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Masters in Finland

Hei there! No typo here – just a Finnish greeting! In our latest edition of the MASTER AND MORE blog, we are about to embark on our final study adventure in Scandinavia. And indeed, the Republic of Finland is surely an ideal end to our Nordic exploration involving the dream Masters study abroad. Ready to learn more about your study opportunities at top Finnish universities? With the same attitude of the cool as ice Finnish driver Kimi Räikkönen, simply sit back and enjoy this article – “we know what we are doing!”.

Why should you consider Finland as a Masters study destination?

For starters, Finland is located in Northern Europe, which understandably means that it is surrounded by both sea and land similarly to the other members of the Scandinavian region. With a population of just over 5 and a half million people spread around a vast territory, the current capital is Helsinki, located in Southern Finland. Unfortunately, this is quite far away from Santa’s home, which is towards the north in the region of Lapland.

As for the Finnish higher education, it is often described by many leading sources in the field as not only of high quality – but also world-leading. There is currently a total of 36 universities that offer Masters programmes both in English and Finnish to more than 20,000 international students. And choice is not poor at all, as universities in Finland have prepared around 200 high-quality, English-taught study courses that generally last 2 years full-time worth 120 ECTS credits.

Next, we have our regular check-up on the current university ranks based on the results of the Times Higher Education’s World University Rankings for 2019. In the list below, you can surely understand one of the reasons why the Finnish higher education system is labelled as “world-leading”:

  • University of Helsinki – 99th
  • Aalto University – 181st
  • University of Tampere, University of Oulu – Top 250
  • University of Eastern Finland, University of Turku – Top 400
  • University of Jyväskylä, Tampere University of Technology – Top 500
  • Lappeenranta-Lahti University of Technology (LUT) – Top 600
Masters in Finland - higher education details for 2019
Top-ranked universities*9
Tuition fees at state universities p.a.€0-€15,000
Average living costs per month (+housing)€900
Number of Masters in English200+
% Population that speaks English70%
Forbes Global 2000 companies9

 *according to THE’s World University Rankings for 2019

Impressive, right? Time to switch to another key point – the application and requirements valid for most public Finnish universities.

Admission requirements, Masters application and deadlines in Finland

One of the most distinctive features of the Finnish higher education system is that application for degree studies at public universities is done entirely online and free of charge – at Studyinfo.fi. However, there are some differences in the requirements and admission processes depending on the type of institution:

  • University
  • University of Applied Sciences (UAS)

Universities are more common and offer study opportunities in 21 fields and over 200 Masters delivered entirely in English. Universities of Applied Sciences, on the other hand, provide more specialised education in 8 different areas and around 20 English-taught Masters courses.

And here comes one major difference – application at UAS in Finland requires applicants to present not only a suitable Bachelor but also proof of at least 3 years of work experience after graduation. Furthermore, there is also either joint or separate admission possible, which allows either applying for up to 6 study programmes at more than one Finnish university or submitting documents for each of your chosen courses separately. You can find more information in the provided links.

Keep in mind that online application at Studyinfo.fi is open from the end of November up until the middle of January. Of course, certain exclusions are possible depending on your chosen Masters programme, application method – joint or separate, the option of applying directly to a Finnish higher education institution.

Last but not least, there are the admission documents that can be summarised in the following list:

  • Bachelor degree in the same or similar area of application (often required translated)
  • Language certificate in specific language of instruction – most commonly English, Finnish or Swedish
  • Portfolio/CV
  • Motivation/reference letter
  • Application form
  • Residence permit

Perhaps the one raising more eyebrows is the language certificate. In Finland, aside from English, both Finnish and Swedish are two other common options for a Masters study. In order to make it simple, we have provided an explanation of recognised tests and score requirements for each of these languages:

  • For proficiency in English – IELTS with 6.5; TOEFL with 92 (iBT); Pearson Test of English Academic with 62; Cambridge Qualification – C1 Advanced or C2 Proficiency with A, B or C
  • For proficiency in Finnish – higher education degree in Finnish; National certificate of language proficiency (YKI) with a level 4
  • For proficiency in Swedish – higher education degree in Swedish; TISUS (Test i svenska för universitetsstudier) with a pass for all components

Note that there are also often minimum requirements of the score for writing regarding English language certification and that there can be other forms of receiving permission to study in Finnish and Swedish.

Students arriving from countries that are not members of the EU or EEA also need to present a student residence permit upon application. Details can be found on the official website of the Finnish Immigration Service.

Tuition fees, grants and scholarships in Finland

And now for the financial part – no applicant coming from the EU, EEA or Switzerland is required to pay any tuition fees at public Finnish higher education institutions. In all other cases, or for students that are international, there is a handful of scholarships that can help avoiding figures between €10,000 to €18,000 per year for a Masters delivered in English.

More specifically, the majority of scholarship opportunities are presented by Finnish universities themselves. This means that you are most likely to find accurate and detailed information regarding your funding options on the official university websites. For example, check out these offers by the University of Helsinki and Aalto University.

Regardless of nationality, there is also the existence of student union fees that can range between €80 and €100. While there are cases when payment is not mandatory, it is recommended that you consider the benefits of receiving a student card that can award you with discounts for shops, restaurants and public transport.

Student life in Finland – accommodation, living costs and jobs

Starting off with accommodation, student public housing is very well-organised in Finland and even more importantly, quite affordable. A single room can cost around €150 and up to €400 in shared flats, with most offerings including Internet access and utilities in the pricing. You can familiarise yourself with the responsible housing institution here. Keep in mind that public accommodation also means that possible locations include good transport connections and facilities such as laundries.

Similarly, there is the private market that comes with more flexibility but higher costs as well, often two or even three times more expensive than those for public accommodation.

The bottom line is that you can expect the planning of a monthly budget in the area of no more than €1000 even if you prefer to resort to private housing. That is because even though the living standard is quite high and on par with other Scandinavian countries, the pricing of most services and commodities, that a regular student can require, is actually reasonable:

  • Standard meal (inexpensive restaurant) - €11
  • 1 l milk – €0.90
  • 500 g white bread – €1.87
  • 1 kg rice – €1.82
  • 12 eggs – €1.83
  • 1 kg chicken/beef – around €10
  • 1 kg fruit – around €2
  • 1kg vegetables – around €2.50
  • 1.5 l water – €1.32
  • Monthly fitness pass - €37
  • Cinema ticket – €13

As for transportation, the regular price for a monthly ticket is €55 which can be reduced if you provide a student card upon payment of your student union fee.

For health services, it is important that you take your European Health Insurance Card with you in order to be eligible for more affordability when visiting health centers in Finland. For other cases, you can find more information here.

When it comes to finding a job as a student, there are several opportunities that you can find on the public website infoFinland.fi. It is worth mentioning that jobs in Finland tend to require Finnish language knowledge and some previous work experience. Still, it is worth trying as at the end you might be able to cover more than 50% of your living costs with the income from a student job.

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