Image of Umea university lake

Umeå University

Tucked along the coastline an hour's plane ride from Stockholm, Umeå is easily identifiable from air by its collection of waterways and thousands of trees lining the city streets.

As the 2014 European Capital of Culture, Umeå seems destined to make an impression with its combination of eclectic architecture and world-class displays of art and theatre. It boasts the largest athletics training & fitness facility in Europe and is known as the fastest-growing city in northern Sweden.

Umeå University (UMU) is a young university, only established in 1965, but already ranked #1 in student satisfaction in the country. It has 29,000 students and is ranked among Sweden's top 8 universities (QS 2019). In addition, it's highly regarded in Europe for its excellent sports facilities. Indeed, students will find a haven here, well-positioned to explore the far north of Sweden, Finland, and the Lapland region.

Key information


Umeå, Sweden


English, Swedish


Fall, Winter, Academic Year

Program type


Application information

Application status


Apply Now

2024-2025 applications

First come, first considered for remaining spaces

Fall 2024 final deadline: March 15, 2024

Winter 2025 final deadline: August 15, 2024

University-specific additional requirements

No reference letter required; minimum GPA 2.5. See Eligibility section below for details.

2025-2026 applications

Open November 1, 2024

Student Experience

Introducing Europe - Who I Met & Why You Should Go

Gwyneth Yu (2019-20 exchange student at Umeå)

Blog post: "Why Study Abroad At Umeå?" by Bretton Mills (2015 exchange student)

Interview: Studying at Umeå University with Cara Erb (2022 exchange student)

Program details

Programs Offered: UMU offers a wide selection of courses taught in English, including Art, Biology (inc. Microbio, Aquatic, etc.), Biochemistry, Business, Chemistry, Computer Science and Interaction Design (inc. A.I.), Earth Science, Ecology, Economics, Food Science, Gender Studies, Geography, Graphic Design, Health Sciences, History, Kinesiology, Law & Society, Music, Physics (inc. Astro, Atomic, Molecular, and Quantum Physics), Political Science, Psychology, Sociology, Statistics and more.

In Sweden, courses are held one at a time. Students write their exam after the final lecture and then move on to the next course. A standard course lasts five weeks and the semester is divided in quadrants with space for four consecutive courses, although some courses may vary in length and overlap. Exchange students are expected to take 30 ECTS credits per semester. One UofC Half Course Equivalent = 6 ECTS credits. Additional information on the Swedish academic system can be found online. 

Student Tips: "When I first started studying here I noticed that the Swedes love group work and I was a bit skeptical. That opinion has since changed and now I love the group work – participating in seminars and discussions with a group of like-minded people. I also like the teaching style, it’s more relaxed than back home – less hierarchical."

"Chemometrics is a big field here in Umea and is useful in the area of Metabolomics. The courses for this particular field of study are not available at UCalgary. I also had the chance to attend a lecture given by Emmuanuelle Carpentier, one of the founders of the CRISPR/Cas9 genome editing technology! [During your studies] be aware that courses may run on quarter time (i.e. 15 mins later or earlier than the time indicated on the schedule). Also, hold off on purchasing books until you’re certain they’re needed."

The academic year is divided into two semesters. The Autumn semester runs from late August to mid-January and the Spring semester runs from mid-January to early June. It is possible for students to complete the Autumn semester in December.

  1. Costs

    Exchange students pay their tuition and academic fees to the University of Calgary. Other expenses are paid directly to the service provider. Also, remember to include things like visas, insurance, vaccinations, etc. in your budget planning.

    Compared to Calgary, Umea's cost of living is generally slightly higher, though the lower cost of student housing helps to offset this. It is recommended that students budget around 8000 SEK per month to pay for accommodation and living expenses. Cost of living estimates can be found online on their Student Guide.

    Here is a sample monthly budget at Umea:

    Food - 2000 SEK
    Accommodation - 2900 SEK
    Leisure, Clothing - 1100 SEK
    Local Travel - 560 SEK
    Student Union, Textbooks - 500 SEK
    Phone/TV/Internet - 300 SEK
    Medical Care, Hygiene - 300 SEK
    TOTAL 7600 SEK per month (about $1000 CAD)

    Umeå cost comparison vs. Calgary: Click Here
    (keep in mind student housing costs are automatically subsidized in Scandinavia)

    Don't forget to check with the Swedish embassy or consulates, or the government website regarding study visa/permit requirements, timelines, and costs.

  2. Funding

    Did you know that you can take your UCalgary funding with you on exchange? 
    Since you remain a degree seeking student at UCalgary while on exchange you remain eligible for any awards and scholarships you are eligible to receive from the university as well as student loans.

    Our office administers several awards, including the Global Access Fund (based on a funding-first model where students apply prior to committing to a global learning program) and the Global Learning Award (students apply after being accepted to a global learning program; the amount varies year-to-year as the money is split among chosen recipients). Students may only receive these awards once. Please see the funding page, linked below, for more information.

Exchange students to UMU are guaranteed accommodation in "corridor-style" housing. After being accepted for an exchange, students can apply for housing at one of 5 student residential areas of the city located in walking distance of campus (Berghem, Mariehem, Ålidhem, Nydalahöjd and Ålidbacken/Tunnelbacken). Each student receives a private room on a hallway with up to ten other students and a shared kitchen. Rent is charged on a per-semester basis and varies by residential area from 12000-18000 SEK per semester, which includes use of laundry facilities and Internet.

Student Tips:

"I lived right across from the northside of the University, in Axtorpsvagen 40. The community, Berghem, is quite central to all that Umea has to offer. The building itself is quite old, probably dating from the 1960s. The room, however is a pretty decent size and the surrounding community is very quiet. The communal kitchen had an abundance of dishes and kitchenware, however a few items may need to be purchased. While here, I bought my own pan, bowls, kettle, towels, an additional blanket, a pillow cover and a fitted sheet. The building did have a laundry room, a sauna room, and several outdoor barbecues. The building does not have a gym or wireless internet, hence the need for a LAN cable (or router). However, if one prefers to be in area with several exchange students, Alidhem is the better community, as this is mainly where all exchange students are and where most social events take place. Berghem is a 30-minute walk from Alidhem."

"I’d recommend trying to live in either Mariehem, Ålidhem, or Nydalahöjd. If you want to be in the centre of the action, Ålidhem is the place for you. But if you like to sleep before 4am on any night of the week, Nydalahöjd is the nicest place to live. It doesn’t have any grocery stores nearby, but the apartments are super nice and it’s close to the lake, the campus, IKSU and Ålidhem. Mariehem is where I lived – I loved it because it was on the lake and the walk to school in the mornings was lovely. The apartments were nice and the grocery store was a short walk away. It is about 25 min walk from the university and IKSU."

This exchange is open to regular, full-time students in any faculty at the U of C, who have completed at least 1 full year (10 courses) at the post-secondary level, with a minimum cumulative GPA of 2.5.

Do I have to speak Swedish?

No prior knowledge of Swedish is required for this exchange. UMU offers many courses in English. Furthermore, English is a compulsory language taught to schoolchildren from age 9 and is fairly well-spoken by most Swedes, so it's a minimal barrier to daily life.

What's special about Umeå?

Being far up North doesn't mean that it's "always winter"; Umeå undergoes distinct seasonal change. However, winter does play a large role. Be it skiing, showshoes, dogsleds, or ice-fishing, the abundant mountains and rivers provide something for everyone, with a relaxing sauna at the end of the day. As spring nears, watch the colours of the Aurora Borealis dance over the city. Experience the drastic shift in daylight from four hours in the winter to twenty in the summer - and experience it even further with a trip upwards into Lapland and the Midnight Sun. Check out for things to do like free city tours, and other events. 

Student Tips: "The city was pretty similar to Calgary in terms of climate, however a good pair of winter boots is highly necessary. [Umea] is a smaller city than Calgary, and the transport system is even easier to navigate. There are several places in town that individuals should consider visiting: Nydala Lake, Vasaplan, Bildmuseet, Vasterbotten Museum and the Guitars museum. There was not a place in the city that I found the need to avoid, the city in general is very peaceful and friendly."

IKSU Sport, the largest fitness and athletic facility in Europe, offers a spacious and modern fitness centre, rock climbing facilities, several gymnasiums and a squash and floorball centre, swimming pools, beach volleyball courts, and a wide variety of group training classes. Through their outdoor and alpine sections they also offer a variety of affordable excursions and ski trips. 

Student Tips: "I have never skied before because back home [in Canada] it’s expensive and hard to access. In Umeå you have Fritidsbanken where I can rent skis for free and then walk 10 minutes to the forest and go skiing."

What resources are available to new students?

UMU's International Office arranges both a Buddy Programme and a Host Programme. These can be a great way to meet more Swedes and discover the local pattern of life.

Check out these videos about the Buddy Program: Trailer & What is the Buddy Program?

Student Tips: "The best decision I made during my exchange was to join the buddy program. The buddy program coordinated all sorts of events like branboll and soccer tournaments between the buddy groups, while we (also) coordinated events within the group. We’d go out for Fika, have international potlucks, go blueberry picking, etc. There is a floating sauna on Nydala Lake. Once our group rented it and had a sauna and BBQ. Some of the best friends I have today I met through this group – it was a great way to meet Swedes and other international students."

What supports or services are available at Umeå?

UMU's Disability Services provides comprehensive academic support for students with disabilities. 

For information on accessibility and support services at campuses across Europe, please check out Inclusive Mobility. For city-specific services and places in Europe, the Jaccede interactive platform (website and/or smartphone app - both Android and iOS) also provides a searchable user-built database to identify important accessibility information of public places and locations.

With a strong culture of inclusivity, Sweden is also considered one of the most friendly destinations for LGBTQ+ travellers! Click here to read a blog from an international student in Sweden, or click here for an accompanying video with several queer-identified students talking about their experience.

Have questions?

Global Learning 101

Please watch this short YouTube playlist before reaching out or booking an appointment. In these videos, you will learn much of the basics about Global Learning, which may answer your initial questions.

Watch Global Learning 101

Academic Advising

Before applying to study abroad, you should ask your academic advisor how this program might align with your degree (e.g. best time to go, what courses you need).

After you are accepted, you should ask your academic advisor more specific questions about courses/transfer credits. It’s also recommended to follow up with your advisor again once you return to Calgary.

Find your academic advisor

Global Learning Advising

If you have questions, please reach out to our office! We offer drop-in advising for general inquiries, and if you have questions about this specific program or any others, you can book an appointment with the responsible advisor.

Please use the link below to find the most up-to-date information about our current advising options.

View the Global Learning Advising page

The exchange advisor for this program is: Veronica V. Cardoso

How to Apply

Download the application guide

This PDF contains information on how to complete your application and what to do after you have applied.

Application guide

Identify three programs of interest

We recommend applying for your top three programs for the priority application deadline, as placement may be competitive. We will assess your applications in ranked order.

Check requirements and deadlines

These may vary by program, so check the individual program pages and make sure that you are aware of any different application deadlines or eligibility requirements.

Start your application

Once you have gathered everything you need, you can begin your application!

Please note: Applications will not be considered complete until all required documents are submitted in full.


International travel presents challenges that may not be found when attending classes on campus. There may be a lack of resources, emergency services, hospitals, accessibility issues and/or demands on the physical and the mental self, all of which can challenge individuals when away from their usual support systems and structures. Adequate preparation is essential.

For this reason, it is imperative that you evaluate all aspects of your own physical, psychological, emotional and spiritual condition against the rigors of the particular global learning program you are selecting. If you are unsure of whether or not this program is a good fit for you and/or if you have any circumstances that could impede your enjoyment of the program, please contact us. Our Global Learning Advisors will be happy to assist in finding the best options for you and arrange any supports or accommodations necessary to ensure your success.

If you have or are seeking a certificate from Student Accessibility Services, you should provide this early to your Global Learning Advisor to ensure that the option that you are seeking can support your needs.

Please note: All participants must adhere to COVID-19 and other vaccination-related requirements for the destinations visited on this program. Failure to do so may have consequences such as being denied access to accommodation/housing, program activities, or to the host country itself.