Class Teacher Education Craft Studies and Craft Teacher Education Home Economics and Home Economics Teacher Education Kindergarten Teacher and Early Childhood Education Special Education Subject Teacher Education Contact Information

Department of Teacher Education
PO Box 9 (Siltavuorenpenger 5)
FI-00014 University of Helsinki

Home Economics and Home Economics teacher education,
Craft Science and Textiles teacher education

PO Box 8 (Siltavuorenpenger 10)
FI-00014 University of Helsinki

Special education
PO Box 9 (Siltavuorenpenger 3 A)
FI-00014 University of Helsinki

Centre for Educational Assessment
PO Box 9 (Siltavuorenpenger 3 A)
FI-00014 University of Helsinki

tel. +358 294 1911 (switchboard)
fax +358 2941 29611

Special education


Research in special education studies education, family and the world of work from a specific perspective. On the one hand, it is a question of how general educational or counselling duties are carried out with special means when normal means have proved insufficient; the development of a child or a pupil seems to stall, does not progress or even regresses. In these cases, it is necessary to find a means to overcome the barriers that are impeding learning or teaching. On the other hand, the focus is on how expertise in special education can be applied to individual cases. How adoption of language, communication, mathematics or thinking can be promoted when the state of development of the learner is unusual and complex. Special education aims to find the means to support the learner in developmental challenges on an individual basis.

Special education as a major subject
Graduates in special education are experts in special education and special needs education. At the department, it is possible to complete a Bachelor of Arts (Education) degree (180 ECTS) and a Master of Arts (Education) degree (120 ECTS) with a major in special education. The Master of Arts (Education) degree is also a qualification for scientific postgraduate studies in special education. The studies focus on the development and deviations in it, recognition and diagnostics of development and learning abilities, planning and implementation of intervention and other teaching, as well as the part played by home, school and the rest of society in the development and schooling of a child.

The central professional areas are early education, basic education, secondary education, rehabilitation and other institutional care as well as different research and administrative tasks in school, health and social services  

Special education offers two degree programme alternatives:
1) Expertise: students complete their Bachelor’s or Master’s degrees with special education as their major subject. They receive the competence and qualification for professional tasks requiring expertise in special education but they do not receive actual qualification for working as a special education teacher. Students can include teachers’ pedagogical studies focused on adult education as an option in their degrees. The right to pedagogical studies is conferred through an aptitude test.  

Experts of special education may work in planning and expert duties, for example, in organisations, research institutes, public administration, hospitals or rehabilitation centres. Ammattinimikkeenä voi olla esimerkiksi palveluneuvoja tai -ohjaaja, projekti- tai kehittämispäällikkö, koordinaattori, kuntoutusohjaaja, erityisasiantuntija tai vaikkapa sivistystoimenjohtaja.
2) Special education teacher orientation: students complete their Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees so that they include studies required for the special education teacher’s qualification (Decree 986/1998 Section 8, subsection 1). Compulsory studies required for the qualification of special education teacher are studies providing professional competence for special education (special education teacher studies) and teachers’ pedagogical studies that are oriented on basic education. In addition, the students complete mother tongue and mathematics didactic studies that support special education. The right to special education teacher studies is conferred through an aptitude test. The aptitude test and selection for special education orientation is organised annually within the department, and students already studying special education are entitled to participate in the selection process.
An entrance examination for special education (special education as major) is organised annually at the beginning of June. The application period ends at the end of April (see "opiskelijavalinnat" (in Finnish) on the Faculty of Behavioural Sciences website). Approximately 20 students are selected for major subject studies each year.  
Special education as a minor subject
Students completing their first or postgraduate degree at the University of Helsinki may take special education basic (25 ECTS), intermediate (35 ECTS) or advanced studies (40 ECTS) as a minor subject. A person who is not a first degree student at the University of Helsinki may apply to pursue non-degree studies from the Faculty of Behavioural Sciences and complete intermediate and advanced studies in special education as non-degree studies. Students at other Finnish higher education institutions can also apply through the so-called JOO agreement (for more information, see

The right to pursue basic, intermediate or advanced studies in special education is conferred on the basis of a preliminary test organised in May. A student can only apply for one study module at a time. A preliminary test will be organised for everyone applying for the right to pursue minor subject studies. The application period for minor subject and non-degree studies ends on 30 April every year, so it is only possible to apply for the right to pursue the studies once a year.

Non-degree special education teacher studies
The aim of the non-degree special education studies is to give the student professional and formal competence for duties in basic, pre-primary and early education in particular. The competences are determined on the basis of the student’s first degree and other teacher competence. The extent of the studies is 60 ECTS. The studies have been planned so that it is possible to complete them in one academic year. Approximately 80 students are selected for the education each year.
There are three different applicant groups for the non-degree special education teacher studies:  
- Non-degree special education class teacher studies (ELO) 
- Non-degree special education teacher studies (EO) 
- Non-degree early education teacher studies (VEO)

The Faculty of Behavioural Sciences makes its decision on the application requirements during the autumn term. The basic requirement thus far has been a degree providing a qualification for class teacher duties or a Master’s degree and teachers’ pedagogical studies, or a kindergarten teacher degree/Bachelor of Arts (Education) degree. In addition, two years’ full-time teaching experience has been required of all applicants. The application period usually ends in mid-January, see the up-to-date application data and application procedure on the Faculty’s page (in Finnish).