Monday. 08.08.2022

Looking to study at a Finnish University? You need to know this

Are you thinking of getting a higher education or further your academic achievements with a new degree in a Finnish university? But you do not speak Finnish? Here is what you need to know

Man student ideas board

One of the many good things about living in Finland are the endless opportunities that the country provides for anyone who wants to go back to school and get a degree from a Finnish University taught in English. Getting a place is within reach of whoever proposes it and the offer of degrees taught in English is quite broad.

Many of those studying programmes even offer you the opportunity to learn Finnish, included in the degree. And if you are a citizen of a country of the European Union (EU) or the European Economic Area (EEA), the education is completely free of charge. For those students from the rest of the world, since August 2017 there are tuition fees that vary depending on the degree and the institution chosen.

There are several and different types of colleges in Finland: 13 Universities and 23 Universities of Applied Sciences in Finland's mainland. The most demanded of them are located in Helsinki, Espoo and Vantaa.

In addition, there is also Åland University of Applied Sciences in the Åland Islands and the Police University College, which is managed by the Ministry of the Interior

Haaga-Helia and Metropolia, among the most wanted

The most sought after are the Bachelors and Masters degrees in the universities of Applied Sciences. Out of those, and in the Uusimaa region (around Helsinki, the capital city), some of the most high ranked and chosen schools are: University of Helsinki, Aalto University, Haaga-Helia, Metropolia and Laurea. Those are also the most international ones and offer a wide range of studying programmes in English. 

In these universities you can get bachelors in some or all of the following 8 areas of expertise:

  • Education.
  • Business, Administration and Law.
  • Information and Communication Technologies.
  • Humanities.
  • Engineering, Manufacturing and Construction.
  • Services (hospitality management, logistics, security, sport studies).
  • Agriculture, Forestry, Fisheries and Veterinary.
  • Health and Welfare.
  • Social Sciences, Journalism and Information.
  • Arts.

The Bachelors degrees last from 3 to 4,5 years of full time studies and you can apply if:

  • Your legal documentation is in order and updated (your country’s official ID with picture and/or passport; Finnish police, Maistraatti and Kela documents; rental contract; work contract -if you have one- and every document that proves where you’re from and that you are legally living in Finland).
  • You have your high school diploma granted, signed and sealed by your school, in English or translated by an official and authorised Finnish translator.
  • Finnish matriculation examination taken at the end of your high school studies.
  • International or European Baccalaureate.
  • All foreign qualification documents that prove eligibility for university entrance in your own countries.

When it comes to the Master’s degrees, they can have a duration of 1,5 to 2 years of full time studies. The areas also vary -depending on the university- and the choices are usually smaller in number.

Aside from the documents mentioned above, for this type of degree you’ll also need to have:

  • College diploma awarded by a Finnish university or your country’s university diploma granted, signed and sealed by the school, in English or translated by an official and authorised Finnish translator.
  • A solid work experience of, at least, 3 years which you have to prove with valid work contracts and certificates, either from your country or/and from Finland.
  • Depending on the institution, you might be asked to deliver a thesis plan, with 6 to 10 pages, stating what your thesis would be about, if your application were to be approved and you could take the degree.

Books student

Basic questions when applying

You might be asked for more follow up documentation, but that depends on the university and degree you chose and you are let know ahead of time by the Application Offices. But to make sure you are not missing anything, you should always ask these questions when applying:

  • Are all my documents in order or do I need to add / change something?
  • When and where exactly do I send my documents? Some colleges don’t accept documents in person initially and ask you to send and do everything online.
  • How many application dates are there? In some cases you can only apply once a year, others allow to do it 2 or even 3 times (in winter, spring and during the summer in case of many Open studies). Find out which exact dates apply to the degree you want to take, as that also changes.
  • When is the examination date? After you apply and your application is accepted, the next step is to take an exam. Most of the times it’s an English and/or Mathematics exam, so you can get a grade to add to the application. The type, number and date of the exams vary from degree to degree and school to school, so you have to check with the application offices when you apply.

You might also be asked to do an interview to find out why you want to study in Finland and your level of motivation.

Full or part time studies?

Don’t forget that you also have to chose if you want to study full or part time.

For full time studies and, if you want to work and study at the same time, you need to make sure the degree you’re applying to is flexible with your work hours, as some degrees are more time consuming than others. As for the part time, you need to check how many hours you can work and how many classes you have to be present for.

In both cases, the flexibility -or the lack thereof- depends on what university and degree you chose. 

You are also entitled to a government allowance if you don’t work or if you work only a few hours per week. You can find out more about such allowances HERE

Overall, the biggest difficulty when applying is the amount of documents you have to deliver and how application dates, documents, number and dates of exams can vary depending on where and what you chose to study. So always ask and check several times, and with different people from the application offices, if you have all the correct information and documentation in order for your application to go through.

In case the process is too difficult, there are even some companies that operate as agents of some universities which can guide you throughout the whole process.

After that, you'll be contacted by email about further steps you need to take.


General information about all Universities in Finland

The top ranked Finnish universities 

List of Finnish universities

More information on tuition fees and scholarships 

Good luck!

Looking to study at a Finnish University? You need to know this