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About Finland
Country Handbook

University of Helsinki

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Program Snapshot

University of Helsinki is a versatile, multidisciplinary university with an international academic community of 40,000 students and staff members in the vibrant city of Helsinki. Teaching is based on research, and both teaching and research are of the highest standard. UH's technology resources, learning spaces, and especially laboratories are highly ranked by students.

The main university area is located in the beautiful neo-classical centre of Helsinki, the capital of Finland since 1812. The new capital soon grew into the cultural centre of the country. With its large population, Helsinki is able to sustain a rich variety of cultural activities. There is an abundance of restaurants, bars, theatres, museums, and sporting events.

University of Helsinki operates on 4 campuses; City Centre Campus for Human Sciences, Kumpula Science Campus, Meilahti Campus for Medicine, Viikki Campus for Life Sciences. ISEP students can apply to all faculties on all campuses. Please review Academic Notes for requirements and restrictions, and refer to Courses in English for information on subjects (both found in Academics tab). More information can be found on the website.

ISEP Exchange: undergraduate and graduate programs available for an academic year or semester

ISEP-Exchange for International students.
ISEP-Exchange for US students.

Chance of Placement
Chance of placement for US students is generally Good.
Chance of placement for I-to-I students is generally Good.
For the most current chances of placement, see the Sites Open for Applications for US Students or Sites Open for I-to-I Applications.

Program Dates
Academic year: late August to late May; Semester 1: late August to late December; Semester 2: early January to late May.

Fast Facts
Helsinki, Finland (pop. 610,000; Helsinki Metro area pop. 1.375 million)
Student Enrollment: 36,000
Language of instruction: English, Finnish, Swedish
University Home Page
Courses in English
Student Exchange at UH
Information for New Students
Information on Helsinki

Agriculture and Forestry: Agricultural Sciences , Economics and Management , Food and Environmental Sciences, Forest Sciences

Arts, Humanities, Philosophy: Arts Studies, Literature and Cultural Studies, Languages and Cultures, Philosophy and History (Finnish Literature, Scandinavian Literature, Romani and Roma culture, Aesthetics, Archaelogy, Art History, Comparative Literature, Ethnology, Folklore, Musicology, Theatre Research, Film and Television Studies, Semiotics, Arts in Practice, Philosophy, History, Finnish and Nordic History, General History, Theoretical Philosophy, Gender Studies, Maritime History, Medieval Studies, Museology

Behavioural Sciences: Cognitive science, Craft science, Education, Home economics, Logopedics, Phonetics, Psychology, Special education

Biological and Environmental Sciences: Biology, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, General Microbiology, Genetics, Physiology and Neuroscience, Plant Biology, Molecular Biosciences, Biochemistry Environmental Sciences, Aquatic Sciences

Langages and Cultures: Baltic Languages and Cultures, Finnish Language and Culture, Finno-Ugrian Studies, Sámi Studies (BA), Scandinavian Languages, Nordic languages (Norwegian, Danish and Icelandic), English Philology, French Philology, General Linguistics, Germanic Philology, Italian Philology, Language Technology, Portuguese Philology, Russian Language and Literature, Spanish Philology, West and South Slavonic Languages and Cultures, Catalan Philology, Dutch Language and Culture, Galician Philology, the Ukrainian Studies, Asian Studies, African Studies, Altaic Studies, Arabic and Islamic Studies, Area and Cultural Studies, Assyriology, Central Asian Studies, Classical Archaeology, Comparative Religion, East Asian Studies, Egyptology, Greek Language and Literature, Indo-European Studies, Latin Language and Roman Literature, Middle Eastern Studies, South Asian Studies, Iranian Studies, Modern Greek Language and Literature


Pharmaceutical Studies: (only laboratory work)

Science: Chemistry, Computer Science, Geosciences and Geography, Mathematics and Statistics, Physical Sciences

Social Sciences: Communication, Development Studies, Economic and Social History, Economics, Political History, Political Science, Social and Cultural Anthropology, Social and Moral Philosophy, Social Policy, Social Psychology, Social Work, Sociology, Statistics); Swedish School of Social Science (Journalism, Legal Studies, Political Science and Public Administration, Social Psychology and Psychology, Social Work and Social Policy, Sociology


Veterinary Medicine

Courses taught in English
Most of the departments offer lecture series and seminars in English. Independent study and book examinations can be arranged in most fields when no classes are offered in English.

Courses for Graduate (Masters) Level
In most programs, graduate courses are available for graduate-level students; students applying for graduate-level courses must be graduate students at their home universities.

Academic Notes
Economics, Psychology, Communication, Political Science, Veterinary Medicine and Law have restrictions regarding acceptance (both for local and exchange students). They only accept students who are majoring in the subject in question and have completed enough courses in the discipline in their home university prior to arrival. For Veterinary Medicine students must be on graduate level at the home university.

English Philology only accepts students majoring in English. Other foreign languages: student should be a major or minor in the language at the home university. These studies are considered case by case. English courses offered by the Language Centre are not open for exchange students.

Exchange students should choose the majority of their courses from one Faculty. Within one Faculty, they can choose courses from several disciplines. Students are welcome to choose some courses from other Faculties, too .

Courses are broken down into two categories: lectures and individual study. A full-time courseload for exchange students is 30 Finnish credits for one semester, and 60 Finnish credits for an academic year. 1 Finnish credit = 1 ECTS credit. An Exchange student should take 20-30 ECTS credits in a semester; 40-60 ECTS credits in an academic year. Each semester runs approximately 14 weeks long.


Transcript issued for Semester 1: end of January
Transcript issued for Semester 2: mid-June
Transcript issued for Full Ye: mid-June

Transcripts are sent to ISEP and then immediately released to the student’s home institution if there are no outstanding financial obligations.

Language Notes
Language Courses: Beginner- to intermediate-level Swedish and Finnish. Finnish courses for international students are divided into five levels, and after completing the fifth level students may continue on to the Finnish Language & Culture Program.

ISEP Language Proficiency Report may be substituted for official score? Yes
Institutional TOEFL accepted? Yes
IELTS: 6.0
Other tests accepted: B2 or higher in Common European Framework of Reference (CEFR) for Languages
English as a Foreign Language courses available? Yes

Note: The host institution ultimately determines your proficiency level and course eligibility.

Special Academic Conditions
Junior-level standing or equivalent amount of completed coursework in major field preferred.

International students from Europe, please note that preference is given to students from institutions with which this institution does not have Erasmus agreements.

Hints for Researching Courses
Follow this link: Courses in English.

Housing and Meals
ISEP students are housed in residence halls in single-occupancy rooms with shared bathrooms and cooking facilities. There is also access to laundry facilities. There are good means of public transportation from each dormitory to the various campuses. Students receive a monthly stipend to cover housing and meals. The University of Helsinki has a very limited number of housing options suited for students with spouses and/or children. These flats are small and it is possible to place 1-2 persons in the flat if requested. If a student chooses to live off-campus with a spouse or family, he/she will receive the same stipend as an individual ISEP student without dependents.


*Living expenses: 700-1000€ / month, including housing (300-500 €)
*Food / meals: 250-290 € / month. Lunch at the Unicafe restaurants costs for undergraduate and graduate students with student discount 2,50 – 4,40 € (January 2014)
*Local transportation: In Helsinki 23,30 € / month=30 days (student discount rate in January 2014)
*Personal Expenses: Approx.150-170 € / month.

Student Union Membership fee:
Exchange students can opt to pay the Student Union (HYY) membership fee. The ISEP Coordinator and the International Exchange Services of University of Helsinki recommend doing so because it is a great way to meet people and students receive many benefits as members of the Student Union such as student discounts, Lyyra Card, access to Student Health Services on campus, etc. The membership for an academic year is 92 EUR and for semester 48 EUR (in 2013-14).

Books can be expensive, so students are encouraged to make use of the library to access course materials.

The orientation program for international students, including a Welcome Fair and a Faculty Orientation Course, is arranged in late August and early January.

Students should arrive before the Welcome Fair starts. Host will provide arrival directions with acceptance packet.

Student Activities
International students have many opportunities to participate in extra-curricular activities in different clubs (arts, athletic, choirs etc.) since there are more than 250 student organizations at the Student Union available. International students are welcome to participate. The Student Union and its Clubs and different activities bring together international and Finnish students for cultural exchange, social activities, and travel. The academic clubs of the faculties and/or departments welcome also international students.

At ESN (International Erasmus Student Network) of the Student Union there is a "Buddy Project - Getting by with a little help from your friends," a project that matches international and Finnish students. ESN arranges also a lot of activities for exchange students.

The University of Helsinki, the oldest and largest university in Finland, celebrates its 375th anniversary in 2015. Its students make up a quarter of all university students in the country. Several subjects are taught exclusively at the University of Helsinki and it also offers many courses in English. The number of international students surpasses 2,700, with a total student body of 36,000.

What Past Students have to Say
"Finland has so much to offer. Finland has great opportunities for those who love an active lifestyle and also those who would like to experience a new climate. Also to be around people who are polite and have a very interesting way of life that is quite exciting to understand." Student from Texas A&M International.