”I want to help farmers move to more sustainable practices”
How can food production be made more sustainable? We talked to two environmental soil science students, Andrei Girz and Nelli Pitkänen, about their experiences in the Master’s Programme in Agricultural Sciences.

Who is the Master’s Programme in Agricultural Sciences for?

Pitkänen: "There are four study tracks to choose from, so it depends on what you are interested in! However, I think that having an interest in natural sciences and food production is a good start. The programme offers a multifaceted view of agriculture.

There are lots of opportunities to participate in research. I am working on my master’s thesis at the moment, which tries to find ways to reduce the amount of nitrogen that ends up in waterways. I am doing my thesis in collaboration with a PhD student, and my project is funded by a biochar company."

Girz: "The programme is great for people who want to pursue an academic career or wish to get an in-depth view of agriculture. The programme allows you to build your personal study plan according to your interests. In addition to taking courses in agriculture, you could for example incorporate language classes in your degree. I am studying Finnish because I plan to stay in Finland after graduating."

What is the most inspiring thing about your studies?

Girz: "Having the opportunity to learn from highly skilled people. The programme has given me new perspectives. I want to work as an agricultural advisor and help farmers incorporate more environmentally friendly practices for cultivation. I am passionate about regenerative agriculture and helping farmers move away from heavy fertilization and pesticides."

Pitkänen: "It has been interesting to learn how food production can be made more sustainable and efficient. The lecturers are also very inspiring. They help you find what you are most interested in and really care about the wellbeing of the students."

What is it like to study and live in Helsinki?

Pitkänen: "The atmosphere in the programme is great. I am active in student sports, and there are frequent practices that you can attend. I have participated in futsal, floorball, and basketball training, for example. The student culture is very lively."

Girz: "I have found great opportunities. I did an internship at the Finnish Environment Institute, which gave me the chance to work with prominent people in the field of regenerative and organic agriculture in Finland.

There are many student organisations at the university which are a good way to meet people. I am a board member of the student division of the Finnish soil society. We organise lots of different kinds of events for students."

About the programme

In the Master’s Programme in Agricultural Sciences, you can pursue studies in agrotechnology, animal science, environmental soil science, or plant production sciences. The University of Helsinki is the only university in Finland to offer academic education in this field.