university of iceland tuition fees for international students

Last Updated on December 13, 2022 by Omoyeni Adeniyi

The University of Iceland (Icelandic: Háskóli Íslands[ˈhauːˌskouːlɪ ˈistlan(t)s]) is a publicresearch university in Reykjavík, Iceland and the country’s oldest and largest institution of higher education. Founded in 1911, it has grown steadily from a small civil servants’ school to a modern comprehensive university, providing instruction for about 14,000 students in twenty-five faculties. Teaching and research is conducted in social sciences, humanities, law, medicine, natural sciences, engineering and teacher education. It has a campus concentrated around Suðurgata street in central Reykjavík, with additional facilities located in nearby areas as well as in the countryside.

The University of Iceland was founded by the Alþingi on June 17, 1911, uniting three former post-secondary institutions: PrestaskólinnLæknaskólinn and Lagaskólinn, which taught theology, medicine and law, respectively. The university originally had only faculties for these three fields, in addition to a faculty of humanities. During its first year of operation 45 students were enrolled. The first rector of the university was Björn M. Ólsen, a professor in the faculty of humanities. Alþingishúsið in Reykjavík

The university played an important role in the construction of the Icelandic nation-state and was perceived by Icelanders as an important stepping stone towards full independence. Demands for a national Icelandic university stretch as far back as to the first session of the elected assembly of Althingi in 1845. Icelandic nationalist leaders petitioned Denmark at the time to create a “national school” to achieve cultural and material progress, but also to make sure that the education that Icelanders obtained was sufficiently national in character.

For its first 29 years the university was housed in the Icelandic Parliament building, Alþingishúsið, in central Reykjavík. In 1933, the university received a special licence from Alþingi to operate a cash-prize lottery called Happdrætti Háskólans. The university lottery, which started in 1934, remains a major source of funding for the construction of new university buildings. In 1940, the university moved into the main building, designed by Icelandic state architect Guðjón Samúelsson. The main building forms the core of the university campus on Suðurgata, where most of the principal buildings of the university are located today.

In recent years there has been some major restructuring. In 2008 the university was divided into five different schools. Simultaneously, the Iceland University of Education was merged with the University of Iceland to become its School of Education. Increased competition from local colleges has encouraged the university to greatly improve its marketing strategies, which had previously been deemed unnecessary.

On 21 January 2021, a broken main water pipe serving the Vesturbær neighbourhood of Reykjavík flooded the campus with over 2,000 tonnes of water, causing damage to buildings Háskólatorg and Gimli.


The University Council is the highest administrative authority within the institution and consists of the Rector and ten other members, including two students and two members endorsed by the University Forum. The University Forum consists of the Rector, faculty heads and various domestic representatives. It does not have any executive powers but works with the Council on the overall strategy of the university. The five academic schools and their faculties are headed by deans and have much control over curricula and day-to-day administration.Lögberg, home to the Faculty of Law

Jón Atli Benediktsson is the current Rector of the University of Iceland. He took over from Kristín Ingólfsdóttir in 2015.Læknagarður, which houses the Faculty of Medicine

Schools and faculties

The University of Iceland is divided into five schools (svið) which are further divided into a total of twenty-five faculties (deildir). Prior to 2008, it was divided into eleven faculties which were then divided into departments (skorir). The largest current school is the School of Social Sciences with over 4,700 students, while each of the other four have around half that number. The university also operates a continuing education centre.VR-II, the principal location of the School of Engineering and Natural Sciences

The university consists of the following schools and faculties:

  • School of Social Sciences
  • Faculty of Business Administration
  • Faculty of Economics
  • Faculty of Law
  • Faculty of Social Sciences
  • Faculty of Social Work
  • Faculty of Political Science
  • School of Health Sciences
  • Faculty of Medicine
  • Faculty of Nursing
  • Faculty of Odontology
  • Faculty of Pharmacology
  • Faculty of Food Science and Nutrition
  • Faculty of Psychology
  • School of Humanities
  • Faculty of Theology and Religious Studies
  • Faculty of Language, Literature and Linguistics
  • Faculty of Icelandic and Comparative Cultural Studies
  • Faculty of History and Philosophy
  • School of Education
  • Faculty of Sport, Leisure Studies and Social Education
  • Faculty of Teacher Education
  • Faculty of Educational Studies
  • School of Engineering and Natural Sciences
  • Faculty of Industrial-, mechanical engineering and computer science
  • Faculty of Earth Sciences
  • Faculty of Life and environmental sciences
  • Faculty of Electrical and computer engineering
  • Faculty of Physical sciences
  • Faculty of Civil and Environmental Engineering


There are over sixty research institutes and seven rural research stations run by the university. Some of the most notable are:

  • Árni Magnússon Institute for Icelandic Studies
  • Institute of Earth Sciences (includes the Nordic Volcanological Centre)
  • Social Science Research Institute
  • Vigdís Finnbogadóttir Institute of Foreign Languages (a UNESCO category 2 institute)


University rankings
Global – Overall
ARWU World401-500 (2017)
THE World201-250 (2018)
USNWR Global380 (2018)

In 2011, Times Higher Education included the University of Iceland for the first time, placing it in the 276-300 band globally. The following year it had risen to the 251-275 band on the same list. Currently, Times ranks the university among the 201-250 best in the world The 2017 edition of Academic Ranking of World Universities (ARWU) placed it in the 401-500 band globally.

university of iceland requirements for international students

Here you can find general information regarding entry requirements and other application instructions for your country.

Please note that proof of English proficiency requirements may apply to international applicants whose native language is not English.HideAdmission requirements in undergraduate studies


The minimum requirement for admission to the University of Iceland is an Icelandic matriculation examination (stúdentspróf) or an equivalent level of study. To see if you meet the requirements stipulated by the University of Iceland for admission to undergraduate programmes, visit the entry requirements site.


Beyond the matriculation examination, admission requirements vary between the University’s Faculties. Please note that applicants, whose native language is not English, may need to proof their English proficiency by submitting TOEFL or IELTS scores. Refer to the proof of English proficiency requirements page for further details.

Detailed information on admission requirements can be found in the Regulation on admission requirements for undergraduate study at the University of Iceland, no. 319/2009 and in Faculty information sections in the course catalogue. In addition, admission requirements are stipulated for each programme. Familiarise yourself thoroughly with the admission requirements prior to selecting a programme (see also the course catalogue provisions).

Entrance examinations and enrolment restrictions

Entrance examinations for the Bachelor programmes in Law, Nursing, Medicine, and Physical Therapy Sciences are held in June. For Icelandic as a second language, BA, students must pass a special admission exam. Competitive examinations are held for Dental Technology, Odontology, and Radiography at the end of the autumn semester in December. Visit the course catalogue for further information on enrolment restrictions and provisions.
HideAdmission requirements in graduate studies

Graduate studies

Specific faculty rules apply regarding admission requirements for graduate studies at the Master’s and doctoral levels. These rules are published in the course catalogue and on the websites of individual faculties. Applicants, whose native language is not English, may need to prove their English proficiency by submitting TOEFL or IELTS scores. Refer to the proof of English proficiency requirements page for further details.

University Of Iceland Tuition Fees For International Students

Students at the University of Iceland do not pay tuition fees, only an annual registration fee of ISK 75,000. International applicants will receive an answer regarding admittance by viewing their application status. Those accepted into the University will be sent various practical information.

tuition free universities in iceland for international students

If you wish to take a Bachelor’s degree in Iceland, you need to have a high school diploma/matriculation exam or equivalent. Depending on the university or the course, you may be asked to submit additional documents, take an entrance exam, or participate in an interview.

As for a Master’s degree, the primary requirement is to have a Bachelor’s degree related to the field. As with undergraduate entrants, graduate students may be asked to submit other documentary requirements as well.

Can you study in English at Icelandic Universities?

Yes. Although most bachelor’s programs are taught in Icelandic, some post-graduate programs come with English instruction – which is the case at Reykjavik University. At the University of Iceland, graduate degrees – as well as some Bachelor’s programs – are also taught in English.

Cheap Universities in Iceland

1. University of Iceland

  • Tuition Fee For Undergraduate Programs: Registration fee of only ISK 75,000 (~$585) per year
  • Tuition Fee for Graduate Programs: Registration fee of only ISK 75,000 (~$585) per year

Founded in 1911, the University of Iceland is the country’s oldest and largest institute of higher education. Previously a servants’ school, the Reykjavik-based university is now home to 8,309 students – 12% of which come from various nations across the globe.

The university is categorized into 5 schools, with each overseeing a total of 25 faculties. These are the Schools of Social Science, Health Science, Humanities, Education, and Engineering & Natural Science.

The University of Iceland is ranked as the 2nd best institution in the country after Reykjavik University. With the tuition fee of around $600 a year, the Universty of Iceland is the cheapest university in Iceland for international students.

2. University of Akureyri

  • Tuition Fee For Undergraduate Programs: Registration fee of only ISK 75,000 (~$585) per year
  • Tuition Fee for Graduate Programs: Registration fee of only ISK 75,000 (~$585) per year

Based in northeastern Iceland, the University of Akureyri is known as the largest provider of distance education in the region. Founded in 1987, it works in conjunction with various universities to deliver certain programs.

At the University of Akureyri, foreign students may choose from a variety of bachelor’s programs in the Social Sciences, Education, Law, Occupational Therapy, Nursing, Business Administration, and Natural Resource Science. It also offers graduate degrees in Law, Education, and Natural Resource Studies.

3. Agricultural University of Iceland

  • Tuition Fee For Undergraduate Programs: Registration fee of only ISK 75,000 (~$585) per year
  • Tuition Fee for Graduate Programs: Registration fee of only ISK 75,000 (~$585) per year

The Agricultural University of Iceland, another cheap university in Iceland, is a NOVA-network-affiliated public university. It is one of Iceland’s youngest institutions, having been only opened in the year 2005.

Despite being new to the scene, AUI specializes in fields that most universities do not have. These include the undergraduate studies of Agriculture, Equine Science, Natural & Environmental Science, Forest Science, and Landscape Architecture.

AUI offers Masters degrees in Planning and Environmental Changes as well.

4. Hólar University College

  • Tuition Fee For Undergraduate Programs: Registration fee of only ISK 75,000 (~$585) per year
  • Tuition Fee for Graduate Programs: Registration fee of only ISK 75,000 (~$585) per year

Next on our list of affordable universities in Iceland is Hólar University College. It is one of the oldest schools in Europe, having been founded as a cathedral school in the year 1106. It was eventually renamed Hólar Agricultural College before it took its current moniker in the year 2007.

Located in a small district in Northern Iceland, the Hólar University College offers 3 paths of learning: Aquaculture & Fish Biology, Equine Studies, and Tourism Studies.

The university also conducts research in these unique fields. As of current, it is home to sophisticated centers such as Biodiversity Lab and Aquaculture Lab. It also dabbles in the fields of horse breeding, training, and riding.

5. Iceland University of the Arts

  • Tuition Fee For Undergraduate Programs: from ISK 576,334 (~$4,495) per year
  • Tuition Fee for Graduate Programs: from ISK 588,296 (~$4,587) per year

The Iceland University of the Arts is a Reykjavik-based institution that specializes in art-related programs. The private university, which resulted from a merger between the Reykjavik Arts School and Iceland Drama School, first opened its doors in the year 1998.

Here, foreign and local students – with a total enrollment of less than 500 – can specialize in the fields of Design, Art Education, Music, Fine Arts, Dance, and Theater.

6. Bifröst University

  • Tuition Fee For Undergraduate Programs: Registration fee of only ISK 230,000 (~$1,795) per year
  • Tuition Fee for Graduate Programs: Registration fee of only ISK 230,000 (~$1,795) per year

Founded in 1918, Bifröst University in Norðurárdalur started as the Cooperative College business school. Formerly based in Reykjavik, the private institution has evolved into a haven for local and foreign students who wish to study Business, Economics, Politics, or the Icelandic Language and Culture.

This cheap university in Iceland has a small student population, with only about 700 students enrolled in its graduate and undergraduate studies.

7. Reykjavik University

  • Tuition Fee For Undergraduate Programs: from ISK 1,500,000 (~$11,695) per year
  • Tuition Fee for Graduate Programs: from ISK 1,500,000 (~$11,695) per year

Reykjavik University, one of the cheap universities in Iceland for international students, holds the distinction of being the largest private university in the country. Founded in 1998, it is home to 2,501 students – 9% of which come from international backgrounds.

Despite being a relatively young institution, Reykjavik University is considered the best school in Iceland. It is also ranked 59th in the list of the best young universities in the world.

The institution is currently organized into the schools of Business, Computer Science, Law, and Science & Engineering.

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