Program Overview

University Center in Svalbard (UNIS), is the world's foremost institution of the Arctic sciences, offering courses and laboratory experience in Arctic biology, Arctic geology, Arctic geophysics, and applied Arctic technologies. If you are a student of biology, geology, physics, chemistry, and environmental sciences and are interested in the unique situation of the Arctic, the program provides you with a unique, immersive, hands-on learning opportunity. 

The language of instruction at UNIS is English, as the student population is 50% international students from around the world (and 50% Norwegians). You will join a carefully selected group of approximately 400 students who are all intensely interested in Arctic sciences. 

Learn more at the UNIS website.

Additional requirements

  • 3.25 or above for graduate students
  • Any student majoring in biology, geology, physics, chemistry, or environmental sciences (graduate students must be admitted to a master's or doctoral program in one of these fields)

Academic Details

If you are highly motivated to pursue scientific studies of the Arctic within the Arctic environment, this program is designed for you. You may take courses in Arctic biology, Arctic geology, Arctic geophysics, and/or Arctic technology. Studies at University Center in Svalbard (UNIS),  require a very high level of prerequisite science course work. 

All courses at University Center in Svalbard (UNIS) are taught in English, and English is the official language of the entire campus (many of the participating scientists and students are not from Norway and do not know Norwegian).

In most cases, you will complete only two or three intensive courses, as the typical course load in the European system is 30 ECTS (European Credit Transfer System) credits. Given the amount of independent reading and study required for both 10- and 15-ECTS credit courses, you should anticipate a busy schedule of study, though there is also ample time for social life in the community of 400 students and for outdoors pursuits in the Arctic surrounds. (Indeed, in many ways, even a recreational outing for snowmobiling or snowshoeing may contribute to your learning experience of science in Svalbard.) Course content is highly specialized.

Course offerings at UNIS in any given semester are quite limited, so you are strongly encouraged to plan ahead, carefully studying course descriptions with your academic advisors and choosing courses wisely, though back-up options may be needed.

Actual credit awarded is determined by the relevant department at your university in consultation with the study abroad office. Check with your study abroad advisor for more information.

Housing Description

Nearly all participants in this program will live at the student village in Nybyen ("the new city") located about three km from the University Center in Svalbard (UNIS) campus. There is no public transportation on Svalbard, so you will walk (about 30 minutes each way) to and from UNIS daily. The housing is in specially designed student barracks with furnished single rooms. You will share a bathroom with one other resident and a kitchen, storage area, and laundry facilities with several other residents in the same building. You must supply your own sheets, pillow cases, and towels (these must be brought to Svalbard from home or from mainland Norway, as the small store in Longyearbyen does not stock any mentionable supply of these items). Each room has an Internet connection, and you are encouraged to bring a laptop.

The student housing is administered by the Student Welfare Organization (a quasi-governmental agency) in Tromsø (on the mainland). UNIS does not handle housing reservations, nor do UNIS staff members address housing concerns. 

You will also need Arctic-rated winter outerwear, brought with you from the US or Norway (it's of better quality but much more expensive in Norway, and the range of available sizes differs). More information will be provided upon acceptance. The estimated budget for books and supplies includes an estimate for this winter outerwear.

Dates and Deadlines

TermYearDeadlineArrival DateDeparture Date
Fall Semester201703/15/2017TBDTBD
Spring Semester201803/15/2017TBDTBD
Academic Year2017-1803/15/2017TBDTBD

Course Equivalencies

Actual credit awarded is determined by the relevant department at your university in consultation with the study abroad office. Check with your study abroad advisor for more information.

UO students, please refer to the UO Course Equivalency Process and the UO Office of the Registrar Course Equivalency Database.