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Best Universities in Finland

Quality education, picturesque landscapes, and nice people — these are only a few reasons to choose Finland as a place to study. Here, you will learn about Finland’s best universities and education programs.

Why Study in Finland

The Finnish education system is considered one of the best in the world. School students in Finland rank top in PISA, an international assessment program. The country boasts one of the world’s three best-performing education systems along with Canada and Japan. In the QS Ranking, Finnish universities are listed among the top 3% in the world. 

Comfortable adjustment process for international students. Finland welcomes around 20,000 international students every year. The adjustment does not take too long, because Finnish people are friendly and speak fluent English. In 2021, Finland was named the happiest country in the world yet again. Besides, last year, it was ranked third based on the EF English Proficiency Index.

Low living costs compared to other countries of Northern Europe. Depending on the city, you will need around 700-900 a month to afford to live in Finland, excluding accommodation expenses. To put that into perspective, in Norway and Denmark, the amount will be around 1070 and 1000 respectively.

Favorable environment to work part-time when studying. A student visa allows you to work up to 25 hours a week. Finding a part-time job is no problem. According to Statistics Finland, 55% of students in Finland work part-time during the academic year.

Lots of opportunities to travel. Before the pandemic, the country’s national airline Finnair operated daily flights to over 150 destinations. It will take you a couple of hours to go from Helsinki to Russia or Estonia, for example. You could go by train or take a ferry ride. Besides, Finland has tight geographical and cultural links with other Scandinavian countries. Many Finns even speak fluent Swedish.

How University Education Works in Finland

In Finland, you can study in Finnish, Swedish, and English. Local universities offer over 400 programs taught in English.

Students from the CIS can apply for a bachelor's degree right after high school. To do that, you need to send an application and complete enrollment tests. Some institutions have a single database that enables you to register for several programs while taking exams only once.

For master’s programs, one usually does not need to take any entrance exams. The exceptions are programs in architecture, medicine, law, and creative arts. In that case, you may need a portfolio or the GMAT results.

You can find out more about the admission process for undergraduate and graduate programs in Finland here.

What Universities Are There

There are two types of higher education institutions in Finland — universities and universities of applied sciences (UAS). Both offer bachelor's, master's, and PhD programs.

The difference is that universities provide mostly theoretical training, focusing on science and research. There are 13 of them in the country. Universities of applied sciences, which are 22, place a higher priority on practical studies, and that is why on-the-job training is an integral part of the curriculum there.

To enter a master's program at a university of applied sciences, you need to have at least two years of work experience in your field of study, in addition to a bachelor's degree.

Completing a bachelor's or master's degree at a university of applied sciences will make you all set to work in one of the following fields:

— natural resources and environment (forest engineer, landscape designer);

— humanities and education (sign language interpreter);

— culture and arts (musician, interior designer);

— tourism and catering (administrator, hotel worker);

— healthcare, physical education, and social services (midwife, physical therapist, nurse);

— social sciences, economics, and management (sales consultant, marketing assistant);

— machinery and transport (automotive engineer, ship mechanic).

Study Costs and Scholarships

Education at universities in Finland is free for Finns, EU/EEA citizens, and Swiss students. Bachelor's and master's programs in English are not free for international students.

Tuition fees depend on the university and program and range from 4,000 € to 18,000 € per year. Some categories of international students are exempt from fees. Postgraduate programs in Finland are free for students of all nationalities.

University students have to pay an obligatory annual fee of 80-100 € to student unions. Universities of applied sciences have these unions too, but there is no compulsory membership there.

Most universities in Finland offer scholarships. You can find out more about funding programs and grants here.

Finland’s Top Universities

In 2021, the top five universities in Finland are:

— University of Helsinki;

— Aalto University;

— University of Turku;

— Tampere University;

— University of Oulu.

  1. Founded in 1640, the University of Helsinki is the oldest multidisciplinary university in Finland. The University has 32,000 students in 11 faculties and 11 research institutes. The university is a founding member of the League of European Research Universities (LERU), which also includes Oxford and Cambridge. 

The University of Helsinki will be a great place to study for those who are interested in scientific research and want to acquire a quality degree in education and teaching.

  1. Aalto University was founded in 2010 by merging the Helsinki University of Technology, the Helsinki School of Economics, and the University of Art and Design Helsinki. The approximate number of students is 12,000.

The University offers over 90 undergraduate, graduate, and postgraduate programs in technology, business, art, design, and architecture. Statistics say that 83% of those who complete undergraduate programs at Aalto University get employed in their field right after graduation.

  1. The University of Turku is the second largest university in Finland. More than 20,000 people study and do research in seven faculties and seven special departments.

Graduate students can pursue one of 16 doctoral research programs. Among them are Biofutures and Digital Futures, Cultural Memory and Social Change, Children, Young People and Learning, Drug Development and Diagnostics, Sea and Maritime Studies, etc.

  1. Tampere University is a young university founded in 2019 by merging the Tampere University of Technology and the University of Tampere.

In addition to programs in Finnish, there are 34 master's programs and two bachelor's programs in English. There is a diverse variety of majors, from Game Studies to Photonics and from Public and Global Health to Innovative Governance and Public Management.

  1. The University of Oulu was founded in 1958 and has 16,000 students and 3,000 employees. It is one of the largest multidisciplinary universities in Finland.

The university offers academic and research programs in ten faculties.

Researchers and postgraduate students at the Oulu University study people and cultures in a changing environment, how new technology affects this environment, and how to improve the lives of people living at higher altitudes.

What Programs Are In Demand in Finland and Where to Find Them

Some of the most popular fields of study in Finland are forestry, environmental protection, biotechnology, IT, and contemporary art.

You can view all study programs offered by Finnish universities on this website. For example, here you will find current master's programs in English at universities of applied sciences. Bachelor's programs at “classical” universities are listed here.