Begin to make plans well in advance. Carefully consider the timing of your exchange and also consult your degree programme.
Exchange studies are part of your degree, which means that the studies you complete during your exchange must be included in and fit into your degree at the University of Helsinki. Exchange studies should not unreasonably expand your degree or slow down your graduation. Plan ahead which degree studies you can complete during your exchange. The International Exchange Services look at your degrees as a whole. This means that studies from the same exchange can be included in your bachelor’s or master’s degree, or both in your bachelor’s and master’s degree.
When you are applying for your exchange, you do not need to know your future study track or the master’s programme you will be continuing to. You will create your learning agreement according to the plan that you have made up and is probable for your degree. If you are considering applying to a master’s programme that you do not have the automatic master’s option to you should make a learning agreement for the optional master’s programme as well. The amount of elective courses can differ quite much from programme to programme and this may influence the exchange destination you can select. This is because the teaching at the destination should fit into both degree options that you are considering.
Making your thesis abroad
During your exchange, you may also work your (BSc, MSc or PhD) thesis when going on broad with a Faculty/subject level agreement, for example collecting or analyzing research material, if your instructor and host university agree to it in advance. In case working with your thesis was approved as a part of your Learning Agreement, you should have an academic co-supervisor also at the host university. It's recommended to start planning on working on the thesis well in time before the application period for the exchange. One way to begin is to contact your supervisor at the University of Helsinki and ask for contacts that could suit as academic co-supervisors at your degree programme's partner universities.
The progress of the thesis will be proved with a separate form called Agreement for Thesis Work. During the exchange, you should gain at least 5 ECTS / month whether you attend courses or work on your thesis. Please see instructions on Required documents and Returning home.
If you are close to completing your degree, you should consider a traineeship abroad rather than exchange studies. You can apply for an Erasmus grant for such traineeships. For more information about traineeships abroad, see Instructions for students.
If you wish to participate in an exchange outside the EU, you should begin to plan your exchange at least one year before the desired departure date, preferably even earlier. If your preferred destination is in Europe, you should begin planning at least one term in advance. Read more about the application dates.
Notice the academic terms and length of exchange for your exchange university
Find out about the academic terms of your target university and their timing during the academic year so that you can also plan your studies before and after the exchange. The summer term in Germany, for example, largely takes place during the Finnish summer break.
The duration of your exchange must be more than three months and less than 12 months. The entire exchange must take place during the same academic year. However, if the term at your target university is less than three months (e.g., British universities), the duration of the exchange is considered sufficient. You can also participate in a shorter exchange (e.g., one month) through the Nordplus programme. Many universities outside Finland also offer summer and short courses, which are particularly suitable for students who are unable to participate in an exchange for a full term, but wish to acquire international experience.