Statistics on gender balance and diversity

This page contains statistics on gender balance and diversity in higher education and in the research sector in Norway. Statistics on science and teaching, research and development (R&D statistics) in Norway is compiled every other year. Nordic Institute for Studies in Innovation, Research and Education (NIFU) is responsible for statistics on the academic sector, while Statistics Norway (SSB) is responsible for collecting data from the business sector.

Gender balance in scientific positions

  • In 2018 the share of women among full professors in the sector was 31,1 per cent (29.5 per cent in 2017).
  • The share of female professors has increased with about 1 percentage point every year the last ten years.
  • Among PhD-candidates there were 54 per cent women in 2018 (53 per cent women in 2017). 
  • Among associate professors there were 52.5 per cent men and 47.5 per cent women in 2017.

NIFU: R&D Statistics Bank
Diku – the Norwegian Agency for International Cooperation and Quality Enhancement in Higher Education: Status report for higher education 2019 (in Norwegian) earlier reports (in Norwegian)

PhDs: Key figures

  • 1 564 persons defended their PhD-dissertation at Norwegian universities and university colleges in 2018. This is 71 more than in 2017.
  • Gender balance in 2018: 782 of the PhD graduates were men and 782 were women. In 2017 743 of the PhD graduates were men, while 750 were women.
  • Altogether the dispersion between women and men among PhD graduates has been completely balanced since 2012.
  • 2014 was the first year when more women than men graduated at doctorate level.
  • 42 per cent of the PhDs in 2018 were completed by foreign citizens.

PhDs: subject field, gender and citizenship

  • The share of new female PhD graduates in 2018 was six out of ten.
  • Female PhD graduates are in majority in the subject fields medical sciences, social sciences and the humanities. 
  • The share of men is particularly high within technology and mathematics/natural sciences. In 2018 female PhDs accounted for 25 and 40 per cent of the completed graduations within these fields respectively.
  • 42 per cent of the PhD graduates were of foreign origin in 2018. That is the highest number of PhD graduates of foreign origin ever (39 per cent in 2017).
  • In 2018 the share of PhDs with foreign citizenship increased the most within technology and natural sciences.
  • In 2017 54 per cent of the foreign PhD graduates were from Europe, 27 per cent were from Asia, 10 per cent from Africa and 8 per cent from the American continent.

NIFU: PhDs and Doctoral Degrees Register in Norway

Statistics on diversity

The statistics on diversity is the first extensive overview on the role of immigrants and descendents of immigrants in higher education and the research sector. So far, it has been compiled for the years 2007, 2010 and 2014. The statistics is a cooperative project between the Nordic Institute for Studies in Innovation, Research and Education (NIFU) and Statistics Norway (SSB). The diversity statistics is compiled on request from the Ministry of Education.

Among other findings, the diversity statistics show that the share of research & development personnel (R&D) with an immigrant background has increased from 14 to 20 percentage points in the period from 2007 to 2014.

Being a foreigner is no advantage. Career paths and barriers for immigrants in Norwegian academia
Study conducted by NIFU in collaboration with the Work Research Institute (AFI) (2016)

Sources (in Norwegian only):
Mangfoldstatistikk. Statistikk om innvandrere og etterkommere av innvandrere i norsk forskning og høyere utdanning (NIFU arbeidsnotat 2016: 17)
Mer mangfoldsstatistikk (NIFU arbeidsnotat 2017:4)


I 2018 34,1 per cent of the Norwegian population had higher education.

The total number of students enrolled in higher education in Norway and Norwegian students studying abroad was 293 287 in 2018, an increase of 164 students from the year before.

For new students in higher education in 2010, 66 per cent completed a degree within eight years. 61 per cent of the male students finished within eight years, while 70 per cent of the women did the same. 

40 per cent men and 60 per cent women completed higher education in the academic year 2017/2018.

In 2017/2018 immigrants accounted for more than 11 per cent of the graduations from universities and colleges in Norway, 3 per cent of the graduates were Norwegian-born to immigrant parents almost 3 per cent and 86 per cent were other population.

The proportion of women with a master or doctoral degree is almost as big as the proportion of men with the same education. In 2018 10,6 per cent men and 9,5 per cent women completed master or doctoral level, but the proportion of female graduates has increased steadily the last couple of years. 

From 2017 to 2018 the proportion of completed master and doctoral degrees at universities and colleges in Norway increased with 0,4 percentage points for women and 0,2 percentage points for men.

In 2017 6 out of 10 students abroad were women. 27 per cent of the 15 486 students abroad in 2017 studied in the UK, 15 per cent studied in Denmark, 11 per cent in USA, 10 per cent in Poland and 6 per cent Hungary. Among all students abroad, more than 60 per cent were women.

Sources: Statistics Norway:
Students in higher education
Credits and graduations from higher education
Completion rates of students in higher education

More figures

Statistics and indicators for the research system are presented by The Research Council of Norway in Report on Science & Technology Indicators for Norway 2018 (in Norwegian).


More statistics

NIFU Nordic Institute for Studies in Innovation, Research and Education develops and presents statistics from the higher education and research sector. You can find more statistics on their web site.

See also education statistics and gender equality statistics from Statistics Norway.