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A Masters in Finland can be a great choice for adventurous international postgraduates looking for a unique study abroad experience in Europe. And, with historic universities and a good chance of paying no fees for your Masters, the country has plenty to offer.
|Masters Study in Finland - Key Details|
|Oldest University||University of Helsinki (1640)|
|Course Length||2 Years|
|Typical Fees (Domestic / EU)||None|
|Academic Year||September to June|
Finland’s clean and safe cities, pristine wilderness and high quality of life make it a great destination for Masters study.
Though slightly less well-known than its Nordic neighbours, Finland boasts several universities with an excellent track record. The higher education sector in Finland has considerably expanded the number of postgraduate programmes in English to attract international students.
Here are just a few reasons why you could consider studying a Masters in Finland:
Finland has two types of higher education institutions where you can undertake Masters degrees: 13 universities and 23 universities of applied science (UAS).
Universities of applied science are more focused on vocational training and applied research. As such, their Masters are a little different than in universities and last one to one and a half years. In addition, they can only be accessed upon completion of a Bachelors and three years of professional experience.
The success of Finnish universities in global rankings is one way to measure the quality of its research and training opportunities. Several Finnish institutions feature in academic league tables for 2020.
|University||THE 2020||QS 2020||ARWU 2019|
|University of Helsinki||=96||107||63|
|University of Oulu||201-250||374||301-400|
|University of Tampere||251-300||=395||501-600|
|University of Eastern Finland||351-400||=498||401-500|
Masters degrees offered by Finnish universities are always two years in duration. Degrees at universities of applied science can be shorter, due to the fact that students must have significant professional experience before starting these courses.
As in other European countries, credits are gained through a mix of compulsory / core courses and optional courses or activities. Teaching for Masters degrees is delivered face-to-face or virtually through lectures, seminars, tutorials and practicals, as well as language courses or a period of internship. Assessments are based on coursework, exams and a final dissertation.
The Finnish academic year begins in September, but the application period for Masters programmes in Finland is generally from November through to February / March (though in some cases it may close as early as the end of January). The exact dates may vary from one university to another, or even within one single university, depending on the Masters programme in question.
Masters applicants should hold an undergraduate degree (three years minimum). For UAS Masters, you will also need three years of professional experience. If you already hold a higher education qualification from a country other than Finland, your eligibility is decided based on:
Both kinds of universities in Finland use the free Studyinfo.fi system for Masters applications (the Finnish equivalent of UCAS).
Universities have career services that can advise you on employment opportunities. They will have local knowledge of the labour market in Finland and in the Nordic region so if you intend on staying after your studies, it is worth talking to them.
Whether or not you need a visa to work in Finland after your Masters depends on your nationality:
You can find out more about applying for an extended residence permit on the Finnish Immigration Service’s website.
EU, EEA and Swiss students can currently study a Masters for free in Finland. Other international students will pay between €8,000 and €18,000 for an English-language Masters programme.
If you’re an EU, EEA or Swiss national, you don’t need a visa to study in Finland. Other international students should apply for a residence permit for studies once they’ve received an offer from a Finnish university.
EU, EEA and Swiss nationals can work without restriction during their Masters in Finland, while citizens of other countries can work for an average of 25 hours a week during term time (or unlimited hours during the holidays).
The European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) is valid for EU and EEA nationals, but other international students will need to take out private health insurance when applying for a residence permit.
Home to around 24,000 international students, Finland is an increasingly popular study abroad destination, and it’s easy to see why. Technological advances in public services such as banking, schools, and transport make life in Finland feel very modern.
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The Finnish are characterised by their reserved but easy-going nature. The capital city, Helsinki, has also been nominated as the most honest city in the world – it’s not uncommon to see bikes left unlocked on the streets!
In Finland most students, especially international students, live in university-owned accommodation or in student flats which are managed either by student unions or a local student housing organisation.
The Finnish Associations of Student Housing (SOA) provide useful information about accommodation. Each region / city has its own housing organisation and dedicated website.
The average monthly rent for a single room in a shared student flat ranges from approximately €160 to €380. Single apartments or family flats are also available, but the rent rate is obviously higher.
Private rentals can be considerably more expensive than student accommodation but are an option if you do not want to live on campus or share with other students.
The Nordic region in general has a reputation for being expensive, and it is true that the high rate of taxation means that the cost of living is higher than in other European countries. By northern European standards however, the cost of living in Finland is average.
Students requiring a visa to study in Finland must demonstrate that they have at least €560 per month at their disposal. This is a minimum and you are recommended to budget around €700-900 per month.
EU and EEA nationals will usually be entitled to work without restrictions whilst studying a Masters in Finland.
Other international students can work without restrictions only if the role is closely related to your studies. For other jobs, you can work for an average of 25 hours a week during term time, or without restriction during the holidays.
Finland is part of the Eurozone and the Euro (€) is the official currency.
As a Masters student you don’t need to have a Finnish bank account, but it can make your day-to-day life easier, especially if you need to pay bills.
To open an account, you will need to visit the bank branch in person. Make sure you have the right documentation with you, including your passport for identification purposes and a proof of your address in Finland.
Public transport is well organised in Finland and it is relatively easy to travel in cities; Helsinki has buses, trams, local trains and a metro. To get around the rest of the country, trains, buses and flights are widely available. In the northern part of Finland the transport network is less extensive.
Don’t forget that Finland’s location in northern Europe means that you can easily access neighbouring countries such as Sweden, Norway, Russia and Estonia by road, rail, air or ferry.
Finland has a generous free tuition policy for European nationals, and universities usually offer a range of scholarships to students from other countries.
Students from the EU, EEA and Switzerland can study a Masters for free in Finland.
Other international students pay tuition fees for English-language Masters in Finland (not Finnish or Swedish-language programmes). These fees are decided by the universities and vary between €8,000 and €18,000.
All students will have to pay an annual fee of €80 to €100, either to become a member of the university or of the student union. Other costs may include access to student facilities such as sports centres, as well as buying textbooks or other materials.
Finnish higher education institutions offer scholarships to gifted non-EU/EEA students, which you generally apply for at the same time as your Masters application.
You might be eligible to receive support through the Erasmus+ scheme, which provides funding for selected programmes like Erasmus Mundus Joint Masters, as well as Erasmus loans for students who want to study abroad.
If you’re a US citizen, there are a few options open to you:
Finland is keen to attract more international students and its visa system makes it convenient for non-European nationals to study and live in the country.
If you’re an EU, EEA or Swiss national, you’re automatically entitled to enter Finland and live there as a student for the duration of your course.
Other international students will need to apply for a residence permit for studies once you’ve received format acceptance from your Finnish university. You can begin your application online with the Finnish Immigration Service but the process does involve visiting your nearest Finnish embassy to formally identify yourself.
All non-Finnish students must register at the local police station, even if you are from the EU. For those with a residence permit, police registration is required for its annual renewal.
If you’re an EU / EEA national, you will usually be covered by a European Health Insurance Card and a reciprocal health agreement between your home country and Finland.
If you’re a non-EEA citizen, it’s compulsory to take out international student health insurance when you apply for your residence permit.
Student healthcare for those studying at universities (not universities of applied science) is offered by the Finnish Student Health Service (FSHS – in Finnish, the acronym is "YTHS").
Finland offers a striking destination for postgraduate study abroad, with high-tech modern cities surrounded by beautiful unspoilt Nordic tundra. A Masters in Finland will give you the chance to appreciate this unique setting whilst studying at internationally renowned universities.
Finland takes pride in its higher education system, emphasising accessibility and internationalisation as a core principle of its universities and their degree programs. One example of this is the country's attitude to tuition fees: at present Masters degrees in Finland are free for all EU, EEA and Swiss students.
There's more to Finnish universities than free education though. Whilst studying a Masters in Finland you'll be able to access unique research and training opportunities: examining the culture and history of the Scandinavian region or investigating geographical and meteorological phenomena such as the aurora borealis. Finland is also a leader in IT development and electronic communications technologies.
When not studying for your Masters you'll be able to explore beautiful landscapes (hiking is a popular Finnish pastime) and perhaps even go looking for Santa Claus - one of Finland's most famous 'residents'.
Despite its northern location, Finland is a popular destination for international education. There are around 23,000 students studying abroad in Finland, many of them on postgraduate degrees.
Most Masters degree programmes in Finland take two years to complete. The Finnish academic year runs from August or September to May or June, with small variations between individual universities.
There are currently no tuition fees in Finland for EU/EEA nationals. However, as of the 2017/18 academic year, Finnish universities have begun charging non-EU/EEA students for Masters programmes that are taught in English. These fees vary between €4,000 and €18,000.
Degrees in Finland are normally taught in Finnish or Swedish, but increasing numbers of Masters programmes are now being offered in English.
You won't need a visa to study in Finland as an EU or EEA student (however, you will need to register for a residence permit upon arrival in the country). Other students should contact a Finnish embassy for details of visa and immigration requirements.
You can find detailed information and advice on studying a Masters in Finland in our study guide. This covers the Finnish university system, degree types, application requirements and student visas.
You can also read our advice on living in Finland as an international postgraduate.
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