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University of Iceland Exchange

Fast Facts

Sessions Offered:

Fall, Spring, Academic Year


Reykjavik, Iceland


- Transfer


- Minimum 2.8 GPA

- Junior standing.

- No Language Requirement

Application Due:

- Spring 7/15

- Fall - 2/1

Program Cost:

- Standard UI Tuition and Fees

- Click the Application tab for more details

university of iowa students wearing traditional icelandic sweaters out on a glacier in iceland

Iowa exchange students at Oddastaðavatn

A Reciprocal Exchange agreement between the University of Iowa and the University of Iceland allows UI students to undertake a year, or semester of study in Rejkjavik alongside local students in regular classes and standard student housing.

Though Icelandic is the language of instruction at the university, there is an increasing number of English-taught classes in different departments.

UI students have the option of selecting a sufficient number of classes from among topics taught in English in different departments at the University of Iceland, or of doing an academic year of intensive Icelandic language study. Science majors interested in geophysics are encouraged to explore English-taught classes in geography, geology and geophysics.

"I don’t know whether it was the sulfuric smell of steam shooting up from the desert floor of Smajfall, the sight of two bottlenose whales playing a few 100 feet away in the fjord of Akureyri; the peculiar crunch of black volcanic sand sounding underfoot as we strolled along a windy beach in Heimaey; or the first, delicious taste of the purest water I have ever drunk coming straight from the tap in Reykjavik..." — Fulbright Scholar Mark Weiner, in Iceland in 2009

This exchange is well suited for various majors. Please explore the English-taught classes and see if your academic interests are covered. Please note though, that applicants will have to choose a specific college within the University of Iceland to apply to. Unlike most American universities, students here must be admitted into a particular college in order to study, and that is where they do the vast majority of their university coursework. Admitted students will also have to choose a primary college, but are sometimes able to take a class or two outside of that particular college.

Academic Program

view from Hallgrimskirka Church tower

view from Hallgrimskirka Church tower

Exchange students select from regular offerings from the university curriculum. They will be asked to identify a primary Field of Study.

The links below may take you to course information for a previous academic year, however they will provide a good idea of what is available to you as a visiting student at the University of Iceland.

If the course descriptions do not appear in English, go to the top banner and click on the british flag.

Undergraduate exchange students should select from course numbers with a code ending in G or M.

Courses with a G are open to undergraduates, courses with an F are graduate level, courses with an M are open to both grad and undergrad.

university of iceland student center, with busy students and studying

University of Iceland student center

Credit is given in ECTS (European Credit Transfer System). 30e constitutes a full semester’s load of study; a full year is considered 60e . Be sure to discuss conversion of ECTS credits to UI semester hour credit with the UI study abroad adviser.

• Full description of a year-long program in Earth Sciences for foreign students can be found here.
(Consult with the UI program adviser before contacting the International Office at the University of Iceland directly.)

• Information on courses in the earth sciences taught in English, is available here.

• Icelandic Studies -- language, literature, culture, medieval studies – courses taught in English can be found here.

• Students interested in language study who have no prior knowledge of Icelandic can select from courses here, under Icelandic as a second language, Practical Diploma, 60 ECTS.

• And finally, a complete listing of single courses taught in English a given academic year is available here.

For More Information

Steps to Studying Abroad

  1. To begin students must complete a Discover Study Abroad session at the University of Iowa.
  2. After completing the Discover Abroad session, students must call the Study Abroad office at 319-335-0353 to be assigned to the appropriate study abroad advisor.
  3. Once assigned, students must meet with their study abroad advisor to receive program application instructions.

Study Abroad
1111 University Capitol Centre
Iowa City, IA 52242

Phone: 319-335-0353

University of Iceland

the new campus student center. floor to ceiling windows, many tables and very busy

New campus student center

Founded in 1911 in the capital city of Reykjavik, the University of Iceland now enrolls nearly 5,500 students in nine faculties (arts, social sciences, natural sciences, economics and business administration, law, medicine, dentistry, engineering, and theology).

Although the academic calendar differs somewhat from one faculty (college) to another, it is generally comprised of two 15-week semesters (mid-September to late January and late January to late May).


a group of students in a hot thermal stream out in the country.  snow is on the hills, but steam is coming from the water.

Hot river in Hvergarði

An island known for its high standard of living, a 100% literacy rate (the highest in the world), and its curious juxtaposition of ice and fire in the form of glaciers and geothermal geysers, Iceland lies in the North Atlantic Ocean just east of Greenland and just below the Arctic Circle.

Icelandic summers are cool and damp; winters are made habitable (temperatures rarely fall below freezing) by the warming influence of the Gulf Stream. Not surprisingly, most Icelanders live in the fertile coast lands where fishing and agriculture comprise important sectors of the economy.

Although discovered by the Irish nearly a hundred years earlier, Iceland was first settled by the Norse in the late 9th century. The island later came under Norwegian and then Danish rule, became a separate state with unlimited sovereignty in 1918, and was declared an independent republic in 1944. The approximately 250,000 inhabitants of this island-nation today speak a language which is descended from, and still surprisingly similar to, Old Norse.

US Department of State Country Information

The US Department of State provides safety and security information for every country of the world to help you assess for yourself the risks of travel. Each country information page contains a Travel Advisory, Alerts, and other important details specific to that country that could affect you.

Pay close attention to the entry and exit requirements, local laws and customs, health conditions, and other details to help decide whether traveling to any given country is right for you. Non-US citizen travelers may also wish to seek guidance from the embassy of their country of citizenship. The UI International Travel Policy for Students addresses restrictions on student travel to high-risk locations and engagement in high-risk activities abroad.

Local Information

The University of Iceland Fact Sheet provided by their Office of International Education gives information and web-links covering all aspects of concern to arriving foreign students.

Subsequently, the Guide for International Students provides comprehensive information about student life in Reykjavik.

a full student dorm room.  many bookshelves and books.  very homey.

A student room on campus

another picture of the dorm showing the bedroom


Travel Arrangements

Students make their own travel arrangements to arrive in Reykjavik by the required date. Information for arrival will be provided by the University of Iceland’s Office of International Education.


students picnicking outside in Reykjavik

Picnic in Reykjavik

This program is open to all UI students who are in both good academic and also disciplinary standing. Applicants must also meet the minimum cumulative GPA of 2.8. No knowledge of the Icelandic language is necessary.

Eligibility Policy

It is the University of Iowa’s policy that all students who study abroad must be in both good academic standing and also good disciplinary standing. Students who, even after being accepted into a program, are put on either academic and/or disciplinary probation for any period of time overlapping with the study abroad program dates are ineligible to study abroad.

In these cases, students must forfeit their acceptance and will NOT be allowed to study abroad. Any student that must forfeit their acceptance and/or attendance on a study abroad program due to a probationary status is wholly responsible for any and all financial expenses incurred.

Program Cost Sheet

This is the Cost Sheet for Spring of 2015. This document outlines the total estimated costs associated with participating in this program and can be used for financial aid purposes. It includes fees charged on students’ U-Bill, as well as out-of-pocket expenses. Actual out-of-pocket expenses will vary from individual to individual. Quoted estimates are conservatively high, yet realistic.

The cost sheet includes the Study Abroad Administrative Fee and Mandatory Iowa Regents CISI Travel Insurance. Please see the respective websites for further details. If the fee is inclusive of UI tuition, it is calculated by Current Tuition. Please contact your study abroad advisor with questions regarding this cost sheet – call 319-335-0353 to schedule an appointment.

Financial Aid and Scholarships

Most financial aid (scholarships, grants, and loans) is applicable to study abroad programs. Please check the Study Abroad website for information on financial aid and how it may be applied to studying abroad. You are also encouraged to speak with someone at the Office of Student Financial Aid to explore financial aid options.

Scholarship Opportunities exist for study abroad participants. Please explore Study Abroad’s websites for UI Study Abroad Scholarship Opportunities, and Non-UI External Awards.

Withdrawal policy

After applying for a Study Abroad Program, notice of withdrawal must be made in writing to University of Iowa Study Abroad. The date on which the letter or e-mail message is received is the date by which your costs will be calculated. If for any reason you withdraw after the confirmation deadline and before or during the course of the program, the amount/percentage shown in the following chart represents what you will be required to pay to the University of Iowa.

Date of Withdrawal Student Financial Responsibility
Between confirmation and 45 days before program start date $500
Between 44 and 30 days before the program start date $1000
Between 29 and 15 days before the program start date $2000
Less than 14 days before the program start date 100% of Study Abroad Administrative Fees ($400)
100% of UI Tuition and Fees

Consult with your Study Abroad advisor for any clarification about fees and billing. Note that when you withdraw from a program, any money already paid directly to a program provider and/or a host university will potentially be forfeited. Check with your specific provider/host university for details. Additional penalties for cancellation of airline tickets may also apply. Check with your airline for further details.

Application Deadline

Procedures for obtaining the residence permit for Iceland are lengthy and entail an FBI clearance stateside. This necessitates unusually early application deadlines.

The online application for the Spring Semester Program will be available from 6/15 to 7/15.

The online application for the Fall Semester and Academic Year Programs will be available from 1/1 to 2/1.

Any supplemental materials are due to the study abroad office one week later and accepted students can expect steady items to complete (including the FBI background check) up until departure.

How to Apply

natural basalt rock bridge over the ocean, with a student standing on top.

Basalt bridge in southern Snæfellsnes

Students will need to schedule an appointment with the study abroad advisor to discuss their interest in this program. You will be asked to provide a tentative study plan before receiving instructions for completing the University of Iceland application form.

Note, students must fill out two applications. In addition to UI's UI's online study abroad application, you will also be required to fill out University of Iceland's online application. BEFORE applying to either application, students MUST make an appointment with the study abroad advisor for this program. Please call 319-335-0353 to schedule an appointment.

Orientation Information

Once nominated for exchange by Iowa and application to the University of Iceland complete, students will receive a Guide for International Students from Iceland’s Office of International Education with comprehensive information about student living in Reykjavik, including travel documentation and arrival.

All UI students also attend a general TIPS orientation for Students Studying Abroad. In addition, the exchange program adviser provides individualized information about billing and credit procedures at Iowa.

Helpful Links

Guide for International Students written by the University of Iceland

Discover a Powerful Community is a pamphlet about the University of Iceland written by the University of Iceland

Official Student Visa Information on the Directorate of Immigration's website

How to Apply for Student Permit in Iceland pamphlet from the University of Iceland

students caving in a local cave

Caving in Þingvellir

a beautiful ocean scene with a rocky shore and blue skies.

Reykjanes peninsula