Transfer of credits for communication and language 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.

Students must apply to the Language Centre for the transfer of credits for communication and language studies to their degree.

For more information about the recognition of prior studies and other learning for your degree, see the instructions Recognition of prior learning

Substitution of communication and language studies (10 cr)

  • The language studies included in a previous higher education degree (complete or incomplete degree) substitute as such for the communication and language studies in the degree syllabus. The substitution must be requested from the Language Centre. NB! Degree programmes are responsible for the transfer of credits for other language studies. For example, degree programme in Law is responsible for the transfer of credits for language studies (5 cr) required for the master degree of Laws.
  • If your previous degree (complete or incomplete) was pursued at the University of Helsinki, you can include the language and communications studies in your study plan in Sisu as follows:  
    • If the language and communications studies you previously completed at the University of Helsinki are not tied to any module or degree, you can include these prior studies in your study plan in Sisu on the Substitutions tab of the course brochure.
    • If you cannot find the foreign language, second national language and native language courses that you have completed in the list of substituting courses, or the courses have already been incorporated into a module or degree, choose for example the course “Foreign language studies included in a previous degree at the University of Helsinki” on the Substitutions tab of the course brochure and add the course to your study plan. After this, apply for substitution for this course with your prior studies.
  • You can include in your degree studies that were completed no earlier than by the end of the term ten years ago. For example, a course completed in January 2011 can be included in a degree until the end of the 2021 spring term. Credits cannot be transferred for communication and language studies completed more than ten years ago. See further information on the page Expiry of studies.
  • The studies in the second national language (Swedish/Finnish) required for degrees are assessed on a scale of good, satisfactory and fail. Other language studies are assessed on a scale of pass/fail.

Foreign language (4 cr)

The starting skill level in the foreign language required for degrees must be B2 in English and B1 in other languages in accordance with the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages. This means that a beginner's or intermediate course in a language cannot be used to substitute for the foreign language requirement.

If you have selected a foreign language other than English in your study plan and you wish to apply for substitution, enter in the study plan the relevant course substituting the foreign language requirement (e.g., KK-RAN4OP Foreign Language Studies: French). Then apply for substitution from the relevant course brochure according to the instructions provided.

If the foreign language (English) studies for your degree consist of two separate courses (e.g., KK-ENFARM1 and KK-ENFARM2), you must separately apply for the substitution of each course.

The foreign language studies (4 cr) required for degrees can be substituted with:

  • Language studies equivalent to the compulsory courses in the foreign language included in a previous Finnish university degree (complete or incomplete degree). NB! In case the foreign language studies in a previous degree has consisted of several compulsory courses, all these courses must be completed for complete substitution. Partial substitution is also possible.  
  • Subject studies in the English, Spanish, Italian, French, German or Russian language completed at an institution of higher education in Finland or abroad (the completed studies must be language skills studies, not studies in phonetics, phonology, text analysis, etc.). At least 5 credits of studies must be completed.
  • Equivalent (level, content, scope) language studies completed during an international exchange
  • A degree completed in the language in question at an institution of higher education abroad (e.g., a bachelor’s degree completed in English)
  • Studies in one’s field or applicable studies (min. 15 cr) completed in the language in question. NB! Substitution with one's field or applicable studies is valid only until 31.12.2021.
  • The following language tests: IELTS or TOEFL (score corresponding to the B2 starting skill level: IELTS 5.5 and TOEFL 72) or the Finnish National Certificate of Language Proficiency (score corresponding to starting skill level B2 in English = 4; score corresponding to starting skill level B1 in Spanish, Italian, French, German and Russian = 3). Other equivalent language tests at the skill levels B1/B2 may possibly also be used to substitute for the studies. For more information, please contact kielikeskus-neuvonta@helsinki.fi.
  • Language studies completed at the Open University or summer university in accordance with university degree requirements

NB! No application need be submitted for the registration of language studies completed at the University of Helsinki Open University or the Helsinki Summer University in accordance with University of Helsinki degree requirements.

Second national language (3 cr)

The starting skill level in the second national language of Finland (Swedish/Finnish) is B1 in the Common European Framework for Languages.

You must separately apply for the recognition of oral skills (e.g., KK-RUKASV) and written skills (e.g., KK-RUKIRJ) in the second national language.

The written and oral communication studies (3 cr) in the second national language (Swedish/Finnish) required for degrees can be substituted with:

  • The language skills demonstrated for a previous Finnish higher education degree (complete or incomplete degree) as required by the Act and Decree on the Knowledge of Languages Required of Personnel in Public Bodies
  • Subject studies completed in the national languages (Swedish/Finnish): basic studies (satisfactory skills) or intermediate studies (good skills)
  • Language studies completed at the Open University or summer university in accordance with university degree requirements
  • Good skills in the second national language can be substituted with the following language proficiency certificates: The Civil Service Language Proficiency Certificate (C2, excellent skills) National Certificate of Language Proficiency (level 6, CEFR C2, excellent skills), National Certificate of Language Proficiency (level 5, CEFR C1, good skills). 

NB! No application need be submitted for the registration of language studies completed at the University of Helsinki Open University or the Helsinki Summer University in accordance with University of Helsinki degree requirements.

NB! If the language of your secondary education is “other than Finnish or Swedish”, please contact the Student Services of the Language Centre.

Communication skills in the native language (spoken and written communication, 3 cr)

No starting skill level in the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages has been specified for spoken and written communication studies in the native language (3 cr). Instead, any prior learning must correspond to the requirements in content.

Communication studies in the native language (Finnish/Swedish, 3 cr) required for degrees can be substituted with:

  • Studies equivalent to the compulsory courses in the native language included in a previous higher education degree (complete or incomplete Finnish- or Swedish-language degree). The studies must be equivalent in their content. When applying for substitution, the student must enclose with the application a report on the content of the previous studies in the native language.
  • Studies in the native language completed at the Open University or summer university in accordance with university degree requirements
Acknowledging prior learning in Written Communication: students may apply for acknowledgement of prior learning without having taken a course if:
  • they have published a Doctoral dissertation or a summary of a Doctoral dissertation in Finnish/Swedish
  • they have published a scientific article in Finnish/Swedish in a peer-reviewed journal.
Acknowledging prior learning in Speech Communication: students may apply for acknowledgement of prior learning without having taken a course if
  • they have published a Doctoral dissertation or a summary of a Doctoral dissertation in Finnish/Swedish in the field of Speech Communication
  • they have published a Master’s thesis in Finnish/Swedish.

NB! No application need be submitted for the registration of language studies completed at the University of Helsinki Open University or the Helsinki Summer University in accordance with University of Helsinki degree requirements.

NB! If the language of your secondary education is “other than Finnish or Swedish”, please contact the Student Services of the Language Centre.

Which credit transfer arrangements are not permitted?

The following credit transfer arrangements intended to substitute for communication and language studies are not permitted:

  • A Finnish matriculation examination in Finnish or Swedish or an IB, EB or Reifeprüfung examination cannot be substituted for language and communication studies in the degree syllabus.
  • Certificates of language proficiency issued by the Language Centre for international student exchange or traineeships cannot be substituted for foreign language studies in the degree syllabus (course or substitute examination).
  • Tests of the general language proficiency of University of Helsinki applicants cannot be substituted for foreign language studies in the degree syllabus (course or exemption examination).
  • Language courses provided by private language schools or similar institutions cannot be substituted for language studies in the degree syllabus.
  • The result of the language test (OLS) or language course, if any, associated with a grant for an Erasmus student exchange or traineeship cannot be substituted for foreign language studies in the degree syllabus (course or exemption examination).
  • KiVAKO courses that are suitable for language and communication studies in the degree syllabus.
  • DigiJOUJOU courses

Demonstration of communication and language skills through the Language Centre’s exemption examinations

Communication and language skills acquired through means other than formal education can be substituted for communication and language studies in the degree syllabus, if the student’s skills correspond to the learning outcomes set for the studies. Non-formal and informal learning can be acquired in continuing education, training organised by the workplace, and adult education as well as in everyday situations such as work, hobbies and elected positions. Students can demonstrate their communication and language skills as required in the degree syllabus through the Language Centre’s exemption examinations as follows:

  • In the foreign languages (4 cr) in which the Language Centre offers teaching (Arabic, English, Spanish, Italian, Chinese, Danish, French, German, Russian, Estonian)
  • In the second national language (Swedish/Finnish, 3 cr)

Inclusion in Language Centre modules of language and communication studies completed elsewhere

Language studies completed in other universities in Finland or abroad can be included in Language Centre modules (Chinese, English, Finnish as a native language, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Russian, Spanish, Swedish) upon agreement with the module coordinator.

KiVAKO/KiVANET courses completed elsewhere

Inclusion in degree of KiVAKO/KiVANET courses completed elsewhere

  • Complete an application for inclusion in Sisu. Read carefully the instructions related to applying for inclusion.
  • The application must be accompanied by a copy (certification of authenticity is not required) of the transcript of studies or link to My Studyinfo -service’s My completed studies –section and course description.

Applying for credit transfer i Sisu

  • In Sisu, credit recognition must be separately applied for in the case of each course you wish to be recognised. Read carefully the instructions related to applying for substitution.
  • The application must be accompanied by a copy (certification of authenticity is not required) of the transcript of studies, certificate or similar document, with information on the scope of the previously completed studies and, when necessary, a closer description of their content.
  • Studies completed at another institution of higher education will not be recognised as such. You must always provide a copy of the certificate awarded by the institution where the studies were completed.
  • If you did not complete a degree at the previous institution, your application must include an account (such as a copy of the course catalogue) of how the previously completed studies correspond to the compulsory language studies required for the degree in question, as well as copies of certificates. NB! For the second national language, students must also prove that the previous studies demonstrate the level of spoken (satisfactory/good) and written (satisfactory/good) proficiency which is required of personnel in bilingual public bodies as specified in the Act (424/2003) on the Knowledge of Languages Required of Personnel in Public Bodies.

Also note that if students are unable to provide sufficient information or the documents needed for credit transfer, they can demonstrate their communication and language proficiency required for degrees by taking an exemption examination in the languages offered by the Language Centre (Arabic, English, Estonian, Spanish, Italian, Chinese, French, Danish, the second national language, German and Russian). Registration for exemption examinations takes place in Sisu.

Advice and the processing of applications

  • For advice on credit transfer issues, please contact the Language Centre’s Student Services during office hours.
  • Applications are typically processed in approximately four weeks, but decisions on applications submitted between 1 June and 31 August may take longer. If the application is particularly urgent, this should be noted.

Credit transfer decision and recording of credits

  • The decision on credit transfer will be provided to you in the Sisu system. You will receive a notification of the decision under the tab “Messages”. You can also access the application under “My profile”. An approved application will be displayed in the mode "Accepted". When your application has been approved, the course will be displayed in your study plan as completed.
  • Written notice of a decision to reject an application for credit transfer will be sent to the student. A decision to reject an application for credit transfer will include the reasons for the decision and instructions for appeal. Appeals can be made according to the Regulations on Degrees and the Protection of Students’ Rights at the University of Helsinki (in Finnish).