After completing two courses at the Stockholm School of Business in the Masters Consumer & Business Marketing, and having already completed a year exchange of my bachelor degree at Stockholm University, I believe that I can point out some differences between the “American” university education system verse the Swedish education system. I think this can be useful for potential students who will soon have to send in their applications to any Master program at the business school.
First off are the classes. In Canada, I would take 5 different courses from August to December. These courses would have lectures/seminars once to three times a week varying on the time of class. I found this to a very intense course load with exams, essays, projects throughout the semester including midterms and final exams in December. Students tend to study to memorize, not to learn. This did not leave much free time let alone enough time to hold down a job.
In Sweden, or at least at Stockholm School of Business‘s Marketing program, courses are taken once at a time (sometimes two at a time) anywhere from 4-10 weeks before a new course starts. I have had courses with class about twice a week, with mostly seminars and a couple lectures in between. I believe this allows students to concentrate better on one subject matter at a time, allows you to actually learn about a subject, and gives you enough free time to be able to work, join a club, or enjoy fika-ing every day.
Secondly, I notice a difference in the professor’s availability. While this can vary from course to course and professor to professor in any country, I found at my university in Canada professors were always available for questions before or after class. Really involved. We were given their email address, telephone numbers, even facebook profiles. Professors had drop in times every week at the same time and would stay after class for any question.
In Sweden, I find the amount of involvement varies even more. Some professors don’t seem as keen to be able 24/7 or to have standard drop in times. If a student has a question, the best way to approach a professor in Sweden is to email them and set up a specific time to have a meeting. This may also be because we are at a Masters level and more independence is expected, but I find coddling is not something to expect in Sweden.
Finally, a reminder that not all grading systems are the same in every country. Case and point, in Canada the aim is to get the highest grade possible and people stay at the library (which at my university was open until 2am and then open 24/7 during exam periods) taking caffeine pills all night to make sure they cram in as much information as they can.
Students in Sweden are much more relaxed about grades partially because school is free so there is no pressure of having to tuition fees, and partially because some courses allow you to re-take an exam up to 4 times. Yes, you read correctly, 4 times (Inserted reference for those non-believers).
So, for those curious about the Swedish education system, I hope this overview of the courses, professors and grading system will help you in applying for a Masters program and discovering what I already know- Sweden’s the place to be for the #1 higher education and its beautiful surroundings! Vi ses!