Known as the land of a thousand lakes, the midnight sun and the Northern Lights, Finland is famous for its natural beauty. As a world leader in technology, Finland has one of the highest standards of living in the world and a strongly developed democracy and economy. Experience rich cultural activities, such as the traditional sauna, as well as the efficient yet stunning architecture of Finland's clean, modern cities. Join in the abundance of unusual winter sports and festivals and experience the essence of Finland.



Languages Spoken:

Finnish, Swedish

Education System

HIGHER EDUCATION OVERVIEW 

The Finnish higher education system has two parallel sectors: universities and polytechnics. Universities are characterized by scientific research; polytechnics are oriented towards working life and base their operations on high vocational skill requirements. Universities select their own students independently. Competition for student places in higher education is fierce and an annual intake quota applies to all fields of study at universities. Various types of entrance examinations form a central part of the selection process. There is no tuition payment, and students are eligible for government-subsidized study loans and some grants. Students have a relatively free hand in determining their course of study and may retake examinations twice if they do not succeed the first time.  

University degrees in Finland correspond closely to the U.S. bachelor's, master's, and doctorate degrees. Universities provide lower (bachelor's) and higher (master's) academic degrees and scientific postgraduate degrees, which are the licentiate (Lisensiaatti/Licentiat) and the doctorate (Tohtori/Doktor). A bachelor's degree (Kandidaatti/Kandidat) can usually be completed in three years and a master's degree (Maisteri/Magister) in five years (including the Bachelor syllabus). Due to the high level of academic freedom in Finnish universities, the average duration for completing a master's degree is about six and a half years. Most Finnish students study through to the Maisteri/Magister level. 

University studies in Finland can be grouped into basic (perusopinnot/grundstudier), intermediate (aineopinnot/ ämnesstudier) and advanced (syventävät opinnot/ fördjupade studier) studies. The Kandidaatti/Kandidat degree usually includes basic and intermediate studies and a bachelor's thesis, with advanced studies and a master's thesis necessary to complete the Maisteri/Magister degree. 

The academic year runs from August to July. The university calendar starts in late August or early September with the first term completed in mid-December. The second term begins in January and ends in May. Generally there are two 14 to 16-week terms, with the only in-term vacation period being one week at Easter. 

 

STUDYING IN FINLAND 

Registration 

Registration often takes place on campus during orientation. Be sure to check with your host coordinator for the most up-to-date information about procedures and deadlines.  

Course Load 

Studies are measured in credits, or "study weeks" (opintoviikko/ studievecka), with one credit equivalent to 40 hours of work, including class contact, and individual study and preparation time. The Kandidaatti/Kandidat usually requires 120 credits, and the Maisteri/Magister requires an additional 40, or 160 in total. Beyond the Maisteri/Magister, the Lisensiaatti/Licentiat and Tohtori/Doktor degrees are essentially research degrees. Coursework in the subject field is required for both, but research and the preparation of a substantial thesis are key elements of these advanced degrees. 

Exams & Grading 

Individual courses may involve a variety of different types of work: lectures, exercises, essays or other independent work, book examinations, seminars, etc. Students can receive required course readings in English in addition to Finnish and Swedish. All universities offer Finnish and/or Swedish language courses for international students. 

Courses are assessed by written essays or written exams at the end of the course. The dates for major exams vary with the field of study but are usually given on a monthly basis. Exams may be based on lecture courses or independent study of set books.  

All completed lectures and passed exams are entered in a student's study register (opintorekisteri/ studieregister) in an electronic form. Grading is done on a scale of satisfactory, good or excellent, or respectively from one to three. Alternatively, particularly in technical universities, a scale of one to five is sometimes used. 

Transcripts 

Transcripts will be mailed to ISEP by the above-mentioned times. Students should submit a list of completed courses to the University Registrar's Office before leaving your host institution.

Students should carefully note all completed courses in the exchange student course card that is issued to each student during registration. The completed course card must be returned to the International Office of the host university. 

For the transcript to be issued in a timely manner, the student must complete all course work (including essays and other assignments) by the end of the exchange period. 

Visa and Residency

COVID-19 Update: Visa and Residency guidelines are subject to change and may be updated without warning a result of COVID-19 governmental regulations. Students should review the Special Conditions of Placement in their ISEP Acceptance Package for the most current information.

Please note that students should ALWAYS check the website of the embassy/consulate with jurisdiction over their place of residence first, as the information in this handbook regarding visa application instructions is subject to change without warning. 

 

RESIDENCE PERMIT

Type of visa for Semester or Full Year: Entry visa (if applicable) + Residence Permit 

Visa fee: 350 € (electronic application) / 450 € (paper application) 

Expected processing time: 1-3 months (electronic application) / 2-3 months (paper application) 

Current processing times for the Finnish Residence Permit using the E-Service should take no more than 6 weeks (as of September 1st, 2022) from the time of submission (including in-person biometric processes). If you have not received information regarding the status of your Finnish Residence Permit card within six weeks of your application submission, please email the Finnish Immigration Service at migri@migri.fi and inform your ISEP Student Services Officer. 

Your application will be processed only after you have visited a Finnish embassy. Also, the estimated processing time of your application starts from the day you visit the embassy.  

When to apply: after you receive your acceptance letter and any admission documents from your host university 

 

Students attending semester and academic year programs (90 days or longer) in Finland are reuquired to obtain a Residence Permit before arrival in Finland. This does not apply to nationals of the other Nordic countries and EU/EEA nationals. Please review this Guide on the Finnish Residence Permit for Students. Review all details in the guide PRIOR to submitting your residence permit application. 

Important Note: ALWAYS USE THE MIGRATION WEBSITES FIRST as it will always have the most up-to-date information.  You can submit your application electronically. Since the application forms and appendices do not need to be sent by post, e-services makes the application process faster.

 

Please visit the Finnish Immigration Service's webpage for information on studying in Finland. 

On the Ministry of Foreign Affairs webpage you can find contact details for the Finnish Diplomatic Missions.

 

RESOURCES

VFS Global Service (US Citizens only)

- Embassy of Finland, Washington DC - Visas and Residency

 

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Updated September 2022

Culture

CULTURE

Throughout Finland's prehistory and history, cultural contacts and influences have concurrently, or at varying times, come from all directions. As a result of Swedish and Russian rule, cultural influences are still notable. Today, cultural influences from North America are prominent. Into the 21st century, many Finns have contacted cultures from distantly abroad, such as with those in Asia and Africa.

One of the most traditional activities characterized by the Finnish culture is cottage life by a lake, often combined with going to sauna, swimming and barbecuing. Many Finns are emotionally connected to the countryside and nature, as urbanization is a relatively recent phenomenon. The Finnish mentality is often characterized by less small talk and more honest and straight forward types of communication compared to other cultures.

Finns have made major contributions to handicrafts and industrial design. Finland's best-known sculptor of the twentieth century was Wäinö Aaltonen, remembered for his monumental busts and sculptures. Finnish architecture is famous around the world. Among the top of the twentieth century Finnish architects to win international recognition are Eliel Saarinen (designer of the widely recognised Helsinki Central railway station and many other public works) and his son Eero Saarinen. Alvar Aalto, who helped bring the functionalist architecture to Finland, is also famous for his work in furniture and glassware.

FOOD

Traditional Finnish cuisine is a combination of European, Fennoscandian and Western Russian elements; table manners are European. The food is generally simple, fresh and healthy. Fish, meat, berries and ground vegetables are typical ingredients whereas spices are not common due to their historical unavailability. In years past, Finnish food often varied from region to region, most notably between the west and east. In coastal and lakeside villages, fish was a main feature of cooking, whereas in the eastern and also northern regions, vegetables and reindeer were more common. The prototypical breakfast is oatmeal or other continental-style foods such as bread. Lunch is usually a full warm meal, served by a canteen at workplaces. Dinner is eaten at around 4-6 p.m. at home.

Modern Finnish cuisine combines country fare and haute cuisine with contemporary continental cooking style. Today, spices are a prominent ingredient in many modern Finnish recipes, having been adopted from the east and west in recent decades.

Daily Life

CULTURE

Throughout Finland's prehistory and history, cultural contacts and influences have concurrently, or at varying times, come from all directions. As a result of Swedish and Russian rule, cultural influences are still notable. Today, cultural influences from North America are prominent. Into the 21st century, many Finns have contacted cultures from distantly abroad, such as with those in Asia and Africa.

One of the most traditional activities characterized by the Finnish culture is cottage life by a lake, often combined with going to sauna, swimming and barbecuing. Many Finns are emotionally connected to the countryside and nature, as urbanization is a relatively recent phenomenon. The Finnish mentality is often characterized by less small talk and more honest and straight forward types of communication compared to other cultures.

Finns have made major contributions to handicrafts and industrial design. Finland's best-known sculptor of the twentieth century was Wäinö Aaltonen, remembered for his monumental busts and sculptures. Finnish architecture is famous around the world. Among the top of the twentieth century Finnish architects to win international recognition are Eliel Saarinen (designer of the widely recognised Helsinki Central railway station and many other public works) and his son Eero Saarinen. Alvar Aalto, who helped bring the functionalist architecture to Finland, is also famous for his work in furniture and glassware.

FOOD

Traditional Finnish cuisine is a combination of European, Fennoscandian and Western Russian elements; table manners are European. The food is generally simple, fresh and healthy. Fish, meat, berries and ground vegetables are typical ingredients whereas spices are not common due to their historical unavailability. In years past, Finnish food often varied from region to region, most notably between the west and east. In coastal and lakeside villages, fish was a main feature of cooking, whereas in the eastern and also northern regions, vegetables and reindeer were more common. The prototypical breakfast is oatmeal or other continental-style foods such as bread. Lunch is usually a full warm meal, served by a canteen at workplaces. Dinner is eaten at around 4-6 p.m. at home.

Modern Finnish cuisine combines country fare and haute cuisine with contemporary continental cooking style. Today, spices are a prominent ingredient in many modern Finnish recipes, having been adopted from the east and west in recent decades.

Health and Safety

COVID-19 Note: ISEP expects changes to COVID-19 vaccine requirements for 2021 and 2022 programs. If the student's host country, host university, home university, home country, or travel provider require a COVID-19 vaccination, students must comply with that requirement. ISEP will notify students if we become aware of changes in the terms of participation for their program.

Prescription Medications: If you’re planning to bring your prescription or over-the-counter medicine on your trip, you need to make sure your medicine is travel-ready. More information can be found here, and please contact your Student Services Coordinator and ISEP Coordinator with any additional questions.

General Health Guidelines: Your health and safety is our number one priority. Please read and reference our Guides and Tips section for general information regarding health and safety abroad. 

Detailed information about Finland can be found here. Please pay special attention to the Safety and SecurityLocal Laws and Special Circumstances and Health sections. 

Note: Information sourced on this page is provided by the U.S. Department of State. Non-U.S. nationals should disregard the Embassies and Consulates and Entry, Exit and Visa Requirements sections. 

Currency


MONEY MATTERS


Currency
The currency of Finland is the Euro, the common currency of the European Union. Most member states of the European Union use the Euro.

The following major banks have numerous branches across the country: Nordea, Sampo and Osuuspankki. ATMs are widely available in most parts of the country. ATM cards with links to major networks (e.g. Visa, MasterCard) will work in Finland. Credit cards (e.g. Visa, MasterCard, American Express) are also widely used in Finland.


Compare your currency to the Euro.

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