Higher education leads the way

Higher education has a significant role in Finnish society and the national innovation system: higher education is crucial when working towards a world-class knowledge society.

Finnish higher education consists of two sectors, universities and universities of applied sciences (UAS).

UAS's were formerly also referred to as 'polytechnics'.


Universities provide academic education based on research. All 14 universities offer Bachelor’s, Master's, Licentiate and Doctoral degrees (3 + 2 + 4 years).

The mission of academic Arts and Science universities is to promote free research, promote scientific and artistic education, provide higher education based on research, and educate students to serve their country and humanity in general.

Finnish universities traditionally enjoy significant autonomy. Thanks to the reformed Finnish Universities Act universities gained an independent legal status as corporations subject to public law or foundations subject to private law. This increased the autonomy of the universities further and gave them more latitude in the management of their finances. There are currently 14 universities operating under the Finnish Ministry of Education and Culture.

Universities of Applied Sciences (UAS)

UAS's (Universities of Applied Sciences, formerly also known as polytechnics) provide vocational education on a higher level and promote applied research. UAS education emphasises close contacts with business, industry and the service sector, especially at the regional level. UAS degrees are designed to meet the changing requirements and developmental needs of the working world by having a pronounced occupational emphasis and by producing qualified graduates for various professional duties.

UAS's confer Bachelor’s (from 3.5 up to 4.5 years) and Master’s (1 – 1.5 years) degrees. All the UAS Master's programmes are primarily targeted for those already in the working life, and thus UAS Master's applicants are required to have at least three years of relevent work experience after their Bachelor's studies.

There are 24 UAS institutions operating under the Ministry of Education and Culture (26, if the Åland UAS in the self-governing province of the Åland Islands, and the Police Academy are included), most of which are multi-field institutions and operate in several locations.

A list of the institutions and their Admissions info pages

A full list of the universities and UAS's is available in the Where to study? section.

Higher education study credit system

All studies are quantified as ECTS credits (ECTS = European Credit Transfer and Accumulation System). One year of full-time study corresponds to 60 credits. You can find out more about the ECTS credit system on the European Commission's website.

How and when to apply?

You can find general information and advice on how and when to apply in the How to apply section of this site - please also carefully read our Your steps to Finland checklist!

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