Guidelines on Language Policy

Guidelines on Language Policy

Approved by the University Board on 26 March 2009


  • The language policy of NTNU is to contribute to the goal of making NTNU a university with high national and international standing.

  • NTNU has the specific responsibility to contribute to the development of the Norwegian language in general and Norwegian disciplinary terminology. The Norwegian language includes its two official variants; bokmål and nynorsk.

  • NTNU uses English as its primary foreign language. Foreign languages are non-Scandinavian languages. Danish, Swedish and Norwegian are the Scandinavian languages.

  • NTNU has the objective of strengthening the Scandinavian language community. As a part of that policy, NTNU will promote the use of scientific literature in Scandinavian languages for teaching as well as for research purposes, when this literature is of a suitable academic standard and is academically relevant.

  • NTNU will promote parallel language usage. This means that NTNU has language plurality where Norwegian is to be used together with one or more foreign languages.

  • Each academic group should promote satisfactory language ability for both students and academic staff. The primary goal is to enable students and staff to master both Norwegian and English.



  • The Norwegian language is the main language for teaching at NTNU.

  • The other Scandinavian languages i.e. Swedish and Danish have the same position as Norwegian as a teaching language.

  • Academic literature and tools for teaching could use the Scandinavian languages, English as well as other foreign languages as long as the students improve their academic knowledge at a high international level. When there is convenient syllabus literature with a suitable academic standard written in Norwegian, Swedish or Danish, the academic staff should always inform students about this.

  • When language competence is a specific learning outcome, that information must be a distinct part of the programme description.

  • The descriptions of courses and programmes of study must always state which primary teaching language is going to be used.


  • Teaching at first degree level is mainly to be given in Norwegian. Students at first and second degree levels are supposed to know the main terminology in their academic subject both in Norwegian and English – and in other foreign languages when relevant.

  • Teaching in English could be given without any further approval being necessary. Teaching in other foreign languages may also be given when academically relevant or necessary.

  • Teaching at second degree level may use English as the main teaching language. Regardless of the teaching language, all students should be familiar with and able to use Norwegian academic terminology for their relevant subject.

  • Students at second degree level are to be able to use Norwegian and English on equal terms in their academic work. Other foreign languages may be used when academically relevant.


  • International programmes of study at NTNU are to use English as the teaching language. If there are only Norwegian-speaking students participating, Norwegian may be used as the teaching language.

  • If the programme of study has the understanding and use of a foreign language in an international setting as a specific learning outcome, the teaching language will be in that foreign language, regardless of the nationality of the participating students.


  • The regulations for language usage in written assessments is given in the official examination regulations for NTNU, see § 34, Sections 2 to 4.

  • If all teaching is given in a non-Scandinavian language, the faculty may decide that all student papers and written papers for assessment should be in that language only. If so, this must be stated in the course description.

  • Students are free to choose Norwegian, Swedish, Danish or English for papers for written assessments and master’s theses, as long as there is no other regulation in the description of the course or the programme of study.

  • If another foreign language than English is part of the academic content of the course, the unit with academic responsibility may decide which language is to be used in the student papers for written assessment.

  • The master’s thesis may be written in the language most appropriate for the theme of the thesis and the practical circumstances for each student. Master’s theses that are written in Norwegian must have a summary in English or another relevant foreign language. Master’s theses written in a non-Scandinavian language must have a short summary in Norwegian.


  • Each academic group is to work to improve their language competence and develop relevant academic terminology in Norwegian and English – and in other foreign languages, if required.

  • The language to be used in publications depends on who is the main audience and the subject of the research work. For some academic purposes Norwegian is the most natural language to be used both in publications and in academic development. For other purposes, English or another foreign language will be most convenient.

  • NTNU has stipulated that it is to make own research results known to both the international community and Norwegian society. Likewise international research results should be communicated to Norwegian society. Each academic group at NTNU must therefore have competence both in Norwegian and relevant foreign languages.

  • Doctoral theses written in English or another foreign language should have a Norwegian summary. Doctoral theses written in Norwegian must have an English summary, as well as in another foreign language if convenient.


  • Norwegian is the main language for dissemination at NTNU.

  • Dissemination to an international audience has English as the primary language.


  • The university administration uses Norwegian as its primary working language.

  • When NTNU interacts with non-Norwegian language users among its staff or students, English is the primary language to be used.

  • The administrative staff at NTNU should master both Norwegian and English.

  • NTNU must publish all significant information, internally and externally in both Norwegian and English.

  • NTNU has the goal to make all of its information and administrative documents straightforward, easy to understand and unambiguous.


  • Systematic language training for students and staff is an integrated part of NTNU's main activities.

  • Students should be stimulated to develop their academic writing to be able to participate in national as well as international academic work.

  • Staff at NTNU, who use English as the teaching language for the international programmes of study must be offered relevant language training and have access to language support services to secure the teaching quality.

  • The conditions of employment at NTNU state that foreign language-speaking academic staff are to learn the Norwegian language at a certain level within three years after starting employment at NTNU. NTNU must therefore give its foreign language-speaking staff appropriate courses in the Norwegian language, culture and social organization. As far as it is practically possible, this should also be offered to foreign language-speaking students.