Norhed Scholarships in Norway: Your Guide to Financing Higher Education

Education is one of the strongest investments you can make in your future. Whether pursuing an undergraduate degree, master’s program, or Ph.D., higher education opens doors to new careers, experiences, and opportunities that would otherwise remain closed. However, the costs associated with studying abroad can seem daunting, leaving many talented students unable to follow their academic dreams.

Fortunately, Norway offers a generous scholarship program called Norhed that helps qualified international students fund their university studies in the country. 

What are Norhed Scholarships in Norway?

The Norhed scholarship program is Norway’s main vehicle for awarding need-based financial aid to international students pursuing higher education in Norwegian institutions. Norhed stands for Norwegian Programmes for Development, Research, and Education and is administered through Norway’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Established in 2005, Norhed scholarships aim to promote international exchange, research cooperation, and capacity building between Norway and developing countries. As such, the bulk of Norhed funding goes to students from select developing nations in Africa, Asia, Latin America, and parts of Europe. The scholarships help qualified students overcome financial obstacles that may otherwise prevent them from studying in Norway.

Eligibility Requirements

To qualify for a Norhed scholarship, applicants must meet strict eligibility criteria related to nationality, academic background, intended field of study, and more:


Applicants must be citizens and long-term residents of one of Norway’s priority partner countries. This list currently includes over 50 developing nations in sub-Saharan Africa, North Africa/Middle East, Asia, Latin America, and parts of Europe.

Academic Qualifications

Applicants must have successfully completed a relevant bachelor’s degree program or equivalent qualifications. Master’s applicants should have a minimum GPA of 3.0 on their undergraduate transcripts. PhD candidates need a master’s degree in a related field.

Intended Field of Study

The field of higher education study must relate to one of Norway’s priority development cooperation areas, such as health, environment, fisheries & aquaculture, energy, and education. Common fields of study for Norhed scholars include public health, renewable energy, water resources management, and teacher training.

Language Requirements

For most programs, Norhed scholars must demonstrate strong English language proficiency through an approved test like TOEFL or IELTS. Some Norwegian language skills may also be required for PhD candidates prior to arrival.

Age Limit

Applicants must be under the age of 35 at the time of application for master’s programs and under 45 for PhD studies. Exceptions are possible for applicants with extensive work experience.

Commitment to Return

Norhed scholars are required to return home and work in their country of origin after completing their studies, thereby transferring knowledge and expertise. Priority is given to applicants who clearly demonstrate a commitment to development in their home country.

Application Process

Applying for a Norhed scholarship is competitive, with multiple stages in the selection process:

Step 1: Pre-Screening

Potential applicants must submit a pre-screening application to determine eligibility before proceeding further. This form collects basic personal and academic information.

Step 2: Formal Online Application

If pre-screened as eligible, candidates can then fill out the full online Norhed scholarship application during specified application periods (typically January-March annually). The application includes study and career plans, recommendations, transcripts, language test scores, and more.

Step 3: Evaluation by Partner Program

Completed applications are evaluated by the “partner program” – the Norwegian university or research institution where the applicant wishes to study. Partner programs shortlist the strongest candidates based on merit and relevance to their program priorities.

Step 4: Final Selection by NUFFIC

Shortlisted candidates progress to final selection rounds managed by NUFFIC, the Dutch organization coordinating the Norhed scheme on behalf of Norway. Panels consider academics, motivation, commitment to return, and country/regional balance in making awards.

Step 5: Visa Application

Successful applicants receive a scholarship acceptance letter to support their Norwegian student visa application, which must then be approved before travel and studies can commence the following academic year.

Financial Coverage

Once accepted, Norhed scholars receive extensive financial support covering the bulk of their program costs:

  • Tuition & Fees: The scholarship covers payment of tuition and academic fees for the entire program duration at the partner institution.
  • Living Stipend: Recipients receive a monthly cash stipend of NOK 11,300 (about $1,300 USD) throughout the scholarship period to cover living expenses like housing, food, transport, books, etc.
  • Travel Allowance: One return airfare is provided between the scholar’s home country and place of study in Norway.
  • Insurance: Compulsory Norwegian student health insurance is paid by the scholarship. Family coverage may also be possible.
  • Supplemental Funding: Limited additional funding may be available to cover fieldwork, conference attendance, thesis printing, etc., on a case-by-case basis.

In total, Norhed funding can amount to anywhere between NOK 300,000 and 600,000 (approximately $35,000 to $70,000 USD) depending on program length. This extensive financial coverage makes quality higher education truly accessible for deserving candidates.

Common Fields of Study

While any relevant field may qualify, here are some examples of the most common areas of study supported by Norhed scholarships:

Public Health

Degree programs related to public health, epidemiology, health policy, global health, tropical medicine, etc.


Teacher training, pedagogy, curriculum development, vocational education, early childhood education, etc.

Agriculture and Fisheries

Agricultural engineering, fisheries & aquaculture sciences, crop sciences, food sciences, soil sciences etc.

Renewable Energy

Solar energy, hydroelectric power, bioenergy, wind energy, energy efficiency etc.

Environment and Climate Change

Environmental science, natural resource management, climate adaptation, environmental policy, etc.

Politics and Development Studies

International relations, development economics, public administration, governance, human rights, etc.

Science and Technology

Computer science, water resources management, biotechnology, renewable materials, etc.

Factors Affecting Success

While academic merit plays a large part, here are some non-academic factors that may impact a candidate’s chances of securing a Norhed scholarship:

  • Country Balance: Norway aims for balanced regional representation, favoring nationals from less represented countries.
  • Gender Balance: Preference is given to maintain approximately equal numbers of male and female scholars.
  • Intended Career Impact: Strong plans for how the degree will positively influence the candidate’s future career and country are favored.
  • References: Meaningful recommendations from past professors, employers, and community leaders carry weight.
  • Language Ability: Candidates with near-native English proficiency have a competitive advantage.
  • Program Fit: The proposed study area clearly aligns with Norway’s development goals and partner institution expertise.
  • Motivational Essay: A personal statement showcases the candidate’s achievements, values, and commitment to return.

Thoroughly addressing these supplemental factors alongside academic excellence gives scholarship seekers an elevated profile during selective evaluations.

Preparing Your Application

To maximize the chances of securing coveted Norhed funding, candidates should dedicate ample time to preparing a high-caliber application package:

  • Verify Eligibility: Carefully check all nationality, academic, and other eligibility criteria are fully met.
  • Choose Partner Program: Research programs and reach out to confirm fit and contact the partner coordinator for guidance.
  • Get Recommendations: Request strong letters well in advance from people who are able to comment on academics and character.
  • Polish Personal Statement: Craft a thoughtful, well-written motivational essay highlighting your unique qualities and plans.
  • Verify Documents: Have all academic certificates, transcripts, and translations officially notarized.
  • Prepare for Interviews: Anticipate potential in-person or phone screening and interview questions.
  • Allow Time for Revisions: Leave room to refine the application based on feedback from reviewers.

Candidates who put in meticulous preparation positioning stand the best chance of being selected among many qualified contenders for scarce Norhed sponsorship slots.

Requirements During Studies

While Norhed funds most program costs, scholars also commit to following certain requirements during their funded period of study:

  • Academic Progress: Scholars must maintain satisfactory academic performance through regular reporting and risk termination for failure.
  • Annual Travel: One return trip home per year may be required to promote ties with your home country institution/community.
  • Reporting: Submitting narrative and financial reports on progress and experiences enhances transparency and accountability.
  • No Outside Work: Norhed scholars cannot undertake any paid employment while receiving the monthly stipend to focus fully on their studies.
  • Extension Requests: Continued funding beyond the normal program duration requires a good cause and a strong approval case presented well in advance.
  • Return Commitment: All scholars pledge in writing to return home and work in their country of origin for a minimum of two years upon graduation.

Failure to meet scholarship obligations can result in penalties like reduced or suspended stipends, requirement to partially repay funding, or blacklisting from future Norwegian support. However, most recipients work diligently to complete their degree on schedule while representing their country with distinction abroad.

Opportunities After Graduation

Studying in Norway with Norhed sponsorship opens many doors even after degree completion thanks to the skills and experience gained:

  • Professional Career: Scholars gain an advanced qualification allowing them to assume high-level positions or start their own business back home.
  • Networks: Lasting connections are made with peers, Norwegian collaborators, and institutions that can foster future cooperation.
  • Innovation: Exposure to Norwegian expertise and technology transfers inspires ideas applicable to development challenges.
  • Leadership: Valuable soft skills like project management, critical thinking, and multicultural competence are developed.
  • Policymaking: Insights bring fresh perspectives applicable to public and private sector policy or administration.

While honoring their return pledge, Norhed alumni tend to rise rapidly in their careers and play meaningful roles as change agents thanks to this valuable overseas learning investment.

Applying for Norhed: FAQs

Here are answers to some frequently asked questions about pursuing a Norhed scholarship:

1. What are my chances of being selected?

Competition for Norhed awards is intense, with typically only 10-15% of applicants successful. Factors like country quota, gender balance, academic excellence, personal statement, and references impact outcomes. Thorough preparation and persuasively addressing all evaluation criteria are thus crucial.

2. Can I apply to more than one program?

Yes, candidates can submit multiple Norhed applications targeting different partner programs and fields of study. However, only one application should be actively pursued at a time, and duplicates risk being disqualified.

3. What level of English is required?

Most programs demand IELTS 6.5 or TOEFL 90, with some even higher. The more competitive your application profile, the stronger your English evidence needs to be. If possible, exceed the minimum.

4. Can I work part-time during my studies?

No, the Norhed scholarship terms prohibit any paid employment that could detract from studies while receiving the monthly stipend. External grants may still allow limited work.

5. Can my family join me in Norway?

Family members are not directly sponsored by Norhed. However, cheaper student family visas and health insurance are often obtainable if you can demonstrate the means to support them additionally.

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