FAQ on language skills

Can foreign students be admitted to degree programmes provided in Finnish or Swedish?

In principle yes, admission is not based on nationality. But you will need to have good Finnish or Swedish skills already at the time of applying. Please refer to the section Studying in Finnish or Swedish for some advice concerning this.

I can not speak Finnish. Is it possible to study in English in Finland?

Yes. Finnish universities and UAS's offer a wide selection of degree options taught in English. You can browse through them by using the study programmes database or the search function at the Studyinfo.fi application site.

Do I need to know Finnish if I apply to English-taught degree programmes?

Usually you are not required to know any Finnish, if the degree course is available completely in English. But there may be some individual exceptions to this, for example in some Nursing degree courses you may be required to have some basic skills in the Finnish language. In case this is so, it is mentioned in the degree course entry requirements.

I cannot find an English-taught degree course in Finland, in my desired field. What should I do?

If you cannot find a suitable degree programme option in the study programmes database or in the Studyinfo.fi application site search, it is likely that degree options in that field/subject are only available in Finnish or Swedish. For example, the Finnish 'arts and science' universities mainly only offer their undergraduate degrees in Finnish or Swedish. To apply to Finnish or Swedish taught degree programmes, you would need to know the language quite well already at the time of applying, see section Studying in Finnish or Swedish.

Can I apply without an English-language proficiency test (IELTS/TOEFL etc.)?

To be considered an eligible applicant, you usually need to show your English proficiency in some official manner. IELTS, TOEFL and other internationally recognised standardised tests are the most commonly used methods for this. But there may be other alternatives (depending a bit on your background and the university/programme you're applying to).

In some cases, you may be exempt from taking an English language proficiency test - for example based on where you have completed your previous qualifications.

You must check the accepted English proficiency test options, minimum required scores, exemption rules etc. on the institutions' own Admissions websites - just like with all other detailed questions relating to your eligibility as an applicant.

What is the minimum English language proficiency test score (IELTS, TOEFL etc.) needed to apply?

There is no one single national test score limit. The required minimum test score depends on the institution / degree programme - so you need to check this kind of detailed entry requirements on the Admissions pages of the institutions.

My IELTS/TOEFL score is lower than the Finnish university/UAS requires. Should I resit the test?

Yes, it's likely you should do that - but especially if you have just recently received your latest IELTS or TOEFL test score, do bear in mind that it's unlikely that your score would improve significantly only by resitting the test after a few weeks. Before booking another IELTS or TOEFL test, you should therefore take your time to actively brush up your English skills. Hints for this can be found on the IELTS and TOEFL websites.

I'd like to study in English, but first I need to brush up my English skills. Can I enroll on an English prep course at a Finnish university?

This is unfortunately not possible. The Finnish universities and UAS's do not offer any preparatory English-language courses. You need to have the required English skills already at the time of applying. So if you need to take a prep course in English, we recommend that you inquire about possible course options in your home country for example via the local British Council or some other suitable language course provider.

Can I get by in Finland if I only know English?

Even though English is a foreign language here, it is widely taught at schools and thus most people speak and understand English, so generally speaking you should not encounter any problems in your everyday life as a student.

That said, it is still a good idea to learn the basics of Finnish (or Swedish) so as to feel more “at home”. Also, learning Finnish may significantly increase your chances of finding employment in Finland, both during your studies and after graduation. See section Working.

My degree course is completely in English. Can I include Finnish language studies in my curriculum?

Yes, usually this is possible. Most universities/UAS's have a Language Centre that offers a variety of language course options. Also the institutions may offer short, intensive orientation courses a few weeks or so before the actual studies start, and these may include a quick beginner's course in the Finnish language. You should inquire about this with the university/UAS, as each has its own orientation course.

Also your hosting university/UAS can advise you on possible Finnish language course option offered by the local adult education institutions, etc. See section Study Finnish in Finland for some hints!

Do I need to study the Finnish language in Finland?

If you apply to an English-language degree course, it is not usually compulsory to study Finnish, but it is strongly recommended since it would help you a lot in your everyday life to know at least the basics of our language. Furthermore, Finnish language skills may be an important asset in finding part-time work during your studies, or employment in Finland after your graduation. (The same advice goes for learning Swedish during your studies in the Swedish-speaking areas of Finland.)

Is Swedish also an official language in Finland?

Yes, it is. In some particular areas in Finland, situated mainly on the Western and Southern coasts, Swedish is actually predominant. Certain Finnish universities and UAS's in these areas are Swedish-speaking institutions.

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