Ah, Finland! What is not to love about it? The education is free (for EU/EEA students), the country is beautiful, and people are warm and welcoming. So, it's not surprising that Finland is one of the top destinations for international students around the globe.
Like any other country, Finland requires you to follow a couple of steps in order to be accepted at one of its universities. Luckily, we’re here to help!
1. Decide on a Finnish university for your studies
Here are some good Finnish universities we recommend considering:
- Aalto University
- University of Turku
- University of Jyväskylä
- LUT University
- Metropolia University of Applied Sciences
- University of Vaasa
- Laurea University of Applied Sciences
- Hanken School of Economics
2. Prepare to apply
You should first know that Finland divided its academic 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.
- Regular universities, that conduct scientific research and provide instruction and postgraduate education based on it.
Finland is one of the European countries that offer free education, so you should check if you can opt out of paying. If your chosen university isn’t free or as cheap as you hoped, you can always search for a scholarship in Finland. You can also check out the Studyportals Scholarship to get some help on financing your studies abroad.
You should also visit the international admission website of Finland and get all the details and information you need from there.
3. How to apply for a Finnish Master’s degree?
When it comes to the applications process, students have multiple options:
- apply on the official websites of universities
- apply on the official websites of Universities of Applied Sciences (UAS)
- apply through Studyinfo, the official website for Finnish applications
Each of Finland's higher education institutions has an admission office ready to answer any questions if you stumble upon a problem. Usually, each university or UAS has its own criteria and list of admission documents, but there is common ground, especially for the general application criteria. For instance, you can choose one of these two types of forms:
- Joint application
- Separate application
Joint application means that you can apply for up to six study programmes with one application. You have to place the programmes in the order of your 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 for each study programme or institution and there’s no limit to how many study programmes you can apply.
4. Check the language requirements
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.
All jokes aside, if your mother tongue isn’t English, Swedish, or Finnish, you will need to take a language test. Usually, UAS can organise language tests for their prospective students, either written or in the form of an interview. Universities, on the other hand, will expect an English 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:
- PTE Academic
- IELTS Academic
- TOEFL iBT
- Duolingo (some universities accept Duolingo as well, but double check)
Also, Finland has its own National Certificate of Language Proficiency if other English tests take too long or are too expensive.
5. Gather the required application documents
The documents required by a regular university in Finland differ from those required by a UAS.
Universities of Applied Sciences will require:
- Copies of completed or soon-to-be completed qualifications documents
- Official translations of all documents
- Original diplomas and original official translations
- Employment certificates
- Applications for special arrangements for entrance examinations
Regular universities, on the other hand, will provide a comprehensive list of required documents once you start your online application.
6. Mind the university application deadlines
Finland’s universities and UAS don’t have an exact calendar; admissions for Master’s programmes are between early December and mid to late January. Also, UAS can extend their admission schedules until March.
Seeing how there’s no pattern, you should check the study 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 wait-list ends
- end of November – mid-December: Additional applications
- January: Studies start
7. 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/regular university for help with accommodation or other student services. They are there to help you, so you can take advantage of that.