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.
This page offers a detailed guide to Masters study in Finland, including information on universities, course content, costs and visa requirements.
Postgraduate opportunities in Finland – what’s on offer for 2019?
Finland’s clean and safe cities, pristine wilderness and high quality of life make it a great destination for Masters study.
Though less well known than its Nordic neighbours, Finland boasts several institutions with an excellent track record – the University of Helsinki is in the world’s top 100 according to the Times Higher Education World University Rankings. 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:
- No tuition fees– If you’re an EU / EEA national, higher education is completely free!
- Relatively low cost of living– Compared to other Nordic countries, Finland is less expensive to live in. This means you can experience the famous Nordic model of living without worrying too much about your bank balance.
- Academic freedom– Finland is rightfully proud of its egalitarian society, and this is reflected in a higher education sector that emphasises the importance of co-operation and academic independence.
- Research and development– Universities of applied sciences in Finland maintain close links with local industry, allowing you to put your skills into practice.
Finland has two types of higher education institutions where you can undertake Masters degrees: 14 universities and 25 universities of applied science (UAS).
All degrees, including Masters degrees, are awarded ECTS credits. Universities follow the Bologna three-tier system: Bachelor (three years), Master (two years), Doctorate (four years).
Universities of applied science are more focused on vocational training and applied research. As such, Masters at UAS 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 bachelor and three years of professional experience.
Finnish university rankings
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 2019.
Masters degrees offered by Finnish universities are always two years in duration, although at universities of applied science the duration can be shorter, due to the fact that students must have significant professional experience before starting the course.
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. Assessment are based on coursework, exams and the final dissertation.
Masters fees and funding in Finland
Historically, there were no tuition fees in Finland. However, this changed in the 2017-18 academicyear when fees were introduced for non-EU/EEA students on English-language Masters degrees(not Finnish / Swedish language Masters). These fees vary between €4,000 and €18,000.
Students from the EU and EEA continue to study for free.
All students will have to pay a small fee, 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:
- The Council on International Educational Exchange have grants available for American students to study abroad – need-basedand merit-based
- Fund for Education Abroad
- Fulbright scholarships
Applying for a Masters in Finland
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. You may also find that different universities and courses have different entry requirements for prospective postgraduates.
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:
- Your academic performance.
- Language skills: Englishor Finnish / Swedish if you are opting to pursue a Masters in one of the country’s official languages.
- Other faculty-specific requirements, if applicable.
Both kinds of universities in Finland use Studyinfo.fi for Masters applications (the Finnish equivalent of UCAS). Handily, you won’t be charged a fee to apply for a course at a Finnish university through Studyinfo.fi.
Masters student visas in Finland
Because Finland is a member of the EU, visa and immigration requirements for international students wishing to study a Masters degree in Finland will vary according to nationality.
If you are a citizen of an EU or EEA country, you will be automatically entitled to enter Finland and live there as a student for the duration of your course (you will, however, need to be registered as a student and to report your presence in the country within three months of arrival).
Students from outside the EU and the EEA will usually need to apply for a visa to enter Finland and live there whilst studying a Masters degree.
In Finland, a visa (viisumi in Finnish) is a short-term residence permit which allows you to stay in the country for a maximum of three months. As such, it’s not suitable if you are going to study a Masters degree. What you will need is a long-term ‘student visa’ called a ‘student residence permit‘.
You can only start your residence permit application once you have received formal acceptance from your Finnish university or UAS. It will take some time so make sure you don’t delay. This is particularly important because you will need to visit the local Finnish embassy in person. If your home country does not have a Finnish embassy, you will need to travel to a Finnish embassy in a nearby country.
In order to apply for a residence permit, you will need:
- A formal offer of admission from your university
- Proof that you can support yourself financially during your studies
- Suitable health insurance
For more detailed information, consult the website of the Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland or the Finnish Immigration Service. The immigration service will deliver the residence permit which is valid for one year and must be renewed at a local police station. You will have to demonstrate proof of financial resources every year.
All non-Finnish students must register at the local police station, even if you are from the EU. For those requiring a residence permit, police registration is required for its annual renewal.
Masters programmes in Finland, notably those targeted at the international student community, have strong research content and are designed as preparation for doctoral studies. This is not always as explicit in the title as it is for research Masters in the UK, so it is worth checking the career prospects information on the programme pages. However, both research-led and taught Masters are a valuable addition to your CV regardless of whether you’re aiming for a research career or not.
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. If you require a visa to study in Finland, check what the post-study employment situation is.
For more information, please visit: https://www.findamasters.com/study-abroad/europe/masters-study-in-finland.aspx