How to become a subject teacher in Finland?

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University of Turku’s slogan is ‘free people’s gift to free science’. The university was founded with the help of over 22 000 donors in 1920, a few years after Finland’s independence in 1917.

Hello world! In order to become a subject teacher in Finland one needs to take an entrance exam, which commonly is a two-phased interview. You can take the entrance exam after you have become a student in an university and studied at least 50 credits or even after you have finished your studies. Further, every subject teacher in Finland has a Master’s Degree (or should have these days). Eventually, a subject teacher will be granted the competence to teach one or more subjects in various school levels, from primary school until University of Applied Sciences. University teaching has its own set of studies, in which one needs to apply separately.

Each university has their own process for the entrance exams, which differ slightly. In the University of Helsinki for instance if the amount of applicants exceeds a particular subject’s quota by 1.5 times there is a advance screening phase. Applicants are then reviewed based on the amount of credits they have. Thus, only certain applicants are called in for the interview. On the other hand, in the University of Turku there exists no such phase. Eligible applicants are publicly announced (online and on notice board), even though they aren’t called in individually for the entrance exam.

One thing of note is that if you don’t study or haven’t studied the exact subject (e.g. history) you might still be eligible to apply. You just need a Certificate of Equivalency from a university which means that your studies equate the one you’re applying to. Also if you plan to teach in different school levels, such as in senior high school, you need to have at least two subjects to teach and at least 120 credits worth of studies in one subject.

International students may also apply. You need to have good skills in Finnish, be a student of a Finnish university and have a right to study a Master’s Degree (Master’s Degree Programmes excluded). One may wonder whether ‘good skills’ in Finnish should be necessary if you would teach English in senior high school. Perhaps the requirements will change in the future?

The actual interview consists of 2-3 educational experts who review each applicant first in a group and then individually. Criteria include motivation, interaction skills and developability. Both phases last about 10-15 minutes.

After a successful entrance exam one is admitted to study Pedagogical Studies, which grant you the right to teach. These studies last one academic year. I’ll discuss more about them in future posts! If you’ve got questions or comments, please share them.

*Update on 23rd of April, 2017*
After further research I discovered there is at least one English pedagogical study programme in Finland. It’s in the University of Helsinki and called STEP (Subject Teacher Study Programme in English). Requirements include that you must have ‘good skills’ in English, a Master’s Degree and completed at least 60 credits of basic and intermediate studies in subjects found below.
It gives one the right to become a subject teacher in comprehensive and upper-secondary schools / senior high schools in Finland.
You can become a subject teacher in the following:
English, German, Italian, French, Spanish, and Swedish (as the other domestic or foreign language), Mathematics, Physics and Chemistry.
More info: https://www.helsinki.fi/en/studying/how-to-apply/non-degree-programmes-for-teacher-qualifications

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