How to Study in Finland for International Students (4 Steps)

Northern lights, saunas, Santa Claus, and the Midnight Sun Film Festival. These are just some of the few things that Finland is known for. But do you know that Finland is also known for its world-class education system? Education in Finland is a lot different from that of the other countries. So if you’re looking to study in another country, whether it’s a Bachelor’s or postgraduate degree, make sure you add Finland to your list.

Finland has two kinds of universities for higher learning: the universities and the universities of applied sciences (UAS). The former gives emphasis on scientific research while the latter is more on profession-oriented education. You may check on the Finnish National Agency for Education for the list of universities and UAS around the country.

In this article, we will be looking at how international students can study in Finland.

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How to Study in Finland for International Students

To be able to study in Finland, international students should do the following:

  • Prepare the finances to study in Finland. Studying in Finland can be expensive, and living costs are high. You need to be able to finance your education in this country. To do that, you can attend affordable universities in Finland, get scholarships, work while studying, or simply fund out of your own savings.
  • Then, you will need to prepare the application requirements that universities in Finland require. We will go over this in more detail later in this article.
  • After meeting the requirements, you will need to apply.
  • Then, you will need to apply for a student visa.


1. General Cost of Studying in Finland

While education is free to all Finland locals and European citizens, tuition fees are not waived for international students who wish to study here. However, some universities offer a scholarship for students who are not European. If you are lucky enough, you can get a scholarship that includes an allowance for your everyday living.

Matriculation varies from the university and the degree you are applying to. According to the Finnish National Agency for Education, the annual tuition fee in Finland ranges from $4,500 to $20,300. This includes the student union fee, which costs around $90 to $113 annually, required to all students in any university. This fee gives you a student card, which you can use to avail food and other services at a discounted price.

The cost of living in Finland is high. Finns are actually identified for their high standard of living. Living in Finland will cost you around prepare $790 to $1000 monthly. But it still depends on your accommodation and spending. Expenses are much cheaper in smaller cities.

As mentioned before, you can lower this cost by attending affordable universities in Finland, getting scholarships, and working while studying.


2. Meeting the Application Requirements for Studying in Finland for International Students

Before applying to a university or UAS, you should check with each university the study program they offer in English. Otherwise, if you would like to study in their primary language, which is Finnish or Swedish, you have to show a certificate of their language fluency.

For undergraduate programs, international student applicants should provide their certified secondary educational records or their equivalent. They are also required to submit their English language proficiency and SAT results.

For graduate programs, a university-level bachelor’s degree is a requirement. At the University of Helsinki, international applicants are required to submit their educational documents, proof of English language proficiency, a copy of their passport’s ID page and residence permit in Finland, and other documents specified to your chosen program and/or country.

Additional requirements depend on your chosen study program and the university you are applying to. Some universities may require an admission test and some may not. You may check individual universities for more details. Make sure to check thoroughly since this is a vital step for studying in Finland as an international student.

Language Requirements for Undergraduate Programs

For undergraduate programs in English, international applicants need to validate their level of English proficiency. Most universities in Finland accept IELTS and TOEFL results however, it also depends on the university you are applying to.

The University of Helsinki offers various ways for international applicants to prove their English fluency. It can be through Baccalaureate (IB), European Baccalaureate (EB), Deutsches Internationales Abitur examination, PTE Academic, Cambridge English tests, and upper secondary education in English among others.

For IELTS results, the minimum requirement is an overall score of 6.5. For TOEFL, a minimum score of 92 for the Internet-based test, and a score of 20 each for the reading and listening, and a score of 22 for the writing section for the paper-based test.

Language Requirements for Graduate Programs

The same language requirements are applicable for the graduate programs. However, if you are planning to pursue a multilingual International Master’s program with Finnish or Swedish as the language of the degree, you have to provide proof of fluency in their local language.

According to the University of Helsinki, you may present your IB or EB degree among others. For the IB degree, you must have at least a grade of 2 for Finnish as an A1 language, a grade of at least 5 for Finnish as A2 or B language, or a grade of at least 2 for Finnish as an A language for language, literature, and performance.

For the EB degree, the requirement is a grade of at least 4 for Finnish as L1 language or a grade of at least 7 for Finnish as L2 language.

Application Requirements for the Undergraduate Programs

The Finnish National Agency for Education offers two ways to process your student application in the universities: joint application or separate application. The joint application allows you to apply for up to six study programs. If you qualify for the program, you can choose your place of study. For the separate application, you may apply through the university’s website or in Study Info.

For the undergraduate programs, below are the following documents that most universities in Finland require according to the University of Helsinki:

  • Duly accomplished online application form
  • Proof of your eligibility for higher education (it can also be your IB or EB diploma)
  • Original educational documents with official translations
  • Certificate of English language proficiency
  • SAT subject test results
  • Photocopy of your passport
  • Other documents specified to your chosen program or country you are from

Application Requirements for the Graduate Programs

For the graduate programs, here is what you need in applying to Äbo Akademi University:

  • Your original certificate of relevant Bachelor’s or Master’s degree
  • Original certificate of your Bachelor’s degree translated in English, Swedish or Finnish
  • Both the original copy and translated copy of your Transcript of Records of your completed degree
  • Your college diploma if applicable
  • Proof of English language proficiency
  • Copy of the first page of your passport where your name, date of birth, nationality, and photo is indicated
  • Residence permit in Finland
  • Other requirements indicated in the program you are applying to and documents specified to your country (if there is)

3. Applying to Universities in Finland

Classes in Finland in Spring start in August or September, while Autumn classes begin in January. The application starts in January for the Spring studies, and September for the Autumn studies. For the undergraduate programs, below is the application procedure in the University of Helsinki:

  • Accomplish the online application form available in Study Info during the period of application.
  • Submit the application form and wait for the confirmation email.
  • You may submit the other required documents along with the application form online or you may also mail it to the university’s address.
  • You can check the status of your application through the Study Info.

For the graduate programs, these are the procedures in processing your application in Äbo Akademi University:

  • Make sure that you have scanned the required documents in colored and pdf formats.
  • Fill out the application form available in Study Info.
  • Submit your form and other documents within the application period.
  • Once you get admitted to the university, you will be requested to provide the original hard copies of the documents you have submitted online.
  • You should mail the documents to the university address for the verification procedure.

4. Applying for a Student Visa

Once you get accepted to a university for a graduate or undergraduate degree, you need to apply for a Residence Permit to stay in Finland for two years. This is the final step of studying in Finland for international students and is the easiest one.

General requirements for the Residence Permit application are your valid passport, certificate of acceptance from an institution in Finland, proof of income or source of funds, health insurance, and degree certificates. According to Finnish Immigration Service, below are the procedures that you have to go through:

  1. Prepare all the documents required. Make sure that important documents are legalized and translated (if not in English).
  2. Fill out the application form in EnterFinland.
  3. Pay the application fee ($395 if electronic, and $506 if paper).
  4. Wait for the Finnish Immigration Service to inform you of the decision.
  5. Once your application is approved, it will be delivered to you.
  6. You may check from the website the processing time and the date when your residence permit will be released.

Aside from all these requirements and procedures, there are many other things that you should prepare, like your airline tickets, accommodation, savings, and others. Most importantly, you have to prepare yourself for a different culture and study lifestyle that awaits you there. But there’s nothing to worry about since Finns are known for their bravery, courage, and determination.

I hope that this article was helpful. If you are interested, visit the Europe Scholarships Page.