What are Folk High Schools?

folk_high_school_1.jpgFolk high school literally translates from the Norwegian work Folkehøgskule. Folk high schools are not like a high school in the states; rather they are a one year gap year similar to a boarding school mixed with a fun camp. There are over 70 folk high schools scattered all over Norway and each school offers a variety of non-traditional and non-academic subjects. Students live in dorm style buildings and live together in a small school campus. The idea of folk high schools is to create Learning for Life opportunities and experiences.

How are Folk High Schools different than other schools?

These schools are unlike any other school. By law they don’t give homework, conduct exams or offer credit. Professors trained in their subject offer leadership and guidance for self-motivated students. Students receive a diploma signifying their participation in the year.

What requirements are needed to get in to a folk high school?

No previous formal education or occupational experience is required. The average age is 18-25, because most students attend folk high school in between high school and college or after their higher education. Room and board and other school fees are required along with a Residence Permit or a Visa for the year.

How much does Folk High School cost?

Prices will vary between schools depending on which course you choose for the year. Schools do not require tuition fees, but you must pay room and board fees along with any school trip fees and personal course material. Within the set price, all meals are included for the year. Typically meals are eaten together in the joint dining hall.

Pricing (Norwegian Kroner NOK 7.42 = US Dollar USD $1) exchange rate as of Dec., 2014

  • Registration Fee is approx. NOK 1,800 — $240
  • Average cost for a year at folk high school is NOK 102,000 — $13,700

Extra expenses are dependent on the school and course chosen. Some courses have excursions planned for the year while other courses might stay on campus and explore locally. Other expenses might include personal course-related materials such as books, art tools, or outdoor gear.

Total expenses for the year could be anywhere between NOK 73,000 to NOK 136,000. — $9,800-$18,300
(Prices are subject to change)

Each school is different so make sure to ask questions.

Are you a Sons of Norway member? Apply for the Helen Tronvold Folk High School Scholarship

Typical Schedule for the Year

biking_in_seljordThe year’s schedule is much like a normal school year. School starts in mid to late August and ends at the end of May. Semester only options are offered at select schools so be sure to ask your school directly. Typically each school will have a fall break, a long Christmas holiday break, and a Spring break. Schools will stay somewhat open for students to stay on campus during breaks, otherwise these are a good time to plan trips home or abroad.

Typical Schedule for the Week

When applying for schools it is important to figure out what course you want to focus on. Courses vary in arts and crafts, music, theater, sports, outdoor life, media communications, and much more. These classes are held during the weekdays, usually Tuesday through Thursday. Elective classes or valgfags are held Monday and Friday and can include fun classes like painting, skiing, or guitar. Schedules change almost habitually to allow for class trips, school events, or school breaks.


Included in the weekly schedule are meals, four meals a day in fact. Your room and board will cover all meals offered at the school dining hall. Breakfast, frokost is typically around 7:30AM to 8:00AM. A matpakke or a sack lunch is highly recommended to eat around 11:30AM, so this means you need to wake up for breakfast to make a matpakke. Around 3:00PM, a more formal dinner, middag is prepared.

This is typically the hot meal of the day. Last but not least is supper kveldsmat around 7:00PM. Four meals a day is characteristic in the Norwegian culture. This will most likely take some getting used to for International students, pretty soon it will feel natural. For more information about Norwegian culture visit our culture section of the website.

Do I need to know Norwegian?

All classes and instructions are given in Norwegian unless there is someone that does not speak Norwegian. English will be used for the first couple months and then slowly transitioned out as International students begin to understand more. Nearly every teacher and student is fluent in English so there is no need to feel lost. Many schools offer Norwegian classes for International students. Those schools are listed here.

How many students are typically at each school?

This number depends primarily on the amount of living space each school has. Most schools annually hold approx. 50-100 students. Schools are comprised of predominately 90% Norwegians with a handful of International students. Diversity is extremely valued and teachers and students do a good job at welcoming International students. By the end of the year the school becomes a family of students and teachers. Students leave having made great friends and experiencing a once in a lifetime opportunity.

How do I start?

First, look at where you would want to study, find which part of the country you would like to live. Next, figure out what course you are interested in, be it sports, art, international studies, music, etc. This will help narrow your search when you are looking at what schools offer. From there you can decide what else you like about the school. Some schools are religious, some schools offer Norwegian classes for International students, some are on the coast and some are in the mountains. Once you narrow down your interests, you will find the right school. Visit the Norwegian Folk High School website by clicking here to start your search.

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