Student assessment is generally based on written, oral or practical examinations, semester papers and assignments carried out throughout the whole course of study. Teachers are responsible for evaluation, but each university or college department provides the overall organisation of the examinations within the regulatory framework of the institution. In some cases there are external examiners. Examinations are generally held at the end of each semester. Students can normally apply to resit an examination once, after which, in certain cases, dispensation may be given for one further resit. Normally a programme of study comprises one major subject (2/3) along with one or more minor subjects.

Grading system

As a general rule grades are expressed on a scale of 0-10, where the passing grade is 5 and above, or with a pass/fail assessment. Course grades are usually given in increments of 0.5, and averages are computed to two decimal places. In most institutions of higher education, courses of study require a combined average of 5 or a minimum grade of 5 in each subject  to pass. In some institutions average grade points are not calculated, and in individual courses the minimum required grade can be higher than 5. According to regulations in most institutions, a student may sit for examination in a given course twice. When a student's grade-point average is calculated, failing grades (marked F) are not included in the calculation.


In most institutions, studies are divided into study credits according to the European Credit Transfer System (ECTS). 60 credits amount to one year of full-time study, and 30 credits constitute one semester's full-time study. The number of credits is generally indicated in the course catalogue of each institution.

System of Study

Bachelor degrees (B.A., B.S., B.Ed.) are awarded to students who have satisfactorily completed three to four years of study (180-240 credits) in a Bachelor degree programme. Bachelor degrees do not usually confer professional certification, except for nursing (B.S.) and compulsory schoolteachers (B.Ed.). The bachelor degree constitutes a formal qualification for postgraduate study.

Candidatus degrees (kandidatsgráða) qualify the holder for a special office or profession and usually take four to six years.

Postgraduate certificates are offered in some subjects after one year of postgraduate study.

Masters degrees (M.A., M.S. - meistaragráða) are awarded after completion of two successful years of postgraduate study. A major thesis or research project is a substantial part of the programme.

Doctorate degrees (Ph.D.- doktorsgráða) are awarded by the following universities: The University of Iceland, Reykjavík University and The Agricultural University of Iceland in cooperation with The University of Iceland. PhD degrees are awarded to those having successfully completed a doctorate programme and defended a doctoral thesis.

For further information on programmes offered, please contact each university or college.