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Fields of Study: Social Studies, Humanities, Engineering, and Sciences

The University of Iceland is the leading institution of higher education in Iceland, and it offers an impressive academic curriculum taught in English. The university excels at creating courses that incorporate the country's rich natural resources making it the ideal location for majors in earth sciences, volcanology, and live and environmental sciences. As a modern and rapidly developing institution, it also offers great opportunities in history and philosophy, languages and culture, education, engineering, and physical sciences.

Unique study opportunities

  • Get firsthand geological and environmental science experience studying some of the largest glaciers and geothermal pools in Europe.
  • Take a front row seat in classes exploring some of the most active volcanoes in the world.
  • Discover the folktales, beliefs, and popular culture of this Nordic country.


Language of Instruction: English

Icelandic Language Study: Optional

A beginning course in Icelandic language is offered during the semester. While not required, some basic Icelandic may help you interact with locals in everyday activities as you explore the region.

Courses and Credit

Requirements While Abroad

To successfully complete this program:

  • Take a full-time course of study: Minimum of 24 quarter/16 semester UC units; typically three or four courses. 
  • If you take three courses, you may take one for pass/no pass credit. If you take four, you may take up to two for pass/no pass credit.
  • Sixty percent of your courses must be in your major; the remainder of your coursework can be in any field.

Current Program Courses

The University of Iceland requires that you take 60 percent of your coursework in your major area of study. Courses taught in English are limited in some areas of study. Based on the availability of English-taught courses, this program is best suited for students majoring in sociology, anthropology, languages and cultures (including English literature), history and philosophy, education, engineering, earth sciences, life and environmental sciences, and physical sciences. You may take courses in Icelandic culture and history. 

Conditions and Restrictions

Students applying to the Earth Science program in the School of Engineering and Natural Sciences need to be majoring in earth sciences and have studied geology and/or geophysics for at least one year. Geography majors can apply to the program if they have a compatible background.

The following faculties are not open to UCEAP students: Faculties of Medicine, Nursing and Pharmaceutical Sciences, Faculties of Law and Economics, and MBA. 

Courses taught in Icelandic are generally not open to exchange students.

UCEAP internships and independent study courses are not possible on this program.

Catalogs and resources

  • Single Courses for Exchange Students catalog: View all courses available to you. Select faculty, school, term, and level ("undergraduate" and "undergraduate and graduate"). 
  • Overview: See an approximate number of available courses categorized by school and faculty. The table also indicates if in some schools, you might be able to take courses in other faculties that count toward the University of Iceland's requirement that you need to take 60 percent of your course work in your major area of study. Make sure to read the introduction to the table carefully.
  • UCEAP Course Catalog: See a list of courses students have taken on this program. This is not a current representation of course offerings on this program. Reference the above links to review recent course offerings. 

Academic culture

Classes sizes at the University of Iceland tend to be smaller than at your University of California campus. This gives you a lot of opportunity to engage with instructors and classmates.

To ease exchange students into the University of Iceland, a mentor will provide practical information about the university and Icelandic society as well as introduce you to students and student life. You'll apply for a mentor during the application process.


You'll earn direct UC credit and grades for all coursework. Most courses will require assessment that may include a final exam, project, or paper.

Fall grades are usually available in March. Spring grades are usually available in August.