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Off-Campus Study

ISEP at University of Helsinki

Finland is known for its unspoiled natural scenery, vast areas of lakes and forests, saunas and the midnight sun as well as for clean modern cities showcasing great architecture and design and a rich variety of cultural activities. A world leader in technology (think Nokia cell phones), Finland has one of the highest standards of living in the world. You couldn’t ask for more in a study abroad destination!


  • The OECD ranks Finland’s education system as #1 in the world. Its highly developed university system offers a wide range of courses in English for international and Finnish students.
  • Several Finnish institutions provide study tours to neighboring Scandinavia, the Baltic countries, and Russia.
  • Support for students who wish to pursue internships is offered at most sites.
  • Coordinators in Finland are especially supportive of international students and arrange for interesting orientations.
  • Upon arrival, all students have access to a Finnish Friend who can help them integrate at the university.
  • A Friendship Family Program enables students to experience the culture off-campus.


This program would be suitable for students that are ready to be abroad, but would still like some of the academic services that a U.S. college provides.  It is a good choice for someone that is a world traveler OR has never left their hometown.

Learn More about the University of Helsinki here! Read the ISEP Country Handbook to learn more about visa requirements, educational system, and culture.

Program Type



Helsinki, Finland

Languages of Instruction


Program Dates

Fall 2018: Late August to Late December

Spring 2019: Early January to Late May

All dates are tentative and may change.  ISEP will alert all accepted students of final dates.


To be eligible to participate in this program, students must meet the following requirements:

  • Good academic and judicial standing during time of application AND time of participation in program
  • Undergraduates must have completed at least two semesters of study at Lake Forest College AND have junior status or higher before participation. 
  • Students must have a declared major, and at least 4-5 courses taken within that major, to be academically prepared.
  • At least 18 years of age by the program’s departure date. 
  • Be able to stay at the host program for the duration of the semester, including through the exam and travel periods
  • Minimum GPA of 2.75.  


Chance of placement for US students is generally Good.


The main university area is located in the beautiful neoclassical center of Helsinki, the capital of Finland since 1812. The new capital soon grew into the cultural center of the country. With its large population, Helsinki is able to sustain a rich variety of cultural activities. There is an abundance of restaurants, bars, theatres, museums, and sporting events.

The University of Helsinki operates on 4 campuses; City Centre Campus for Human Sciences, Kumpula Science Campus, Meilahti Campus for Medicine, Viikki Campus for Life Sciences. ISEP students can apply to all faculties on all campuses. Please review Academic Notes for requirements and restrictions, and refer to Courses in English for information on subjects (both found in Academics tab). More information can be found on the website.


The University of Helsinki is a versatile, multidisciplinary university with an international academic community of 40,000 students and staff members in the vibrant city of Helsinki. Teaching is based on research, and both teaching and research are of the highest standard. UH’s technology resources, learning spaces, and especially laboratories are highly ranked by students.

Economics, Psychology, Communication, Political Science, Veterinary Medicine and Law have restrictions regarding acceptance (both for local and exchange students). They only accept students who are majoring in the subject in question and have completed enough courses in the discipline in their home university prior to arrival. For Veterinary Medicine students must be on the graduate level at the home university. 

English Philology only accepts students majoring in English. Other foreign languages: the student should be a major or minor in the language at the home university. These studies are considered case by case. 

Exchange students should choose the majority of their courses from one Faculty. Within one Faculty, they can choose courses from several disciplines. Students are welcome to choose some courses from other Faculties, too.

Courses are broken down into two categories: lectures and individual study. A full-time course load for exchange students is 30 Finnish credits for one semester, and 60 Finnish credits for an academic year. 1 Finnish credit = 1 ECTS credit. An Exchange student should take 20-30 ECTS credits in a semester; 40-60 ECTS credits in an academic year. Each semester runs approximately 14 weeks long.  Lake Forest requires students take 30 ECTS credits per semester for the full 4 college credits.

Please review the country’s handbook for more information on the education system.



Most of the departments offer lecture series and seminars in English. Independent study and book examinations can be arranged in most fields when no classes are offered in English. 

Language Courses: Beginner- to intermediate-level Swedish and Finnish. Finnish courses for international students are divided into five levels, and after completing the fifth level students may continue on to the Finnish Language & Culture Program. 


Course Approvals

Check to see if your department has pre-approved courses here. If not, don’t worry. You can work with your advisor.



Student Life

The University of Helsinki, the oldest and largest university in Finland, celebrates its 375th anniversary in 2015. Its students make up a quarter of all university students in the country. Several subjects are taught exclusively at the University of Helsinki and it also offers many courses in English. The number of international students surpasses 2,700, with a total student body of 36,000.



The orientation program for international students, including a Welcome Fair and a Faculty Orientation Course, is arranged in late August and early January. 

Students should arrive before the Welcome Fair starts. The host will provide arrival directions with acceptance packet.


International students have many opportunities to participate in extracurricular activities in different clubs (arts, athletic, choirs etc.) since there are more than 250 student organizations at the Student Union available. International students are welcome to participate. The Student Union and its Clubs and different activities bring together international and Finnish students for cultural exchange, social activities, and travel. The academic clubs of the faculties and/or departments welcome also international students. 

At ESN (International Erasmus Student Network) of the Student Union, there is a “Buddy Project - Getting by with a little help from your friends,” a project that matches international and Finnish students. ESN arranges also a lot of activities for exchange students.

Housing and Meals

ISEP students are housed in residence halls in single-occupancy rooms with shared bathrooms and cooking facilities. There is also access to laundry facilities. There are good means of public transportation from each dormitory to the various campuses. Students receive a monthly stipend to cover housing and meals.  

Financial Information

For all approved programs for guaranteed financial aid transferability, students pay their Lake Forest College tuition plus a program fee. The program fee for a semester with the ISEP Exchange to the University of Helsinki includes orientation, on-site director, college fees, housing, and a stipend to cover the equivalent of 19/meals per week.  

Here is an estimated budget for the Fall 2018/Spring 2019 semester:

Budget Item


Lake Forest College Tuition


Program fee (estimated)

Note: Spring may have added cost


College Deposit (credit)


Total Expected Billed by Lake Forest College


ISEP Fee due on Stage 2 Application



College Deposit due on Acceptance (non-refundable, but shows as credit on bill for off-campus term)


ISEP-required health and repatriation insurance ($90/mo estimated)

Note: Some countries require national insurance. Check ISEP


Additional Meals


Estimated Airfare


Estimated Personal Expenses (passport, visas, immunizations, textbooks, supplies, personal expenses, additional national insurance, if required, travel insurance, additional travel etc.)


Total Out-of-Pocket Expenses







Tuition rates and program fees are subject to change each year, but this information was up-to-date as of January 2018. We will notify applicants, and update this page if the program fee or other estimates change.

Keep in mind that you may spend more or less in certain areas like personal expenses, travel, meals, or airfare, depending on exchange rates and your own spending habits. Classroom or lab fees are not included in this estimate. 

Don’t forget to apply for scholarships! A great listing can be found here.  

Do check your student account on My.Lakeforest for your aid awards, as much of this will go with you. If you want to compare your program to the cost of being on campus, those numbers can be found here: https://www.lakeforest.edu/admissions/tuition/fees.php

You can discuss with Financial Aid your specific aid package and your expected family contribution.

Experiences of Former Students


“Finland has so much to offer. Finland has great opportunities for those who love an active lifestyle and also those who would like to experience a new climate. Also to be around people who are polite and have a very interesting way of life that is quite exciting to understand.” A student from Texas A&M International.