Admission process to Biomed BSc programme for international students: 3 steps

I know that the admission process to the Global Bachelor’s Programme in Biomedicine is not easy to understand for international students. To change this, I visited the KI Admissions Office and they helped me to sort out a lot of questions. Here I’ll try to explain with 3 steps what happens when you apply. Hope you like it!

(In this post I won’t talk about the document submission process (link) and I’ll skip most on proving English proficiency (link). But getting this right is, of course, extremely important because your application will not be considered if you do not submit the right documentation.)

Before you apply

Applying to a university in Sweden happens via a centralized application site for all universities called, run by the Swedish Higher Education Council. You must create an account and upload your documentation there. The are extremely strict on deadlines (link), so make sure you know when the last day to apply and when the last day to upload supporting documents is.

There are two application rounds for the Bachelor of Biomedicine. You should choose yours depending on your citizenship and time when you have completed your upper secondary education (high school).

The first application round (mid-October until mid-January) is mainly for non-EU/EEA international students (because they need more time to arrange visas and residence permits) or for students who have already completed upper secondary (high school) education.

The second application round (mid-March until mid-April) is open for everyone else and usually Swedish and EU/EEA international students apply here.

Now, when you have sent in your application, here is what happens to it:

1. check if you meet the requirements

Meeting the programme requirements is called being eligible.

First and foremost, the general eligibility requirement for the Bachelor’s Programme in Biomedicine is a completed upper secondary education (post age 16). Applying with predicted grades is useless unfortunately.

Second, you need biology, chemistry, mathematics and English education equal to specific Swedish high school courses (namely Biology 2, Chemistry 2, Mathematics 4, English 6 – or the equivalent) to meet the specific entry requirements for the Bachelor’s Programme in Biomedicine. decides which countries’ education reach that level.

Only very few countries outside of Europe fit to the Swedish standard of upper secondary school courses (*read below which countries applicants that weren’t able to qualify this year)!

Most applicants have to take an internationally approved English test to prove their English proficiency. If you have studied something like biology or chemistry in English at a university level, this might also meet the requirements.

You do not need proficiency in Swedish or letters of recommendation or motivation.

As the programme is English, there is no Swedish language requirement. Unlike the Global Masters Programmes at KI, motivation letters are not taken into consideration. You should save yourself time and avoid working on that!

For International Baccalaureate (IB) students the requirements are Mathematics, Chemistry and Biology (Standard or High Level; SL with at least grade 4 and HL with at least grade 3), and English B or Standard Level with language of instruction other than English.

*Students who applied in the first round in 2017 but could not fulfil the specific entry requirements were from Bangladesh, Iran, China, Pakistan, Poland, Ethiopia, Albania, Morocco, Turkey, Russia, Syria, Brazil, United Arab Emirates, Lebanon, Moldova, Saudi Arabia and Thailand.

Note that these rules and eligibility requirements could change in the future.

2. Grades are translated to a merit score

If you are eligible, University Admissions will convert your grades to a merit score (also called merit rating or meritvärde in Swedish).

The grades of the upper secondary school courses are assessed centrally by University Admissions once a complete application has been submitted. Karolinska Institutet is not involved in this either. In most cases**, the maximal merit score is 22.5 points. You can receive up to 20 points for the grades and 2.5 extra points for having taken a Second Language (0.5p), English (1p) and Math (1p).

For an idea about how many merit points a certain grade point average (GPA) results in, you can see tables for grade conversation for some countries on the right side of this page and here for IB.

** (Read below about the other selection groups where the merit point scale differs.)

3. Applicants are ranked and selected for admission

Here it gets a bit tricky. Who gets admitted to the programme is decided by ranking all eligible applicants by their merit scores. But first they are sorted into selection groups based on their educational background. A special algorithm then decides how many students are admitted from each selection group.

All applicants are split into different selection groups and the ranking is made within each group separately. In total there are 6 selection groups depending on what kind of upper secondary school diploma the applicant has:

  1. BF: People that finished a Swedish folk high school for adults (Folkhögskola). The max merit score for this group is 4 (see the scale here) which is different from all the other groups.
  2. BI group is often called the direct group. Students that meet the entry requirements with their foreign upper secondary qualifications and have an international English exam grade belong here.
  3. BII: Students who have completed supplemental courses at komvux (an adult education centre, read more about komvux here) in order to meet the entry requirements, or to raise their merit rating are put in this group. It is better to qualify directly (and be in group BI) because BI group is favored over BII group when the algorythm calculates a number of people per group which are accepted (read about the algorythm below).
  4. BIEX: This is a special group for students who did their upper secondary school before 2015 because Sweden used to have a different grading system in 2014.This selection group is gone starting from year 2017 but you see it in the admission statistics in earlier years.
  5. HP: This group consists of people that have taken högskoleprovet (a voluntary exam similar to the American SATs but available only in Swedish). If a person has taken this test and, at the same time, is eligible with his/her high school grades, then they are competing in both groups (BI and HP). The max merit score for HP group is 2.
  6. ÖS: Group of applicants that have studied something similar to biomedicine in a university but haven’t provided their upper secondary school grades. No-one from this group has been accepted before.

The number of people that are selected for the programme from each selection group are calculated by a special algorithm. KI only enters a total number of students which they want to select that year. The first round applicants are split into groups BI, BII and ÖS, while applicants of the second application round are split into 6 groups (BF, BI, BII, BIEX, HP, ÖS). 1/3 of all accepted students are from group HP and the rest are applicants from “B” groups.

The overall number of spots that are offered each year has been reducing since 2014 (read my blog on the stats that is coming out soon). It’s due to the fact that there are less and less people dropping out of the biomed BSc programme every year and KI wants to keep the number of graduates around 45.


This post was written with the kind help from the KI Admissions Office. I hope that I managed to make the admissions process clearer for you! If it’s still not the case, feel free to ask questions.

Read my next post, if you’re interested in statistics for the first three admissions years of the Global Bachelor’s Programme in Biomedicine!


8 thoughts on “Admission process to Biomed BSc programme for international students: 3 steps

  1. Hello,
    I have read carefully your post and I really think is useful for anyone would like to apply to KI.
    My question is a bit tricky, hoping you can help me: do you have the least merit ranking for the second round of group BII of 2017? As you said in this post, every year the merit ranking required could change. It is only to have an idea to what I should have to get in. (Anyway I have 18,5 in BII for second round in Biomedicine Bachelor Programme)


  2. Hello,

    I have finished my IB program this year in May, and I want to apply for Biomedicine at KI. You mentioned that it is required from IB students to take Mathematics, Chemistry and Biology. However, I didn’t take Biology, although I had Math and Chemistry HL, and also Further Math HL from sciences. I wonder if it is still possible for me to get in? Furthermore, I had biology classes before IB, that is, four years of Biology in middle school, and two additional years in first two years of high school.


    1. Dear Andrew,

      It has been a while since I was in touch with this topic. I fear that the University Admissions system that processes all applications will be quite strict about the requirements. (Double check though that they haven’t changed since I wrote the blog.) Maybe you can provide them with your previous diploma from middle school and an explanation. Hopefully they are forthcoming and can exempt you from the biology requirement. I recommend emailing them about this!

      Hope that this helps and good luck!

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