University Gateway in English

In-person (learning on campus) and distance learning are both available.

Bifröst University will continue to offer preparatory studies taught in English in the 2021-22 school year. This preparatory studies programme is the English-language version of the programme offered in Icelandic. Instead of regular courses in Icelandic for native speakers, students will complete specially designed courses in Icelandic as a second language. Students can also chose to improve their English and/or Icelandic skills instead of completing language credits in Danish.

Students can complete the study programme in just over eight months, split between two semesters. Teaching starts in August and ends at the end of April.

The University Gateway prepares students for university-level studies in the social sciences and humanities and also provides preparatory education at the upper secondary (high school) level, which enhances individuals’ competitiveness on the job market. The main emphasis of the University Gateway is on strengthening students’ proficiency in core upper secondary subjects: Icelandic, English, and mathematics.

Living at Bifröst

The Bifröst campus is a good place to live. Housing is inexpensive, and facilities for families are very good. For more information, visit housing.

In-person (learning on campus) and distance learning are both available.

Registration fee

The registration fee for studies at Bifröst University’s University Gateway is 121,000 ISK/semester. Unions’ vocational training funds offer grants towards the cost of studies. The grant amount and eligibility requirements vary between unions. See unions’ websites for more detailed information.

Admission requirements

Entrance requirements for the University Gateway programme in English are the same as for the University Gateway programme in Icelandic. To be eligible for admission to the programme in Icelandic, applicants must be at least 23 years old. As a rule, applicants should either have completed 118–140 credit units (fein) at an upper secondary school level under the current credit system (around 70–90 credits under the older credit system) or be able to demonstrate equivalent knowledge, ability, and competence.

Students starting the University Gateway programme in English should have previously completed some formal studies at the upper secondary (high school) level in their home country and/or Icelandic schools. An applicant who does not meet these admission requirements but has extensive work experience can instead submit a skills assessment, in which their experience is evaluated as equivalent to education. If an applicant presents a valid skills assessment, the University will take this into account when processing the application.

Apply and follow your application here.

A recognised study programme

Graduates of the University Gateway preparatory studies programme and its predecessor at Bifröst University, the Department of Preparatory Studies, have been accepted into programmes at all universities in Iceland, as well as into colleges and universities abroad. University Gateway studies conform with Iceland’s national upper secondary school curriculum guide and have been approved by Iceland’s Ministry of Education, Science, and Culture. University entrance requirements vary depending on the field of study, but all Icelandic universities take advantage of permission granted by the Ministry of Education, Science, and Culture to provide exemptions from formal entrance requirements. Applicants are encouraged to look into universities’ entrance requirements.

Programme structure

The study programme consists of 67 credits (fein). The length of the study programme is two semesters, beginning in August and ending in April. Students’ study progress shall be in accordance with Bifröst University’s rules on teaching and learning.

The programme structure is the same as the University Gateway programme in Icelandic, with the exception that the language of instruction is English. Students take at least three courses in Icelandic as a second language for a total of 15 credits, rather than Icelandic courses for native speakers.

The study programme is broken up into shorter sessions: two in the fall semester and two in the spring semester. Each session lasts for seven weeks and is divided into six weeks of teaching and a seventh week for course assessment. Several courses, due to their nature, are taught over a longer or shorter period of time. The fall semester starts with a two-week introductory session. This system makes it easier for students to concentrate on the subjects that they are taking at any given time, and the course load is more evenly balanced over the instruction period. Modern teaching methods are used, including flipped teaching, which gives instructors and students increased flexibility to spend more time on complex topics, depending on students’ needs at any given time.


Introductory session: 13 August to 15 August

Information technology, Retrospective and goal-setting 1. Total: 4 credits (fein).

Session 1: 30 August to 8 October

            Course assessment: 11 October to 13 October

Mathematics 1, Icelandic as a second language 1, and Creative and critical thinking. Total: 13 credits (fein).

Session 2: 18 October to 26 November

            Course assessment: 29 November to 3 December

Mathematics 2, Icelandic as a second language 2, and English 1. Total: 15 credits (fein).

Session 3: 4 January to 11 February

            Course assessment: 14 February to 18 February

Mathematics 3, Icelandic as a second language 3, English 2, and Retrospective and goal-setting. Total: 16 credits (fein).

Session 4: 28 February to 18 April

            Course assessment: 19 April to 26 April

Mathematics 4, Accounting, Law and social studies, Icelandic as a second language 4. Total: 19 credits (fein).

On completion of studies

Bifröst University’s University Gateway launched in 2013. Before this, Bifröst University offered pre-university studies at the Department of Preparatory Studies, which operated for 15 years. University Gateway students do not pay regular tuition, but students are required to pay a registration fee each semester. The programme has provided effective preparation for students who aim at a university degree but have paused their studies and gained work experience and/or require additional credits at the upper secondary level in order to be eligible for university admission. The University Gateway programme conforms fully to the national curriculum guide for Icelandic upper secondary schools.

As with any certification at the upper secondary level, graduation from the University Gateway does not guarantee that applicants will have access to university programmes in all fields of study.

Around 90% of University Gateway graduates go on to university studies, according to a recent survey conducted by Bifröst University. Around half have enrolled at Bifröst University, while around 40% have gained admission to universities in Iceland and abroad. The focus of the University Gateway is on preparing students for the fields of study offered at Bifröst University: business, law, and social sciences.

Over the years, the University Gateway has provided hundreds of individuals with the opportunity to advance to university studies – an opportunity that these dynamic and motivated people would not otherwise have enjoyed. Their achievements are a clear sign of the programme’s value and quality.

Bifröst University informs all applicants to the University Gateway that the programme does not guarantee university admission. All applicants to the University Gateway participate in interviews that outline that the formal requirement for entrance to university-level studies is matriculation examination (high school degree), but completion of preparatory studies will allow graduates to apply for an exemption that universities can make to this formal requirement, with the permission of the Ministry of Education, Science, and Culture. All graduates from the University Gateway apply for an exemption when applying to study programmes at Icelandic universities. In addition to this, it is stated clearly on Bifröst University’s website ( that all universities in Iceland choose to make use of this special permission from the Ministry of Education, Science, and Culture. 


Study programme organisation

Below is a breakdown of the study programme organisation. The fall semester begins on 13 August 2021, and the study programme ends on 26 April 2022.

University Gateway studies. The session during which the course taught is indicated in brackets.

 Spring semester                                                                  Cr.  Summer semester                                                         Cr. 
Retrospective and goal-setting (introductory session)          1 Retrospective and goal-setting (3)                                  1
Information technology (introductory session)                      3 Accounting (4)                                                                 5
Creative and critical thinking (1)                                           4 Icelandic as a second language III (3)                             5
Icelandic as a second language I (1)                                      5 Mathematics III (3)                                                          5
Icelandic as a second language II (2)                                     5 Mathematics IV (4)                                                          4
Mathematics I (1)                                                                   4 English II (3)                                                                    5
Mathematics II (2)                                                                  5 Law and social studies (4)                                               4
English I (2)                                                                            5 Icelandic as a second language IV (4)                             5
Total credits (fein)                                                                32                                                                                       35

Why Bifröst?

  1. Constant workload trains students in group and team work
  2. Small university that emphasises personal service
  3. We aim for personal development and social participation
  4. Friendly campus for individuals and families
  5. Active quality control and innovative teaching methods