University of Helsinki


The University of Helsinki is an institution based in Helsinki, Finland.  Helsinki was originally established in the city of Turku as a royal academy under the Swedish empire in 1640. Later on, UH was re-established in Helsinki in 1829. Given this history, both Swedish and Finnish are the official languages of Helsinki. Although a majority of the courses is taught in Finnish, there are a sizable number taught in English. This program is university-wide, meaning any undergraduate Pitt student regardless of major may participate. 

Fact sheet
Learning Objectives

As an active and engaged participant on this program, you will have the opportunity to develop:

  • the ability to succeed independently in a foreign education environment.
  • non-US based perspectives on your field of study and/or future career path.
  • a global network of peer in similar fields of study and connections with faculty in Finland.
Location Description

Helsinki, the capital of Finland, is located on the southern coast of Finland along the Baltic Sea. Due to its history, Helsinki has two official languages: Finnish and Swedish. Not only is Helsinki known as a livable city, it is an important center for Finland's politics, education, finance, culture, research as well as design. 

Housing Description

Helsinki offers options for university-affiliated housing or private accommodations. Although Pitt students are not guaranteed spots within university-affiliated housing, Helsinki will provide instructions on when and how to apply for housing through its partners, such as Mobility Online, Unkhome and HOAS. See Helsinki’s general housing website.  
Unlike living in the U.S., Pitt students will be required to purchase both home and liability insurance. These cover the costs of damages to furniture and other articles.  

Academic Description

At UH, undergraduate courses are taught in Finnish, Swedish, and English. Generally-speaking, UH offers three levels of courses: Basic, Intermediate/Subject, or Advanced.

  • Basic: Bachelor’s Level courses that a generally open to all students, regardless of background in the subject.  
  • Intermediate/Subject: Bachelor’s Level courses in which participating students are required to have experience in the subject.  
  • Advanced: Master’s level courses or for students with a Bachelor’s degree in the area or the same level of knowledge.  

UH will allow upper-level students from Pitt to take Advanced courses, as long as the student may provide evidence of his or her expertise within that subject. As it is unlikely that Pitt students will have reached a B2-level of proficiency in either Finnish or Swedish, students will choose classes that are taught in English. Like most European universities, the greatest number of English-taught courses are at the Master’s level. Based on the 2016-17 academic year, UH offered over 2000 courses in English: Basic (100+); Intermediate (650); Advanced (800+).  More information about their courses maybe found here.  
Credits taken at UH are evaluated on an ECTS scale and will transfer to Pitt according to a 2:1 ratio. For example, 10 ECTS credits will transfer as 5 Pitt credits. All credits taken at UH require approval by both your academic advisor(s) and study abroad program manager. Additionally, for the purpose of full-time status here at Pitt, students should be prepared to take what is equivalent to at least 12 Pitt credit hours. Each semester is broken into two teaching periods.  In a typical semester, students are taking approximately 30 ECTS credits, which is approximately 15 credit hours.  Since most courses at UH are 2 ECTS credits each, students should anticipate taking 3-4 courses per teaching period, in order to fulfill full-time status back at Pitt.  More about UH's teaching periods may be found here
Courses taken at UH will be treated as transfer credits and will be marked as pass/fail (S/NC) on a Pitt student's transcript. In other words, transfer credits will not affect your Pitt GPA. Actual grades earned will appear on the transcript from the exchange university.
As a part of the cultural experience, UH offers Finnish Language Courses specifically designed for visiting students. These may be considered for credit or not for credit. Verify with the study abroad program manager regarding their transferability. 

Registration for at classes UH will occur after arrival in Helsinki during the Welcome Fair and Orientation.  

Students who have attended this program in the past have taken classes in the areas of:
Political Science

Unlike Pitt, UH’s grading scale assigns numerical values between 0 – 5, with 5 representing the highest grade achievable.For more information about the grading scale at UH, see their explanation. For Pitt transfer credit, in order to earn a grade of “S,” (satisfactory) at Pitt, you must make an equivalent to a grade of “C” or higher. An equivalent to a “C-” or lower will result in a grade of “NC” (no credit) at Pitt. Pitt students may utilize the following online resource to understand the grading scale within this host country.
UH will provide hardcopy (or electronic transcripts) to the University of Pittsburgh’s Study Abroad Office. Make sure to follow their instructions on how to ensure that an official copy of the grades is received. Hardcopies should be sent the following address: 3959 Fifth Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA 15260, USA. Electronic copies should be sent to the designated exchange program manager under “SAO Staff.” 
Exchange university transcripts typically do not arrive from the exchange university until 3 to 4 months after the end of exchange period. Therefore, Pitt students should be mindful of how this may affect their ability to graduate, especially when exchanging during one's senior year. Another consideration is how this may affect your financial aid package, as the S/NC grades are not posted until transcripts are received.

Program Fees
Pitt students participating on an exchange program will pay regular Pitt tuition and fees, according to their in-state or out-of-state residency status. In addition to the Study Abroad Administrative Fee, this also includes all Mandatory Fees, such as the Student Activity Fee, Wellness Fee, Computing and Network Services Fee, and the Security, Safety, and Transportation Fee.  
Pitt Students on financial aid and/or tuition scholarships will need to consult the Office of Admissions and Financial Aid or respective entity providing the funds to confirm coverage for study abroad. 

Items Billed by Pitt

  In-State Out-of-State
Tuition* $9,314 $16,328
Mandatory Fees $545 $545
Study Abroad Fee $400 $400
Total Billed by Pitt* $10,259 $17,273
*The tuition rate listed is defaulted to reflect the Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences. For Pitt students of another Pitt school or campus, the tuition rate will reflect the home school or campus. See posted rates on the Institutional Research page.


How Much To Budget

Estimated Additional Out-of-Pocket Costs

Travel Expenses: Airfare, Passport, Visa, Resident Permit  $2,000
Room & Board $4,702
Personal Expenses $1,177
The Estimated Costs reflect information provided by Helsinki and are reported to OAFA to calculate financial aid packages.The listed costs are defaulted to one semester. Multiply the costs by two for two semesters. 
Personal expenses vary with individual students. Review the Helsinki's website for more information, and visit our budgeting page for more information. 

Students studying abroad through Pitt Study Abroad are automatically provided health insurance coverage during the official program dates. However, you may need to purchase additional insurance if the exchange university you will attend requires purchase of a specific health insurance coverage per their regulations. It is your responsibility to ensure you know the cost of that insurance prior to committing to the program.

Program Dates

Pitt students enroll at Helsinki for either a full semester (fall or spring) or a full academic year (two full semesters). Helsinki's academic calendars may differ from Pitt's normal fall (August through December) and spring (January through April) semesters, so Pitt students should check the academic calendar at the exchange university. Like Pitt, Helsinki’s academic calendar follows a Fall-Spring progression, meaning Fall is the first semester followed by the Spring semester as the second. The dates listed above are estimated and therefore subject to change according to the host university’s schedule.

Application Instructions

Pitt sends a limited number of students per semester to Helsinki. In addition to applying to the Pitt Study Abroad application above, be sure to review Helsinki's website regarding their application requirements for incoming exchange students. A formal nomination from Pitt Study Abroad is required for Pitt students to be recognized as an exchange student at Helsinki. Therefore, Pitt students must complete all necessary Pitt Study Abroad steps in addition to Helsinki's requirements. In other words, acceptance by Pitt Study Abroad does not guarantee acceptance by the exchange university.  
The exchange university may require the following to be submitted through an online application. Requirements may include but are not limited to the following:  

  • Application Form 
  • Copy of Valid Passport 
  • Official Pitt Transcript 
  • Official Pitt Verification of Enrollment 
  • Statement of Intent or Purpose 
  • Resume or CV 
  • Official Language Evaluation 
  • Up to 2 instructor letters of recommendations 
  • Up to 2 passport photos 


Additional Information

Language Requirements: Non-native English speakers will be required to show evidence of English proficiency either through the IELTS or the TOELF. In order to take courses in either Finnish or Swedish at Helsinki, Pitt students will be required to submit evidence of B2 level of proficiency. Please check with Helsinki regarding these requirements. 

Insurance Requirements

Students studying abroad through Pitt Study Abroad are automatically provided health insurance coverage during the official program dates. However, Finland requires Pitt students to purchase additional coverage through their national health plans. See the details here.  

Visa Requirements

In order to study as a student in specific countries, a visa is required. A visa is formal endorsement by the host country to grant permission for an individual to enter, live or stay in that country for a specific purpose and period. In addition to a visa, some host countries may require a residency permit upon arrival. 


For those without EU/EEA nationalities, students must obtain a student permit to study in Finland. For an overview regarding the visa/permit process, please review Helsinki's website.  Also, check the Finnish Embassy or consulate closest to you for additional information. Helsinki will provide general direction after formal admission on for how to apply for either the visa and/or residency permit. Pitt students should also research the visa and/or permit process through the specified country consulate website. In general visa and/or permit application requirements include but are not limited to the following requirements:  

  • Visa application 
  • Valid Passport 
  • Verification of acceptance from sponsoring university (exchange university) 
  • Financial Documents, such as bank statements, tax documents or pay statements.   
  • Passport photos 
  • Application fee 
  • Medical/physical examination (likely to require a doctor's appointment so plan accordingly) 
Application Status