How to Study, Work, and Live in Finland: The Complete Bachelor's Students' Guide 2021

There’s something about Finland that makes it a great study destination for international students. And it’s not that studying in Santa’s country is something to brag about. We won’t keep you waiting any longer – it’s the high-quality education, the academic freedom, and the student-centred support services.

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Finland is often rated as one of the most innovative countries in terms of higher education and training programmes, according to the World Economic Forum’s Global Competitiveness Report. And with such a fancy reputation it’s hard not wanting to know more about studying a Bachelor’s degree in this Nordic country.

What and where to study in Finland

About 31,000 international students choose Finland every year, with over 400 degree programmes taught in English. If this sounds appealing to you, you’re probably wondering what you should choose from so many programmes. These are some of the most popular Bachelor’s disciplines you can study in Finland:

Now, you are probably wondering what are some great student cities. Everybody has heard of Helsinki’s cosmopolitan vibe, so that would be an obvious choice. But if you don’t want to follow the flock, you might also want to consider student cities like:

The most popular go-to institutions are the 24 Universities of Applied Sciences (UAS) where most English-taught Bachelors are available. Highly appreciated, these former polytechnics are focused on research and development while also addressing the needs of the industry.

study in Finland

If there’s a programme at a UAS, you can be sure that there’s a demand for it on the job market. To help you get a picture about Finland’s UAS, check out some of the most popular ones:

Additionally, Finland has 14 traditional universities. Their competitive advantage is that if you complete your Bachelor’s at a university, you’re automatically admitted for a Master’s without needing to re-apply. How cool is that!

How to apply to a Finnish university?

The university application process in Finland is straightforward, so you won’t get lost in a paper trail. Applications for a Bachelor’s programme typically require:

  • Copy of your high school diploma or International Baccalaureate certificate
  • An admission exam or SAT subject test
  • High school grades transcript
  • Minimum English language test results

The coolest thing about applying for a degree in Finland is that you can have a joint application. This means you fill in a form with up to six preferred study programmes and only submit one application. Based on the scores of your application, you will be assigned to one of the programmes. In other words, you have more chances of studying in Finland with less effort.

Plus, many Finnish universities have no application fee. Hurray!

As the Finnish academic year is generally divided in two semesters, you also benefit from two university admission sessions:

  • For the Fall semester: 2 weeks in January and two weeks in March
  • For the Spring semester: the first weeks of September

If you are accepted, you will receive an official letter of admission. Afterwards, follow the steps to confirm your spot.

Living costs and tuition fees in Finland

If you’re from the EU or EEA, you’re in for a treat. No tuition fees for you at public Finnish universities. If you are from outside the EU/EEA, then you should save up between 5,000 and 18,000 EUR for academic tuition fees, depending on the programme.

Even so, there’s still hope. Tuition exemptions do exist for all students and there are also numerous scholarship options in Finland to get you covered. Solving the university tuition details is just half of the financial equation, as you also have to take into account living expenses:

  • Housing: ranging from 160 to 800 EUR/month depending on city and type of housing. Private apartments are more expensive than student housing.
  • Food expenses: around 200 - 300 EUR/month

Overall it would be wise to budget about 700 - 1,100 EUR/month for all the living expenses, including social activities and transportation.

You can use the Numbeo website to learn more about the costs of living in Finland.

study in Finland

How to apply for a Finnish student visa

If you are a non-EU/EEA student, you’ll need a residence permit which is typically issued for one or four years. The great news? You can do it all online! You will do this through the Finnish Immigration Service where you’ll have to upload:

  • a valid passport
  • an official admission letter
  • proof that you have enough money to cover your studies/living expenses
  • health insurance proof

Working in Finland during and after your studies

Like many students who are ambitious enough to pursue a degree abroad, you might consider cutting down the costs of your studies by taking a part-time job. So how does this work in Finland? Well, there are several ways you are allowed to do it:

  • During the academic year: you can take up part-time employment if the work is related to your degree or it does not go over 25 hours/week.
  • During school breaks: you can work unlimited hours.

Before you get all “Let’s go to Finland!”, you should take into account that the fastest way to get a job in Finland is to speak Finnish or Swedish. If you’re only relying on your English-skills, it might take you a bit longer to find a job.

Back to good news again. After your studies, you can apply for an extended residence permit for up to a year after graduation to search for work. But do it before your student residence permit expires. Once you find a job as a graduate, you can go and apply for a new residence permit, based on your new work placement.

Get the Finnish Sisu!

Something that’s truly Finnish and you’ll love is Sisu. A word that can hardly be translated into English, ‘Sisu’ means continuing to be courageous even when things get harder and the challenges bigger. So, arm yourself with this guide and go for your dream Bachelor’s in Finland, adding a bit of Sisu to your higher education goals!

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