School systems   Norway

Country   |   Overview   |   Disabled students   |   Developments
  |   Kindergartens   |   Primary schools   |   Secondary schools   |   Higher education


map: Europe - Norwaymap: Norway

Norway (Kingdom of Norway) is a country in the Northern Europe. The country covers an area of 385,155 km² and its population compromises of 4.74 million people. The official languages are Norwegian (Bokmål and Nynorsk) and Sami.


scheme of school system in Norway
In 2006/07, there were 2974 public schools offering primary education. 170 schools were priavte or independent, and 16 of the independent schools were located abroad. There were 98 schools offering special education, out of these, 6 were private of independent.
In secondary education, there were 288 private schools with a total of 27 530 students, 11 000 of these were in schools with either religious or pedagogical alternatives.

Education is compulsory for 10 years, from age six and onwards. It's free of charge.


Kindergartens are not compulsory. There are around six thousand kindergartens of which 55% are private.

Primary schools

There are some three thousand primary schools, of which around 6% are private or independent (16 of them are located abroad) and of which 98 offers special education. There are no extracurricular activities to be chose and no own subjects to pick up - but one may take a subject in a higher level if student is too advanced. Depending on grade, there are from 4 up to 6 lessons a day, 45 minutes each. In general there are no meals at school available, however in some regions fruit is offered. There are computers available to students, mainly in specialized subject rooms.

Secondary schools

In 2005, there were 174000 school students in secondary education. Out of these, 8600 were in private or independent schools. Upper secondary school (akin to high school) is 3 years of optional schooling, although recent changes to society (few jobs for 16-years olds) and law (government required by law of 1994 to offer secondary schooling in one form or another to everyone between 16 and 18 who submit the application form) has made it largely unavoidable in practice.
Secondary education in Norway is primarily based on public schools, and is attended by 96% of the students. Until 2005, Norwegian law held private secondary schools to be illegal unless they offered a 'religious or pedagogic alternative', meaning that the only private schools in existence were religious (Christian), Steiner/Waldorf and Montessori schools. The first "standard" private upper secondary schools opened in the fall of 2005.
Since the high school reform of 1994 (Reform 94), the branches have been merged into a single system. Among the goals of the reform was that everybody should have a certain amount of 'general studies' large enough to make them eligible for higher education later, meaning more theory in vocational studies, and it should be possible to cross over from one education path to another without losing too much credit. In the old system, two years of carpentry would be wasted if you wanted to switch to general studies, in the new system you would keep credit for at least half of it. Since the introduction of the reform Kunnskapsløftet fall 2006 (the knowledge promotion), a student will apply for a general education (studiespesialisering) or a vocational studies (yrkesfag) path. Inside these main paths there are many sub-paths to follow. The new reform makes the incorporation of IT into the schooling mandatory, many counties (responsible for the public high schools) offer laptops to general studies students for free or for a small fee. Kunnskapsløftet also makes it harder to switch betweens electives that you take in the second and third year in the general studies path.

Higher education

The 25 university colleges in Norway are responsible for regional education of primarily bachelor level education within the fields of nursing, teaching, business management, engineering and information technology, though most colleges also offer a number of other educations as well.
There are a number of private colleges in Norway, primarily offering courses within popular fields were the number of public places are limited, or offering accelerated courses. Most of the private colleges are foundations, either autonomous or part of various religious societie. In general pupils attending private colleges must pay school fees equivalent to the entire cost of operating the education, though the Norwegian State Educational Loan Fund will grant loans to cover the tuition fees. About 10% of students attend private colleges.

There are no tuition fees for attending public schools in Norway, as all the costs are covered by the Ministry of Education and Research. Through the Norwegian State Educational Loan Fund all students are granted a loan of about NOK 80,000 and part of this (normally 40 percent) is transferred to a scholarship is courses are passed. There is no interest paid while taking the education.

While studying, all students belong to a student welfare organization that takes care of such services as housing, on-campus dining, book stores, kindergartens, advisory services and some health care. Part of this is finances through a student fee, typically at NOK 300-400 per semester. There are a total of 25 such organizations, each covering a geographic area and often consisting of more than one institution. The
Norway was one of the first countries in Europe to adhere to the Bologna convention, creating a 3+2+3 year system. Most students are accepted to three-year Bachelor programs, having to compete again to be granted Three types of Master's degrees are offered: Master of Science (science and business), Master of Philosophy (humanities and social studies) and Master of Technology (engineering). Medical doctors are still awarded cand. med. degrees for six years of study. Doctor Philosophae degrees are awarded after four years of research-oriented education.

Grading uses an A to F scale, with A being the best and E the worst passing grade. F is a fail. A normal study progression awards 60 credits per year (30 per semester), most institutions either use a 7.5 or a 10 credit block system. Exams are usually held every semester, in December and June, although exceptions occur.

Disabled students

The disabled students are offered the same education as anyone else. Schools, kindergartens and universities/colleges are adapted to offer the disabled students an equal education. The school buildings are built to fit the needs of those physically disabled. There are special classes for those disabled who wish to attend these, and also, there is the opportunity to attend schools especially for the disabled if requested. Normally, disabled students are a part of the education given in general, and schools adapt the learning situation to the needs of the disadvantaged. Any pupils that are unable to benefit from the normal teaching has the right to special teaching which is tailored personally to the student.


The reform Kunnskapsløftet, started its implementation just two years ago, and is now on its way to be fully implemented. This is being focused on. After the results of PISA 2006, there has been a debate about the teachers role in the average Norwegian classroom. Before 2009, the Norwegian Ministry of Education will launch an official Norwegian report on the teacher education. They are also launching a report on international education, fall 2008. Because of the just implemented reform, it is difficult to say what future developments ought to be expected.

School Systems