Record number of applications – 7,400 – to the international master’s programmes of the University of Helsinki

The number of applications has grown fivefold in five years. The most popular degree programmes were the Master's Programme in Data Science and the Master's Programme in Environmental Change and Global Sustainability.

A total of 7,401 applications were received in the international master’s programme application round of the University of Helsinki, an increase of 58% from the previous year. The number of applications has now increased over four consecutive years to almost five times what it was in 2017. The application round ended on 15 January 2021.

“International applicants increasingly find the University of Helsinki an attractive institution of higher education. We are extremely happy about and grateful for this. It’s wonderful that neither the coronavirus pandemic nor Brexit has reduced our applicant numbers,” says Director of Development Susanna Niinistö-Sivuranta from Teaching and Learning Services.

The most popular programme was the Master’s Programme in Data Science, with a total of 573 applications. The Master’s Programme in Environmental Change and Global Sustainability was in second place with 532 applications, while the Master’s Programme in Computer Science was third with 490 applications.

Percentage-wise, the Master’s Programme in Particle Physics and Astrophysical Sciences achieved the largest increase in popularity with 100 applications, a rise of 113% from last year. The second-highest increase in applicant numbers in terms of percentages was attained by the Master's Programme in English Studies with 251 applications, an increase of almost 100%.

Applications from 150 countries

Applications were received from 150 countries (128 in 2020). After Finland, the most applications were submitted from Pakistan (424), China (376) and India (374). In terms of percentages, Tunisian applicants increased their share the most. Finnish applicants accounted for 19.5% (24% in 2020) of all applicants.

The percentage of applicants subject to a tuition fee, or non-EU and non-EEA applicants, was 68% (62% in 2020). From among the applicants subject to a tuition fee, 87% also applied for a grant.

In this application round, applications were also accepted to the only English-language bachelor’s programme at the University of Helsinki, the Bachelor's Programme in Science. Additional applications to this programme will be received at a later date in the second application round in March. During this round, the programme received 156 applications, 13 more than last year.

Increasingly smooth application process

In 2020 the application system for international master’s programmes was redesigned, including clarifications to the application form both in terms of functionality and appearance. At the same time, the instructions provided in the form were supplemented. The new features also simplify the processing of applications and related attachments at the University’s Admission Services.

“The reform was aimed at making the application process even more simple and smooth. In fact, the number of enquiries and uncertainties associated with the functioning of the system dropped from previous years, making the reform a success at least on that front,” Head of Admissions Riitta Heinsalo says.

Decisions on admissions and grants will be made by mid-April, after which the admitted applicants will notify the University whether they wish to accept the offered student place. Their studies will begin in autumn 2021.

More detailed information about applicant figures is available here

Read more about studying at the University of Helsinki

Further information:

Riitta Heinsalo, head of admissions,
email:, phone: +358 50 448 9959