Language requirements

  • When applying, you need to prove your English language proficiency
  • IELTS or TOEFL are the most commonly accepted options, but other options may also be offered
  • English proficiency requirements are degree course specific, so you must check ALL the details with the university/degree programme you're applying to

Proficiency in English - some general guidelines

As one of the entry requirements for any English-language degree programme, the higher education institutions need to ensure that your English language skills are up to the level demanded by higher education studies.

You will need to follow lectures, write exam answers and essays, take part in discussion groups and seminars, etc. Therefore, you usually need to provide official proof of your English language proficiency.

What options you have for this depends on the institution/degree course you are applying to.

  • a valid IELTS (Academic) or TOEFL test score is the most commonly offered alternative. Some other official tests may also be accepted, for example PTE - Pearson Test of English or Cambridge ESOL CPE/CAE - see links in the right-hand margin.
  • the minimum test score required can vary from one degree programme to another.
  • the deadline for submitting your language test certificate can also vary from one degree programme to another.
  • you may not always need IELTS/TOEFL however - some universities/UAS's may also offer other options for checking their applicants’ language skills, e.g. in connection with the entrance examination.


Keep in mind that proving your English proficiency is just one part of your eligibility as an applicant; there are other degree course specific entry requirements as well. Please see general advice on this at Eligibility criteria.

Exemption from English language proficiency requirement?

If you have completed your previous education/qualification in English, you may –depending on your nationality/the country where your previous qualifications were completed- be exempt from the language test requirement. Citizens of EU/EEA countries may also fall under this category.

Whether you can be considered exempt or not depends on the policy of the university/UAS, so if in doubt you must check with the Admissions Office of the institution you're applying to.

Where to find the required minimum English proficiency test scores?

The Finnish higher education institutions define their language requirements independently, so the minimum test scores required depend on the programme you're applying to. You should always check the exact requirements as well as any possible exemption options and rules on the admissions pages of the institutions.

If in any doubt about the required English language test score, or about whether or not you can be made exempt from the language test requirement, please contact the Admissions Office of the university/UAS.

If you do not know English well enough...

Note that in most cases you need to have the required language proficiency level already at the time of applying. It is not possible to become admitted to Finnish higher education "first to brush up your language skills and then moving on to the actual degree studies". In other words, Finnish higher education institutions do not offer any language preparation year options.

In case your English language skills are not quite up to the level as required, we recommend that you search for English prep course providers in your home country and brush up on your language skills that way, before applying to English-language programmes in Finland. For example, you could contact your nearest British Council office or TOEFL / IELTS examination centre and inquire if they offer any English prep course options suitable for your needs.

Where can you take an English language proficiency test (IELTS/TOEFL etc.)?

Test taking locations can be found in many abroad (also in Finland, if you already live here). You can find the nearest test centres by visiting the home pages of the official language test organisations, see links on the right-hand margin.

Are Finnish skills required?

You do not usually need to know any Finnish if you apply to English-taught degree programmes. There may be some individual exceptions to this; if any Finnish skills are required this is mentioned in the entry requirements of the degree course.

If you wish to study a degree course offered in Finnish or Swedish, then you need to be relatively fluent in the language of teaching. See section Studying in Finnish or Swedish for some advice.

Even if your degree course is in English, studying Finnish before and during your studies not only helps you to feel more at home in Finland, it is also an important asset if you wish to find employment either during or after your studies. Please see the section Studying Finnish for information on Finnish language study opportunities.

Can I apply to degree programmes taught in Finnish or Swedish?

Yes you can, provided that you are reasonably fluent in either Finnish or Swedish. Again, please note that you need to have the required language skills already at the time of applying. The Finnish higher education institutions do not offer any language preparation year options.

If you are considering applying to degree programmes in Finnish or Swedish, you should check the application route, application times and other such details on the institutions' web sites. The advice on admission routes as given on this Study in Finland website mainly refers to English-language degree options only.

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