Language skills opens doors
It is often possible to carry out your work in Norway without acquiring knowledge of Norwegian. English may well be the working language at research institutions.
It may also be sufficient to use English in everyday life, since most Norwegians are reasonably fluent in English. However, you may find that learning Norwegian will help you to integrate more easily.
For permanent positions you are usually required to be able to teach in Norwegian or another Scandinavian language within a few years after you are employed. For other positions this requirement will be applied depending on whether or not you will be giving lectures to bachelor students. Bachelor courses are mostly taught in Norwegian (Danish and Swedish are optional).
For temporary positions, for example for PhD students, postdoctoral fellows and researchers, knowledge of Norwegian is generally not required.
Language tuition is mandatory to obtain a permanent residence permit
If you come to Norway from a non-EU/EEA country and you wish to apply for a permanent residence permit after a period of five years living in Norway, please note that you have to complete 300 hours of language training. The scheme is designed to ensure that everyone residing permanently in Norway has a minimum knowledge of Norwegian language and society. For further information, please contact your local municipality.
Your host institution may organise language courses specially developed for researchers and their families. Communicate your interest in learning Norwegian early so that you can receive information and start a course as soon as possible after your arrival in Norway. In addition to learning Norwegian it will give you an opportunity to discuss living and working in Norway with your international colleagues.
Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) has developed a web-based language course, Norwegian on the Web (NoW) with interactive exercises and additional information on grammar, fonetics and vocabulary
Some of the universities offer Norwegian as a second language as full time courses. These courses give you ECTS credits. One semester normally consists of 30 ECTS credits.
There are some public language courses run by the local municipality. These courses are free of charge. However, not everyone has access to these courses, so you should check with your local adult education centre to find out if you are eligible to participate in one of these courses.
A taste of the Norwegian language?
In Norway there are three official written languages and a wide range of spoken dialects. This may sound complicated but Norwegian is not considered harder to learn than any other European language. If you know the words "ski" and "fjord" you already have a head start.
The link directs you to the Study in Norway portal hosted by the Norwegian Centre for International Cooperation in Higher Education.
You may want to take an official language test to document your knowledge of Norwegian. There are several tests and exams available. Two of them demonstrate a high level of language skills and are typically required for students applying to university or for employees requiring a certificate to document an advanced level of proficiency in Norwegian.
- The Bergen Test
The Bergen Test assesses proficiency in receptive and productive language skills, as well as knowledge of grammar and vocabulary. It represents a standard by which the level of proficiency in Norwegian as a second language can be assessed.
- Trinn 3
University of Oslo, University of Bergen and NTNU offer a final exam, Trinn 3, in Norwegian as a second language. You normally attend classes for three semesters before you take the exam. Trinn 3 is equivalent to the Bergen Test.