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7.2.First Cycle Programmes


Last update: 24 June 2022

Branches of study

Students in Denmark obtain a bachelor’s degree through a professional bachelor’s programme or a university level bachelor’s programme. The Qualifications Framework for Danish Higher Education gives the following overview of the programmes:

Formal matters

Professional bachelor’s programme

University level bachelor programme




Further education

Some Master’s study programmes (kandidat), possibly via entrance courses, Master and Diploma study programmes

Master’s (kandidat), Master and Diploma study programmes

Main institution type

University Colleges


Knowledge base

Business and profession-based as well as development-based


European/National Qualifications Framework for Lifelong Learning – EQF/NQF

Level 6

Level 6

Length of bachelor’s programmes

A university programme normally consists of a three-year bachelor degree programme corresponding to 180 ECTS, most often followed by a two-year programme leading to the Candidatus-degree (Master’s level) corresponding to 120 ECTS.

University Colleges offer 3- to 4-year (180-240 ECTS) professionally oriented programmes at a level corresponding to a university bachelor, the Professional Bachelor (Professionsbachelor).

Overview of branches of study for – the University bachelor’s programme

The University bachelor’s programme is research-based and provides students with a broad academic foundation as well as specialised knowledge. The degree programmes can be taken in a wide variety of different branches e.g.:

  • Humanities (history, languages, rhetoric etc.)
  • Natural sciences (physics, biology, actuarial science, etc.)
  • Social science (economics, business economics, sociology, etc.)
  • Law
  • Theology
  • Health sciences (medicine, dentistry, human biology)
  • Technical studies (engineering etc.)
  • IT (Software Development, Data Science etc.)

Overview of branches of study for – the Professional bachelor’s programme

The professional bachelor’s programmes provide students with theoretical knowledge as well as knowledge of application of theory to professions and industry. There are approximately 85 professional bachelor programmes. Professional bachelor programmes exist in the following fields:

  • Healthcare (nurse, midwife etc.)
  • Pedagogy (teacher, social education etc.)
  • Business and Economics (value chain management, finance etc.)
  • Media and communication (journalist, communication etc.)
  • Social sciences (social work, public administration etc.)
  • Design (jewellery, technology and business)
  • Maritime education programmes (marine and technical engineer, ship’s officer etc.)

Most programmes give access to further studies in the same field, e.g. a Master programme (Adult educational programme) or on certain conditions, a specific Master programme (kandidatuddannelse, third cycle).

Admission requirements

Access to higher education in Denmark varies from programme to programme. Admission to most study programmes depends on the fulfilment of both general requirements and specific requirements.


Professional bachelor’s programme

University level bachelor programme

Admission requirements

A student must fulfil one of the following 3:

  1. Completion of upper secondary education with specific requirements for subjects and level
  2. Vocational training supplemented with requirements for completion of specific upper secondary school subjects and levels
  3. Academy profession degree or Diploma degree

Completion of upper secondary education

Main institution type

University Colleges


Upper secondary school leaving examinations (or comparable qualifications) are provided by the following programmes:

  • The Higher General Examination Programme (studentereksamen)
  • The Higher Commercial Examination programme (HHX)
  • The Higher Technical Examination (HTX)
  • The Higher Preparatory Examination Programme (HF)

Access can also depend on specific requirements such as a particular subject combination in upper secondary school or a certain level of grades. All count as qualifying examinations at upper secondary level. However, HF students will have to complete an extended study package if they wish to continue their studies on university level.

With few exceptions to the rule, it is not possible for students to be admitted to a bachelor programme if they have already completed a programme of the same or higher level in the public educational system. This rule is in force until 6 years after completion of the specific programme.

Alternative access routes

Some schools, e.g. the film school, the school of journalism etc. have their own aptitude tests. However, in general, students are granted admission on the basis of the average mark obtained at the final examination at upper secondary level.

Responsible authority

The specific admission requirements for each bachelor programme are stipulated by The Ministry of Higher Education and Science. In general, the educational institutions are responsible for regulating the size of the student population themselves, including the specific number enrolled at each program.

The Ministry of Higher Education and Science can, however, dimension the number of student places available of educational programmes. That is if programmes face certain challenges, e.g. a programme has been assessed as putting future graduates in risk unemployment.

The Coordinated Enrolment System (KOT) is responsible for coordinating the admission to the universities. Students are admitted to bachelor programmes on the basis of two quotas. Admission through quota 1 (kvote 1) depends exclusively on grades. Admission through quota 2 (kvote 2) depends on a number of different criteria, such as grades and work experience. The universities stipulate the criteria themselves.


University bachelor’s programmes

According to the Act on Universities, the Director of Studies and universities' Study Boards are responsible for the practical organisation of teaching and assessments forming parts of the exams.

The Study Board shall ensure the organisation, realization and development of educational and teaching activities, including aims to:

  • Assure and develop the quality of education and teaching and follow-up on evaluations of education and teaching
  • Produce proposals for curricula and changes thereof
  • Approve the organisation of teaching and assessments forming part of the exams
  • Handle applications concerning credit transfer and exemptions
  • Make statements on all matters of importance to education and teaching as presented by the Rector or the person authorized by the Rector to do so

Common for all programmes at bachelor level is a bachelor project and instruction in theory of science and theory of scientific methods. The two subjects’ content is adjusted to the specific branch and specialization.

Professional bachelor’s programmes

According to the Act on Academy Profession Programmes and Professional Bachelor Programmes, individual education institution is responsible for the practical organisation of teaching and assessments forming parts of the exams.

A professional bachelor programme consists of:

  • Compulsory educational elements as well as practical training of at least 30 ECTS
  • Compulsory educational elements and practical training of at least 120 ECTS together
  • Electives of a maximum of 60 ECTS
  • A final project of 10, 15 or 20 ECTS

University Colleges may award the professional bachelor titles on completion of programmes that have been approved to meet a number of criteria. Among other things, the teaching must be rooted in the profession and its development and it must include links to national and international research.

Curricula in non-national language

In Denmark, a large number of degree programmes are offered in English with all examinations being conducted in English. These programmes are open to both Danish and foreign students.

Teaching methods

Teaching in the first cycle level programmes is a combination of lectures and smaller group/class teaching. The teaching must encompass methods, which can develop the students’ independence and ability to create innovation.

Teaching style - characteristics:

  • Student-centred learning and open debate during class
  • Close collaboration between students and teachers
  • Traditional lectures combined with project work with the teacher as a consultant
  • Active participation and problem solving rather than passive listening
  • Focus on turning new knowledge and learning into innovative solutions

Students in Denmark are expected to play an active role in their own learning process. Apart from attending traditional lectures, students engage in project work and are encouraged to participate in open discussions with their teachers and fellow students.

University bachelor’s programmes

A student in Denmark will attend lectures, study independently and undertake projects – on your own and in groups of students. The projects’ aims help the student think freely, to use initiatives and be creative. It will also give experience in using knowledge to solve complex real-world problems.

Professional bachelor’s programmes

The professional bachelor programmes and the academy profession programmes typically constitute an interaction between theory and practice and is organised in a combination of different forms of learning, including e.g. case studies, lectures and exercises, problem-oriented project work and practical training.

Responsible authority

The educational institutions may lay down provisions in the curriculum to the effect that the students are obliged to participate in the teaching.

Teachers can choose their own teaching methods and materials.

Progression of students

The universities can determine the period students are obliged to complete their studies within. Several universities have determined that students, as a minimum, need to complete 45 ECTS Point within one calendar year.

With regards to the professional bachelor programmes, programmes which are nominated for up to 120 ECTS have to be completed within the number of years which corresponds to the nominated duration of the programme.

The educational institutions can make exceptions from the last possible completion date if it is due to unusual reasons.

Rules for examination attempts

First-year students at universities must sit the tests, which the curriculum stipulates are part of the first-year examination before the end of the first year of a programme, in order to continue with the programme. Students who fail this examination may register for a new attempt in August. The tests at the end of the first year must be passed by the end of second year if the student is to continue with the programme.

Students can as a maximum register for this examination three times. The institution may permit  a fourth and fifth  attempt, if unusual circumstances warrant it. A passed test cannot be retaken by the student.


Career guidance

There are well established career guidance centres in almost all the universities and university colleges. These offer career guidance to all students and graduates.

Labour market access during study programme

In several university programmes work placements are an option for students as part of the study programmes. Many Danish educational institutions are partnered with local companies and public organisations for research purposes. Many of these partnerships lead to the work placements and, thus work experience to the students.

It is very common for university students to hold part-time jobs while studying. Some of the academic institutions have online job banks or career centres that assist the student in finding a relevant job.

As for professional higher education goes, work placement is a compulsory part of the study programme where the students apply their theory in practice.

Many private and large companies offer in-company placements/trainee programmes which students have to apply for on the same terms as when applying for a normal job.

Student assessment

The main objective of examinations and tests are to assess whether, and to what extent, the students’ qualifications comply with the objectives, competences and academic requirements stipulated for the programme in the programme order, curriculum etc.

Examinations in University bachelor’s programmes

Programmes have to contain a variation of different test formats, which have to reflect the content of the teaching and methods. These can be:

  • Oral, written and practical tests
  • Participation in teaching, courses, practical experiments etc.
  • A combination of the above
  • Project oriented courses, perhaps linked to areas outside the university in Denmark, or abroad

In the case that two or more students write a paper together, the assessment has to be individual and it has to be evident who has written what.

In programmes, which are offered in Danish, tests have to be in Danish, unless it is part of the test's purpose to document the student's skills in a foreign language. However, the tests can be done in Swedish or Norwegian instead of in Danish, unless it is part of the test's purpose to document skills in the Danish language.

If the teaching in a subject has been carried through in a foreign language, the tests also have to be in this language, unless it is part of the test's purpose to document the student's skills in another language. Universities can disregard this rule.

The assessments are based on the seven-point grading scale or a solely pass/fail assessment. All grades attained for the different courses are included in the final degree certificate.

Examinations in Professional bachelor’s programmes

The professional bachelor’s programme consists of external as well as internal tests. The programme has to (at least) contain the following three tests:

  • An internal or external test, which is taken before the end of 2. Semester. This test has to document the student’s achievement of the learning goals which have been stipulated for the first study year
  • An internal or external test which has to be taken after the student's completion of the programme's practical training. This test has to document the student’s achievement of the learning goals which have been stipulated for the practical training
  • One external test in the final bachelor project, which together with the test after the practical training and the programme's other tests, have to document the achievement of the educational learning goals have been achieved. The tests in the final bachelor project consist of a project and an oral examination. One grade is given.

Tests have to be individual. Programmes have to contain a variation of different tests forms, which have to reflect the content of the teaching and methods.


On completion of the education, the higher education institutions issue a diploma that contains a description of the programme with an account of its subject-composition.

Students who leave a programme without having passed the final examination are entitled to documentation of the examinations passed.

University bachelor’s programmes

The university issues certificates for successfully completed programmes. Graduates must receive their certificates within two months of the last test being completed and the result published.

In addition to the graduate’s name and the name of the university, the certificate must at least state:

  • The title graduates are entitled to use in Danish and English
  • The number of ECTS of the entire programme
  • The subjects in which tests have been taken, or which have been documented in some other way, including the number of ECTS
  • Tests for which credits have been transferred
  • The examination language if the test has been taken in a foreign language
  • The assessment obtained and if appropriate, the overall average examination result
  • A profile, which describes the programme

Professional bachelor’s programmes

University Colleges issue a diploma to students who have successfully completed their professional bachelor programme. In addition to information about the graduate’s name and the issuing authority, the diploma must as a minimum contain the following information:

  • The educational elements in which the student has sat for an examination
  • The assessments given
  • Educational elements documented in other ways
  • The individual educational elements cf. items 1 and 3, indicated in ECTS-point
  • Examinations for which the student has obtained credit transfer
  • The examination language, if the examination was taken in a foreign language, except for Norwegian and Swedish
  • The title which the programme leads to
  • The designation of the programme translated into English

Diploma supplement

In an annexe to the certificate, the institutions issue a Diploma Supplement in English. This, in accordance with the standard model developed by the European Commission, the Council of Europe and UNESCO/CEPES, describes the competence provided by the programme, the contents, level and aim. The Diploma Supplement provides information about the institution, the place of the institution and the programme in the Danish education system.


The Ministry of Higher Education and Science, 2016. Qualifications Framework for Lifelong Learning [Online] Available at: [Accessed 16 November 2017]

The Ministry of Higher Education and Science, The Ministry for Children, Education and Gender Equality & The Ministry of Culture, 2016: The Danish Education System. The European Commission.

Retsinformation, 2021. Bekendtgørelse af lov om erhvervsakademiuddannelser og professionsbacheloruddannelser [Order on Academy profession programmes and Professional bachelor’s rogrammes].[Online] Available at: [Accessed 24 June 2022]

Retsinformation, 2019. Bekendtgørelse af lov om universiteter (universitetsloven) [Order on Act on universities (The University Act)] [Online] Available at:  [Accessed 24 June 2022]

Study in Denmark, 2017. Study Options [Online] Available at: [Accessed 16 November 2017]

Study in Denmark, 2017. Teaching Style in Denmark [Online] Available at: [Accessed 16 November 2017]