Image of Helsinki city harbour

University of Helsinki

See why Finland is the "Land of a Thousand Lakes" while living in the world-class metropolis of Helsinki: a city that combines Scandinavian and Slavic influences with a quirky sense of humour.

Founded in 1640, the University of Helsinki is the oldest and largest university in Finland, weighing in at 36,000 students over 13 campuses (4 in Helsinki). It offers a trilingual program with courses taught in Finnish, Swedish, and English. It also offers a highly-lauded and Swedish-inspired "Nations" system, where students are made active members of the Finnish student community based on regional divisions across the country. It's no surprise the University of Helsinki is ranked as one of the top 100 universities in the world!

Home of the Air Guitar World Championships and the International Day of Failure, with one sauna for every 2 citizens and a heavy-metal band for every thousand, Finland is certainly an incredibly unique place to live.

Key information


English, Finnish, Swedish


Fall, Winter, Academic Year

Program type


Application information

Application status


Apply Now

2024-2025 applications

First come, first considered for remaining spaces

Fall 2024 final deadline: March 15, 2024

Winter 2025 final deadline: August 15, 2024

University-specific additional requirements

No reference letter required, with the exception of Law students; minimum GPA 2.5 (2.7 for Law). See Eligibility section below for details.

2025-2026 applications

Open November 1, 2024

Student experience

Hear from past exchange students at the University of Helsinki!

Image of Kings Gate at Suomenlinna fortress island outside Helsinki

Suomenlinna is a sea fortress built across several rocky islands. It's located a short ferry ride from the Helsinki harbour and is a popular destination for student picnics.

Program details

  1. Available courses

    Areas Of Study: Helsinki offers a number of programs in English, including Anthropology, Archaeology, Art History, Biology, Chemistry, Communication studies, Computer Science, Development Studies, East Asian languages and studies, Economics, Environmental Science, Film & Media Studies, Finnish Cultural Studies, Geology, International Relations, History, Latin American studies, Law, Math, Music, Philosophy, Physics, Political Science, Psychology, Sociology, Statistics, and unique programs such as Ukrainian studies, Southeastern European studies, and Finnish Language classes for exchange students.

    Courses can be browsed quickly here, or use WebOodi to view more details. On the WebOodi system, search courses by faculty, then click "show courses". Once results come up, correct in the search terms to look for courses in English and search by semester offerings, then click "search courses".  

    Courses are classified according to the faculty, then department, and finally the semester.
    There are 3 types of studies:
    1. Basic studies (“perusopinnot” in Finnish): Bachelor’s level courses, do not usually require previous studies in the area.
    2. Subject studies or Intermediate studies (“aineopinnot” in Finnish): Bachelor’s level courses, intermediate level, require some previous studies, designed for 2nd or 3rd year students of the subject. 
    3. Advanced studies (“syventävät opinnot” in Finnish): Master’s level courses. UCalgary students going on exchange in their 4th year may be eligible to take these courses on a case by case basis. (UCalgary Law students must select master's level courses at Helsinki.)

    Note: Some of the English-taught courses are offered on a 2-year cycle, which means that some courses offered 2 years ago may be offered again during your exchange. If searching for these older courses, students need to check course offerings for the corresponding semester(s) they wish to study.

    Restricted courses: Courses in Economics, English, Communication, Law, Political Science, and Psychology are only open to students that are majoring in these subjects at UCalgary. Psychology is also a competitive program at Helsinki and cannot be guaranteed for exchange students. Medicine and Dentistry courses are entirely closed to exchange students. 

  2. Important course information

    University-level bilateral exchange students to Helsinki are required to choose the majority of their courses from one faculty. Within one faculty, you can choose courses from several disciplines. For example, if you are applying to be an exchange student at the Faculty of Arts, you can choose courses in several disciplines taught at the Faculty of Arts. One of the disciplines will be chosen as the host discipline, so it is recommended that you choose the majority of your courses from one discipline. When you submit your exchange application to UCalgary Study Abroad, please indicate which faculty you wish to take the majority of your courses from.

    Course registration at Helsinki happens after your arrival in Finland. A preliminary/tentative list of the courses in English for the upcoming academic year will be available on Helsinki's site in June. As applications are made on a tentative basis from the previous year's offerings, you are advised to check the list of courses for your exchange semester(s) again before you arrive. 

    Course requirements: In Europe, a full time course load is typically 30 ECTS (European credits), and exchange students at Helsinki must take 24-30 credits per semester. 6 ECTS = 3 UCalgary units (1 half-course). The amount of credits each course is worth corresponds to the workload/contact hours, and can vary from 1-30 ECTS per course, so please be mindful of this in your selection.

    Student Tips: "At Helsinki, I got to attend a conference as a volunteer and work in a lab on Finnish archaeological material."

    "There are some independent study classes offered. Most are taught in Finnish, but I got lucky - the instructor supervising my class was able to give me some English readings, and because I spoke Swedish I was able to use a Norwegian textbook too. It was a language mash-up, but a great experience and really helped me get to know my instructor well."

The academic year is divided into two terms:

  • Autumn term runs from late August to mid/late December
  • Spring term runs from early January to late May

Each term is composed of 2 seven-week teaching periods. Generally students take some courses in each period, though other courses may run for longer or shorter. 

Summer program: For students that are accepted to a Fall exchange or Winter exchange, a significant discount is offered for the summer program. For Fall exchanges, you could attend the summer before, or for winter exchanges, the summer following to get courses discounted to 90 euros per UCalgary half course equivalent for course fees (€15 per 1 ECTS). The summer program is not included in our exchange agreement, meaning that you will pay tuition to Helsinki directly. Courses & Program Info Here, and Price Info Here

  1. Costs

    While Finland may be expensive compared to Canada, it is much cheaper to go is as a student! Costs for student accommodation and on-campus food are subsidized by the Finnish government and are typically lower than in Canada, and unique costs savings for students also help to make this an affordable and great place to study. Your student status, and especially the Student Union membership, gives you access to discounts at attractions & vendors across Helsinki, as well as discounted transit (available to all Bachelor/Masters students under 30).

    Estimated costs per month:
    Accommodation €400 (student residence) up to €500-850 (private market housing)
    Food and other expenses €300
    Transit €26 (commuting within Helsinki) up to €50 (regional travel from Espoo/Vantaa to Helsinki)
    Total: €725 (living in residence) up to €1200 (living independently)

    It is worth noting that while private rental and dining costs in Helsinki are higher than in Calgary, costs more relevant to students, such as groceries, monthly transit, and accommodation are generally a lot lower (see comparison here). For food, meals at the Unicafe student cafeterias are very affordable and offer a variety of healthy dishes for €2 - €6 (as long as you bring your student union card or proof of enrolment with you!).

    Student Tips: "Unicafes are spread throughout the city and have a classic Finnish buffet: one hot main dish (veggie/vegan options too) with sides plus unlimited salad, bread, water. On you can check the opening hours and see what’s on the menu at every location. My favourite is the unicafe above the rockbar Tavastia – super classy, run by one of the student Nations, you have to ring a hidden doorbell and then you go up a red-carpet-lined staircase!"

    Exchange students pay their tuition and academic fees to the University of Calgary. Other expenses are paid directly to the service provider. However, don't forget 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.

  2. Funding

    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 several awards, including the Global Access Fund (based on a funding-first model where students apply prior to committing to a global learning program) and the Global Learning Award (students apply after being accepted to a global learning program; the amount varies year-to-year as the money is split among chosen recipients). Students may only receive these awards once. Please see the funding page, linked below, for more information. 

For the students wanting live in a student dormitory, University of Helsinki has an agreement with housing providers, including Unihome and HOAS (Foundation for Student Housing in the Helsinki Region), on a number of rooms for incoming exchange students. Apartments are located around Helsinki. Students should choose their housing option based on their budget and needs. Exchange students submit their housing application as a part of their exchange application, and their information will be forwarded to the housing providers. Each exchange student will receive one housing offer.

Mandatory fees prior to arrival: room deposit: €500 (subject to change) to be paid to the housing provider according to their instructions. Students should be prepared to pay the deposit when they receive instructions from the housing provider. This can be several months prior to arrival. 

Information about UniHome, HOAS, and other accommodation options can be found here. See information for exchange students under the "HOAS" section. 

Student Tips: "I lived in Domus Academica, a student residence building. I applied through Unihome and was assigned a single studio bedroom, as requested. The room was small but functional, with a single bed, a desk, two chairs, cupboards, a small kitchen, and a bathroom. I was given some dishes (plates, bowls, cups), a pot and a pan. If you want to live alone but still meet other exchange students, I would highly recommend Domus Academica. It was about 1.5 km from campus, but very central with lots of restaurants and bars close by. Helsinki’s city centre was very walk-able."  

"[Application through HOAS, to Linnoituksentie residence] The room was old but was being renovated when I left. However, the place was huge! It wasn’t close to campus but I liked that and especially having a forest behind my place to explore. Furniture, some dishes, a pillow and a duvet was provided. They also had a gym, club room and multiple saunas. The washing had detergent so no need to buy detergent. Otherwise the previous roommates left things for me to use. I would recommend any of the HOAS apartments."

"I decided to find a private rental instead, and found a great little room using the Facebook group 'Apartments for students in Helsinki Metropolitan area'. It's still active and might be a good place for to start looking if you don't want to live in student residence."

This exchange is open to regular, full-time students in any faculty at UCalgary, who have completed at least 1 full year (10 courses) at the post-secondary level, with a minimum cumulative GPA of 2.5. 

For applicants seeking courses in Psychology or Life Sciences (Agriculture, Biological Science, Environmental Science, Pharmacy) please note that you must have completed at least 2 full years (20 courses) before the time of your exchange, in order to satisfy prerequisites.

For applicants from the UCalgary Faculty of Law, a minimum GPA of 2.7 is required, as well as an academic reference letter. Please click here to view the reference letter guidelines & submission instructions. It must be submitted at the time of your application to UCalgary.

Do I have to speak another language?

The University of Helsinki offers courses taught in English, Finnish, and Swedish. If taking courses in Finnish or Swedish, you will need to prove your language abilities - the minimum requirement is B2 level according to the Common European Framework of Reference for Language (CEFR), and documentation of this may be required. However, for English-taught courses students are not required to speak any other languages. 

Most Finns speak excellent English and exchange students find it easy to navigate Helsinki. 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! 

The University of Helsinki offers a free online beginner's Finnish course - click here to start learning! There are also Finnish courses you can take on campus during your exchange semester. Finally, Nordisk Kulturkontakt (an independent organization) has an office located close to the university campus and is a great way to practice Finnish and other Nordic languages in a casual setting by attending language cafes or other events - click here to learn more.

What's special about Finland and the city of Helsinki? 

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!). 

Student Tips: "The climate is similar but slightly warmer to Calgary (but definitely bring an umbrella). Transit has a student discount and is cheap. I mostly spent my time biking which was amazing!! To anyone visiting, they must go see Sompasauna and swim in the sea."

"I brought lots of layers and was able to get on fine. But if I come back to Helsinki, I'll make room to pack rain boots (winter is pretty wet) and some more semi-formal clothing. Finnish students dress nicer for university than I normally see at UofC, and sometimes it's nice to blend in."

"There are buses, trams, and metro for getting around the city, or ferries between the metropolitan islands. The bus is the cheapest way to travel around Finland. Onnibus is great – just buy your ticket in advance as prices double a week before departure!"

"In and around Helsinki, definitely visit:

  • the Central Park forest
  • long shoreline walking trails along the cliffs from Kamppi to Meilahti
  • the Kallio neighbourhood (same vibes as Inglewood in Calgary)
  • Seurasaari historical open-air park
  • unique cafés, like Regatta or Plootu
  • the WeeGee centre in Espoo (so many cool museums)
  • Tampere has a neat arts/music scene, plus the famous moominvalley!
  • Tornio is a great hiking destination, and you can walk over the border to Sweden
  • Finally, of course you must hop a ferry to the beautiful city of Tallinn."

What's special about the University of Helsinki? 

University of Helsinki is one of only 4 universities in the world (2 in Sweden, 2 in Finland) with a traditional "Nations" system, alongside Lund and Uppsala. This is a traditional system that assigns students to "Nations" named after historical regions in the area - these nations function similar to traditional "house" systems but with a unique Swedish/Finnish flair, including sittnings, or sitsits. The university also has hundreds of student organisations, which exchange students are welcome to join. The student-run ESN network also organises a lot of activities for exchange students throughout the year.

For a list of attractions on campus, including their museums, botanic gardens, observatory, Think company, and award-winning library, please visit the Attractions at UH page.

Helsinki only permits smoking on campus in designated, remote outdoor locations - one of the only universities in Europe to do so.

Student Tips: "UHelsinki’s library is awesome. They offer a huge collection, mostly in physical books instead of e-books, but they have big computer labs and bookable workrooms too. They have a partnership with SKS (a library run by the national Finnish society) so you can borrow SKS books through your UHelsinki library card – though I’d recommend actually going to the SKS library too, it’s a gorgeous old building! The Helsinki national library is also amazing; you have to apply for a separate library card to loan their books, but that’s free, and anyone can go in the library for quiet study space.

"Student Nations are something unique. Finnish students join a Nation depending on what region of Finland they originate from, and then throughout the year, their Nation arranges different social and academic events rooted in the culture of that region, including the famous Finnish "sitsit". Exchange students are allowed to join a Nation, or if you know where to look on Facebook, you can just join an event if you’re interested."

"I got involved in scouts, the geography student club, EGEA Helsinki, and Nordic kulturkontakt library with their language café. It’s not easy making Finnish friends but if you go out there and try, you will make lots of friends. Finnish people are really wonderful people and are generally quite nervous around their English (proficiency), but there are lots of traditions in the Finnish culture, especially student traditions." 

What resources are available for new students?

During orientation, you will receive help from student tutors, who will introduce you to Finnish university life and help you with practical issues such as setting up mobile phones in Finland, getting a monthly ticket for public transportation, etc.

Don't forget to check out their "Welcome to UH" Blog! 

Student Tips: "I was really grateful to have been connected with my student orientation leader in advance – she was fantastic in herding our little group through some of the arrival processes (such as getting our official student enrollment letters - super important to hang on to!). There was time on Orientation Day to meet members of the Language Centre, and there was also something similar to a club fair, which was awesome as that’s where I learned about the student choir! For the remaining orientation days our student orientation group leader led us around on campus tours and dropped all sorts of pro tips. She set up a WhatsApp group and we kept meeting up periodically in the semester; she even hosted meals at her flat for our whole group. Definitely would encourage future students to get involved in their orientation group activities, the leaders are all pretty engaged!"

What supports or services are available at Helsinki?

Helsinki welcomes all students and offers accessibility supports - see the section on "Spe­cial ar­range­ments in stud­ies and ex­ams". 

For information on accessibility and support services at campuses across Europe, please check out Inclusive Mobility. 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.

Have questions?

Global Learning 101

Please watch this short YouTube playlist before reaching out or booking an appointment. In these videos, you will learn much of the basics about Global Learning, which may answer your initial questions.

Watch Global Learning 101

Academic Advising

Before applying to study abroad, you should ask your academic advisor how this program 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.

Find your academic advisor

Global Learning Advising

If you have questions, please reach out to our office! We offer drop-in advising for general inquiries, and if you have questions about this specific program or any others, you can book an appointment with the responsible advisor.

Please use the link below to find the most up-to-date information about our current advising options.

View the Global Learning Advising page

The exchange advisor for this program is: Veronica V. Cardoso

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.

Application guide

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 global learning 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 Global Learning Advisors will be happy to assist in finding the best options for you and arrange any supports or accommodations necessary to ensure your success.

If you have or are seeking a certificate from Student Accessibility Services, you should provide this early to your Global Learning Advisor to ensure that the option that you are seeking can support your needs.

Please note: All participants must adhere to COVID-19 and other vaccination-related requirements for the destinations visited on this program. Failure to do so may have consequences such as being denied access to accommodation/housing, program activities, or to the host country itself.