The social science programme is a diverse course of study. Emphasis is placed on examining the interaction between the individual, society and culture in various fields. The programme prepares you for considering and answering important questions relating to the origin, status and future of societies in a world of rapid change. You can specialise in one or more areas of interest. Various elective courses are available, for example in the fields of criminology, gender studies, regional studies and issues relating to an Arctic environment. Part of the programme can be taken at other national or foreign universities. In addition to social sciences, the programme offers Icelandic as a second language, providing students with a solid foundation in Icelandic grammar, vocabulary, and syntax, as well as enhancing their understanding of Icelandic society and culture.

Is the programme for you?

  • Do you want to know why some people commit crimes and others do not?
  • Do you think gender equality matters?
  • Do you want to examine the interaction between economic development and social change?
  • Do you want to know where Iceland is headed in the world of globalisation and multiculturalism?
  • What possibilities do Icelandic rural areas have in the future?
  • Have you thought about the impact of climate change on societies and cultures in Arctic regions?
  • Do you want to know where the threads of power in society lie?
  • Do you want to improve your Icelandic to be able to pursue studies in this language?

Areas of emphasis in Icelandic as a second language

The emphasis on Icelandic as a second language is designed to provide you with a comprehensive understanding and proficiency in the Icelandic language. The programme covers various aspects of the language, including grammar, vocabulary, listening, speaking, reading, and writing skills. You can expect to develop strong oral and written communication skills in Icelandic, along with a solid foundation in grammar, vocabulary, and syntax. The programme focuses on improving speaking abilities and reading comprehension skills, enabling you to engage confidently in discussions and enhancing your understanding of a wide range of Icelandic texts.

Students need to attend to electronically four mornings or afternoons each week for 2 hours.

You can view the organisation of the programme further down the page and in Ugla, the university's teaching website.

Areas of emphasis in Social Sciences

Studying in the Social Sciences is based on the foundations of sociology, anthropology and political science.

The aim is to open students' eyes to the nature, behaviour and interaction of groups, institutions and societies. What are the conditions for solidarity and conflict and what causes social change? You will receive training in planning and conducting research.

You can tailor the programme to your field of interest and focus on the following research areas:

  • Criminology
  • Regional studies
  • Gender studies
  • Nordic Studies

You can view the organisation of the programme further down the page and in Ugla, the university's teaching website.

Opportunities after graduation

The strength of those who complete a degree in social sciences consists in the broad foundation that the programme has given them. The programme provides sound preparation for diverse jobs both in the public and private sector, in Iceland as well as abroad.

Graduated students have achieved high quality results on the labour market, for example in refugee issues, youth social work, applied research and in matters relating to local government.

Studying social science subjects has proved to be a suitable foundation for postgraduate work in the field of social sciences at Icelandic and foreign universities.

Skills in Icelandic, acquired during the programme, will allow you to improve your chances of finding adequate employment on the labour market.

Social life

Social life is an important part of university education and the social life of students at HA is lively and robust.

All students at the university are members of the Student Association of the University of Akureyri (SHA), but each department also has its own student organization. Kumpáni is an association of social science students; you may wish to consult Facebook for further details on this.

Admission requirements

The general requirement is that applicants have completed a matriculation examination or equivalent, a final examination from a secondary school at the third qualification level, an equivalent foreign examination or 60 ECTS credits from a recognized university – or, alternatively, other academic prerequisites the Faculty of Social Sciences deems satisfactory.

All applicants must also pass a special entrance examination in Icelandic on June 12th at 13:00. The Icelandic test can be taken at test centres located around Iceland (at the cost of 4000 ISK), at the University of Akureyri or the University of Iceland. Proficiency in basic Icelandic is assessed through reading comprehension and listening skills. Here you can find sample examination tasks:

All applicants whose native language is not English, are required to provide proof of English proficiency. The minimum score for English proficiency is TOEFL 79, IELTS 6.5 or PTE academic 58.

Prioritisation of applications due to number restrictions

We would like to point out that if the number of applicants who meet the general admission requirements exceeds the number criteria, applications will be prioritised as follows:

  • Meet general admission requirements, 100 points
  • Number of units completed, 0-80 points
  • Applicant´s letter of motivation, 0-10 points
  • Gender ratio in the department, 10 points
  • Result of the Icelandic test, 10 points

Applicants will then be ranked according to the sum of these factors and admitted in that order.


Applications that do not meet the general admission requirements are evaluated independently. It is important, therefore, that applicants submit a letter of introduction together with information relating to previous studies.

Flexible learning

All undergraduate programmes at the Faculty of Social Sciences of the University of Akureyri are flexible; that is, the department takes equal care of both those students who want to study in real time and be part of the university community, and those who prefer more pliable arrangements. All students adhere to the same curriculum and performance requirements.

However, you have to keep in mind that the Icelandic course will be taught online but in real time, and therefore requires your presence online while the lectures are being delivered.

Students who attend in real time on site or via interactive teleconferencing equipment can participate in teacher-student discussions in the classroom. In individual courses, all students participate in presentations and discussions in real time. Most traditional lectures are recorded and posted on a teaching website. Thus, you can watch lectures when it suits you and as often as you wish.

All distance learning students visit Akureyri several times throughout the school year for short study periods where the main focus is on project work and discussions. Here, you will have the opportunity to meet teachers, fellow students and other university staff and connect even better with your university community.

Exchange studies

All students have the option to take part of their studies at a foreign partner university. You will receive a waiver of the tuition fees of the guest school and pay only the enrolment fee in HA. An international representative assists you in applying for the program, accommodation and student grant.

How to apply?

Applications are submitted electronically our online application portal, with an electronic ID and will be open from beginning of March until June 5th.

Supporting document

  • Secondary school matriculation examination (school leaving examination after three years of secondary school or equivalent)
  • CV
  • Statement of perspective of the studies, 1–2 pages written in English or Icelandic, including:
    • Your motivation for joining the programme
    • Your knowledge or experience relevant to the programme objectives
  • Proof of English proficiency
  • Any other considerations you would like to be taken into account
  • Evidence of basic Icelandic competence, as you need to have basic Icelandic knowledge for joining the programme


My undergraduate studies in social sciences prepared me well for a research-based master’s degree in social sciences and both are excellent methodological foundations for my doctoral studies, which I am aiming for. Much effort was placed on independent practices and the study came with freedom to focus on my interests. All overall management was exemplary. I learned a lot and developed practices that are useful in my work today.

Alfa Jóhannsdóttir
Prevention officer for sexual and gender-based violence and harassment against children and youth