Studying in Finnish or Swedish

If you know Finnish or Swedish already, you may apply to degree courses offered in our two national languages. While this Study in Finland page mainly deals with degree courses offered in English, in this section you can find some advice on studies offered in Finnish or Swedish.

I do not know any Finnish or Swedish. Can I come to Finland to study the language first?

The higher education institutions do not arrange any ‘language prep year’ options, so it is unfortunately not possible to get admitted to a Finnish university or UAS to ‘study Finnish/Swedish first’. When applying for degree programmes, you are expected to have the required language skills already at the time of applying.

Keep in mind that if you start from the beginning, learning Finnish or Swedish to a level that would make it possible for you to follow higher education is likely to be a long process, taking several years of intensive study. Furthermore, it is not currently possible to get a student residence permit to Finland based on language courses only.

There are short-term Finnish courses offered for example by the Summer Universities, see section Studying Finnish in Finland, but these alone are not likely to suffice - they can however assist you in getting started, or if you already have some Finnish skills, the more advanced-level courses could be suitable for you. Also depending on your home country there may exist options for studying Finnish before coming to Finland, or you may start learning Finnish by using some of the online resources available - see section Studying Finnish Abroad.

If you are a complete beginner in Finnish or Swedish, it might be a more realistic idea to apply to English-taught degree programmes.

If you already know Finnish or Swedish

If you can independently read and understand the Finnish universities’ Finnish or Swedish language admissions pages with no big problems, and communicate with their Admissions Services in Finnish or Swedish, then applying to degree courses in our national languages might be a realistic idea.

Foreign students can also apply to Finnish or Swedish taught degree programmes, if they fulfill the entry criteria and have the required language skills at the time of applying. Note that the application period may differ from that of the English-taught degree courses! Contact the university/UAS of your choice for detailed advice on applying.

How well do I need to know the language? Do I need to take a test?

The language skills criteria and related requirements are defined by the higher education institutions themselves. So you need to check the details with the university/UAS you wish to apply to.

But as a quick rule of thumb, you need to be fairly fluent so that you can follow higher education in the language of teaching - follow lectures, write essays, and read texts without any serious problems – and of course spoken language skills are also important.

In most cases, this means your language skills should be somewhere between intermediate and advanced level when assessed on either the CEFR (Common European Framework of Reference for Languages) or the YKI (National Certificates of Language Proficiency) scales - see the pdf file links in the right-hand margin.

How exactly the university/UAS will assess your Finnish or Swedish language skills level can vary. On undergraduate entry you are usually required to sit an entrance exam in Finnish or Swedish, and this may also act as a language skills assessment tool. But the university/UAS may also require you to take a separate language test.

Where can I get detailed information and advice?

You should contact the Admissions Services of the university/UAS you wish to apply to about the details, if you wish to apply to degree studies offered in Finnish or Swedish. Alternatively, you can contact the Faculty or Department you're interested in. You can find the institutions' websites listed in the section 'Where to study' of this site.

Also, you can refer to the national versions of the site – in Finnish, and in Swedish.