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

Language

English, Finnish, Swedish

Semester

Fall, Winter, Academic Year

Program type

Exchange

Application information

Application status

Open

APPLY NOW

20-21 applications

Priority deadline Jan. 8, 2020

University-specific additional requirements

One academic reference required - see the Eligibility section below.

21-22 applications

Opens Nov. 1, 2020

Program details

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 Language or 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 (for exchange students).

Courses are classified according to the Faculty, then the department, and, finally, the semester.
There are 3 types of studies:
1. Basic studies (or “perusopinnot” in Finnish): Bachelor’s level courses, do not usually require previous studies in the area.
2. Subject studies or Intermediate studies (or “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 (or “syventävät opinnot” in Finnish): Master’s level courses, for students who have completed a Bachelor’s degree or have the same level of education. 

IMPORTANT NOTE: Courses in English may be offered on a 2-year cycle, so students need to check course offerings for the semester(s) they wish to study. A list of courses in English with further details can be found linked above.

FOR LAW: Law students should select courses from the Masters level at Helsinki. 

RESTRICTIONS: Studies in Economics, English, Communication, Law, Political Science, and Psychology are only open to students that are majoring in these subjects. Closed to Medicine and Dentistry. 

Course requirements:
In Europe, 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.

 

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".  

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.

Course registration at Helsinki happens after 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 during your exchange year/semester again before you arrive.

SUMMER PROGRAM: For students that are accepted to a Fall exchange or Winter exchange, a significant discount is offered for the summer program (which isn't part of our exchange agreements). 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). Courses, Price & Program Info Here.

The Transfer Credit Database contains information on previous courses which have been transferred from this institution, however students are not limited to these courses and are strongly encouraged to contact their academic advisor for any other specific transfer credit information.

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

The academic year is divided into 4 seven-week teaching periods. Autumn term runs from late August to mid/late December, and Spring term runs from early January to late May. 

SUMMER PROGRAM: For students that are accepted to a Fall exchange or Winter exchange, a significant discount is offered for the summer program (which isn't part of our exchange agreements). 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). Courses & Program Info Here, and Price Info Here

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.

  1. Costs

    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.

    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.  Typical costs for basic accommodation, living expenses, and books range from €700-€1000 per month.

    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).  

    Categories

    Costs per month 

    Campus Accommodation

    €400

    Private Accommodation

    €500-850

    Food and other expenses

    €300

    Transit

    €26-50

    TOTAL

    €725 per month student res
    up to €1200 per month private

    Meals at the Unicafe student cafeterias are very affordable and cost between €2.60 and €6.40 each. Local transportation costs about €26 for a month of transit in Helsinki or €50 for 30 days of regional travel from Espoo and Vantaa to Helsinki (prices shown include the student discount which is available to Bachelor and Master’s students under the age of 30). Your student status, and especially the Student Union membership, entitles Bachelor/Masters students to various services at affordable prices as well as to an abundance of student discounts - more information about receiving the discounts towards transit, etc. is distributed during the Welcome week fair

    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.

    Helsinki cost comparison vs. CalgaryClick Here

    Student Tips:"The climate is a 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."

    "With a student card, meals at the university are 2.6 euros, and contain a main course, side, drinks, and as much bread and salad as you want. It was super nice having healthy food available. Gym at the school, and the gym pass for 4 months was very reasonable (78 euros)."

  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 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.

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."

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 2.7 (B-). 

Do I have 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.

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: "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'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.

UHelsinki’s student union runs something called “Unicafes”. They are located at every city campus, with multiple in the city centre itself. They offer a classic Finnish “buffet” – one hot main dish (there’s always a few to choose from, including a veggie or vegan option), a drink, plus unlimited salad, bread, sides, water, etc. As long as you have either a Student Union card or your official proof of enrolment with you, it costs only €2-3. On www.unicafe.fi, you can check the opening hours and see what’s on the menu at every location. My favourite location is the ~secret~ unicafe located above the rockbar Tavastia – a super classy one, run by one of the student Nations, for which you have to push a hidden doorbell and then you get access to a gorgeous red-carpet-lined staircase to go up! 

Speaking of which, the 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 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 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.


Have questions?

Study Abroad 101

Please watch this YouTube playlist before reaching out or booking an appointment.

Watch Study Abroad 101

Academic Advising

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.

Find your academic advisor

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.

Book an appointment

The exchange advisor for this program is: Saskia Schaelicke

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.

APPLY NOW

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.