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When and how should I apply?

When and how should I apply?

Many students have the feeling that it would be fun to study abroad for a while, without thinking about it in more detail. By addressing these three details, planning your exchange can start: Language, subject, and timing of your exchange.


Criteria for exchange studies

The selection criteria may vary for the different exchange programs, but specific basic criteria are the same for all programs:

  • Studies abroad must be credited within the degree at ÅA either as subject studies, advanced studies or as a minor subject. Studies that do not count as subject studies can be counted as optional studies. If the studies do not count as subject studies, approval must come from the faculty office. Preliminary study plans, approved in advance by the academic coordinator of the subject, are required at the application stage. The student is responsible for following the study plan during exchange and notifying subject supervisors of any changes to the planned studies.
  • The exchange studies should make up 30 ECTS/semester (if you complete fewer than 20 ECTS, you will have to repay the scholarship).
  • Applicants should present a certificate of language proficiency in the language of instruction at the university to which they have applied (according to specific criteria for different programs), or a plan for how to achieve sufficiently good knowledge before starting studies at the host university. Completion of language studies to level 3 from the language center is required, or according to the higher requirements from the receiving university.
  • Academic achievement at Åbo Akademi is important in the selection process. An average rate of study during the previous academic year is assumed (⁓45 ECTS/academic year).
  • Students at the master’s level, who only complete a master’s degree at ÅA, should have at least 20 credits of the master’s studies completed by the application deadline.
  • You must be registered at attending at ÅA during the exchange application, the entire exchange period and when the courses are credited.
  • Exchange studies refer to full-time studies at the foreign university for at least one semester or one academic year. Participation in Blended Intensive Programmes (BIP’s) takes place for a shorter period of time.



Going on exchange should be an opportunity for all students and we support students who need individual arrangements due to functional variations, illness or learning challenges presented in their applications for exchange studies. Top athlete status is also taken into account.


Competitive situations

The purpose of the selection criteria is to clarify what is seen as “merit” in competitive situations. The meaning of a competitive situation is when there are more applicants for exchange studies to a certain university, than the number of places that are available for ÅA students at that university/exchange program.

When evaluating applicants, a comparison of the selection criteria will be made. If, despite the points, the candidate cannot be chosen, a draw will be made. Applicants are assessed on the basis of their qualifications available at the time of application.

Credits registered by the application deadline will be counted in the basis of the assessment. In addition, the written personal motivation letter, the students’ motivation for and benefit from studying abroad, the choice of universities and the planned studies connected to the students’ education program will all be assessed.

  1. Basic points: Points for study rate at ÅA:
    • The pace of study is calculated by dividing the number of ECTS by the number of semesters of attendance (max. 60 ECTS/year is taken into account). Additional points for applicants with at least 55 credits/study year until the end of the application deadline, 2 points.
  2. Study results, max. 5 points
    • Scoring: Applicants with an average of 2.5 receive 2.5 points, an average of 3 gives 3 points, 3.5 gives 3.5 points, etc.
  3. Academic goals (study plan and letter of motivation), max. 5 points
    • Communicative ability – how well the student articulates themselves
    • Academic goals for the exchange: what does the student want to achieve with studies abroad within a degree at ÅA?
    • How well do the courses in the study plan match the academic motivation?
    • Previous experiences that prepared the student for the intended exchange
    • The desire to share and spread experiences from the exchange studies after returning home
    • The desire to represent the home university and be ÅA’s ambassador in the world
  4. Other:
    • In the case of equal points, priority is given to applicants with the fastest pace of study in combination with an average of at least 3.2 (e.g. for ISEP to North America) and a compelling motive for the student exchange (according to the above criteria).



The application for exchange is done in two steps:

Step 1:

  • You complete ÅA’s online application for exchange studies abroad. This application is made in the SoleMOVE portal. If the application meets the criteria and the vacancies available in the host university, then Åbo Akademi will nominate you for an exchange at one University.
  • As early as the first application in ÅA’s online application system, you must already have a detailed study plan created for each alternative university you are applying for exchange at. A prerequisite for receiving a scholarship is that you study full time and the equivalent to 30 ECTS / semester. If you study less than 20 ECTS per semester, you will be required to repay the scholarship.
  • Incomplete applications will not be processed.
  • Once you have been accepted to study abroad, you must apply for your scholarship in the scholarship application system SoleGRANT via our online application platform SoleMOVE (SoleGRANT can be found in the red bar at the top of the application platform). All funds are granted on equal grounds.


Step 2:

  • You should complete the host university’s own application form. After you have been nominated by Åbo Akademi to the university you applied to, you will receive information directly from the host university about which forms you will need to fill out. Applicants are responsible for the application to the host university plus all necessary insurances, visa, and residents permits which are needed for the exchange studies.
  • Applicants who will go on exchange with the exchange network ISEP, need to complete an application in SoleMove as well as in the ISEP application portal simultaneously.


Language Requirements

Where you can go on exchange usually depends on the languages you can speak. In order to study in a foreign language, you must be able to speak the language well! But you should not automatically exclude all non-English speaking countries because you can’t speak any other language that English; several countries in Europe and Asia offer courses in English.

Nevertheless, it is worthwhile acquiring good knowledge in another language other than English, since the opportunities of studying abroad increase if you can speak another language. The language center at ÅA overs high quality language courses in for example, German, Spanish and French.

Åbo Akademi has determined that students should have studied to at least level 3 in the language that they will study in during the exchange period. A CEFR certificate of the relevant language should be attached in the application. The certificate is obtained from the Language Centre. Special tests are also held and more information about test dates can be found on the Language Centre’s website.

Some universities (mainly in North America and via the ISEP network, some in the Netherlands) may require international language tests, such as IELTS or TOEFL IbT. They cost around 260 euros and are held in person in Helsinki or online via “Home Test” option. It pays to take the test already in December if you are going to do your exchange in the autumn. If you are going on an exchange the following spring, you are not in such a hurry. Info about TOEFL ibT can be found here (to find test dates, use the keywords Helsinki, Suomi), and info about IELTS can be found here.


Courses abroad

Another reason for your choice of country/university is probably what you want to study. When thinking about subjects, you should keep in mind that what you study abroad should be included in your degree at ÅA. You can e.g., specialize in a specialization that is not available at ÅA. You can also delve into a problem that is specific to a certain country or read an entire minor subject that is not available at ÅA.

To find out what to study where, you can:

  • look at the university’s website
  • talk to teachers and professors at ÅA
  • talk to students who studied the same subject abroad

Remember that studies are often structured differently abroad. The courses may be composed into larger blocks, a subject may belong to a different faculty than here at home or may not exist as an individual subject at all. The subjects may have a different orientation than at ÅA, be more theoretical or more practically emphasized. Feel free to join the Facebook group for ÅA exchange students to get in touch with older students who have experience from the same university/country!


The decision

The decision regarding nomination of exchange studies to a university and if the exchange scholarship will be granted is made by International Affairs in the application portal SoleMOVE. Decisions on admission and practical information (including accommodation) are always made by the receiving university.

Payment of the exchange scholarship takes place at the beginning of the stay abroad (August/September or December) to a Finnish bank account, provided you have applied for it in SoleGRANT (part of SoleMOVE). To have the scholarship paid into your account, you must first sign a scholarship agreement.

Only the university preferences you have in the application in SoleMove are taken into account for placement. If, in case of competition, you are not selected for the first preference university, you will be considered for the second or third. If for some reason you are not granted a study place at the first preference university you have been nominated to, you can be re-nominated to the next preference university, if there is an available place and if it is still possible to make a nomination in time. Adding new preferred universities after the application deadline is not possible.


Study period abroad

Scholarships are awarded for study stays for a semester or an entire academic year. A longer period abroad provides better opportunities to adapt to the study system and provides deeper insights into the host country. You should be aware that semesters abroad often start and end at different times than in Finland. In many European countries, the autumn semester starts at the beginning of October and ends in January, the spring semester can start in February or April and ends in June-July. It is usually easier to find a home at the exchange location in the spring term.

You follow the agreed study plan abroad and report course changes to the academic coordinator for the subject.

If you cancel or end your studies abroad, you repay the scholarship or part of it.


Force Majeure situations

There are some examples of when your exchange studies can be interrupted, and you can still keep your scholarship. For example:

  • Natural disasters, wars, and revolutions
  • Pandemic outbreak
  • If you get sick for a long time (which affects your studies).

If you fall ill for an extended period of time during your exchange, make sure you get a medical certificate from the country you are in, showing that you are unable to continue your studies. Only students who have a medical certificate will be able to keep their scholarship. Please note that it may be more difficult to obtain a medical certificate for a milder illness abroad than in Finland.


Crediting courses

A statement on how exchange courses with be credited at ÅA should be signed during the application stage by the professor, subject manager or equivalent. Credit calculation to 100% is sought. If you intend to study an entire minor subject that is not available at ÅA, it is the dean who approves the minor subject.

Remember to contact the person who signed your credit statement if there are any changes to your study plan. For credit of language skills within ÅA’s compulsory language studies, the Language Center should be contacted.

You should write an evaluation about your studies abroad in SoleMOVE after returning home.



Being rejected for exchange studies can be due to many reasons, for example that you have not submitted a complete application or due to study reasons from the faculty.

If you want to file a complaint regarding the application for exchange studies, you should first contact us on international matters: exchange@abo.fi

If you are dissatisfied with the crediting of courses, credits or credits, the same procedure is followed. Grades are recalculated according to the grading conversion tables and should not be credited as only “Passed”.

The process:

– Contact international affairs – exchange@abo.fi with your complaint

– If necessary, the complaint will be taken to the faculty and the director of studies for further investigation.

– You receive a decision on exchange studies from International Affairs and/or the faculty.


Updated 17.5.2024