The Royal Institute of Technology (Swedish: Kungliga Tekniska högskolan, abbreviated KTH) is a university in Stockholm, Sweden. KTH was founded in 1827 as Sweden's first polytechnic and is one of Scandinavia's largest institutions of higher education in technology, (the largest by certain definitions). KTH accounts for one-third of Sweden’s technical research and engineering education capacity at university level. KTH offers programmes leading to a Master of Architecture, Master of Science in Engineering, Bachelor of Science in Engineering, Bachelor of Science, Master of Science, licentiate or doctoral degree. The university also offers a technical preparatory programme for non-scientists and further education.

There are a total of just over 13,000 full-year equivalent undergraduate students, more than 1,500 active postgraduate students and 2,935 full time equivalent employees. KTH is one of the leading technical universities in Europe and highly respected worldwide, especially in the domains of technology and natural sciences.


The main campus buildings at Valhallavägen in Östermalm, by architect Erik Lallerstedt, was completed in 1917. The buildings and surroundings were decorated by prominent early 20th century Swedish artists such as Carl Milles, Axel Törneman, Georg Pauli, Tore Strindberg and Ivar Johnsson. The older buildings on the campus went through a complete renovation in 1994. While the original campus was large for its time, KTH very soon outgrew it and the campus was expanded with new buildings. Today KTH institutions and faculties are distributed across several campuses in Stockholm County, located in Flemingsberg, Haninge, Kista and Södertälje in addition to the ones in Östermalm.


KTH was founded in 1827 under the name Technological Institute (Teknologiska institutet), following the establishment of polytechnical schools in many European countries the early years of the 19th century, often based on the model of École Polytechnique in Paris in 1794.

KTH's earliest Swedish predecessor was the Laboratorium mechanicum, a collection of mechanical models for teaching created in 1697 by Christopher Polhem, who is considered to be the father of mechanics in Sweden. The models were used intermittently for teaching practical mechanics by different masters until the School of Mechanics (Mekaniska skolan) was founded in 1798. This is the year from which there has been continuous teaching of technology in Sweden. The activities of the School of Mechanics was taken over by KTH when it was founded.

The institute had one professor of chemistry and one of physics, and one class in mechanical engineering and one in chemical engineering. During the first years, however, teaching was at a very elementary level, and more aimed at craftsmanship rather than engineering as such. The institute was also plagued by conflicts between the faculty and the founder and head of the institute, Gustaf Magnus Schwartz, who was responsible for the artisanal focus of the institute. A governmental committee was appointed in 1844 to solve the issues, which led to the removal of Schwartz in 1845. Instead, Joachim Åkerman, the head of the School of Mining in Falun and a former professor of chemistry at KTH, took over. He led a complete reorganisation of the institute in 1846-1848, after which he returned to his post in Falun. An entrance test and a minimum age of 16 for students was introduced, which led to the creation of a proper engineering training at the institute. In 1851, the course was extended from two to three years.

In the late 1850s, the institute entered a period of expansion. In 1863 the institute received its own purpose-built buildings on Drottninggatan. In 1867 the regulations of the institute were again overhauled, and now explicitly stated that the institute should provide scientific training to its students. In 1869, the School of Mining in Falun was moved to Stockholm and merged with the institute, and in 1871 the institute took over the civil engineering course previously arranged by the Higher Artillery College in Marieberg.

In 1877 the name was changed into the current one, which changed KTH's status from Institute (institut) to College (högskola), and some courses were extended from three to four years. Architecture was also added to the course programme.

In 1915, the degree titles conferred by KTH received legal protection. In the late 19th century, it had become common to use the title civilingenjör (literally "civil engineer") for most KTH-trained engineers, and not just those who studied building and construction-related subjects. The only exception was the mining engineers, which called themselves bergsingenjör ("mountain engineer"). For a while, the title civilingenjör was equal to "KTH graduate" but in 1937, Chalmers in Gothenburg became the second Swedish engineering college which were allowed to confirm these titles.

In 1917, the first buildings of KTH's new campus on Valhallavägen were completed, and still constitute its main campus.

Although the engineering education of the late 19th and early 20th century were scientifically founded, up until the early 20th century, research as such was not seen as a central activity of an Institute of Technology. Those engineering graduates which went on to academic research had to earn their doctorates, typically in physics or chemistry, at a regular university. In 1927, KTH was finally granted the right to confer its own doctorates, under the designation Teknologie doktor (Doctor of Technology), and the first five doctors were created in 1929.

In 1984 the civilingenjör course at all Swedish universities was extended from four to 4.5 years. From 1989, the shorter training in technology arranged by the municipal polytechnical schools in Sweden was gradually extended and moved in to the university system, from 1989 as two-year courses and from 1995 alternatively as three-year courses. For KTH, this meant that additional campuses around the Stockholm area were added.

R1 nuclear reactor

After the American deployment of nuclear weapons at the end of World War II, the Swedish military leadership recognized the need for nuclear weapons to be thoroughly investigated and researched to provide Sweden with the knowledge to defend itself from a nuclear attack. With the mission to "make something with neutrons", the Swedish team, with scientists like Rolf Maximilian Sievert, set out to research the subject and eventually build a nuclear reactor for testing.

After a few years of basic research, they started building a 300 kW (later expanded to 1 MW) reactor, named Reaktor 1, R1 for short, in a reactor hall 25 meters under the surface right underneath KTH. Today this might seem ill-considered, since approximately 40,000 people lived within a 1 km radius. It was risky, but were deemed tolerable since the reactor was an important research tool for scientists at the Royal Swedish Academy of Engineering Sciences (Ingenjörsvetenskapsakademien).

At 18:59, 13 July 1954, the reactor reached critical mass and sustained Sweden's first nuclear reaction. R1 was to be the main site for almost all Swedish nuclear research until 1970 when the reactor was finally decommissioned, mostly due to the increased awareness of the risks associated with operating a reactor in a densely populated area of Stockholm. The reactor hall remains an amusement to many as once it was next door to what used to be Sweden's first nuclear reactor. Close to the reactor hall is the restaurant Q.


From 2005 KTH is organized into nine schools each consisting of a number of departments:

  • School of Architecture and the Built Environment (ABE)
    • Architecture
    • Civil and Architectural Engineering
    • Real Estate and Construction Management
      • Real Estate and Construction Management
      • Building and Real Estate Economics
    • Philosophy and History of Technology
      • Philosophy
      • History of Science and Technology
    • Land and Water Resources Engineering
    • Urban Planning and Environment
    • Transport and Economics
  • School of Biotechnology (BIO)
    • KTH Biotechnology
  • School of Computer Science and Communication (CSC)
    • KTH Numerical Analysis and Computer Science (together with Stockholms universitet)
    • KTH Speech, Music and Hearing
    • The Unit for Language and Communication
  • School of Electrical Engineering (EE)
    • KTH Alfvén Laboratory (defunct, split in several departments)
    • KTH Electrical Engineering
    • KTH Signals, Sensors and Systems
  • School of Industrial Engineering and Management (ITM)
    • KTH Energy Technology
    • KTH Industrial Economics and Management
    • KTH Entrepreneurship and Innovation Management
    • KTH Production Engineering
    • KTH Materials Science and Engineering
    • KTH Machine Design (MMK)
  • School of Information and Communication Technology (ICT)
    • KTH Electronic, Computer and Software Systems
    • KTH Computer and Systems Sciences (together with Stockholms universitet)
    • KTH Communication Systems
    • KTH Microelectronics and Applied Physics (MAP)
      • KTH Division of Functional Materials
    • KTH Nanotechnology
    • KTH Photonics
    • KTH Applied IT with Entrepreneurship (defunct)
  • School of Chemical Science and Engineering (CHE)
    • KTH Chemistry
    • KTH Chemical Engineering and Technology
    • KTH Fibre and Polymer Technology
  • School of Technology and Health (STH)
    • Division of Medical Engineering (together with Karolinska institutet and Södertörns Högskola)
    • KTH South
  • School of Engineering Sciences (SCI)
    • KTH Physics
    • KTH Applied Physics
    • KTH Theoretical Physics
    • KTH Mathematics
    • KTH Mechanics
    • KTH Aeronautical and Vehicle Engineering
    • KTH Solid Mechanics
  • KTH Företagssamverkan
  • Enheten för vetenskaplig information och lärande
    • KTHB
    • Learning Lab
Quality of education

In 2007, by government initiative, the Swedish National Agency for Higher Education employed an international expert committee to find and award the top five highest quality education areas among all universities and colleges in Sweden. The Royal Institute of Technology received one such "Centre of Excellent Quality in Higher Education" (in Vehicle Engineering). It is the only higher education institution in the Stockholm/Uppsala region to receive an award. In 2009, KTH was the only institution among all Sweden's universities to be awarded "Centre of Excellent Quality in Higher Education"(in Computer Science). In 2010 the university was ranked 150th in the world by QS World University Rankings, ranking 60th for Engineering & Technology (making it the highest ranked institution in Scandinavia) and 99th in the Natural Sciences. In the same year Times Higher Education World University Rankings ranked KTH 5th in Sweden, 80th in Europe and 193rd in the world.

Notable alumni

Many prominent students have graduated from KTH, including;

  • Teodor Aastrup, CEO of Attana
  • Salomon August Andrée, Arctic Explorer
  • Ernst Alexanderson, Inventor
  • Joe Armstrong, creator of the Erlang programming language
  • Kurt Atterberg, Composer (graduated 1911)
  • Karl-Birger Blomdahl, Composer
  • Magnus Egerstedt, Professor at Georgia Institute of Technology
  • Börje Ekholm, CEO of Investor AB
  • Carl Daniel Ekman, pioneer in production of wood pulp for paper
  • Knut Frænkel, Arctic Explorer
  • Christer Fuglesang, Astronaut, first Swedish citizen in space
  • Kurt Hellström, former CEO of Ericsson
  • Umut Aydin, Industrialist
  • Ivar Kreuger, Industrialist
  • Peter Lindgren (musician), former guitarist of Opeth
  • Dolph Lundgren, Actor
  • Carl Munters, Inventor
  • Seif Haridi, Professor at KTH, Co-inventor of the Mozart Programming System, chief Scientist at SICS
  • Ivar Jacobson, Inventor of the sequence diagrams, and UML
  • Helge Palmcrantz, Inventor
  • Tinga Seisay, Diplomat
  • Max Tegmark, Professor of Cosmology at Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  • Baltzar von Platen, Inventor
  • Gunnar Widforss, Swedish-American artist
  • Karl Johan Åström, Control Engineer, IEEE Medal of Honor recipient (1993)
  • Erik Birgersson, Innovator
Notable faculty
  • Hannes Alfvén, Nobel Prize laureate and plasma physicist (b. 1908 - d. 1995)
  • Lennart Carleson, Abel Prize laureate
  • Sven Ove Hansson
  • Johan Håstad, two-time Gödel Prize winner
  • Carl-Gunne Fälthammar, plasma physicist
  • Arne Kaijser
  • Ari Laptev, Professor of Mathematics at KTH and Chair in Pure Mathematics at Imperial College London, President of the European Mathematical Society
  • Peter Pohl, author and university lecturer in numerical analysis, joint recipient of the 1992 August Prize (Augustpriset)
  • Stanislav Smirnov, former faculty member, Fields Medal winner
  • Waloddi Weibull

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