Finding your higher education

Updated: Feb 4



How to apply for universities in Denmark.


Photographs: iStock

Text: Skyler Bentley Hall


Application season for Danish universities is just around the corner, so it’s an ideal time to brush up on the admissions process. The application can be pretty straightforward if you do your research and organise the required documentation well in advance. So, how do you get started?


Firstly, it may be helpful to understand the higher education model in Denmark. Danish institutions are separated into five sectors: Research Universities, University Colleges, Danish Business Academies, Artistic Higher Education Institutions, and Schools of Maritime Education and Training. In addition, there are over 600 English-taught courses at the Bachelor, Master or PhD level, and these offers can be found at studyindenmark.dk. Since many of my clients apply for a Bachelor at Research Universities, I will focus on these programmes.


English-taught bachelors

Seven out of eight research universities in Denmark teach undergraduate degrees in English (apart from the University of Copenhagen). As a result, many courses are available, and here are a few options for quick reference:

  • Aalborg University: Applied Industrial Electronics; Chemical Engineering & Biotechnology; Language & International Studies English.

  • Aarhus University: Cognitive Science; Economics & Business Administration; Global Management & Manufacturing.

  • Copenhagen Business School: International Business; Business Administration & Sociology; International Business & Politics; International Shipping & Trade; Business, Language & Culture; Business, Asian Language & Culture; Business Administration & Digital Management; Business Administration & Service Management.

  • DTU - Technical University of Denmark: General Engineering.

  • IT University of Copenhagen: Data Science.

  • Roskilde University: Humanities; Natural Sciences; Social Sciences.

  • Southern Denmark University: Electronics Engineering; Mechanical Engineering; Mechatronics; Engineering, Innovation & Business; Product Development & Innovation.


Admissions and qualifications

Candidates will apply to Danish universities through Optagelse.dk, a centralised system that opens on 1 February each year. Potential students choose a maximum of eight programmes in order of preference through Quota 1 or Quota 2.


Quota 1

For Quota 1, admission is primarily based on a student’s Grade Point Average, including specific requirements by programme. Applicants will be assessed based on their Danish GPA, or the international GPA needs to be converted to the Danish grading system. If you feel uncertain about a foreign qualification, I recommend referring to the Danish Agency for Science and Higher Education (ufm.dk). The Quota 1 deadline is 5 July at 12 noon (CET).


Quota 2

If the minimum GPA in Quota 1 is not achievable, students apply through Quota 2. Students with a non-Danish qualification, such as an International Baccalaureate Diploma, also apply through this route. Entry requirements vary by university, and applicants may need to submit a motivation letter, CV, or activities list with proof of internships, employment, and extracurricular involvement. In addition, an interview or admissions test may be required depending on the course. Applying through Quota 2 is an ideal option for students pursuing a Gap Year, offering the opportunity to gain meaningful work experience which will enhance their profile and candidacy. Quota 2 has a firm application deadline on 15 March at 12 noon (CET).


GPA requirements

It is important to note that the GPA requirement does not reflect the difficulty level of the programme, and it is not an indicator of how “intelligent” you need to be to study the specific topic. The GPA requirement is solely determined based on the number of available spots compared to applicants. The admissions office selects students with the highest GPA, meaning programmes with few seats or many applicants naturally have higher GPA requirements.


Tips for success

“Based on our experience with thousands of clients, if you wish to study a specific programme, and you do not meet the gpa requirements, getting started early on your quota 2 application is a high predictor of success in the admissions process. Plan your gap year and make a plan for how you can fulfil as many of the requirements as possible to collect points (and content) for your application. When it comes to the motivational essay, make sure you focus on the study programme and how your profile fits the programme. They are not interested in everything you’ve done unless you can explain how it will benefit your university career. If you start in due time and ensure to keep the programme in focus, your chances increase substantially”. Carsten Søndergaard, CEO and Co-Founder of Mimer and Studieakademiet

When this article was first published there were some unclarities that could lead to misunderstandings. We have gotten in touch with Inge Duus Hjortlund from Studievalg Danmark (Study and Career Guidance Denmark) and she underlines the different deadlines and quotas when applying with an international diploma: “The Quota 1 deadline for applicants with a Danish upper secondary education diploma is 5 July at 12 noon (CET). For international applicants, including holders of international high school diplomas or for instance the IBDP taken in Denmark, the deadline is 15 March at 12 noon (CET). All applicants with diplomas that may be converted into the Danish grading system (for instance European Union upper secondary diplomas as well as the IBDP) may be assessed in both quotas, some international programmes may be assessed only in Quota 2. The deadline for ALL international applicants is still 15 March at 12 noon (CET). In Quota 1 applicants are assessed entirely on their converted grades. In Quota 2, assessment criteria depends on the relevant institution and their procedures. Don’t hesitate to get in touch with the local universities or your local Studievalg center for more information and further counselling (please see www.studievalg.dk/in-english).

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