Finland is consistently ranked by several different organizations, amongst them the UN, as the top in student’s education, well-being and even overall human development rankings. These factors make pursuing higher education in Finland equally appealing. Why? Because in a country that is highly ranked for human development indices like life expectancy, and GDP per capita, and world happiness, the standard of living is most likely to be good for students as well. This is an important consideration for architecture students who often experience enormous stress within the studio culture which dominates most curriculums.
At Tampere University of Technology, not only can students benefit from a high standard of living, but they can also pursue a degree, conducted entirely in English, at all three degree levels: Bachelor’s, Master’s, and Doctoral. Within those degree levels, the major areas span the range of practice-oriented architecture curriculums to those focused on theory and research. Focuses include Architecture, Architectural Construction, Architectural Design, Architectural and Urban Research, History of Architecture, Housing Design, Urban Planning and Design and Theory of Urban Planning and Design.
The Master’s program is 120 credits over two years. The first year is comprised of foundational courses while the second year is anchored by a design studio, which ends with the thesis. One can then embark immediately upon a career in architecture practice, or one can pursue a Ph.D., which at Tampere is an additional four years with study areas in History and Theory, Architectural Design, and Urban Planning and Design.
Upon graduation students can either steep themselves immediately into practice or they can continue their careers in academia by pursuing a Ph.D. For those interested in practice, each are immediately eligible “to work as an architect in Finland and other EU countries.” This is of course contingent on the additional requirements of individual countries, but the program complies with the 2005/36/EC EU Directive which specifies qualifications for professional and graduate degrees.
Even more interesting is that students are not required to pay tuition. Instead, students are responsible for a Student Union membership fee that is €95, though that is optional if you are pursuing either a Master’s or Ph.D. The main expenses for students, both foreign and domestic, revolve around living expenses—accommodation, food, transportation, and academic supplies—the school estimates these total around €1000 a month. And while there is no financial aid for international students at the Bachelor’s and Master’s levels, there are fellowships available for students pursuing Ph.D.’s.
Of course, depending upon where one hails from, considerations like weather are an important factor. So Tampere has made it clear what one can expect in the area around the school, namely that while it shares the same latitude as Siberia, it is warmer because of the Gulf Stream. Other issues regarding a potential student’s standard of living are also addressed, such as the overall economy, in addition to cultural considerations such as the environment.
So how do students apply and what is required? First, the application period is between December and February. There is an online application that must be completed in one sitting and then printed. Along with it, one must also show proof of a B.A. or B.S. in English. English proficiency is also a requirement. Two letters of recommendation, a passport copy and a portfolio round out the major requirements. These all need to be sent via conventional mail to the school. The requirements are similar for a doctoral program, except that one must provide proof of either an M.A. or M.S. in a relevant field.