There is a very active data science student community at the University of Helsinki and some of our students want to send greetings to everyone considering studies in the field.
When starting in the data science program, I was surprised how easily approachable everybody is. That made my start here in Helsinki smooth and still upholds until today. The excellent course contents are supported by instructors that encourage one to dig deeper into concepts and challenge them. This means that open discussions about the course contents are frequent here. We data scientists must constantly adapt to change, but the program prepares us for that.
However, the university is not everything, and moving to Helsinki brings more benefits than that. Find new friends and explore Finland: Spend your Saturday in a National Park close to Helsinki, holidays in Lapland, or New Year’s Eve in Sauna next to a frozen lake. I am sure that you will like it!
This data science programme was a very different experience from the two other universities I had attended before. Mostly, it is due to unique networking opportunities. There is just so much interaction between students, professors and companies. Because Helsinki is remote, but a capital, you will find any kind of sector and industry here. And if you want, you can easily gain work experience anywhere. Companies often actively approach students. But the courses are, crucially, also of very high quality. You’ll find professors take teaching and student feedback just as serious as their research. After all, Finland has a great reputation for education to live up to!
When it comes to leisure activities, opportunities are much more varied than you would expect in a city this size. Yet, Helsinki is very cosy and easy to get familiar with. The combination with the openness and relaxedness of the Finnish people is really hard to beat.
You’ll have a great time while becoming an expert in data science!
I’m one of the ‘1st generation’ students of the programme and now a happy alumna and doctoral student. You will find that the University's good reputation in AI research is well justified, and that's the one main thing that made me choose to stay here. The other main reason is, of course, Finland. Life here may change your perception of things. The University of Helsinki makes it easy to adapt to your studies and to Finland, and everyone is happy to assist you with any questions.
I arrived in Helsinki in mid-August before the start of the semester, and the very first thing I did was join some strangers in sleeping on the benches at the airport. If that's not a testament to how safe and friendly Finland is, then I don't know what is! What is more, people here are very approachable, so when you need help, ask and you shall receive. The same statements about the Finnish culture also extends to the culture at the University of Helsinki. You can be sure that you'll be welcomed into the programme with open arms, provided that you also put in the effort to meet the class cohort, which includes both the students and the professors, who are both equally friendly and eager to meet new students!
With regards to academics, the course is such that it caters to people from different academic backgrounds, and to people who have vastly different goals. My personal preference is to familiarise myself with a bit of everything within the field of Data Science. However, it is possible to be even broader and take courses from many other departments, or to go a completely different route and specialise within a particular area. It is a well-planned programme and there is definitely something for everyone. All in all, I can confidently say that you made a terrific choice when choosing this programme as part of your life path.
Since the very first moment that I arrived in Helsinki, I realized that I stumbled upon something special. This feeling started with the housing - that was both fairly priced and properly linked to the main means of transport and continued with the surprisingly straightforward way of handling the bureaucratic hassle required when moving to a new place. In short, things work here and the manner in which they do is clear, and if they somehow don't, then there is no need to panic because feedback and improvement suggestions are highly accepted, often even requested!
The same functionality and strive for constant improvement is also visible in the programme. From teachers that request feedback on the courses to them requesting suggestions for new topics for future courses. Besides the courses in themselves, the university's zeitgeist combined with the vibrant AI-related start-up scene and pop-up ML-meetings will provide the perfect opportunity for learning and honing data science skills!
When I decided to join the master's programme in data science, I was not yet fully aware of how strong Finland is in the field. As I started to get more involved in research, that quickly became more clear. In particular, I have been involved in deep learning research.
To mention a few well-regarded machine learning methods "made in Finland":
I have been abroad for conferences and internships, and when I say that I study data science at the University of Helsinki, people in the field usually get excited and mention some paper/research group from here.
Now, although a big part of our lives is studying and research, I have also been personally happy and fulfilled since I joined the programme, and one great reason for that is peer-support. I love to spend time with friends in the data science student room (a.k.a. Random Forest). I have received valuable and genuine mentorship from professors for both my career and life. I have taken courses in physics, French, Finnish, academic debates, and got to learn the most varied topics spread across the different university campuses. I’m sure you’ would enjoy being part of this community too!
The biggest opportunity that the Master’s programme in Data Science at the University of Helsinki has to offer you is diversity. In the cultural and educational backgrounds of your peers, the research opportunities available to you, and the courses and study tracks offered by the program, you will be presented with a broad and diverse set of options to learn and grow in the ways that work best for you. Whether you’re looking to gain the skills to land your dream role in the industry, dive deep into machine learning research in academia, or anything in between, this program will open all of those doors.
It was January when I first landed in Helsinki. It was cold, dark, no stars in the sky, and after more than 20 hours of flights, I was undoubtedly tired. And there, 10,000km away from home, without knowing anyone, not knowing the language and completely alone, I realized something. It feels right. From the very beginning, being here felt right. Soon, it wasn’t that cold, the darkness turned into something harmless to chit chat about, and the stars appeared in the firmament.
Finland has a lot to offer. The quality of the teaching is on point, and the potential for research, professional and personal growth is huge. An open mind and a curious attitude can take you a long way. After a year and a half, I can say it was the right call to move here. There are still a lot of things I want to experience and learn from Finland and the University of Helsinki, and I hope to have the time to do it. Join us and help us to keep growing our amazing data science community.
I thought adapting to the customs and language would prove to be a huge challenge when moving to Finland. I couldn't have been more wrong. The kindness of the people within and outside the university, along with the strong student culture has made this process very enjoyable and easy to deal with. There is a huge selection of activities for almost any kind of taste, and I have met a lot of interesting and great people in my time at the University of Helsinki.
One of my favourite things about the programme is that it is designed to fit almost any background. You can become an expert in model performance, creation, applications on Physics, Social Sciences, Economics, and more; you have the power to decide in which direction to aim your career, and there will almost certainly be someone in the university to help you with that. The staff is always eager to help, and I really feel like I'm part of the university and not just another one of the students.