Teacher qualifications

Teacher qualifications are provided for in Government Decree 986/1998 (amended in Government Decree 865/2005), and the relevant requirements vary at different levels of the education system. Obtaining subject teacher qualifications requires the completion of a second-cycle university degree, pedagogical studies for teachers (60 cr, to be completed at the Faculty of Educational Sciences), and studies in the school subject in question.

In order to qualify as a teacher at a general upper secondary school, you must complete at least 120 credits in one of the school subjects in question (basic, intermediate and advanced studies). In order to qualify as a teacher in basic education, you must complete at least 60 credits in one of the school subjects in question (basic and intermediate studies). On the general upper secondary level, 60 credits of studies in a second school subject in which you wish to qualify (basic and intermediate studies) are sufficient, with the exception of teacher qualifications in Finnish or Swedish language and literature, the qualification requirements for which are explained in more detail below.

Graduates who have completed the studies required for subject teacher qualifications are qualified to work as subject teachers in basic education and general upper secondary school as well as general studies teachers in vocational schools, universities of applied sciences, folk high schools, adult education centres and workers’ institutes.

Typically, students complete pedagogical studies oriented toward basic and upper secondary education, but pedagogical studies oriented toward adult education are equally valid. Pedagogical studies oriented toward adult education do not require students to major in the discipline they wish to teach. The pedagogical studies for teachers and qualifications in further subjects can also be completed after graduation.

The school subjects available to Faculty of Arts students wishing to obtain teaching qualifications include ethics, English, Spanish, philosophy, history, Italian, Japanese, Chinese, Latin, Swedish language and literature for native speakers, Portuguese, Swedish for non-native speakers, French, German, religion (Evangelical Lutheran, Islam), Russian, Estonian, Finnish language and literature for native speakers/Finnish as a second and foreign language.

Further details about the above school subjects and the degree programmes (launched 1 August 2017) in which they are offered can be found in Finnish on the Instructions for Students website. NB! In the new degree programmes, it will not be possible to combine, for example, translation studies with the studies in education required of teachers.

For more information on school subjects for prospective teachers, grouped according to the previous major subjects, see the below list (major subjects providing teaching qualifications, the school subject in parenthesis):

  • English philology/English translation (English)
  • Spanish philology (Spanish)
  • Philosophy in the Swedish-language study programme/Theoretical philosophy (philosophy)
  • Germanic philology/Translation of German (German)
  • History in the Swedish-language study programme/Finnish and Nordic history/General history (history)
  • Italian philology (Italian)
  • Latin language and Roman literature (Latin)
  • Nordiska språk, svenska som modersmålet and nordisk litteratur/Comparative literature (modersmålet och litteraturen)
  • Scandinavian languages, Swedish as a second national language/Swedish translation studies (Swedish as a second national language)
  • French philology (French)
  • Finnish language/Finnish language and culture/Finno-Ugric languages and cultures in the general linguistics programme and Finnish literature/Comparative literature and studies in spoken communication (10 cr) (Finnish language and literature, Finnish as a second language, Finnish as a foreign language)
  • Finnish language and Finnish literature/Comparative literature (finska, i.e., Finnish as a second national language)
  • Study of religions including the required theological studies or studies in the subject teacher study programme in minority religions (Evangelical Lutheran religion or minority religions such as Islam or Buddhism)
  • Russian language and literature/Translation of Russian (Russian)

Some of these studies involve further details or supplementary studies, further information about which can be found below.

The Faculty of Arts awards teacher qualifications also in the school subjects listed below. However, these subjects are thus far not included in the pedagogical studies oriented toward basic and upper secondary education. Students wishing to qualify as teachers in the following subjects must complete the pedagogical studies oriented toward adult education.

  • Asian studies and East Asian studies (Chinese, Japanese)
  • Finno-Ugric languages and cultures, Estonian language and culture (Estonian)
  • Portuguese philology (Portuguese)

NB! Teacher qualifications in the subjects listed above may be awarded if the studies have been completed in accordance with degree requirements that entered into force in or after the academic year 2014‒2015. If you have completed studies in one of these disciplines in accordance with previous degree requirements and you wish to get an equivalency certificate, the validity of the completed studies will be assessed on a case-by-case basis. You may be required to complete supplementary studies in order for the teacher qualifications to be awarded.

Teacher qualifications for students of translation-related disciplines

Students in the translation-related study programmes should complete supplementary studies in the equivalent philological discipline to meet the criteria for teacher qualifications. For further information and instructions on the supplementary studies, please contact the Metsätalo Student Services.

Teacher qualifications in Finnish language and literature as well as Finnish as a second and foreign language

Teacher qualifications in Finnish language and literature require studies in Finnish and a literature-related discipline (basic and intermediate studies in both for basic education as well as advanced studies in either for upper secondary education) as well as studies in spoken communication (10 cr). The same requirements apply to teacher qualifications in Finnish as a second and foreign language. If you wish to acquire teacher qualifications in these subjects after graduation, you may complete the studies in spoken communication at the Open University.

Students of Finnish language and culture wishing to qualify as a teacher of Finnish language and literature or Finnish as a second or foreign language must complete basic, intermediate and advanced studies in Finnish language and culture, basic and intermediate studies in a literature-related discipline, as well as a total of 18 (major subject students) or 28 (minor subject students) credits of studies in the Finnish language, including the aforementioned studies in spoken communication. Further information is available from the Metsätalo Student Services.

Students of Finno-Ugric languages and cultures in the general linguistics study programme may also qualify as teachers of Finnish language and literature by completing basic, intermediate and advanced studies in their major subject, 19 credits of studies in the Finnish language, as well as study modules in spoken communication and literature. NB! Teacher qualifications may be awarded if the studies are completed in accordance with degree requirements that entered into force in or after the academic year 2014‒2015. If you have completed the studies in accordance with previous degree requirements and you wish to get an equivalency certificate, the validity of the completed studies will be assessed on a case-by-case basis. You may be required to complete supplementary studies in order for the teacher qualifications to be awarded.

Teacher qualifications in modersmålet och litteraturen

In the case of teacher qualifications in modersmålet och litteraturen, the required studies in spoken communication are included in the basic and intermediate studies in Scandinavian languages in the study programme geared towards native Swedish-speakers.

Teacher qualifications in Finnish as a second national language (finska)

Students wishing to acquire subject teacher qualifications in finska, i.e., Finnish as a second national language, must complete the appropriate studies in Finnish as well as basic studies in a literature-related subject.

Applicants for a equivalency certificate based on a degree completed in Faculty of Arts

Equivalency certificates awarded on the basis of studies completed at the Faculty of Arts, University of Helsinki

An equivalency certificate is proof that the studies completed at the University correspond with the studies required of subject teachers of the relevant subject in basic or upper secondary education. As a rule, the equivalency certificate is needed after graduation when applying for a right to complete pedagogical studies for teachers as non-degree studies or after completing studies in a new subject you wish to teach.

The Faculty of Arts awards equivalency certificates in the subjects listed above, provided that the studies were completed at the Faculty. If some of the studies were completed at another university and the information is not registered in the Student Register of the University of Helsinki, you must enclose copies of the relevant transcripts of studies with your application. However, the latest study module must always be completed at the University of Helsinki.

Equivalency certificates are applied for using a form designed for the purpose: Application for an equivalency certificate

The equivalency certificate is subject to a fee of 126 euros. The fee is based on the Government decree on fees for University services (1082/2009). The fee must be paid in advance, but only after the studies have been verified to comply with the qualification requirements. After submitting the application and receiving confirmation from the academic affairs officer that the equivalencies are in order, pay the fee to one of the accounts below using the reference number 991 08120:

  • Nordea FI2316603000077720 (SWIFT: NDEAFIHH)
  • OKO FI5850000120377832 (SWIFT: OKOYFIHH)
  • Danske Bank FI8380001000046475 (SWIFT: DABAFIHH)

The fee is payable to the University of Helsinki. Present a receipt of the payment upon retrieving the equivalency certificate at the Student Services of the Faculty, or if you wish to have the certificate mailed to you, email a scanned copy of the receipt to the academic affairs officer. The fee is non-refundable.

The equivalency certificate can be picked up within two to three weeks of submitting the application and receiving the confirmation (with the exception of summer and Christmas).

Applicants for a certificate of equivalence based on a degree completed outside Finland

Applicants for a certificate of equivalence based on studies completed outside Finland should note that the processing time for applications is usually several weeks (typically three to six). If the student is applying for, say, STEP (Subject Teacher Education Programme) studies, he or she should allow sufficient time for the certificate application to be processed.

The student should also note that receiving the actual equivalence certificate is likely to require the completion of supplementary studies in the relevant discipline. In that case, the student will be provided with a statement on the studies he or she must complete to obtain the equivalence certificate. Based on this statement, the student cannot yet apply for the right to complete, for example, STEP studies, but rather must first complete the supplementary studies and then obtain the actual equivalence certificate.

If supplementary studies are required, the student can apply to the Faculty of Arts for the right to complete non-degree studies. The application process for non-degree studies takes place once a year, typically ending in March.

Applicants for an equivalence certificate based on a degree completed outside Finland must submit the following documents to the Faculty’s Student Services:

  • A copy of the degree diploma(s)
  • A copy of the transcript of studies or other lists of courses completed
  • Descriptions of courses completed (the more detailed, the better)
  • If necessary, translations of the above documents

It should also be noted that a comparability decision from the Finnish National Board of Education is likely to be needed for a degree completed outside Finland.

Equivalency certificates are applied for using a form designed for the purpose: Application for an equivalency certificate

The equivalency certificate is subject to a fee of 126 euros. The fee is based on the Government decree on fees for University services (1082/2009). The fee must be paid in advance, but only after the studies have been verified to comply with the qualification requirements. After submitting the application and receiving confirmation from the academic affairs officer that the equivalencies are in order, pay the fee to one of the accounts below using the reference number 991 08120:

  • Nordea FI2316603000077720 (SWIFT: NDEAFIHH)
  • OKO FI5850000120377832 (SWIFT: OKOYFIHH)
  • Danske Bank FI8380001000046475 (SWIFT: DABAFIHH)

The fee is payable to the University of Helsinki. Present a receipt of the payment upon retrieving the equivalency certificate at the Student Services of the Faculty, or if you wish to have the certificate mailed to you, email a scanned copy of the receipt to the academic affairs officer. The fee is non-refundable.