Completion rates of students in higher education

Updated: 6 June 2024

Next update: Not yet determined

Completed a bachelor programme within 5 years
Completed a bachelor programme within 5 years
Completion rates for new entrants
Completion rates for new entrants
Period1 New entrants, totalCompletion rates (per cent)
Theoretical duration2 Theoretical duration + 2 years
3-year bachelor programmes2018-202336 24856.415.6
5-year master programmes2016-20235 81350.816.4
1½ and 2-year master programmes2019-202316 41348.918.1
1The period follows the students from the year they started their education until two years after the earliest possible completion.
2Theoretical duration refers to the expected duration of an education. A bachelors programme (180 ECTS credits), for example, has a theoretical duration of 3 years.
Explanation of symbols

Selected tables and charts from this statistics

  • 3-year bachelor programmes
    3-year bachelor programmes1
    NumberPer cent
    TotalCompleted within 3 years2 Completed within 5 years2
    Both sexes
    Total36 24856.415.6
    Immigrants4 21844.718.2
    Norwegian-born to immigrant parents1 65746.020.4
    Other population30 37358.515.0
    Total15 76651.814.3
    Immigrants1 75241.916.6
    Norwegian-born to immigrant parents78743.219.6
    Other population13 22753.613.7
    Total20 48259.916.7
    Immigrants2 46646.819.4
    Norwegian-born to immigrant parents87048.521.1
    Other population17 14662.316.0
    1It consists of students who started a study programme for the first time in the period 1.10.yyyy-1 - 30.09.yyyy (e.g. for the start year 2015, the start period is 1.10.2015 - 30.09.2016).
    2Within 3 years implies up to 40 months; within 5 years implies between 41 and 64 months.
    Explanation of symbols
  • 5-year master programmes
    5-year master programmes1
    NumberPer cent
    TotalCompleted within 5 years2 Completed within 7 years2
    Both sexes
    Total5 81350.816.4
    Norwegian-born to immigrant parents27749.514.1
    Other population5 12751.516.8
    Total2 63548.915.4
    Norwegian-born to immigrant parents12348.06.5
    Other population2 35249.516.1
    Total3 17852.417.2
    Norwegian-born to immigrant parents15450.620.1
    Other population2 77553.217.4
    1It consists of students who started a study programme for the first time in the period 1.10.yyyy-1 - 30.09.yyyy (e.g. for the start year 2014, the start period is 1.10.2013 - 30.09.2014).
    2Within 5 years implies up to 64 months; within 7 years implies between 65 and 88 months.
    Explanation of symbols
  • 1½ and 2-year master programmes
    1½ and 2-year master programmes1
    NumberPer cent
    TotalCompleted within 2 years2 Completed within 4 years2
    Both sexes16 41348.918.1
    Immigrants2 99047.119.0
    Norwegian-born to immigrant parents48548.018.6
    Other population12 93849.317.9
    Total6 90351.116.6
    Immigrants1 36748.617.6
    Norwegian-born to immigrant parents24148.516.6
    Other population5 29551.816.4
    Total9 51047.319.2
    Immigrants1 62345.820.2
    Norwegian-born to immigrant parents24447.520.5
    Other population7 64347.618.9
    1It consists of students who started a study programme for the first time in the period 1.10.yyyy-1 - 30.09.yyyy (e.g. for the start year 2017, the start period is 1.10.2016 - 30.09.2017).
    2Within 2 years implies up to 28 months; within 4 years implies between 29 and 52 months.
    Explanation of symbols
  • PhD-programmes
    TotalPer cent
    Completed within 3 yearsCompleted within 5 yearsStill in the same course of studyDropped out
    Males1 01816.436.123.224.4
    Females1 12311.732.831.723.9
    Both sexes
    Field of education
    Fields of education, total2 14113.934.327.724.1
    Humanities and arts1858.637.328.125.9
    Social sciences and law26010.030.425.034.6
    Business and administration11713.724.841.020.5
    Natural sciences, vocational and technical subjects77916.741.219.422.7
    Health, welfare and sport65815.229.235.620.1
    Transport and communications, safety and security and other services2412.545.88.333.3
    Unspecified field of study7--14.385.7
    1It consists of persons who started a Phd-programme for the first time in the period 1.10.yyyy-1 - 30.09.yyyy (e.g. for the start year 2015, the start period is 1.10.2014 - 30.09.2015). Within 3 years implies up to 40 months; within 5 years implies between 41 and 64 months.
    Explanation of symbols

About the statistics

The statistics on completion rates in higher education is based on a cohort of new students or those who have completed an education at a certain level in a given year, who are followed to see how they have moved through the education system until completed education.

The information under «About the statistics» was last updated 23 November 2023.

Enrolled students

Students registered at a Norwegian educational institution.

Completed Education

Educational activities completed with a pass grade.

Calculation of number of years

1 year = 16 months or less

2 years = 17-28 months

3 years = 29-40 months

4 years = 41-52 months

5 years = 53-64 months

6 years = 65-76 months

7 years = 77-88 months

8 years = 89-100 months

9 years = 101-112 months

10 years = 113-124 months

11 years = 125-136 months

12 years = 137-148 months

13 years = 149 months or more

Highest educational attainment of parents

Parental educational attainment encompasses all of the following levels:

  1. Primary and lower secondary education
  2. Upper secondary education
  3. Higher education, short (at least two years but also 4 years or less)
  4. Higher education, long (more than four years)

See also definitions of highest level of education attained.

Educational activities are grouped by the Norwegian Standard Classification of Education which was established in 1970 by Statistics Norway and later revised in 1973, 1989 and 2000.

For international puprposes, the ISCED 2011 is used (International Standard Classification of Education).

Name: Completion rates of students in higher education
Topic: Education

Not yet determined

Division for Education and Culture Statistics

Figures are presented at national level and by educational institution. Data includes information that makes it possible to provide figures at other regional levels.

Figures are published annually in June.

Data is provided for UNESCO, OECD and Eurostat (U-O-E).

Collected and revised data are stored securely by Statistics Norway in compliance with applicable legislation on data processing.

Statistics Norway can grant access to the source data (de-identified or anonymised microdata) on which the statistics are based, for researchers and public authorities for the purposes of preparing statistical results and analyses. Access can be granted upon application and subject to conditions. Refer to the details about this at Access to data from Statistics Norway.

There is a high demand for the collection of official statistics on education. Official education statistics are individually based and document the educational activities of all Norwegian residents from completion of lower secondary school to completion of all tertiary education including doctoral studies.

Norwegian statistics on education went through a structural reform in the early 1970's. All statistics on higher education were previously available through a census. The data is now individually based, with all educational activities being attached to each individual's Personal ID-number. This individually based data forms the basis for the National Education Database (NUDB). This database enables the production of different kinds of individual-based statistics on education and is important for the production of statistics on the completion rates of students in the educational system.

The purpose of this statistic is to document the completion rates of students in higher education. The statistics are individually based, reporting each educational activity for each student. Statistics on completion rates of students were first published in 2004.

The statistics are financed from State assignments.

Important users of the education statistics include the Ministry of Education and Research, public administration, research institutions, special interest organisations, media, business, industry and international organisations such as Eurostat, OECD and UNESCO.

In addition, data is used internally in Statistics Norway in publications and in assignments.

No external users have access to statistics before they are released at 8 a.m. on after at least three months’ advance notice in the release calendar. This is one of the most important principles in Statistics Norway for ensuring the equal treatment of users.

The Norwegian Institute for Studies in Research and Higher Education (NIFU) adjusts a number of statistics on throughput in higher education. These statistics are largely based on data from Statistics Norway.

The statistics are developed, produced and disseminated pursuant to Act no. 32 of 21 June 2019 relating to official statistics and Statistics Norway (the Statistics Act).

Commission Regulation (EU) No 88/2011 of 2 February 2011 implementing Regulation (EC) No 452/2008 of the European Parliament and of the Council concerning the production and development of statistics on education and lifelong learning, as regards statistics on education and training systems.

The statistics include all students registered at universities and colleges that are classified by the Standard Industrial Classification as a higher education institution. Analyses of the completion rates of students are based on a cohort of new students in a given year (students who started education for the first time during the period 1.10.YYYY-1 -30.09.YYYY) and a description of their movements forward through the educational system. Alternatively, a cohort of graduates from a given year is taken and their movements are followed backwards through the educational system.

Statistics Norway collects data from Database for Statistics on Higher Education (DBH) and from the administrative systems of the various higher education institutions. Data on Norwegian students abroad is obtained from the State Educational Loan Fund. The Health Personnel Register supplements data on health education.

Survey techniques are not employed in these statistics. All data is obtained from university and college databases.

Pursuant to the Statistical Act, Statistics Norway collects student data from Database for Statistics on Higher Education (DBH) and the administrative systems of the various higher education institutions.

Information on students abroad is provided by The State Education Loan Fund.


Editing is defined here as checking, examining and amending data. Control and revision is performed on all data received from educational institutions. It encompasses deletion of duplicate records, a control for correct and valid values for each variable and checks for missing information. Several variables are re-coded to comply with control programs run by Statistics Norway and personal ID-numbers are referenced against Statistics Norway's population database to check for errors.


No estimation is performed. The statistics are based on enumeration of registered students and graduates from higher education.

Not relevant

Interviewers and everyone who works at Statistics Norway have a duty of confidentiality. Statistics Norway has its own data protection officer.

Statistics Norway does not publish figures where there is a risk of identifying individual data about persons or households [enter the correct unit here, where applicable].

The ‘[suppression, rounding up/down, perturbation]1’ method is used in these statistics to ensure this.

More information can be found on Statistics Norway’s website under Methods in official statistics, in the ‘Confidentiality’ section.

Individually based data on competed education has been published annually since it was first collected in the 1973/74 school year. Most variables are comparable, but some have changed. The revised Norwegian Standard Classification of Education recoded education courses to enable comparison of newer and older data. While education courses are reasonably comparable over time, other variables are not (e.g. coding of institution types).

Statistics on the completion rates of students was published for the first time in 2004. A reform was taken into action in 2003. The main effect of this reform was to introduce Bachelor and Masters Degrees, thereby reducing the duration of undergraduate degrees in Norway from four to three years, and postgraduate degrees from six to five years. Completion rates of students statistics will not be entirely comparable during the period of transition to the new degree structure.

Educational statistics comprise of data collected from the administrative systems of the various higher education institutions. Errors in the data can occur upon registration at the higher education institutions, or during the control and revision processes performed by Statistics Norway. It is difficult to know the extent of the errors made in the registers. A person may be wrongly registered as being a student. Overestimation of student numbers is common for universities where registration occurs with payment of registration fees rather than enrolment in subjects. It is difficult to estimate the extent of over-registration of students.

Underreporting of completed education in the academic years 2004/05 and 2005/06, were mainly a problem with Cand.Mag. degrees (Bachelor of Social Science) as they did not have a set curriculum. These degrees were often registered as completed once the diploma was issued rather than when the degree was actually completed. This time difference could lead to underreporting of graduates by actual academic year. These students (graduations) will therefore be reported in the throughput statistics as taking one year longer than they actually did to complete their degree.

Completion rates of students in higher education is defined as the number of years from first time registration in a higher education institution until graduation. The statistics are not readjusted if a student changes to a new degree. According to this definition, very few students who switch degrees underway will be able to finish within the expected timeframe. Deferment and part-time studying are not accounted for either.

A revision is a planned change to figures that have already been published, for example when releasing final figures as a follow-up to published preliminary figures. See also Statistics Norway’s principles for revisions.

Revisions in previously published seasonally adjusted figures can take place when new observations (or revised previous observations) are included in the basis of calculation. The scope of the revision is usually greatest in the most relevant part (last 1–2 years) of seasonally adjusted time series. A corresponding revision in trends is also typical, particularly at the end of the time series. The extent of the revision of trends and seasonally adjusted figures is partly determined by the revision policy, see Section 4 of the European Statistical System (ESS) Guidelines on Seasonal Adjustment on the Eurostat website. For more information on the revision of seasonally adjusted figures, see the ‘About seasonal adjustment’ section in the relevant statistics.