Application process for exchange studies

The instruction belongs to the following themes

By selecting a degree programme you are able to see the general content as well as the possible degree programme-specific content. You do not have to select a degree programme to see the Open University's instructions.

These instructions are for University of Helsinki students who wish to apply for exchange studies. Below you can find information about application periods and processes as well as the required documents. Start planning your exchange in good time prior to the beginning of the application period. Read the instructions for planning your exchange, find out about the exchange opportunities available and the related language requirements before you begin to draft your application. You cannot apply until you have decided your target destination.

Applying for exchange studies usually involves two stages.* First, you must submit an application by the deadline for the University of Helsinki application process. If you are selected, you must then apply directly to your target university.

*Exceptions include the free mover and North2North exchange procedures, which have a slightly different application process. For detailed instructions, see the relevant websites.

Calls for application

For the academic year 2023–2024, autumn semester 2023 or spring semester 2024: main call for applications to Europe and Nordic countries, and the supplementary application process for remaining exchange opportunities outside Europe began on Wed, February 1st 2023 and ended on Wed, February 15th 2023 (at 3 PM).

Call for applications

Application periods

Application periods for student exchange (in chronological order)

Detailed information about application rounds will be published closer to the relevant dates in the calls for applications under "Calls for application". 

Application for grants for independent studies outside of Finland (over 3 months)

Application period The application process is continuous. The application period runs from 1 September to 31 May
For whom? Grants for degree students of all faculties
Timing of the exchange Academic year 2022-2023
More information Free mover grants for independent studies outside Finland

Application for grants for short courses

Application period The application process is continuous. The application period runs from 1 September to 31 May
For whom? Grants for degree students of all faculties
Timing of the exchange Academic year 2022-2023
More information Short and summer courses outside Finland

Application periods during the academic year 2023 - 2024: 

Supplementary application round for remaining exchange places in the EU/EEA area + Great Britain

Application period Tue 29 August 2022 - Tue 12 September 2023 (ended 15.00 local Finnish time)
For whom?
  • Students from all faculties are welcome to apply.
  • Within Europe, exchanges are based on agreements signed on unit level, and the student is expected to study the field of the agreement. Students of the study program or faculty of each agreement take precedence in the selection. Placements can also be offered with discretion to students of other fields.
  • For destinations in the Nordics, please read more on the Europe and Nordic countries page.
Timing of the exchange Spring 2024

Exchange opportunities outside the EU/EEA area (not Great Britain)

Application period Wed 11 October 2022 - Wed 25 October 2023 (by 15.00 local Finnish time)
For whom?
  • Places for students of all faculties: University bilateral agreements, Erasmus+ Global and North2North programme
  • Study programme-/faculty-specific exchange places: faculty and unit bilateral agreements
Timing of the exchange Academic year 2024–2025 or in some places the calendar year 2025
More information AsiaAfrica,  Australia and New ZealandLatin America, North AmericaGeorgia, Middle EastNorth2North and Erasmus+ Global

Main call for applications to the EU/EEA area (+ Great Britain) and a supplementary application round for applications outside the EU/EEA area

Application period Preliminary information: Thu 1 February 2024 - Thu 15 February 2024 (by 15.00 local Finnish time)
For whom?
  • Students from all faculties are welcome to apply.
  • Within Europe, exchanges are based on agreements signed on unit level, and the student is expected to study the field of the agreement. Students of the study program or faculty of each agreement take precedence in the selection. Placements can also be offered with discretion to students of other fields.
  • In addition, a supplementary application for opportunities outside the EU/EEA area. Supplementary application for opportunities outside the EU/EEA area: Applications can be submitted only to those universities on "Exchange opportunities around the world" subpages, in which there are exchange places listed as available.
Timing of the exchange Academic year 2024–2025 (in some places outside the EU/EEA the calendar year 2025)

Application for summer course scholarships

Application period Preliminary information: Thu 1 February 2024 - Thu 15 February 2024 (by 15.00 local Finnish time)
For whom? Scholarships for students of all faculties
Timing of the exchange Summer 2024
More information Short and summer courses outside Finland

Step-by-step instructions for completing an application in Mobility Online

University of Helsinki applicants for exchange studies must submit their applications during the relevant application periods through the Mobility Online system. The University of Helsinki uses Mobility Online as the electronic application and information system for international mobility. For all destinations also outside the EU and EEA area, this information is available in the section Exchange opportunities around the world.

The application process in brief – click here for detailed technical instructions. Read the detailed technical instructions and follow them when completing your application.

  1. Register as an applicant by filling in the application formSummer course have their own application form.
  2. Complete the information on the registration form. Select your second, third and fourth application option, if any, on the form. 
  3. After registering as an applicant, you will receive a link to your email. Use the link to log in to your Mobility Online account.
  4. Obtain and prepare the necessary attachments and upload them as PDF files in the folder for submissions in your Mobility Online account. Read the detailed instructions on attachments in the section below.
  5. Upload all required attachments in the Mobility Online system by the closing of the application period.

If the University of Helsinki selects you as an applicant for exchange studies, you must then apply to the target university according to its requirements. Students selected for exchange studies will receive instructions with the letter of acceptance sent by International Exchange Services and Education Cooperation from the address

Follow the detailed application instructions in Mobility Online when you begin to draft your application, and find out which attachments are required. For assistance in drawing up your application, participate in information sessions on student exchange as well as application “clinics” or contact International Exchange Services.

After registering you will not be taken directly to your own Mobility Online account. Log in at Mobility Online (use your AD account for the University network).

For technical assistance with your Mobility Online application and account, email Your message should include a detailed description of the problem. In urgent cases, you can also call +358 2941 22401 (Mon-Fri 12-14).

Required attachments

Required attachments of your application are: 

1.Study plan to each target university separately.

2. Transcript of studies, downloaded from Sisu (Sisu instructions for downloading the transcript of studies). If you have completed Bachelor’s degree at a higher education institution other than the University of Helsinki, also attach a transcript for your previous degree in PDF form. If you have been granted the right to complete JOO (Flexible Study Right Scheme) studies at another Finnish university, you can include the credits you have completed there in your total credit number. In that case, include a transcript concerning your JOO studies as an additional attachment to your application if the credits are not yet included in your University of Helsinki transcript.

3. Motivation letter

Possible other attachments: 

  If you plan to study in English language only, you do not need to attach any language certificate at this point yet.  

NB! If you are applying for the free mover programme, read the relevant instructions for information on other required attachments.

Study plan of your exchange application (Learning Agreement)

General about the study plan

If you have not yet read about the teaching offered at your target university, do it now! This is often the most challenging part of the whole process, but do not get discouraged. Select an appropriate number of courses that are suitable for your degree at the University of Helsinki. Read more on how to plan the studies for exchange from here. 


The number of courses to be entered in the study plan at the application stage:

European destinations: 30 ECTS per semester irrespective of the duration of the semester.

Other destinations: See the minimum requirements for exchange studies in the introductory text for the target university in the section Exchange opportunities around the world.

You will find information on comparisons between the credit systems in different counties under the section "How will the number of credits be converted?"

Find out which courses you can complete at your destination, for example, as follows:

  • Read the target university’s website and search for courses available to exchange Students. Select courses in a field covered by the exchange agreement.
  • University bilateral agreements outside of Europe: See the courses available at your target university in the section Exchange opportunities around the world.

If you cannot find information on courses by following the instructions above, you can contact the target university’s exchange coordinator.

Target universities may have restrictions on what courses exchange students are allowed to study. For example, the host university may require that you have completed your Bachelor’s degree before you can study Master’s level courses.

Remember that a plan is always just a plan. Learning agreements must often be drawn up based on the courses the target university offered in the academic year before your exchange. The more compulsory courses you intend to substitute for exchange studies, the more detailed your learning agreement should be.

The degree you are including your studies to can also be the degree (Master's degree) you are planning to attend after your Bachelor’s degree. In some cases, it may be good to do two Learning agreement plans. The second plan can be made in a free format as a word document.

  • In many study programmes, it is possible to complete the optional study module abroad. See more information under the section recognition and validation.
  • If you intend to substitute a certain compulsory course in your degree with studies completed abroad, ensure the substitutability of the course already at the planning stage, for example by contacting the teacher in charge of that course.

Creating a study plan (learning agreement) 

In the exchange application, the study plan of your exchange studies for your primary destination (i.e. learning agreement) is drafted in Sisu. Add optional exchange studies into your primary curriculum as study drafts. You can consult our Instructions for making a study plan. Add compulsory studies to be completed during a student exchange to the timeline in Sisu. You can consult our instructions for adding compulsory studies to Sisu. There is no need to make a separate attachment to your plan since a student exchange specialist will look at your plan in Sisu. Contact the International Exchange Services and Education Cooperation if have problems with doing your Sisu study plan.

The study plan in Sisu does not have to be fully ready to be suitable for an exchange application. However, it must include the following studies:

  • All the exchange studies you plan.
  • All compulsory courses of your degrees that you have completed and also the ones you have not completed yet.
  • All of your credits that count towards your degree and have been registered by the date of making the exchange studies application (including any credits earned that you do not intend to use for your degree).

If you plan to study during your exchange for both your bachelor’s and your future master’s degree please make a plan in Sisu that shows you’ll be in an exchange during the completion of both degrees. In some cases, you may want to draft two alternative study plans, one of which you can add as a separate attachment. Do this, for example, if you plan to apply to a master's program or field of study other than your primary master's option.

If you are applying to more than one university, make a study plan for your first exchange destination in Sisu. Make the study plans for the other exchange destinations, one per destination, separately, and attach these as PDF documents in your application in Mobility Online. Each study plan must indicate where you want to place the exchange courses in your degree requirements at the University of Helsinki after your return when you apply for the transfer of the exchange credits. Please indicate in your application if you are planning to replace compulsory courses in your degree requirements with studies at an exchange university. For optional studies, list the names of the courses, and the number of credits for each course you intend to take at the exchange university. See an example of a study plan.

Language studies during exchange studies
  • The Language Centre is responsible for the recognition of the compulsory language studies included in the degree.  Instructions of the Language Centre. Plan courses into Sisu's timeline.
  • Language studies completed in other universities in Finland or abroad can be included in Language Centre modules upon agreement with the module coordinator. Plan study courses during the exchange into Sisu as study drafts.
  • You can also include exchange studies in your degree as optional studies. Draw them up in Sisu as study drafts.
Making thesis work during exchange studies

If you plan to work on your thesis during the exchange, attach the Agreement for Thesis work form (docx.) as an attachment to the application instead of a study plan. You may do thesis work only in exchange destinations in Europe (Erasmus+ and Nordplus) and some unit-level destinations outside of Europe (Faculty and unit bilateral agreements). When applying for the exchange placement from the University of Helsinki, preliminary approval from an exchange coordinator at the host university is sufficient. However, you must find an academic co-supervisor from the host university before the beginning of the exchange period.



Motivation letter of your exchange application

The purpose of the motivation letter is to convince those who decide on applications to select you at this precise stage of your studies.

  • The maximum length of the letter is one A4 page (max. 400 words).
  • You can write the letter in Finnish, Swedish or English.
  • If you are applying to more than one university in the same application round, write a single letter of motivation in the same file, but put emphasis on the first option in the letter.

Your letter should explain:

  • Why you wish to study at the university of your choice
  • How student exchange at the university in question would support your degree studies at the University of Helsinki
  • What part your exchange studies would play in the degree pursued at the University of Helsinki
  • Why you are applying for an exchange at this stage of your studies
  • What plans you have for the future, and how your exchange studies would help you make them happen. Describe your plans from your own perspective. For example, the phrase “I am aiming for an international career” is not sufficient if you do not describe your plans in detail and reflect on them.
  • What other matters may affect your selection. Mention any relevant work experience or similar assets that support your selection for exchange studies. In addition, if you have taken a long break from your studies or changed major subjects, mention this in the letter of motivation.
  • If you work on your thesis during the exchange, you should tell in your motivation letter why it is essential for your thesis to get to work on it at a partner university. Please also indicate, who would work as your co-supervisor at the host university or with whom you’ve agreed on this.

How many application options can I apply for?

You can apply to four target universities at most in a single round of applications. You can apply to places offered by different exchange programmes and unit during the same round. You can select at most four target universities per application form.

A single registration form can be used to apply for destinations offered by University level, one faculty and one subject offered places only.  If you wish to apply for exchange studies through several Faculties / subjects, you must always register again by searching for your destination in the application form under the correct unit.

If you wish to apply for exchange studies through several exchange programmes, list your priority order both in conjunction with registration and in your letter of motivation. Your priority list will be taken into account, but you will be offered only one place, so do not select destinations you are unwilling to accept. Creating a priority list will not reduce your chances of being selected for your primary destination.

How will the number of credits be converted?

You must complete at least five credits in each month of your exchange.

ECTS credits: The purpose of the European Credit Transfer and Accumulation System (ECTS) is to enable comparisons between the scope of studies at educational institutions in different European countries. At the University of Helsinki, one credit equals one ECTS credit. At the University of Helsinki, ECTS credits are transferred in the same scope (1 ECT​S = 1 University of Helsinki credit).

Many European universities offer credits that are fully compatible with ECTS credits. However, in Britain one credit usually equals half a credit at the University of Helsinki (1 British credit = 0.5 ECTS credits).

Exchange opportunities outside Europe: Countries outside Europe do not usually use ECTS credits. For information on the minimum number of courses or local credits you must complete during your exchange, see the descriptions for non-European universities in the Guide instructions concerning your target region.

Comparisons between the credit systems of target universities outside Europe and the credit system of the University of Helsinki are made difficult by the fact that the credits offered by most target universities include only the amount of contact teaching to be completed and exclude the share of independent work. This means that the independent work required must be assessed on the basis of the description of each course.

After the exchange, the unit responsible for the transfer of credits must decide how many ECTS credits to provide for courses completed at the target university. The amount of ECTS credits will be decided based on the target university's credit system and/or course descriptions and in language studies also based on the course's target level. University of Helsinki's International Exchange Services has published a recommended conversion scale for each partner university. It can be used to help assess the scope. The credit conversion scale is available in the description of each target university The recommended conversion scale is not binding on the unit which decides on the credit transfer. The learning agreement drawn up at the application stage is always preliminary, and actual decisions on credit transfer will be made after the exchange, based on information about completed courses.

Eligibility for application and criteria for selection

Criteria for Selection of the University of Helsinki are decided once a year.


  • The student holds the right to complete a degree at the University of Helsinki. The right to complete a degree concerns the stage of studies required by the prospective programme or target university: usually either Bachelor’s or Master’s studies.
  • The student is registered as an attending student at the time of application and during the exchange. A student who is registered as non-attending for statutory reasons (military or non-military service or parental leave) can apply for an exchange, provided that the student has a valid UH user account. In addition, the student’s right to study must be valid throughout the student exchange and at least until the end of the following term. If the right to study expires before the end of the following term, International Exchange Services will find out whether the student can be granted an extension. Contact International Exchange Services. If the faculty does not grant the student an extension, the student cannot participate in the Exchange.
  • The application has been submitted by the deadline, and the accompanying attachments comply with the requirements outlined in the call for applications.
  • The student has completed at least 30 credits worth of studies by the time of the application, as indicated by a transcript of studies from the University of Helsinki. If the student has been directly admitted to pursue a Master’s or doctoral degree at the University of Helsinki, he or she must have completed 30 credits at the University of Helsinki or must enclose with his or her application a transcript for a previous degree. (For veterinary students, it is sufficient that the studies of the first semester have been completed, although some of the credits will not be entered in the register until later.) Students who are doing a Bachelor's degree must have completed at least one year at the University of Helsinki before studying abroad.
  • The studies specified in the learning agreement are equal to full-time studies (5 credits per each month of exchange), and the learning agreement indicates how the credits to be completed during the exchange can be fully transferred to a present or  planned degree at the University of Helsinki based on the University of Helsinki's recognition principals. The International Exchange Services reserves the right when necessary to ask the applicant for a Personal Study Plan, which lists all the applicant’s completed studies as seen in Sisu.

Selection criteria for student exchange

The selection decisions made by International Exchange Services are proposals, and the target universities make the final decisions on whether to accept applicants as exchange students. This means that the selection decision of International Exchange Services cannot be appealed against.

The student’s application will be considered as a whole. Applications meeting the basic criteria will be compared with each other, but a single criterion does not decide the selection. For example, the student has excellent proficiency in the language of the target country, but the target university does not offer courses suitable for the student’s degree. When studying abroad would clearly slow down the student’s progress, superior language skills are not reason enough to select the student.

The following criteria apply to the selection of exchange students:

  • Letter of motivation and learning agreement: Content, consistency and realistic plans in relation to the student’s prospective degree and the requirements of the destination
  • Academic performance and stage of studies: The pace of studies according to the progress goal as well as all studies completed at the University of Helsinki (including the UH Open University) and with a JOO/flexible study right or at a previous exchange period, completed during the current study right. For the GPA, the GPA of all studies registered in Sisu is the one taken into account. Exchange studies must not slow down the student’s graduation or unnecessarily expand the degree pursued at the University of Helsinki.
  • Language proficiency: The objective of language requirements at the application stage is to ensure that the selected students can focus on completing academic studies at the target university. Destination-specific language requirements are agreed with partner universities and specified in calls for applications.
  • Special criteria set by a target university or programme (e.g., limitations concerning the stage or field of Study)
  • When deciding on the selections, efforts will be made to take into account the balanced distribution of places between faculties and/or students of different fields.
  • The planned exchange studies must not exceed the maximum credits allowed in the degree. If the degree has a compulsory or recommended exchange period, it must be planned and timed according to this rule. Exchange studies should not slow down the student's graduation or unnecessarily expand the scope of the degree completed at the University of Helsinki. As an exception to this, students whose maximum scope of studies is well overshooted may be admitted on a discretionary basis, and the exchange and exceeding the maximum scope of the degree will not slow down graduation in the target schedule. An example of this is the language studies required for the exchange or the small number of optional studies included in the degree that produce eligibility. All applications are assessed according to the same selection criteria regardless of whether the degree includes a compulsory or recommended exchange period or not.
  • Applications will be compared by examining the learning agreement, the letter of motivation as well as academic performance and progress. If two applicants are considered equal in terms of the above, priority can be given to a student whom the University of Helsinki has not previously selected for a student exchange of three months or more. However, previous participation in an exchange does not prevent students from being selected.
  • A student who has previously cancelled his or her participation in an exchange without compelling reasons can be given less priority in the selection.
  • In Erasmus+, Nordplus, and faculty and unit bilateral agreements, priority will be given to students of the unit in question.
  • Students who apply for several destinations: Applying for several destinations does not lessen the applicant’s chances of being selected for his or her primary destination.Applicants not selected for their primary destination will be considered for their other application options on an equal basis with other applicants who selected those options as their primary destination.


Acceptance for exchange

The University of Helsinki’s International Exchange Services will decide on the selections within six weeks from the application deadline. Selected students will receive an email from the address Don’t be nervous though; your friend may have received information on selection before you have. Depending on exchange destination and degree programme selection, results will be sent to different students at different times.

When you recieve the acceptance e-mail you need to  Accept or reject the place offer through your Mobility Online account within seven days.

Note that you can be offered only one place even if you applied for several places with several applications. If you refuse an offer, you will not be offered another place during the same round. If you are not selected for any of the places you applied for, you can be offered a place that remains unfilled, provided you notified on your application that you are interested in such places.

If the University of Helsinki selects you as an outgoing exchange student, you must still apply to your prospective target university.

For detailed instructions, read the email confirming your selection as an exchange student. The instructions depend on your exchange programme. More information on how to do your exchange application to your destination university.

See also updates for coronavirus situation:…