A short guide for international students regarding studying on an education program

Types of degrees

I the Swedish system there you can earn a degree in two ways:

  • You can study courses at one or several universities inside the EEA area and obtain a degree at the last university that you finish your degree at.
  • You can study on a program totally contained inside one university or on a program in cooperation between two or several universities.

 To be able to obtain a degree at one university your application for a degree certificate has to satisfy the rules and regulation at the specific university. At BTH we have a "System of Qualification" that controls when a degree can be awarded: http://www.bth.se/for/studerandeavdelningen.nsf/bilagor/ExamensordningBTH%202010-03-16-ENGELSKA_pdf/$file/ExamensordningBTH%202010-03-16-ENGELSKA.pdf

 What is an education program?

An education program (in the following text "program") is constituted by a number of courses depending of the length and character of the program. For example a two year master program includes 120 credit points of courses (including a thesis) to be successfully finished before a degree certificate can be handed out.

Guiding documents

The document stating for example which courses a specific program includes or which degree is awarded after finishing this program is a document called "Utbildningsplan" in Swedish or translated "Program Descriptors". There is also another document called "Programinformation" in Swedish or "Program Information Document" in which for example the goals for the program is stated. In this document the program is structured hereby determining in which order the different courses in the program should be studied by the students.

To be able to get a degree when you have studied on a program

There are two ways of getting a degree

  • You have been studying on a program and you have finished all the mandatory courses/courses and the courses by choice and thereby fulfill the requirements in the program descriptors for the specific degree. If you have adhered to your study path regarding a special emphasis track you will also have an ‘emphasis’ included in you degree certificate.
  • Even if you have not totally adhered to your study path inside your emphasis track it’s still possible to get a degree if you can show that you have all the courses needed (including thesis course) in accordance to BTH regulations (see the document "System of Qualification"). You can then apply for a general degree of for example a Master of Science in Electrical Engineering. In this case you will not have an emphasis’ written in to your degree certificate.

Only one program at the same time

A student is currently only allowed to study on one program at the same time at BTH! This means that a student can only study mandatory courses and courses by choice supplied inside the particular program that the student has been accepted to. The only courses a student can study outside his or her program is ‘freestanding’ courses supplied at discretion by the different schools and aimed for all students. A student can also of course study any freestanding courses at other universities, for example as distance education if you are accepted by them, but normally not as a part of the program. Currently the courses studied each semester at BTH cannot exceed 45 credit points in total.

If you have alredy studied at another university

In the event of a student having certified course credits from another university that is equivalent to a specific course (or courses) in the curriculum of the program this/these course(s) can be accepted as a course(s) in the program. A student has to make a formal application for this process to be initiated and has to supply all the needed original and verified documents for this procedure to be able to take place, including course descriptors (for the foreign courses). In some cases these documents also have to be checked with the university originally issuing the documents.

The foreign course must to a high degree be equivalent to the program course in level, content and study length. The examiner for the corresponding program course will make this assessment and make a decision about if a program course can be substituted or not.

When a student asks for the above procedure to be initiated it has to be well in advance so that the student knows if the examiner accepts the course for a substitution. In the case of no acceptance the student has to pass the course according to the programs curriculum to be able to obtain a degree certificate from the program. As a result of this it’s not in general possible to substitute courses in the first study period of a program (when a student arrives fresh to a program) depending on the timeframe needed to conclude the evaluation process stated above.

If the substitution at the students request takes place it will appear a vacant space in the normal study path for the program. If this constitutes a major problem the student can request that the Program Manager try to reorder the students individual study path inside the program by for example allowing the student to study courses in the program in another sequence (for example in advance) than stated in the normal study path. This option is only valid if the student has the prerequisites for studying this specific course in advance and the specific course is available in the study period when it’s needed.

BTH and the School of Engineering cannot in general assume the responsibility of supplying ‘extra’ courses to fill vacant spaces in a student time schedule that has arisen because of the above mentioned crediting of courses from earlier studies.

When YOUr nominal study time is finished

Each program has a nominal time frame for finishing. For example a two year master program of 120 credit points is finished after four semesters of studies. After this point in time BTH is not obliged to supply the student with courses from the ‘old’ program. If the student at this point has not finished the studies inside the program it’s up to the discretion of the different schools if the student is allowed to continue the studies or not. New students studying a course for the first time have precedence before "old" students when it comes to allowing entrance to a course. The student is always entitled to participate in five exams for each theoretical course in the program and maximum two different attempts to finish a thesis or a practical examination item in a course (for example mandatory laboratory work). The student will in this case be registered only for doing an exam but not for attending the course itself.

The school can decide to give more time to finish the studies, thus attending courses past the conclusion of the nominal time frame but this is decided by the school on an individual basis. An important factor in this decision will be if the student has adhered to the study path of the program or in some cases his or hers individual study path, continuity of the studies and the accumulation of credit point inside the specific program.

Study break

It’s possible to get a ‘Study break’ from your studies under special circumstances. The Swedish government’s rules for study brakes are strict and only mandatory civil and military duties inside the Swedish system, paid leave for taking care of children; sickness etc. should be taken into account when deciding on an application. BTH regulations don’t deviate from these rules but other decisions can be made on an individual basis. A student has always the right to apply for a study break. The application will then be evaluated and a decision made.


A student that is not actively studying at BTH could be considered to voluntarily have finished his or her studies without a degree. By definition a student who has not acquired any credit points during a whole semester is considered to have dropped out from the program at his or her choice. It’s also possible that the program descriptors states that a student cannot be allowed to move to a new semester if a certain amount of credit point has not been accumulated during the last semester.

The student also has to be active in a course during the first three weeks of the course. If no such activity from the student is shown the student is considered to have dropped out from the course, i.e. the student cannot do the exam.

It’s important to understand that it’s possible that a course could disappear and not be taught again maybe due to the fact that the program cease to exist or a program is remade for the next year and the course will not reappear in the program.


Stefan Sjödahl

Education Director at the School of Engineering

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