There’s something about Finland that makes it a great study destination for international students. And it’s not that studying in Santa’s country is something to brag about. We won’t keep you waiting any longer – it’s the high-quality education, the academic freedom, and the student-centred support services.
Finland! What is not to love? The education is free (for EU/EEA students), the country is beautiful and the people are warm and welcoming, so, of course, it is one of the top destinations for foreign students around the globe for their international studying experience.
Finland is often rated as one of the most innovative countries in terms of higher education and training programmes, according to the World Economic Forum’s Global Competitiveness Report. And with such a fancy reputation it’s hard not wanting to know more about studying a Bachelor’s degree in this Nordic country.
What and where to study in Finland
About 31,000 international students choose Finland every year, with over 400 degree programmes taught in English. If this sounds appealing to you, you’re probably wondering what you should choose from so many programmes. These are some of the most popular Bachelor’s disciplines you can study in Finland.
Prepare to apply
You should first know that Finland divided its institutions in:
- UAS (Universities of Applied Sciences), that train professionals in response to labour market needs and conduct research and development, which support instruction and promotes regional development in particular.
- Universities, that conduct scientific research and provide instruction and postgraduate education based on it.
How to apply to a Finnish university?
The university application process in Finland is straightforward, so you won’t get lost in a paper trail. Applications for a Bachelor’s programme typically require:
- Copy of your high school diploma or International Baccalaureate certificate
- An admission exam or SAT subject test
- High school grades transcript
- Minimum English language test results
The coolest thing about applying for a degree in Finland is that you can have a joint application. This means you fill in a form with up to six preferred study programmes and only submit one application. Based on the scores of your application, you will be assigned to one of the programmes. In other words, you have more chances of studying in Finland with less effort.
Plus, many Finnish universities have no application fee. Hurray!
As the Finnish academic year is generally divided in two semesters, you also benefit from two university admission sessions:
- For the Fall semester: 2 weeks in January and two weeks in March
- For the Spring semester: the first weeks of September
If you are accepted, you will receive an official letter of admission. Afterwards, follow the steps to confirm your spot.
Living costs and tuition fees in Finland
If you’re from the EU or EEA, you’re in for a treat. No tuition fees for you at public Finnish universities. If you are from outside the EU/EEA, then you should save up between 5,000 and 18,000 EUR for academic tuition fees, depending on the programme.
Even so, there’s still hope. Tuition exemptions do exist for all students and there are also numerous scholarship options in Finland to get you covered. Solving the university tuition details is just half of the financial equation, as you also have to take into account living expenses:
- Housing: ranging from 160 to 800 EUR/month depending on city and type of housing. Private apartments are more expensive than student housing.
- Food expenses: around 200 – 300 EUR/month
Overall it would be wise to budget about 700 – 1,100 EUR/month for all the living expenses, including social activities and transportation.
How to apply for a Finnish student visa
If you are a non-EU/EEA student, you’ll need a residence permit which is typically issued for one or four years. The great news? You can do it all online! You will do this through the Finnish Immigration Service where you’ll have to upload:
- a valid passport
- an official admission letter
- proof that you have enough money to cover your studies/living expenses
- health insurance proof
Working in Finland during and after your studies
Like many students who are ambitious enough to pursue a degree abroad, you might consider cutting down the costs of your studies by taking a part-time job. So how does this work in Finland? Well, there are several ways you are allowed to do it:
- During the academic year: you can take up part-time employment if the work is related to your degree or it does not go over 25 hours/week.
- During school breaks: you can work unlimited hours.
Before you get all “Let’s go to Finland!”, you should take into account that the fastest way to get a job in Finland is to speak Finnish or Swedish. If you’re only relying on your English-skills, it might take you a bit longer to find a job.
Back to good news again. After your studies, you can apply for an extended residence permit for up to a year after graduation to search for work. But do it before your student residence permit expires. Once you find a job as a graduate, you can go and apply for a new residence permit, based on your new work placement.
Where to apply for a Finnish Master’s degree?
Applying can be done through the university’s or university of applied sciences’ (UAS) own website or through Studyinfo, the official website for Finnish applications.
Each of Finland ‘s higher education institutions has an admission office ready to answer any and all your questions if you stumble upon a problem. Usually, each university or UAS has its own criteria and list of documents, but there is common ground, especially for the prime application. For instance, you can choose one of these two types of forms:
- Joint application
- Separate application
Joint application means that you can apply to six study programmes with one application. You have to place the programmes in order of preference on the application form, but be careful, because this order is binding and you cannot change it after the application period has ended.
If you apply through the separate application, you apply directly to an institution’s study programme. Separate application forms are filled separately for each study programme or institution and there’s no limit to how many study programmes you can apply.
Language requirements for a Finnish university application
English is indispensable for your serene life as an international student in Finland. Of course, you could study in Swedish or Finnish, but let’s be real here: nobody can actually speak only in consonants.
If your mother tongue isn’t English, Swedish, or Finnish, you will need to take a language test. Usually, UAS’s can organise for their students’ language tests, either written or under the guise of an interview. Universities, on the other hand, will expect a certificate directly.
The best part is that, if you have proof of education in a foreign language, you can submit that as proof of language proficiency. If you don’t, we recommend these tests, as they are universally recognised in Finland:
Also, Finland has its own National Certificate of Language Proficiency, if other English tests take too long or are too expensive.
Required application documents
The documents required in a university in Finland differ from those required by a UAS.
UAS’s will need:
- Copies of completed or soon-to-be completed qualifications documents
- Official translations for all documents
- Original diplomas and original official translations
- Employment certificates
- Applications for special arrangements for entrance examinations
Universities, on the other hand, will provide a comprehensive list of needed documents once you start your online application.
University application deadlines for Finland
Finland’s universities and UASs don’t have an exact calendar, admissions for Master’s programmes being between early December and mid to late January. Also, UAS can extend their admission schedules all the way to March.
Seeing how there’s no pattern, you should check the programme’s website for a clearer calendar for when to apply.
Don’t forget to take into account that some Master’s degrees offer additional applications outside the main period.
Commonly, spring applications have the following deadlines:
- end of January: Application period 1 (for Master’s degrees in English)
- start of February: Required certificates must be submitted
- mid-March: Application period 2 (for Master’s degrees in Finnish or Swedish)
- mid-April: Required certificates must be submitted
- end of June: Student selection results will be published
- mid-July: Deadline for the acceptance of a study place
- start of July – end of August: Supplementary application round
- September: Studies start
Meanwhile, the autumn applications have these deadlines:
- September: Application period ends
- end of September: Required certificates must be submitted
- November: Student selection results will be published
- start of December: Deadline for the acceptance of a study place
- mid-December: Acceptance from the waitlist ends
- end of November – mid-December: Additional applications
- January: Studies start
Final steps after receiving your acceptance letter
Let’s assume you got your acceptance letter, in which case, Congrats!
Now go back online and research the Finnish residence permit, because you will need one for studies longer than 90 days. If they will be shorter than 3 months, you have to apply for a visa.
Don’t forget you can ask your UAS / University for help with accommodation or other student services: they are there to help you, so you can take advantage of that.
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