How to apply for internship/thesis work/research

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.

If you are interested in a laboratory or research group traineeship or wish to work on your thesis at the University of Helsinki, the best way to find a placement is to contact interesting units directly. See below how the process works and our tips for searching a supervisor.

Application process in short

  1. Contact your home institution's exchange coordinator or the person responsible for traineeships abroad. Ask for information on the process in your end as well as available financing.
  2. Look for a suitable supervisor in Helsinki. Ask him/her to fill in an invitation letter for your exchange/visiting student application. 
  3. Apply for exchange / visiting student status according to our application deadlines.
    1. Learning agreement for studies (if you apply as an exchange student) will be signed by one of the University of Helsinki exchange specialist. The signature is given after you have been officially accepted as an exchange student.
    2. Learning Agreement for traineeship is signed by your supervisor in Helsinki.
  4. Wait for an acceptance letter. Exchange students get it about 6 weeks after the application deadline, visiting students in a few weeks. 
  5. Apply for housing. Exchange students are recommended to apply in Mobility Online, visiting students can see our housing instructions. 
  6. Take care of possible residence permit application in time. 
  7. Buy flight tickets only after you have received an acceptance letter. 
  8. Enjoy your stay in Helsinki!

Application periods, housing and all other relevant instructions can be found below or in our instructions for exchange and visiting students. Please familiarize yourself with them before contacting us with your questions. 

How to get started

Your application for a traineeship/thesis placement begins with you finding a suitable supervisor for the duration of your stay in Helsinki. 

You can look for possible supervisors in the University of Helsinki Research Portal or by viewing the Faculties and units' research pages. Start the search in time! You will need to have secured yourself a supervisor at the time you apply for student status at the University of Helsinki.

Exchange students (those who apply via an existing exchange agreement) apply according to our application periods. Visiting students doing only research (including Erasmus+traineeship grant recipients) apply two months prior to the beginning of their stay the latest. 

When contacting a suitable supervisor

Many potential supervisors receive multiple requests for traineeship positions. Sometimes they have to prioritize their work and such requests go unanswered. If you don't receive an answer to your email within two weeks, it's best to write a friendly reminder where you copy your original email. If you still don't receive an answer, contact the next best option.

International Exchange Services can not help you contact the researchers, so it's very important you start this process in time. Many start as early as 6 to 12 months before their exchange/traineeship. 

Some researchers have no prior experience in receiving trainees. You can send them our internal instructions for units receiving international trainees. The instructions are available on this Flamma-page (only accessible for those with a University of Helsinki user account)

Pay attention to the following things:

  • Write only to one person at a time. Teams and departments often discuss applications they received and if many receive the same email, it gives a bad impression. Also, emails that have several receivers tend to go unanswered since it’s common to expect someone else to answer. Unless you have other contacts, it’s a good idea to contact the group leader.
  • State clearly and in short at least the following:
    • your motivation for seeking for the supervision of the said group/professor
    • the status you wish to gain (intern/ERASMUS trainee/thesis work etc.)
    • what you wish to get as a compensation or if you are receiving a grant from your home institution or elsewhere and wish to work unpaid
  • All except for PhD students need to ask the supervisor to give them ECTS credits for their traineeship/research work - also in the case the student does not need them for their home institution. This is a prerequisite for getting a student status (and the student discounts). Giving credits is easy for the supervisor and they find the instructions under the above mentioned link. 
  • if you look for a thesis supervisor, you should present a preliminary research plan and have another supervisor already from your home institution.
  • Attach your CV to the application.

Once you have found a supervisor

In case you are applying with the Erasmus+ SMS or other exchange agreement, you will receive a student status at the University of Helsinki, if you get accepted. Please see how to apply as an exchange student

In case you will receive the Erasmus+ SMT traineeship grant, or some other grant, you have to apply for the visiting student status in order to get a student status.

In both cases you need to get an invitation letter from your supervisor / sign a learning agreement for training. You find a template for the invitation letter in the application instructions. In addition you need to get credits (~5 ECTS/month) for your work at the University of Helsinki in order to get the students status. This is the case even if your home institution would not require credits for your traineeship. You can agree on the amount of credits and other details with your supervisor. You can order a transcript of credits at the end of your stay. Work in a research group is often evaluated as pass/fail unless otherwise agreed with the supervisor well in advance. Thesis work will also appear as research work on the transcript and be recorded as thesis only at your home institution. 

Lammi biological research station Internship Programme

If you are interested in an internship / traineeship that will provide you with an abundance of real-world experiences and challenges in the beautiful environment of a world class biological station, have a look at the Lammi International Internship Programme.

Tips for searching for a job in Finland

You might be interested in the following pages that assist in searching for a job in Finland

We wish you good luck with finding a suitable supervisor and hope to meet you in Helsinki some day soon!

Contacts for clinical internships for medicine students

If you are a medicine student interested in a clinical internship/elective/rotation in Helsinki University Hospital, see this list for relevant contact details.

Please note: In addition to the basic vaccinations, the Hospital District of Helsinki and Uusimaa (HUS) also requires COVID-19 vaccines from students coming to HUS for practical training. The trainee is responsible for having all the necessary COVID-19 vaccines. The Hospital District of Helsinki and Uusimaa checks that the person coming to practice has all the vaccinations. You can read more about the instructions from HUS website and from their instructions file.

Departments / Hospitals / Fields Contact
Emergency Medicine (Peijas Hospital, Jorvi Hospital)                                                                                  Riina Miettinen,
Anesthesiology                                                       Meseret Kulovesi,
Organ Transplantation Surgery                                                                                                     Heidi Pietilä,
Gastrosurgery                                                                                                         Johanna Louhimo, 
Skin and Allergy Hospital                                                                                       This unit does not host international trainees
Lung Diseases                                                                                                         Mervi Vasara,
Women’s Hospital (only in the summer)                                                                 Oskari Heikinheimo
Neurosurgery                                                                                                         Studies: Johan Marjamaa,

Practicalities: Kirsi Weckström,

Neurology                                                                                                               Päivi Leimuvaara,
Orthopedics, Hand Surgery, Plastic Surgery, Emergency Department                      Ulla Mattila,
Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery                                                                             Johanna Snäll,
Cardiac and Thoracic Surgery                                                                              Siiri Savanlampi,
Urology (Peijas Hospital)                                                                                                                       Tiina Ala-Juoni,
Pathology                                                                                                                                          Anja Äyri,
Psychiatry                                                                                Janita Leikas,
Radiology                                                                                                               Arja Afflekt,
Vascular Surgery                                                                                                    Heidi Ståhl,
Clinical Neurophysiology                                                                                     Erika Haaksiluoto,
Clinical Chemistry                                                                                                  Kari Pulkki,
Medical Genetics                                                                                                   Minna Pöyhönen,

Training at the Veterinary teaching hospital