your education or your knowledge of a specific profession assessed, this is called validation. Validation of your previous studies or professional experience can demonstrate that you have equivalent knowledge to that provided in courses in Sweden. You can undertake a professional assessment in which your knowledge is assessed in a conversation and a practical test. You can be validated within professions such as construction, care, industry, transport and catering/restaurant.

Assessment of foreign qualifications

If you have completed a foreign university programme, you can have the programme assessed by the Swedish Council for Higher Education. The assessment is free.

Some professions are regulated in that there are rules in Swedish law stating what is required in order to be permitted to work within these, e.g. a certain degree or registration. In order to be permitted to work in such a profession, you must apply for a permit with the authority responsible for that profession. For caring professions such a doctors or nurses, it is the National Board of Health and Welfare and for professions in the school system it is the National Agency for Education.

Translation of foreign grades

If your foreign grades are to be assessed, they must first be translated into Swedish. The translation must be carried out by an authorized translator. Arbetsförmedlingen can sometimes help you get your grades translated. If the grades are written in English, French, German, Spanish or one of the Nordic languages, they do not need to be translated.

Student finance

Adult students can apply for student aid from Centrala Studiestödsnämnden (CSN). Student aid includes both grants and loans. The grant is a gift, but the loan has to be paid back with interest. This applies even if you move from Sweden. In your application you specify whether you want to borrow money or not. You have to start paying back loans six months after you last received student aid, at the earliest. If you have children you can apply for additional grants.

You are usually entitled to grants and loans from CSN if you have a permanent residence permit. You are also entitled to student aid if the Migration Agency has issued a residence permit to you because you are a refugee or are entitled to subsidiary protection, or due to circumstances of particular hardship. This applies even if your residence permit is limited. You also have to fulfil the other conditions for rerceiving student aid, e.g. that your chosen programme entitles you to student aid.

Asylum seekers are normally not entitled to student aid from CSN.