Aalto University - Schulich & SAPL Only
Aalto's Otaniemi campus in Espoo is architecturally distinct. Designed by pioneering Finnish architects, including the renaissance man and university namesake Alvar Aalto, it is located only a short city-train ride away from downtown Helsinki. Or take a bus to the nearby scenic woodland of Nuuksio National Park, where you can try to spot a Moomin!
Aalto University is one of the world's top 10 young universities, and is ranked at #140 in the world overall (QS 2019). It is renowned for its strong collaboration with innovative industry partnerships and real-world learning. The university possesses a deeply creative and engaged community, influenced by startup culture and technology. Helsinki is well known as a research centre, with headquarters of Finnish companies such as Rovio, Supercell, Nokia, Kone and Neste Oil. Each November, the city hosts one of the world's largest startup/tech events, SLUSH, which students can register to volunteer at each August.
The Aalto Design Factory, AppCampus, ADD LAB, Aalto Ventures Program, and Startup Sauna are all operations/programs through which multidisciplinary learning and startup ventures are supported, and reflect Aalto's prestige in the fields of Art, Design, Architecture, Business, and Engineering, where it ranks top 150 (QS 2019). Aalto has one of the only 90 business schools worldwide with a Triple Crown accreditation.
Jan. 8, 2020
University-specific additional requirements
One academic reference required - see the Eligibility section below.
Opens Nov. 1, 2020
Areas of Study: Aalto University offers a variety of programs for Schulich and SAPL students in English in the following areas: Architecture/Design & Planning, Electrical Engineering, Chemical Engineering.
To be able to pursue other exchange studies at Aalto University you should have very good language skills in Finnish. Aalto University offers a selection of courses in English in the Master's level, but Bachelor’s level education is mainly in Finnish. Students in their final year of studies may qualify for Masters-level courses as long as they meet the prerequisites.
For Masters courses in English, please visit their site.
Course requirements: Students at Aalto typically take 24-30 ECTS (European Credit Transfer System) credits per semester (3-5 half courses). 6 ECTS = 1 UCalgary half course equivalent. For Engineering students, it can be challenging to find 30 ECTS in the Autumn semester, so Aalto recommend studies in the Spring if possible, or taking a minimum of 24 in the Autumn.
When selecting courses for your study plan/learning agreement, please check carefully the language of instruction and the term when the course is offered (especially if you are applying for one term only). Also, make sure that you have the prerequisite skills and knowledge required for the course.\
Please note that 2/3 of the engineering courses in your learning agreement/study plan must be selected from the same school (e.g. Electrical Engineering). There are five teaching periods in one academic year. Courses marked with teaching periods I and/or II are taught in the autumn term, III, IV and V in the spring term. Course timetables for the next academic year will be available by June, so at the time of the application process for the autumn term, timetables will not be available, but the learning agreement/study plan you make before arrival is preliminary and you may be required to make changes upon arrival due to overlaps in schedule or course cancellations.
If you are a Schulich student planning to write a final project (i.e. thesis work) during your exchange, please read this page carefully and follow the instructions given.
EVDS students can search courses from the Masters of Architecture program by scrolling to Education Content and checking out the study guide available.
The academic year is divided into 2 terms. Autumn term runs from early September to late December, and Spring term runs from early January to late May.
Please Note: Finnish visa applications may require travel to the Ottawa embassy to finalize your residency permit and take biometrics as needed - please speak with the exchange advisor as soon as possible about whether this will be required for you.
Exchange students pay their tuition and academic fees to the University of Calgary. Other expenses are paid directly to the service provider.
While Finland may be expensive compared to Canada, it is much cheaper to go as a student! Costs for student accommodation and on-campus food are made very affordable with your student card and are typically cheaper than in Canada, and unique costs savings for students also help to make this an affordable and great place to study. Some examples:
- Lunch on campus typically costs less than 3 euros for a full meal of well-balanced, healthy fare.
- Textbooks are typically provided by the library on campus
- 50% discount on all public transport (both local and for long-distance travel). The monthly ticket for Espoo is about 30€, and for both Helsinki & Espoo, about 55€.
- Unisport provides gym facilities, dance classes, badminton, floorball, squash, etc. for about 66 euros for 6 months
- discounts at hairdressers, bookstore, for movies, etc.
Monthly Cost Estimates (calculated Summer 2017).
These do not include travel to/from Finland, personal travel, or shopping.
Low Budget (euros)
High Budget (euros)
Student Discount Card
one time (59 euros)
one time (59 euros)
Find other budgeting and savings tips on Aalto's "Budget Tips" page.
Also, remember to include things like visas, insurance, vaccinations etc in your budget planning.
Please Note: Finnish visa applications may require travel to the Ottawa embassy to finalize your residency permit and take biometrics as needed - please speak with your relevant exchange advisor as soon as possible about whether this will be required for you.
Helsinki cost comparison vs. Calgary: Click Here
Did you know that you can take your UCalgary funding with you on exchange?
Since you remain a degree seeking student at UCalgary while on exchange you remain eligible for any awards and scholarships you are eligible to receive from the university as well as student loans.
Our office administers the International Study Travel Grant for students travelling on approved UCalgary study programs that are credit bearing. The amount changes year to year as the money is split evenly between qualified applicants. Students may only receive the study travel grant once. Please see the exchange funding page for more information.
Aalto University does not itself own any student dormitories. The main student housing providers for Aalto’s students are the Foundation for Student Housing in the Helsinki region, HOAS (hoas.fi) and Aalto University Student Union, AYY (ayy.fi). The apartments are located in Espoo and in Helsinki, all with public transportation connections to the university campuses.
Please note: Aalto University, HOAS or AYY unfortunately cannot guarantee housing for all exchange students. The earlier you apply, the better your chance of getting housing. Prepare yourself to seek for accommodation from the private rental market as well. In Helsinki, rental prices are high (starting from approx. 600€ for a small studio apartment in Helsinki and 500€ in Espoo) and there is a lack of apartments and student housing within the area.
HOAS is the biggest student housing provider in the Helsinki region with over 17,000 tenants. HOAS's exchange student rooms are located in the cities of Helsinki and Espoo, all with good public transportation connections. The monthly rent is approx. 400€/month including furniture, internet connection, electricity and water. The deposit payment is 500€. Aalto University has reserved a quota of furnished rooms from HOAS for Aalto's new incoming exchange students. Unfortunately the amount of rooms is insufficient and thus they cannot accommodate all exchange students. If you are on the waiting list, there is still a possibility to get a HOAS furnished room if cancellations happen.
It is highly recommended to apply immediately for HOAS housing as soon as you have been nominated by the University of Calgary.
Schulich students: for more information on housing, please visit the Housing for Schulich students page.
This exchange is open to regular, full-time students in:
- The Schulich School of Engineering at UCalgary, who will have a 4th year academic standing at the time of their exchange, with a minimum cumulative GPA of 2.7 (B-) or permission of the exchange advisor.
- The School of Architecture, Planning and Landscape, who have a minimum cumulative GPA of 2.7 (B-) or approval of their department.
For many courses, no Finnish is required. However, to take courses taught in Finnish, applicants must have a command of Finnish (suomi) at the B2 level according to the Common European Framework of Reference for Language (CEFR) at a minimum, and certification of language proficiency may be required.
Do I need to speak Finnish?
No. For studies in Finnish it is required, but for courses in English it is not, and most Finns speak excellent English. However, part of the experience of living in a foreign country is learning its language and culture, so you might want to learn at least the basics of the Finnish language before or while studying in Finland.
How can I learn or practise Finnish (Suomen kieli)?
In 2016-2017 exchange students can take the following Finnish language and culture courses in the Language Centre:
- Get to know Finland (Kie-98.7009, 1 cr), a Finnish culture course.
- Survival Finnish for exchange students (LC-7007, 1 cr), a Finnish language course. (This is an introductory language course and does not qualify you to continue on to more advanced Finnish language courses.)
Unfortunately one-semester exchange students cannot study on other Finnish courses at the Language Centre, because the courses are extremely popular and the Language Centre has to give priority to Aalto's international degree students.
For those who want to study Finnish beyond these two courses, the Aalto Open University offers Finnish 1A and Finnish 1B courses (2 ECTS credits each) every semester. The course fee is 30 euros per course. Registration and more information: http://avoin.aalto.fi/en/
Other language-learning apps for Finnish are recommended here.
What's so special about Aalto University and Finland?
Finland is considered the greenest country in the world, and is in the top 2 worldwide for freedom, safety, gender equality, innovation, and quality of life, making it an incredible choice for an exchange. It is known worldwide for innovation in design in the fields of architecture, technology, and fashion - from brands such as Marimekko, tech start-ups like Rovio and Supercell (creators of gaming apps Angry Birds and Clash of Clans respectively), Nokia, and famous architectural designers Alvar Aalto and Eliel Saarinen. Due to its innovative tech sector and support for entrepreneurship, Finland has one of the strongest economies in Europe.
It is also the "Land of Lakes" with over 180,000 picturesque lakes with cosy cottages, pristine woodlands, and citizens who truly value health and the outdoors, including their famous love of saunas (invented in Finland, there is 1 for every 2 citizens!). For information on outdoor or sport activities and clubs, visit their sports page.
Aalto emphasizes on the importance of multidisciplinary teaching of science, technology, business and art. So in addition to technical studies, there are diverse opportunities available for your exchange students to get involved in cross-disciplinary activities and projects, for example, by selecting interdisciplinary courses, University Wide Arts Studies and Aalto Cross-school courses.
Aalto also has a strong student union (AYY) as well as one student Nation for Engineering and Architecture students (Teknologföreningen), which owns an unusual building Urdsgjallar, with a sauna called "Pi" (which has a radius of 3.14m).
International Startup Event Slush in Fall.
Fall exchange students have also had a unique opportunity to volunteer in an international start-up event Slush which takes place in Helsinki at the end of the year. Slush is an annual event, where startups and technology talent meet with international investors. Slush started in 2008 as Aalto students’ initiative with 300 participants and in 2018, Slush brought together over 20,000 attendees, 3100 startups, 1800 investors, and 650 journalists. Previous exchange students have greatly enjoyed the Slush experience!
Student Tips: "With plenty of layered-style clothing and other basic gear, I was able to get on absolutely fine with what I brought. If I come back to Helsinki, however, I will be making room to pack (a) rain boots – I was told that this autumn was “unusually dry” and indeed, there was almost zero snow but more rain than I had anticipated; and (b) some more semi-formal clothing – Finnish students tend to dress a bit nicer for university than I normally see in my Calgary classes, and sometimes “blending in” in this way is important!"
"For transit, there are buses, trams, and metro for getting around the city, plus ferries for getting between the metropolitan islands; tram tickets are the cheapest, but bus is the cheapest way to go long-distance between cities e.g. Onnibus – just buy your ticket in advance as prices double about a week before departures!
In Helsinki, definitely visit:
- the Central Park forest
- long shoreline walking trails that run along the cliffs from Kamppi to Meilahti and beyond
- the Kallio neighbourhood (which is comparable to Kensington in Calgary)
- Seurasaari historical open-air park
- Café Regatta i.e. the eccentric cabin café
- Café Plootu i.e. the hipster furniture café
- check out the restaurant Savotta for lovely higher-end Finnish cuisine
More places to go (outside of Helsinki) include:
- the WeeGee centre in Espoo hosts a whole assortment of cool museums
- Tampere has an interesting arts/music scene in addition to the famous moominvalley
- Tornio is a good city for wilderness hikes
- Of course you must hop a ferry to the beautiful city of Tallinn."
What kind of supports and services are available at Aalto University?
For students with accessibility needs, Aalto offers support for exams and technical aid, though personal assistants and some adaptive technology may need to be self-funded. More information can be found on the Accessibility page for International students. For information on accessibility of campuses across Europe, ESN has created "MappEd!" which allows you to check the accessibility of universities and cities across Europe. For city-specific services and places in Europe, the Jaccede interactive platform (website and/or smartphone app - both Android and iOS) also provides a searchable user-built database to identify important accessibility information of public places and locations.
For LGBTQ+ students, Aalto University operates on high equality standards regardless of gender, race, or sexuality. Queer Aalto, or "Q" for short, is a student association that arranged activities for LGBTQ+ individuals (Q website is in English and Finnish).
For students struggling with mental illness and/or depression or are finding it hard to cope with the transition, Aalto also offers counselling support.
Some countries require students apply for their student visa in person in Canada (sometimes outside of Calgary) – please check the consulate or embassy website for your host country to confirm the requirements for applying for a student visa early in your planning process. This may add to your budget if travel outside of Calgary is required, and it may alter travel plans prior to the start of your exchange.
Study Abroad 101
Please watch this YouTube playlist before reaching out or booking an appointment.
Before applying to study abroad, you should ask your academic advisor how an exchange might align with your degree (e.g. best time to go, what courses you need).
After you are accepted, you should ask your academic advisor more specific questions about courses/transfer credits. It’s also recommended to follow up with your advisor again once you return to Calgary.
Study Abroad Advising
If you have questions about this exchange program, you can meet with the specific advisor for this program by booking an appointment through the link below.
1. Select “Book an Appointment”
2. Select “Study Abroad Appointments”
3. Select “Book by Appointment Type”
4. Read through the list of appointment types to select the most appropriate type and view available times.
How to Apply
Download the application guide
This PDF contains information on how to complete your application and what to do after you have applied.
Identify three programs of interest
We recommend applying for your top three programs for the priority application deadline, as placement may be competitive. We will assess your applications in ranked order.
Check requirements and deadlines
These may vary by program, so check the individual program pages and make sure that you are aware of any different application deadlines or eligibility requirements.
Start your application
Once you have gathered everything you need, you can begin your application!
Please note: Applications will not be considered complete until all required documents are submitted in full.
International travel presents challenges that may not be found when attending classes on campus. There may be a lack of resources, emergency services, hospitals, accessibility issues and/or demands on the physical and the mental self, all of which can challenge individuals when away from their usual support systems and structures. Adequate preparation is essential.
For this reason, it is imperative that you evaluate all aspects of your own physical, psychological, emotional and spiritual condition against the rigors of the particular study abroad program you are selecting. If you are unsure of whether or not this program is a good fit for you and/or if you have any circumstances that could impede your enjoyment of the program, please contact us. Our Study Abroad Team will be happy to assist in finding the best options for you and arrange any supports or accommodations necessary to ensure your success.
Please note if you have or are seeking a certificate from Student Accessibility Services, you should provide this early to your Study Abroad Advisor to ensure that the option that you are seeking can support your needs.