How to make good use of your for­eign edu­ca­tion degree in Finland

Your edu­ca­tion is not auto­mat­ic­ally null and void once you cross the bor­der and apply for a luc­rat­ive job in a new coun­try. On the con­trary, a degree is and should be a valu­able asset every­where, but due to dif­fer­ent edu­ca­tion sys­tems used in most coun­tries, using a degree to your advant­age in a for­eign coun­try can often require some addi­tional hoops to get by. Here are some mat­ters to con­sider when com­ing to Finland with a lofty degree not neces­sar­ily applic­able to our edu­ca­tion sys­tem and how to make it shine as a pivotal tool in your CV arsenal!

If you have a higher edu­ca­tion degree and wish to apply for a duty requir­ing one, it may not be applic­able in Finland until it is approved by the Finnish National Agency for Education (Opetushallitus). The Finnish National Agency for Education decides if a for­eign degree is eli­gible for a duty requir­ing a higher edu­ca­tion degree or some other edu­ca­tion while also issu­ing state­ments of voca­tional exam­in­a­tions achieved abroad.

If you apply for a post or pos­i­tion in Finland with a higher edu­ca­tion degree require­ment of a cer­tain level, you will need a decision on recog­ni­tion of a higher edu­ca­tion degree as com­par­able in terms of level to a degree com­pleted in Finland. The degree obtained abroad needs to be com­pleted in full and it must be part of the offi­cial sys­tem of higher edu­ca­tion degrees that is in place in the coun­try in ques­tion. The level of the degree is assessed on the ground of its extent, require­ments, and ori­ent­a­tion. A higher edu­ca­tion degree com­pleted abroad can be recog­nized as com­par­able in terms of level to a

  • Bachelor’s degree com­pleted at a uni­ver­sity or a uni­ver­sity of applied sci­ences
  • Master’s degree com­pleted at a uni­ver­sity or a uni­ver­sity of applied sci­ences
  • post­gradu­ate Licentiate degree or Doctoral degree com­pleted in Finland

If you have com­pleted a voca­tional qual­i­fic­a­tion abroad, you can apply for an advis­ory state­ment from the Finnish National Agency for Education with an applic­a­tion for a fee. This state­ment describes the offi­cial status of the qual­i­fic­a­tion and the award­ing insti­tu­tion or body, the qualification’s level and extent, the pro­fes­sional rights con­ferred by the qual­i­fic­a­tion in the coun­try of ori­gin, and the con­tent of stud­ies, provided that the qual­i­fic­a­tion cer­ti­fic­ates con­tain such inform­a­tion. While the state­ment does not give eli­gib­il­ity for a pro­fes­sion or duty, it can be a great help when look­ing for a job.

Healthcare pro­fes­sion­als (i.e. phys­i­cians, dent­ists, phar­macists, psy­cho­lo­gists, nurses) are a spe­cial case, since those that have gradu­ated in Finland or abroad need to apply for licen­cing, the right to prac­tice their pro­fes­sion in Finland or right to use pro­tec­ted occu­pa­tional title from Valvira, Finland’s National Supervisory Authority for Welfare and Health. Processing times for applic­a­tions take from a min­imum of 30 work­ing days (stu­dents apply­ing for a right to study) to 3–4 months (EU/EEA Member State per­sons with a com­pleted train­ing apply­ing for the right to prac­tise their pro­fes­sion). If you are out­side the EU/EEA area, it takes at least 4 months. A fee is charged for every decision con­cern­ing pro­fes­sional rights.

As some degree pro­grams have been har­mon­ized or rendered equi­val­ent within the European Union, your pro­fes­sion may be auto­mat­ic­ally recog­nized by Valvira. If a qual­i­fic­a­tion is not recog­nized, Valvira will invest­ig­ate whether the applicant’s train­ing qual­i­fies for the same pro­fes­sion as the rel­ev­ant Finnish train­ing, con­sid­er­ing com­pens­at­ory meas­ures (pro­fi­ciency test, adjust­ment period) for the decision. Valvira will also invest­ig­ate train­ing com­pleted out­side the EU/EEA and act accord­ingly. Healthcare pro­fes­sional must also have suf­fi­cient oral and writ­ten lan­guage pro­fi­ciency for their duties. For health­care pro­fes­sion­als, more detailed inform­a­tion is avail­able here: Professional prac­tice rights — valvira englanti — Valvira.

Finally, here is a handy step-by-step ser­vice guide to help you on your way with your qual­i­fic­a­tions to be recog­nized:

Service guide for recog­ni­tion of qual­i­fic­a­tions | Finnish National Agency for Education (

Text: Juha Kuosmanen