What are Finnish Universities of Applied Sciences like?

In Finland, there are different types of universities for students to choose from. There are private universities such as Helsinki School of Business and research universities such as Lappeenranta University of Technology. Additionally, there are several universities of applied sciences in Finland. Though, all of these universities are different, they have one thing in common, which is high-quality education. No matter what your decision is in terms of the type of the university, high-quality education and globally recognized degree is a guarantee. The type of university you choose, depends on your career goals and what subject you would like to study.

Let’s take a closer look at what studying in a university of applied sciences is like.


Degree students group work in Finland, Europe



Though theory is important, the focus in universities of applied sciences is on the practical side. For example, assignments deal with practical issues. You are not told to explain the theory in full detail, you are expected to utilize  thetheory in practice. Let’s say your assignment is to create a marketing strategy for a company, naturally you will need some theory, but main focus is how that strategy would be excecuted, the costs, etc. And how amazing is that, you actually get to familiarize yourself with real-life matters and develop your skills already in university!


university assignment, Finland, Europe


The study environment is work-life oriented. You usually work in teams, you plan together, find solutions to problems, innovate and analyze, just like in work life you would do. Therefore, there are rarely any exams. I’m a third-year student and during my studies I’ve had around 5 exams of which 2 have been open book exams, which means you can use all the material available.

The reason for the lack of exams is hidden in the idea of preparing students for working life. Very rarely, especially in business, is it important know something by heart, because in the real world you would always have the support of your co-workers and let’s face it, Google, there to guide you forward in your tasks, so why should universities push us to learn specific details by heart?



It’s not mandatory to sit in a class and listen to teachers. You are usually able to find all the materials from online study platforms such as Moodle and you can easily follow the course along from there. But even though you are given the opportunity to not be in class, I wouldn’t necessarily recommend you take that option. See during the class you get unique opportunities to talk with teachers or lecturers and your peers on the topic and develop your skills through this.

In Finland this is referred as academic freedom, you are free to do as you want because we believe that in university you are there to develop yourself and your own skill set so it is up to you to design your future. For example, my degree is estimated to take 3,5 years to complete, but I’ve worked hard and will graduating in 3 years’ time and some of my classmates have graduated in 2 years. There are of course mandatory courses you have to take in order to get your degree but there a plenty of elective courses you can take and develop the professional skills that you want to be developed.

Generally the structure of bachelor level studies in Universities of Applied Sciences is the following

  • YEAR 1 Mandatory and elective courses, projects
  • YEAR 2 Elective courses, specialization, projects
  • YEAR 3-4 Elective studies either at the home university or abroad, practical training (5 months) and bachelor thesis

Please note that this is a generalization of the structure of bachelor level studies and there may be some differences in the structure between different degrees and also between different Universities of Applied Sciences. 

You might wonder if there no exams, how will you be evaluated? Majority of the work is done in groups as mentioned, which usually includes writing a research paper on the matter and presenting it to your peers. There are also the possibilities to do only presentations or write a learning diary. Learning diary is a process of recording your learning during the course. Though the task might sound a bit odd, it is a good tool to analyze yourself and your skills and also further analyze the things you learn during the course.


Universities of Applied Sciences work closely with different companies. Through these partnerships you are able to do project work for companies and work with cases commissioned by them. If you are studying in a university of applied sciences, you will have mandatory practical training in your degree. This is the best way to gain experiences and really show your expertise during your studies. And don’t forget if you prove to be a skilled and talented intern you might be offered job opportunities from that company and have a job already ready for you as you graduate.




You study in multinational groups. There are always degree students and exchange students at the campus and you get to immerse yourself in different cultures and gain experiences in working in international environment. Universities of Applied Sciences have usually hundreds of partner universities, so you are able to do exchange studies, short study periods in partner universities, practical training and even double degrees abroad.

The universities their selves are extremely international. There are international clubs you can join, plenty of activities for students, language studies, culture cafés and more! Plenty of opportunities for you to network and develop your professional skills!



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Find our more what studying in Finland is like and what studying at a Finnish university is like!

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