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Short-cycle higher education


7.2.First Cycle Programmes

7.2.2Short-cycle higher education

Last update: 24 June 2022

Branches of study

Students in Denmark obtain a short-cycle or first-cycle degree through the academy profession programmes.

Formal matters

Academy profession programme



Further education

Professional Bachelor and Diploma study programmes

Main institution type

Academy of Professional Higher Education

Knowledge base

Business and profession-based as well as development-based

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

Level 5

An Academy Profession (AP) degree programme is for students who seek employment in business and industry. Combining theory and practice, AP degree programmes are developed in close collaboration with representatives different professional sectors.

Length of academy profession programmes

The academy profession programmes (Erhvervsakademiuddannelse) is awarded after 2 to 2 ½ years of study (90-150 ECTS) depending on the area of study. Each year is divided into two semesters.

In some programmes students have the possibility to continue their AP Degree at a bachelor level by way of a top-up degree. The top-up degree is approximately 1½ years of study (90 ECTS) where, at the end, the student will have achieved a Professional Bachelor Degree.

Overview of main branches of study

Programmes within the following study fields are offered:

  • Biotechnology and laboratory technical (laboratory technician etc.)
  • Design professional (E-designer etc.)
  • IT professional (computer specialist, IT Technologist etc.)
  • Social science (administrative management)
  • Health professional (clinical assistant)
  • Technical and the economic-commercial (financial controller, financial management etc.)

Students may, on certain conditions, be awarded credits if they continue in a medium- or long-cycle higher education programme.

It is the aim of the programmes to qualify students for the performance of practical, vocational tasks on an analytical basis. The programmes have to meet the general needs for vocational qualifications.

Admission requirements

Admission to Danish study programmes depend on the fulfilment of both general requirements and specific requirements.


Academy profession programmes

Admission requirements

Completion of upper secondary education or relevant vocational training

Main institution type

Academy of Professional Higher Education

The general admission requirement for all programmes at first cycle level is the completion of one of the qualifying examinations at upper secondary level:

  • The upper secondary school leaving examination (studentereksamen)
  • The higher preparatory examination (HF)
  • The higher commercial examination (HHX)
  • The higher technical examination (HTX)

Contrary to the bachelor’s programmes, admission to academy profession programmes can take place on the basis of a relevant vocational education.

With few exceptions to the rule, it is not possible for students to be admitted to an academy profession 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 completing that specific programme.

Responsible authority

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 Coordinated Enrolment System (KOT) is responsible for coordinating the admission to higher education.

The Ministry for Higher Education and Science can, however, dimension the number of student places available of educational programmes if the programmes have been assessed as having high unemployment rates among graduates for long periods.


An academy profession degree contains theoretical teaching at the educational institution as well as practical training at  work placements, either in Denmark or abroad.

An academy profession programme consists of:

  • Compulsory educational elements as well as work placements of at least 15 ECTS
  • Compulsory educational elements and practical training of at least 75 ECTS
  • Electives of a maximum of 30 ECTS
  • A final project of 10 or 15 ECTS.

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 theory and practical experience. It combines lectures and smaller group/class teaching. Academy profession degree programmes are developed in close collaboration with representatives from their respective professional sector.

Teaching style - characteristics

  • Academy profession students often undertake project work in small or larger groups
  • Close collaboration between students and teachers
  • Completion of work placements in Danish or overseas employers
  • Focus on turning new knowledge and learning into innovative solutions

The academy profession programmes are often taught by lectures with ties to Danish or international professions so the latest trends of business life are brought into the classroom.

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.

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

Teachers can choose their own teaching methods and materials.

Progression of students

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. Other programmes have to be completed within the number of years which corresponds to the nominated duration of the programme plus two years. The educational institutions can make exceptions from the last possible completion date if it is due to unusual reasons.

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.

Rules for examination attempts

The students have three examination attempts. If the student fails to pass the third attempt, the enrolment at the study programme will be terminated. 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 career guidance centres in almost all academies of professional higher education. These offer career guidance to all students and graduates.

Labour market access during study programme

Academies of professional higher education is characterised for facilitating close contact between students and local companies. The degrees are career-focused and some institutions include compulsory 3 monthswork placements in their programmes.

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.

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.


An academy profession 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. The test has to document that the student has achieved 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 work placement. This test has to document that the student has achieved the learning goals which have been stipulated for the practical training.
  • An external test in the final exam project, together with the test after the practical training and the programme's other tests, have to document the achievement of the educational learning goals. The tests in the final exam project consist of a project and an oral examination. One joint grade is given.

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


Academies of Professional Higher Education issue a diploma to students who have successfully completed their 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

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

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. Also, the Diploma Supplement provides information about the institution, the place of the institution and the programme in the Danish education system.

Organisational variation

No information available.


Retsinformation, 2019. Bekendtgørelse af lov om erhvervsakademiuddannelser og professionsbacheloruddannelser [Order on Academy profession programmes and Professional bachelor’s programmes].[Online] Available at: [Accessed 24 June 2022]

Optagelse DK, 2017. Søg videregående uddannelse [Apply for higher education]. [Online] Available at: [Accessed 21 November 2017].

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