Welcome to Finland!
Finland is a modern, innovative, safe and equal country in northern Europe. Finland is known for its world-class education system and for being a society that functions well in every way. Finland is a great place to pursue your studies and to build a life rich in new experiences and opportunities and gain personal growth.
With a population of 5.5 million, Finland is a spacious country with people-friendly cities. Traffic is manageable, rush hours are rare and cities are designed for walking, cycling as well as driving. In addition to having a high-class education system and a dynamic innovation environment, Finland also boasts natural beauty with the cleanest air in the world, a lively cultural life and smoothly running public services.
Situated in northern Europe, Finland borders Sweden in the west, Norway in the north and Russia in the east. Its capital is Helsinki and the official languages are Finnish and Swedish with about 90% of the population speaking Finnish as their first language. Almost everybody can speak good English as well. Finland has been a member of the European Union since 1995.
Stunning natural beauty and laid-back cities, a strong focus on research and innovation, a good selection of high-ranking universities - it is easy to see why many international students choose to study in Finland.
Higher Education System
Finland is a Nordic welfare state where equality is the cornerstone of education. Thanks to the high quality of Finnish education, the country has developed into an advanced knowledge and information society.
Finland has two types of higher education institutions: universities and universities of applied sciences (UAS). The higher education system offers English-taught bachelor's and master's degree programmes in 13 universities and 23 universities of applied sciences. Universities provide academic education based on research. The universities offer Bachelor’s (180 ECTS, 3 years), Master’s (120 ECTS, 2 years) and doctoral (240 ECTS, 4 years) degrees. Universities of Applied Sciences (polytechnics) provide vocational education on a higher level and promote applied research. The universities of applied sciences (UAS) offer Bachelor’s (210-270 ECTS, 4-4,5 years) and special Master’s (60-90 ECTS, 1-1,5 years) degrees. Finnish higher education institutions currently offer over 400 bachelor’s and master’s degree programmes in English, so there is a lot to choose from.
Tuition Fee applies for Finnish universities and universities of applied sciences (except on doctoral level). More information about the tuition fee is available on the website of Study in Finland.
There are currently about 20,000 international full degree students in Finnish higher education institutions. Your daily communication will be effortless outside the classroom also as the Finns are fluent in English.
Students who graduate from Finland become experts with transferable skills and often with multidisciplinary competence. International students have particularly appreciated the excellent conditions of the study facilities, the IT services and the support services. They are also guided through their studies by professional student services.
Nine Finnish universities feature in the The Times Higher Education World University Rankings 2021, University of Helsinki ranking 98th. There are 9 Finnish universities on the QS World University Rankings 2021, led by the University of Helsinki at 104th in the world. With almost 20 000 universities in the world, this makes the Finnish universities listed among the top 3% in the world.
Student Life in Helsinki
Finland’s capital, Helsinki, is by far the largest city in the country, with a population of 635 000 in Helsinki, 1.4million if you count surrounding cities. Located on the south coast, it’s fairly well-connected to the rest of Europe – a short flight, drive or cruise away from other major cities such as Saint Petersburg, Stockholm and Tallinn.
From its neoclassical and Art Nouveau architecture, to its multitude of colorful festivals and its busy harbor, Helsinki – World Design Capital in 2012 – is full of character and life. HelsinkiAs a newcomer, you may join the tourists flocking to see the city’s highlights, which include the Ateneum art gallery, historic fortress island Suomenlinna (a 15-minute ferry ride away), the iconic Helsinki cathedral, and the impressively imposing architecture of Senate Square. Having settled in, you’ll have time to choose your favorite among the city’s many cafés, sample the locally caught seafood, and join in with annual events such as the Flow music festival, the traditional Baltic Herring Fair, and Vappu – a May Day celebration particularly popular with students.
Helsinki is home to Finland’s two highest ranked universities, the University of Helsinki and Aalto University, and several others. Its strong universities and high quality of life earn it a place among the world’s top 75 cities for students, as featured in the QS Best Student Cities.
Student Life in Turku
Around 160km west of Helsinki, Turku is a former national capital, and its historic importance can be seen today in its impressive cathedral and medieval castle. Its roots can be traced back to the period just after the end of the Viking Age, making it the oldest city in Finland. For the most part, however, Turku has a very contemporary feel, due in part to the extensive damage caused by a fire in the early 19th century. Celebrated as a European Capital of Culture in 2011, it has plenty of museums, galleries and festivals to explore, and is also the official “Christmas City of Finland” – the perfect study location for anyone who can’t get enough of festive markets and winter celebrations.
Turku is home to the second- and third-oldest universities in Finland: the Swedish-language Åbo Akademi and the University of Turku, which is the country’s third entry in the QS World University Rankings.
Student Life in Oulu
Located much further north, on the west coast, Oulu is another popular destination for visitors to Finland, with an attractive city center spread across several islands and connected by pedestrian bridges and well-used cycle paths. It’s the fifth most populous Finnish city, and is known for its lively and diverse music scene, with annual events including the Oulu Music Video Festival and the Air Guitar World Championships (no, really). Oulu is also well known as a leading center for technology, with talented professionals from around the world coming to work in the region’s research centers and science parks.
Those considering studying in Oulu for more than a few months should be prepared for a pretty severe winter; the city’s subarctic climate means an average annual temperature of just 2°C (36°F). The University of Oulu is Finland’s eighth-highest entry in the international rankings.
Student Life in Tampere
Back down towards the south of the country, Tampere is situated between two lakes, connected by the Tammerkoski Rapids which run through the city center. The power provided by these rapids led to Tampere being at the heart of Finland’s industry in the 19th century (leading to the nickname ‘the Manchester of Finland’).
It’s the third most populous urban area in Finland, but the city center is reasonably compact and walkable, with plenty of cafés, pubs and cultural venues to keep its sizeable student community entertained. The University of Tampere is ranked among the world’s top 550 universities, and the city is also home to several other higher education institutions.
Student Life in Jyväskylä
Around 260 km to the north of Helsinki, Jyväskylä is part of the country’s “Lakeland” area, and like most inland cities in Finland, is located on the edge of a lake. It was the home of famous architect Alvar Aalto, whose creations are in evidence throughout the city. Aalto’s masterpieces include several buildings belonging to the University of Jyväskylä, Finland’s fifth-highest entry in the QS World University Rankings.
Applications are usually made online, either directly to the university, or via the centralized admissions service University Admissions Finland (UAF). Deadlines vary, but the main applications period is November-January, for courses starting the following fall. At some polytechnics it is also possible to apply in August-September for courses starting the following spring, but only for selected programs.
As well as proving your academic credentials, you may also need to pass an entrance examination.
The two national languages in Finland are Finnish and Swedish, and both are used in university tuition. It may also be possible to take courses taught in English, though this is more common at graduate level than for bachelor’s degrees. If you do study in English, you are strongly recommended to learn at least basic Finnish to help with daily life during your time in the country.
Many of the undergraduate courses that are offered in English are found at polytechnics, rather than traditional universities. Also known as ‘universities of applied sciences’, these are institutions offering full degrees, but with a more vocational focus.
For example, Lahti University of Applied Sciences offers an English-taught degree in nursing; Helsinki Metropolia University of Applied Sciences has English-taught courses in information technology and media engineering; and HAMK University of Applied Sciences has an English-taught bachelor’s in construction engineering.
For the majority of subjects, however, it is necessary to be able to study in either Finnish or Swedish if you want to complete a full undergraduate degree in Finland. Alternatively, you could study in Finland for a shorter period, for a summer school or as part of an exchange program; in these cases there are more English-led options.
Visa requirements depend on your country of origin.
Applicants from the EU/Nordic countries/Switzerland/Liechtenstein:
Applicants from outside the EU/Nordic countries/Switzerland/Liechtenstein:
For non-EU/EEA students may have to pay a fee, however for the tuition fee we highly recommend you to contact the university directly as they may also offer you a scholarship.
Although scholarships are currently hard to find (due to most tuition being free), there may be more scholarships available from 2017 to help international students study in Finland. You might wish to search for scholarships to study abroad offered by the government or another organization in your home country, or consider applying for funding via the EU’s Erasmus+ scheme.