Studying in Finland
Finland offers degrees through both universities and universities of applied sciences (UAS), formerly known as polytechnics. Most universities offer multidisciplinary courses but five specialise in one of the following: arts, defence, economics or technology. The University of Helsinki is in the top 100 in the QS World University Rankings.
What courses can you study?
Full-time bachelors degrees last three years and masters degrees take two years.
Postgraduate degrees are the licentiate degree, which lasts two years, and the doctoral thesis, which can be completed in four years but often takes longer. Doctoral studies are closely linked with research work done at universities and international institutions. Students may start working for a doctorate once they have completed a masters degree.
The Study in Finland website has an international study programmes database, which gives information on courses taught in English in universities and polytechnics.
How do you apply for postgraduate study?
Higher education institutions (HEIs) in Finland decide independently on the eligibility of foreign qualifications, so you'll need to contact the admissions office at the institution to which you are applying. Usually, if you would be eligible to apply for higher education in your home country you would be eligible to apply for it in Finland. You may be invited to take part in an entrance examination in Finland. For some masters degrees at polytechnics, a degree and three years' work experience is required.
Application dates vary depending on institution, course and your country of residence (some have no application deadlines) and you should contact the relevant institutions for more details. Make sure you apply in plenty of time. The academic year runs from September to May.
Applications are made directly to the university you wish to attend. Forms are available from the universities and polytechnics. For contact details, visit Study in Finland.
Nine Finnish universities use the University Admissions Finland (UAF) application system, which is an online admissions service. Check the website for a list of universities that use this system.
Each course and institution has different application procedures, but in general you may be required to complete a 'motivation letter' or personal statement and provide copies of your degree transcript.
Fees and scholarships
There are no tuition fees for Finnish or EU/EEA citizens studying bachelors or doctoral programmes in Finnish universities or UAS. Non-EU/EEA citizens may have to pay tuition fees for some masters degrees, however. Check tuition fees policies with individual institutions.
Students' unions in universities charge an annual membership fee of about €30–€120 to cover their activities. Membership is compulsory for those who are studying bachelors or masters degrees, but optional for those doing a doctorate. Students' union membership in UAS is also optional.
Students in both universities and polytechnics have to pay for their books and other materials, plus their accommodation and living expenses. The average total monthly living expenses for a student are around €700 to €900 (Study in Finland).
Various scholarships may be available to you, including the Erasmus+ EU grant for those completing an Erasmus Mundus Joint Masters Degree (JMD).
See the following websites for more information on the types of grants and funding that you may be eligible for:
- Finnish National Agency for Education (formerly CIMO (Centre for International Mobility) – small number of Finnish government scholarships.
- Study in Finland – details of scholarships for international students.
- SYL (The National Union of University Students in Finland) – scholarships from the Finnish government.
Are there any exchange programmes?
UK students on both undergraduate and postgraduate degree programmes may be interested in studying in Finland through Erasmus+. This programme is open to all subject areas but check with your institution's study abroad/exchange coordinator to see which countries they have links with and in which subject areas.
Will your qualifications be recognised in the UK?
Following the Bologna Process and the creation of the European Higher Education Area (EHEA), a postgraduate course from Finland is directly comparable to the UK equivalent.
Do you need a visa to study in Finland?
EU nationals don't need a visa to study in Finland, but they should register their residence in Finland with the Finnish Immigration Service if their stay exceeds three months.
Non-EU students may need a student residence permit and should contact the Finnish Embassy or Consulate in their home country, prior to travel, for more information on this.
AGCAS editors, March 2017