Many international students make their way to Finland every year. There are several reasons they come to the country, starting with the impressive quality of Finnish higher education. That is apparent in the fact that several Finnish higher education institutions are globally recognized.

Another factor to their attraction is the country’s title as the happiest nation in the world, earned after comfortable standards of living. They may also want Finland’s sensitivity to equality, sustainability, and astonishing landscapes. The ease of application to Finnish universities is also a plus factor. You’ll particularly learn more about the last reason in this guide for applying to universities in Finland, so keep reading!

Can International Students Apply to a University in Finland?

Yes, international students can apply to a Finnish university and receive a study visa or permit. In fact, the Finnish Immigration Service granted 7,060 international students with a study permit to pursue higher education in 2022. Such a high number of applications could be because of the wide variety of degree programs, especially English-taught ones, offered to international students.

Additionally, Finnish universities are among the top three percent in the global university rankings. Thus, every year, more and more students from all parts of the world choose Finland as their study-abroad destination, especially in science and technology.

What are the Entry Requirements to Study in Finland?

Each Finnish university has its rules and regulations when accepting students, so the requirements can differ. Generally, though, their entry requirements include completion of the latest study degree (high school diploma for undergraduate, bachelor’s degree for master’s programs), academic transcripts, and English language proficiency. Certain programs, such as master’s applications at the universities of applied sciences, may request additional requirements, such as a minimum of two years of work experience in the field.

For another example of additional requirements, you can have a closer look at the University of Helsinki’s requirements for international bachelor’s and master’s programs. All of these documents are usually submitted through Studyinfo.fi where you can apply for up to six different study programs.

Steps on How to Apply to Finnish Universities

Below is a detailed guide for international students on how to apply to Finnish universities and universities of applied sciences.

Step 1. Choose your program

The first thing to do must be to search for the programs you’re interested in and make sure you have a thorough understanding of the program structures, number of credits, academic expectations, research facilities, and many other crucial factors about the program. Also, each university may have different offers for the same program, so it’s best to list down the study program options you would evaluate and decide which one matches your academic expectations the best.

It’s also important to check the tuition fees for each university and program before making a decision. Tuition fees at Finnish universities depend on the origin of the student; while EU/EEA students are exempt from any tuition fees, most non-EU/EEA students pay an annual tuition fee of €5,000 to €18,000. For a specific example, Aalto University requires €12,000 for bachelor’s and €15,000 for master’s programs per year for non-EU/EEA students.

Step 2. Check the program requirements

Program requirements for each university or program can be different. Thus, it’s crucial to be aware of what is expected of the applicant to prove or document during the application period. Generally, to apply to study programs in Finland, international students must hold an accredited graduation certificate of their latest completed program. Language proficiency and adequate academic achievement (e.g., GPA) are other general requirements to be enrolled in a study program in Finland.

As an example, Aalto University program requirements can be found in its course catalog for international students. Specifically, you can click on your target program in the catalog and it will direct you to a guide on applying to the said Finnish university and study course. Applicants need to find the details about the programs at different universities before taking any action on the application.

Step 3. Prepare your documents

Documentation is the next step after deciding on the program and making sure about the program requirements. Each Finnish university shares the list of the required documents for the applicants to obtain before or during the application period.

Required documents can differ for undergraduate and graduate applications, as well as specific programs such as medicine and nursery programs. General documents are proof of completed degrees, transcript of records, and proof of language proficiency, in addition to program-specific requirements such as entrance exams (e.g., GRE or GMAT), motivational letters, a minimum of two years of field-related employment, and more.

Step 4. Apply for Scholarships

Scholarship applications are among the important steps for Finnish university applications. Offered for bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral programs, Finland Scholarships are the most common types of scholarships in Finland, to provide financial help for graduate students from non-EU/EEA countries who are required to pay for tuition fees at Finnish universities.

Finland Scholarships applications are held at the same time as the university applications, so it’s important for international students not to miss this chance during the application period. You may not have to prepare different documents or fill out an additional form to apply for the Finland scholarships but it’s best to check with your target institution.

Step 5. Submit your application within the application period

Lastly, timing is key to successfully applying to Finnish universities. Consider the specific dates for application and organize your application steps accordingly. Finnish universities do not charge application fees to domestic and international students; all you need to do is submit your complete application within the application period.

Most universities in Finland have one application period for the autumn intake, which starts in early January. However, there are a few universities that also accept students for certain programs starting in January; the application period for such programs is usually the first two weeks of September. Examples of universities with programs starting in January and September include Turku University of Applied Sciences and Haaga-Helia University of Applied Sciences.

General Admission Documents

1. Application form

Most Finnish universities have joint application programs, which require applicants to fill out an online application form on Studyinfo.fi. The form is available only during the application periods, which are either early January or September. It is also possible for non-EU/EEA applicants to apply for a scholarship from the university using the same application form.

2. Proof of completed education

It is an essential requirement for any applicant to obtain an accredited diploma or graduation certification that meets the eligibility criteria for applying to Finnish universities. The proof of completed education can be provided in different ways depending on the degree. For instance, applicants for bachelor’s studies must have an upper secondary education diploma equivalent to the Finnish matriculation examination so that their application can be evaluated by the Finnish National Agency for Education.

To apply for a master’s in Finnish universities, students must provide their bachelor’s degree in the related field of their desired program. Similarly, doctoral applications require bachelor’s and master’s diplomas to be evaluated by the applied university or the Finnish National Agency for Education.

3. English Language Proficiency Test

Proving English language proficiency is essential for admission to English-taught programs at Finnish universities. Applicants should also make sure they submit a valid test result, as per the university’s requirements.

Commonly accredited English proficiency tests include TOEFL iBT, IELTS Academic, and PTE. However, some universities may accept other official English tests. Required scores for English proficiency differ for each university but for reference, the University of Turku’s language requirements for bachelor’s programs is an overall TOEFL score of 80 or an overall IELTS score of 6.0. Meanwhile, the scores for master’s programs are slightly higher at 90 overall for TOEFL and 6.5 overall for IELTS.

4. Transcript of records

Previous academic records, also known as transcript of records, are another requirement for all programs at Finnish universities. The document should be from the official institution previously attended by the applicant and details such as ECTS equivalation or medium of instruction must be included. Also, if the document is not in English, Finnish, or Swedish, an official translated version should be attached.

Optional Materials/Documents to Consider

1. Letter of intent/motivation letter

Motivation letters may be asked when applying to Finnish universities so applicants can express their intent and dedication to their desired program. In many cases, a motivation letter is not a requirement at Finnish universities but it can be a good idea for the applicant to stand out. When writing a motivation letter, applicants should have the necessary knowledge about the university and applied program to indicate their academic interests and plans accordingly.

2. Academic reference letters

Including important references or recommendations from your trusted professors or other academicians that you worked with can be an excellent way to let your desired university better understand your skills and ambitions. Contact your faculty staff before the application period to make sure they can send their e-mails on time.

3. Finnish language proficiency tests

International students applying to degree programs taught in Finnish or Swedish should document their Finnish or Swedish language proficiency scores from accredited language tests and submit them during the application period. For example, the University of Jyväskylä requires a minimum of Level 4 in the National Certificate of Language Proficiency for doctoral programs taught in Finnish.

4. Standardized tests

In some cases, international applicants may be asked to submit their scores for standardized exams, such as SAT, GRE, or GMAT, to be able to apply to a certain Finnish university. One such institution that has the said requirement is the Aalto University School of Business, which requires international master’s applicants to submit GRE or GMAT scores if they hold a bachelor’s degree from a university of applied science in Finland or from their home university other than in Finland.

Key Facts for Applying to Finnish Universities

1. The Finnish higher education system is different from many countries.

Finland applies a unique education system for any level, including higher education. One of the distinct characteristics of the Finnish higher education system is that students, even at the undergraduate level, are given the freedom of science and arts to plan their studies with flexibility. In addition, students at Finnish universities can choose additional or elective courses from a wide range of subjects to broaden their horizons during their education.

Also, students in Finland can take part in faculty research projects or extracurricular activities to promote lifelong learning and interact with different communities on campus. This allows students to be not only autonomous but also gain unique academic, artistic, and social experiences beyond their departments.

2. Scholarships in Finland are more generous for international graduate students.

International master’s and doctoral students are encouraged to apply to Finnish universities so they can help foster innovative research in many disciplines. Hence, there are several scholarship or financial help opportunities for incoming graduate students. However, for incoming undergraduate students, scholarships are quite scarce. Instead, they are usually only awarded during the 2nd year, when the university can use your academic performance or Finnish language proficiency progress as a basis for awarding a scholarship.

Finland Scholarships are the most popular and generous examples offered for non-EU/EEA international students to study in Finland. However, there are plenty of other university-funded scholarships, such as the University of Helsinki’s grants for all degree levels or the Aalto University Scholarship. Additionally, international students who become fluent in Finnish over time can benefit from different scholarships during their student program.

3. Most degree programs are taught in English at Finnish Universities.

English-medium universities allow international students to better adapt to the university’s regulations as it minimizes language-related challenges. Many Finnish universities, especially at the master’s and doctoral levels, are taught in English to encourage more international student enrollment.

These universities are often recognized as global universities due to the diversity in education and international agreements with other global universities. Some of the Finnish universities that have a high number of English-taught degree programs include the University of Helsinki, Aalto University, the University of Turku, and the University of Oulu.

 

Studying in Finland will not only be a beneficial experience for your future academic and professional life. It is also a unique chance to interact with a diverse community while enjoying living in the happiest country in the world. Thus, apply to Finnish universities today and start your incredible journey.

 

We hope this article has been a great guide to you in applying to Finnish universities. For more information, you may check out more articles about Studying in Finland or these Open Courses in the country!

 

About the Author: Hyun Lee

Hi! I am Hyun, and I am the founder at Global Scholarships. I've received a full-tuition scholarship at Birmingham-Southern College and a $1,000 Burger King Scholarship for my undergraduate degree and was offered a fully funded scholarship consisting of tuition, living stipend, and health insurance for computer science Ph.D. program at North Carolina State University. You can read more about my scholarship journey here. If you are interested, you can follow me on Linkedin where I regularly write about scholarship opportunities.

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