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.
Priority deadline Jan. 8, 2020
University-specific additional requirements
One academic reference required, see the Eligibility section below for more information.
Opens November 1, 2020
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: "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.
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 (calculated 2016):
Budget (in Kronor)
Student Union, Books
Medical Care, Hygiene
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.
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 the International Study Travel Grant for students travelling on approved UCalgary study programs that are credit bearing. The amount changes year to year as the money is split evenly between qualified applicants. Students may only receive the study travel grant once. Please see the exchange funding page 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 2.7 (B-).
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 VisitUmea.se 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.
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.
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 of campuses across Europe, ESN has created "MappEd!" which allows you to check the accessibility of universities and cities across Europe. 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.
Study Abroad 101
Please watch this YouTube playlist before reaching out or booking an appointment.
Before applying to study abroad, you should ask your academic advisor how an exchange 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.
Study Abroad Advising
If you have questions about this exchange program, you can meet with the specific advisor for this program by booking an appointment through the link below.
1. Select “Book an Appointment”
2. Select “Study Abroad Appointments”
3. Select “Book by Appointment Type”
4. Read through the list of appointment types to select the most appropriate type and view available times.
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.
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 study abroad 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 Study Abroad Team will be happy to assist in finding the best options for you and arrange any supports or accommodations necessary to ensure your success.
Please note if you have or are seeking a certificate from Student Accessibility Services, you should provide this early to your Study Abroad Advisor to ensure that the option that you are seeking can support your needs.