Norway is often cited as one of the happiest nations in the world. Its culture and history are exquisite, its cuisine is unique and its civil rights and social organization are of envy for most around the world. Because of all these reasons, Norway has come to see a rise in its aging population.

What this means in turn is that there has also been a significant shortage of medical generalists and medical specialists. Because of this, Norway has opened its country up to medical students and practitioners around the world. However, before you pack your bags, there are a few requirements for medical doctors you will need to consider first. This guide shows you the steps to become a medical doctor in Norway.

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Steps to Become a Doctor in Norway

1. The first requirements concern language proficiency.

Even though English is widely spoken in Norway, proficiency in this language will not be enough for future medical students and practitioners. Rather, all medical doctors relocating or simply starting their careers in Norway will have to be fluent speakers of Norwegian.

This requirement is essential to become a doctor in Norway, as it allows you to communicate with patients – both to understand their medical needs and prescribe them the best course of treatment. Furthermore, language proficiency will be especially necessary for rural areas, where an abundance of people speak only Norwegian.

When it comes to learning Norwegian, there are a couple of options. For those wishing to study medicine in Norway, the best course of action would be to start learning the language a couple of years before applying to a Norwegian medical program. However, there are other paths available as well. Students who enroll in a medical program in Norway can complete pre-university language courses in the country. This way, they are immersed in both the language and culture – a combination that has proven beneficial for many language learners.

2. The most evident requirement is of course a medical degree.

In recent years, Norway has experienced a shortage of medical workers and specialists. Because of this, it has welcomed many medical professionals who have completed their studies and residencies abroad. In other words, you do not need a Norwegian medical degree to practice medicine in Norway.

However, even though you do not need to complete your medical training in Norway, it is beneficial if you do. For one, Norwegian universities are renowned for both their academic excellence and innovative teaching methods. Thus, studying at a university such as the University of Oslo could only be a bonus. Another reason for applying to a Norwegian medical program is the language. By immersing yourself in a Norwegian medical program, you will learn not only everyday Norwegian but specialized medical terms as well.

There are four medical programs in Norway at the University of Oslo, the University of Bergen, the Norwegian University of Science and Technology, and the University of Tromso. Furthermore, all of them last for a total of six years. Although everyone can apply, only students with the highest marks will be accepted. As Norwegian medical schools are highly competitive, this requires focusing on scientific subjects during high school and receiving the highest grades.

3. After obtaining a medical degree, a residency period is required.

Even though a residency period is necessary for most medical professionals around the world, this is not the case to become a doctor in Norway. Namely, as all European Free Trade Agreement countries, Norway no longer requires generalists to complete a specialization. Thus, after receiving your Norwegian medical degree, you are certified to practice general medicine in the country. Although this may seem odd, Norwegian medical programs require their students to complete a significant amount of hours in the clinic and practice routine medical procedures. Therefore, after graduation, students truly do have the necessary competencies to practice general medicine.

On the other hand, there is the question of specialization. All medical graduates who wish to specialize in a field other than general medicine, must complete an eighteen-month residency program and pass the required exams upon completion. Once they meet these requirements, they will be issued a license to practice specialized medicine in Norway.

4. There are additional requirements for foreign medical doctors.

Because of both their aging population and shortage of doctors, Norway has been welcoming a large number of foreign practitioners. However, even though they are in high demand, foreign medical experts will still need to complete a few steps before becoming a doctor in Norway.

Firstly, all practitioners will need to submit their medical degrees for verification to the Norwegian Directorate of Health. Due to the European agreements on reciprocal acceptance of degrees, the verification process may be quicker for those who acquired their degrees in the EU. Nevertheless, all interested parties will have to submit their diploma along with a transcript and curriculum specification. These two documents provide a detailed overview of the courses and training that the graduate has received.

In addition to this, medical professionals coming from countries outside of the European Free Trade Agreement (EFTA) will have two more requirements – a work visa and a residence permit. Although this process may sound complicated, it is largely done online at the Norwegian Directorate of Immigration website. Here, applicants submit the necessary forms as well as proof of employment and their estimated monthly earnings.


I hope that you found this article on the steps to become a doctor in Norway informative and helpful. You can also find more information on different European universities and scholarship opportunities on the Europe Scholarships Page!