Study and find schools in Finland

Finland, or officially, the Republic of Finland, is a Nordic country located in Northern Europe, with a total geographic land area of approximately 131,000 square miles.  Situated in what is called the Fennoscandian region of Northern Europe, the country shares borders to the west with Sweden, to the north with Norway, to the east with Russia, and to the south with the Gulf of Finland, which separates Finland from Estonia.  Finland is home to 5.4 million people, most of whom live in the southern region of the country, of which Helsinki, the capital and largest city in Finland is a part.  Although Finland is the eighth-largest country in Europe in terms of total land area, it is not very densely populated; in fact, it is the most sparsely populated country in the European Union.
Of all the countries in the European Union, Finland is by far the most ethnically homogenous, with nearly 98 percent of the population being native Finns.  Only 2.5 percent of the population is foreign, and of that total, most are from Russia, Sweden and Estonia.  Both Finnish and Swedish are considered national official languages in Finland.  However, Finnish is overwhelming predominant, spoken throughout the country and used in all official capacities, including the language of instruction in Finnish schools.  Swedish is spoken in some of the coastal regions of the country, particularly in the west and south. 
Over 78 percent of the Finnish people are members of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland, while the remaining 22 percent are non-affiliated (19.2%), Finnish Orthodoxy (1.1%) or something else altogether (1.3%).
Education in Finland
The education system in Finland is widely regarded as one of, if not the best education system in the world; an egalitarian system, with no tuition fees and free meals served to full-time students.  The education system is overseen and administered by the national government and implemented at the local level.  It begins with one year of pre-school, also called kindergarten, for 6-year old children, followed by a nine-year compulsory basic education, which is divided between primary school (7 years) and the first two years of secondary education.  This compulsory stage of education provides students instruction through a wide and far-reaching curriculum, one developed by the government and tweaked as needed by school officials when the need arises.  Subject areas taught include courses in language arts, basic technology, mathematics, geography, history, science, art, music and physical education.
Although not legally compelled to do so, the majority of Finnish students continue their education past the compulsory stage and into secondary school.  Here students are offered the choice of continuing on a general academic educational track for two years, or entering a two-year vocational education program, in which they receive instruction and training directly related to a particular occupation or career.  Those who choose the general education track, usually with the goal of entering a university upon graduation, receive advanced instruction in many of the same subjects highlighted above, but also in more complex courses such as biology, chemistry, physics, advanced computer technology and more.
Higher education in Finland is provided by two types of institutions:  universities and polytechnics, with the university being the more prestigious of the two.  The type of institution a Finnish student is permitted to attend is dependent on a number of factors, including his or her Grade Point Average (GPA) in the upper-secondary school, the national matriculation examination administered prior to graduation and the entrance examination administered by each higher education institution.
Finland’s exemplary education system is perhaps best evidenced by the national adult literacy rate in the country:  100 percent for both males and females, and the highest in the world.

Language Courses in Finland

When it comes to language-study destinations, the quiet, comfortable nation of Finland lies unmistakably on the path less traveled. Located in the far reaches of Northern Europe on the Baltic Sea, Finland is a land of midnight sun, Northern Lights, and pristine Arctic wilderness. It also offers the exciting nightlife and cultural sites of its modern and cosmopolitan capital, Helsinki. There are several programs in the country for studying the Finnish language, but naturally far fewer than for more widely-studied languages such as French and Chinese, and students often wonder what the benefit would be of studying the Finnish language.
In fact, there are many reasons to study Finnish. The simplest is its great elegance, beauty, and unfamiliarity to people who have grown up speaking Indo-European languages. Many people study Finnish for its own sake. It is also of great value to linguists and linguistic historians, since the Finnish language is one of the last surviving members of the Finno-Ugric language family that once dominated all of Europe. This language family is far older than Latin, Greek, or any of the other “ancient” languages of the West, and to learn it is to glimpse the remnants of a prehistoric culture predating the rise of European civilization. Finnish is far more closely related to the languages of native Arctic peoples than it is to the languages of neighboring Sweden, Denmark, and Norway.

The second reason why people come to Finland for language schools and language immersion courses is to learn not Finnish but rather the Sami languages spoken among the native peoples of the far north of Finland and Scandinavia. Anthropologists from around the world are fascinated by these people, whose lifestyles have remained more or less unchanged for thousands of years, despite living within the borders of some of the most modern countries in the world. Of course, once you have decided to study Finnish or Sami, it is a necessity to travel to Finland and see these languages being spoken in their natural surroundings.

Many people come to Finland seeking an education in another field of study and find that they need a language course in order to move forward with their studies and with the day-to-day tasks of living and working in Finland. Finland’s universities have world-class programs in a number of fields, particularly environmental studies, architecture, and design, and these programs draw students from a number of other countries. Although instruction is available in English, it is always better to learn the language of the country where you live, and so the universities offer immersion courses in Finnish to students in all of their programs.

Masters Degrees, Graduate Studies and Professional Programs in Finland

Are you a recent graduate who has always dreamed of studying abroad in a foreign country?  Have you considered the beautiful country of Finland as a potential study abroad destination?  Studying abroad as a graduate student can be the experience of a lifetime and a great way to gain an alternate cultural and educational perspective.  Regardless of your major or field of study, the country of Finland, which is home to some of the world’s finest universities, has everything you need to make your dreams of studying abroad a reality.

Finland, or in official circles, the Republic of Finland, is a Nordic country located in the Fennoscandian region of Northern Europe. The country is bordered by Sweden to the west, Norway to the north, Russia to the east, and Estonia to the south across the Gulf of Finland.

As of 2013 census, Finland had a population of roughly 5.5 million, with the majority concentrated in its southern, warmer regions.  In terms of geographic area, the nation is the eighth largest country in Europe and the most sparsely populated country in the European Union.  Finland is organized as a parliamentary republic with a central government based in the capital of Helsinki; local governments in 336 municipalities; and one autonomous region, the Åland Islands.  Nearly one million residents live in the Greater Helsinki area, a metropolitan bloc consisting of Helsinki, Espoo, Vantaa and Kauniainen,  which also produces a third of the country's Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Other large cities in Finland include Tampere, Turku, Oulu, Jyväskylä, Lahti, and Kuopio.

A relative latecomer to industrialization, Finland remained largely agrarian and rural until the dawn of the 1950s.  From that point on, the country has rapidly developed an advanced economy while building an extensive Nordic-style welfare state, resulting in widespread prosperity and one of the highest per capita incomes in the world.  Today Finland is a top performer in numerous metrics of national performance, including education, economic competitiveness, civil liberties, quality of life, and human development.  Finland is also a member of the United Nations, the Council of Europe and the World Trade Organization.

Graduate Programs and Higher Education in Finland

As measured by performance, Finland has one of the finest systems of higher education in the world and is home to several universities that are internationally ranked for their quality and the performance of their students and graduates.

There are essentially two sectors in Finland’s higher education system: traditional universities (yliopisto, universitet) and universities of applied sciences (ammattikorkeakoulu, yrkeshögskola, or AMK/YH for short).  The country also has vocational schools for students wishing to enter a trade following graduation.  

Admissions to all tertiary institutions are based on a student’s final grade point average from high school, along with his/her score on both the national high school exit examination (abitur), and the university entrance examinations. The selection process is fully transparent, merit-based, and objective; there are no application essays, no human factor in selection, no underrepresented minority support, and no weight placed on extracurricular activities. Moreover, the entrance examinations rarely feature drawn-out multiple-choice exams, but instead consist of a smaller number of longer and more complicated questions aimed at measuring more than just memorization and quick mechanical problem solving.  

The main focus of the universities in Finland is research and theoretical education.  The universities of applied sciences, on the other hand, focus more on responding to the needs of the world of work and engaging in industry development projects.  The nature of research at the universities of applied sciences is more practical and theories are applied to advanced problem solving.  For example, the physicians in Finland are graduates of the traditional universities, whereas registered nurses and engineers graduate from universities of applied sciences.

 The vocational schools and universities of applied sciences are governed by municipalities, or, in special cases, by private entities.  All the traditional universities, on the other hand, are owned by the state. A bachelor's degree takes about three to four years to complete, depending on the program.  Completion of the undergraduate program can culminate in graduation and the awarding of a degree, but it is usually only an intermediate step towards the graduate or master's degree.  A bachelor's degree earned at a university of applied sciences, on the other hand, takes about 3.5–4.5 years to complete, culminating in the conferment of a Professional Bachelor Degree.

Graduates from traditional universities and universities of applied sciences are able to continue their education by applying to Master's degree programs in the same or related field.  After undergraduate degree recipients have completed three year's work experience in their chose field, they are qualified to apply for Master's degree programs in universities of applied sciences, schools which are work and research-oriented . Lower university degree graduates are also qualified to apply, but with additional studies. The Master's degree programs at universities of applied sciences generally span two years in duration and can be undertaken in conjunction with regular work. After the Master's degree, the remaining degrees (Licentiate and Doctor) are available only at traditional universities.  All Master's degree holders qualify for graduate studies at the doctoral level.

Some universities also provide professional programs leading to professional degrees. These programs include additional requirements that must be met in addition to merely completing the studies, such as demonstrations of competence in a given practice.

After the Master's degree, there are two further post-graduate degrees—an intermediate postgraduate degree, called Licentiate, and the Doctoral (Doctorate) degree. A Licentiate program has the same amount of theoretical education as a Doctor, but its dissertation work has fewer requirements. On the other hand, the requirements for a doctoral dissertation are a bit higher than that of other countries.

Why Study Abroad in Finland?
Studying abroad in Finland can be the experience of a lifetime.  Not only will students have the opportunity to study at some of the world’s best-performing universities, they will also have the chance to soak up the rich culture of the country and meet like-minded people from around the world.  When not busy studying in the classroom, Finland offers some of the most interesting and exciting attraction on the globe—places that allow students to explore all the wonderful treats the country has to offer.  Some of the more popular sites and attractions in Finland include:

The Fortress of Suomenlinna

That magnificent Fortress of Suomenlinna was built in the second half of the 18th century on a group of islands near the entrance of Helsinki's harbor.  This beautifully designed fortress, representing a unique example of European military architecture, was built to help Sweden oppose the ambitions of Russia, whose goal was to reach and conquer the eastern shores of the Baltic Sea. Located on six islands close to Helsinki, the Fortress of Suomenlinna is a famous landmark and one of the largest and strongest sea fortresses in the world. Its history is closely connected with that of Finland and the entire Baltic region.

Old Rauma

Located in the Gulf of Botnia, Rauma is one of the oldest ports in Finland.  The town was built around a Franciscan monastery, where visitors can still find a well-preserved mid-15th-century church called "Holy Cross." Old Rauma is the largest and most beautifully constructed wooden town in the world, and a marvelous example of the Nordic’s people passion and creativity.  The town includes roughly 600 buildings, most of which are privately owned and kept up beautifully.  The vivid business area is concentrated around the market square, and the typical house in the town, known as a kirsti, is decorated as a classic fisherman’s abode. Old Rauma is a place with incomparable architecture and a true living heart that is definitely worth seeing.

St. Olafs Castle

Saint Olafs Castle is located on the picturesque island of Savonlinna, just off the coast of mainland Finland.  The northernmost medieval fortress in Europe, the castle is very well preserved by its caretakers.  In fact, the city of Savonlinna was founded in 1639 around the castle of St Olaf, and the palace itself, which was built in 1475 by Eric Knight Akselson Toth, is one of the main attractions of the island. Toth built the castle as a way to protect the region of Savona and to control the border between Finland and Russia.  Over the centuries, each king who called the castle home contributed to its development and overall design, making it the very eclectic castle we know today.   If you happen to visit the castle at the right time, you may even be treated to the popular and now famous Savonlinna Opera Festival, which takes place every year in and around the castle of St. Olafs , an ideal location for celebrating the magic of music and the unique spirit of Finland.

Career Colleges and Vocational Schools in Finland

Career and vocational training in Finland begins at the secondary (high school) level. Finnish teenagers have the option of pursuing either academic schooling, which typically leads to a college degree, or vocational schooling, which generally does not. It used to be the case that people who completed vocational secondary school were actually ineligible for college study, but this is changing in Finland as educational authorities come to recognize the importance of letting high-achieving secondary school students go on to college, regardless of the track they are on.

For adults who want to increase their level of training but do not wish to pursue a degree, there are a number of options available. Special adult education centers (aikuiskoulutuskeskus) have been set up all over Finland to assist citizens who feel this need. One of the main services offered by the adult education centers is post-secondary education, the rough equivalent of an American-style associate’s degree, which helps to prepare vocational graduates for college-level studies. Many Finnish adults have taken advantage of this service, which is provided free of charge by the government, to advance their educations and learn new skills. The adult educations centers are especially useful for people later in life who find that, due to economic shifts, the skills and trades they have learned are no longer in demand. People in this situation have the option of getting re-trained in a new field so that they can get new jobs; this system has proven to be very effective both for individual Finnish citizens and for the economy as a whole.

Through Finland’s innovative “Open University” system, there are many other educational opportunities available for people who want to continue learning but do not have the time or the inclination to pursue a full degree. Open University enables any person to attend one or two classes at a time at any university or college, for a modest fee. The classes range from arts and humanities to handicrafts and applied sciences – some focus on career skills and productivity, whereas others cater simply to the interests of students. Open University enables Finnish colleges and universities to extend the benefits of their faculty to the whole populace, at minimal cost to the institutions themselves.

Vocational training, being less prestigious than an academic college degree, was once seen as purely a fallback option for Finnish high school students. Now, as the economic and educational needs of the country change, attitudes toward career colleges, vocational schools, and polytechnics are changing as well. In modern-day Finland, huge numbers of young people have graduated from college with degrees in theoretical and academic subjects, and many of them are finding that there are not enough jobs to go around. Meanwhile, skills and trades like plumbing and electronics are becoming less common to study, even as jobs in these fields expand. Thus, it makes sound economic sense for many students studying in Finland to choose the vocational path over the academic alternative.

List of career colleges and vocational schools in Finland

Helsinki Summer School

Helsinki, Finland
The universities in the Helsinki Metropolitan area organize a three-week academic event every year during the month of August referred to as Helsinki Summer School. International students with advanced degrees can take part in this high-quality academic experience that is combined with social and cultural activities. All courses are fully credited and taught in English.

Cities to study in Finland

CSA Study Abroad
Accredited study abroad programs all over the world for students of all levels.

Share this page: