Norwegian institutions offer a broad array of exchange programs taught in English, making them suitable places to go study abroad if you hail from an English-speaking country like the United States. Similarly, many Norwegian institutions offer degree programs taught in either English or Norwegian, making them more accommodating to international students who know little of the local language. Nonetheless, if you are interested in studying abroad in Norway, you'll still need to prepare for the disruption that comes from culture shock and the costs of moving to a new country. Fortunately, there is some consolation in that public Norwegian institutes of higher education were still offering free tuition, even to international students, as of 2012.
Be warned that participating in an exchange program is going to disrupt your studies. Even assuming that you are able to pick up the right courses to study towards your degree while abroad and that your school recognizes those courses, unfamiliarity with your destination is likely going to cause your grades to slip. Your best hope of finding a Norwegian exchange program that causes minimal disruption is to consult the appropriate office for a list of institutions associated with your school. On the other hand, if you feel that the choice of destination and the experience of studying abroad are more important than your school's recognition of academic credits, you can find a convenient list of exchange programs complete with links to host institutions on Norway's official website. Alternatively, you may also want to consider a shorter exchange program set during the summer to truly minimize the disruption to your studies.
Norway has an online list of institutions and undergraduate and graduate degree programs that are taught in English at each institution. You can also follow the links to the institutions' websites to see what degree programs are offered only in Norwegian. Some institutions might let you apply for these programs even if you cannot speak Norwegian, although admission will come with additional requirements. For example, the Norwegian Embassy in the United States notes that you cannot actually begin regular degree studies at the University of Oslo if you are not fluent in Norwegian until you've undergone their one-year language program. According to the Norwegian Agency for Quality Assurance in Education, you'll need at least a high school diploma plus either one year's college education with a minimum C grade or three Advanced Placement tests with minimum grade 3 if you are a U.S. student applying to an undergraduate degree program.
Completing the Application
Filling out the application form for a Norwegian degree program requires you to provide personal identification and all of the appropriate academic transcripts. For example, if you are a U.S. student applying for an undergraduate program, you'll need academic transcripts from both your high school and your college if you need that extra year to qualify. Since you are applying to become an international student, you'll also need to provide a copy of your passport and documentation to show that you can support your education in Norway financially. You may also need documentation of Norwegian language proficiency if you are applying for a program taught only in Norwegian. Confirm all necessary documents for the specific program to which you are applying since each institution has its own requirements. Missing even one document means an automatic rejection.
Barring a few short exchange programs that last less than 90 days in length, you'll need to apply for a student residence permit instead of a visa. If you are from the United States, you must go submit your application for a student residence permit in person at the nearest Norwegian Foreign Mission; locations can be found on the website for the Norwegian Embassy. You'll need to deposit a sum of Norwegian kroner equal to full support from the Norwegian State Education Loan Fund into a Norwegian bank account for your permit application to be successful. For 2012/2013, that sum is either 90,800 Norwegian kroner for the full year or 45,400 for one semester. As of September 2012, those sums were worth approximately $15,608 and $7,804, but exchange rates can fluctuate daily.
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