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FINLAND - ISEP Abo Akedemi University - Abo Campus

Finland is known for its unspoiled natural scenery, vast areas of lakes and forests, saunas and the midnight sun as well as for clean modern cities showcasing great architecture and design and a rich variety of cultural activities. A world leader in technology (think Nokia cell phones), Finland has one of the highest standards of living in the world. You couldn’t ask for more in a study abroad destination!


  • The OECD ranks Finland’s education system as #1 in the world. Its highly developed university system offers a wide range of courses in English for international and Finnish students.
  • Support for students who wish to pursue internships is offered at most sites.
  • Coordinators in Finland are especially supportive of international students and arrange for interesting orientations.
  • Upon arrival, all students have access to a Finnish Friend who can help them integrate at the university.
  • A Friendship Family Program enables students to experience the culture off-campus.

The Åbo campus is the main campus at Åbo Akademi University and offers a variety of academic fields including the Arts, Social and Political Sciences, Natural Sciences and Technology. It is situated within walking distance from the city center and offers a wide range of student activities for both Finnish and international students. The campus is relatively small which creates a close-knit, familiar atmosphere.

This program would be suitable for students that are ready to be abroad, but would still like some of the academic services that a U.S. college provides.  It is a good choice for someone that is a world traveler OR has never left their hometown.

Learn More about Abo Akademi University: Abo Campus here!  Read the ISEP Country Handbook to learn more about visa requirements, educational system, and culture.

Experiences of Former Students


“Studying at USP gave me the opportunity to interact with so many people from incredibly diverse backgrounds, and I will never forget the adventures I went on during my time in Fiji”. 

Jess Deleconio, Spring 2012 student from Roanoke College

To be eligible to participate in this program, students must meet the following requirements:

  • Good academic and judicial standing during time of application AND time of participation in program
  • Undergraduates must have completed at least two semesters of study at Lake Forest College AND have junior status or higher before participation. 
  • At least 18 years of age by the program’s departure date. 
  • Be able to stay at the host program for the duration of the semester, including through the exam and travel periods
  • Minimum GPA of 2.75.  

Students applying to ISEP must apply for an Exchange option (in any country) as a first choice but may apply to a Direct option as a back-up. Direct options may have an additional cost (see a financial section for more information).


Åbo (Turku in Finnish) is a bilingual city of approximately 180 000 inhabitants situated on the southwest coast of Finland, right at the mouth of the Aura river which cuts through the city. It is the oldest university town in Finland and was the capital of Finland until 1812. In addition to Åbo Akademi University, there are many other higher education institutions such as the University of Turku and Turku University of Applied Sciences, which means it is a lively student town. The city offers a wide variety of cultural experiences, such as museums and music, dance and theater events, as well as sports activities. 

Åbo/Turku offers great opportunities to explore the rest of Finland, e.g. the archipelago, the capital Helsinki (located 160 km east of Åbo), Lapland (excursions are organized by international student organizations for example) or St. Petersburg (5.5 hours by train).


The Åbo campus is the main campus at Åbo Akademi University and offers a variety of academic fields including the Arts, Social and Political Sciences, Natural Sciences and Technology. 

The academic year runs from early September to late May. Åbo Akademi University uses a two-term system with four teaching periods (two in each term). 
Fall semester: Period 1 - Early September to Late October, Period 2 - Late October to Late December 
Spring semester: Period 3 - Early January to Early March, Period 4 - Middle of March to the end of May 

Course assessment usually consists of written essays and/or assignments, lecture attendance, and/or a written exam at the end of the course. This, however, varies greatly between subjects. Please check the course description for individual courses for exact information. Examinations are held throughout the year as some courses only run for a few weeks. 

Students are expected to enroll in approximately 6 classes (of 5 ECTS each) per term which averages to 14-16 hours in class per week. Students must complete 30 ECTS credits to earn 4 Lake Forest credits, on average. The fall semester runs for approximately 16 weeks and the spring semester runs for approximately 21 weeks. Additional time will be spent on assignments outside of class including self-study, essay writing, written assignments, etc. Some courses run for just one period whereas others run for a full term or even an academic year. 


Åbo Akademi University comprises 3 divisions and 12 departments, offering bachelor, master and doctoral studies: Arts, Education and Theology, Social Sciences, Natural Sciences, and Technology.



Åbo Akademi University is the only Swedish-language multidisciplinary university located outside of Sweden. It comprises 12 departments offering bachelor, master, and doctoral studies in the following divisions: Arts, Education and TheologySocial Sciences; and Natural Sciences and Technology

Åbo Akademi University offers a wide variety of programs and courses taught in English. Recommended fields of study, which offer at least 30-60 ECTS taught in English annually, are:
Business Studies/Economic Sciences
Chemical Engineering/Chemistry
English Language and Literature
Information Technologies: Computer Science, Computer Engineering, Information Systems
Law and Human Rights
Political Sciences
Social Sciences

Other fields of study that offer around 20 ECTS taught in English annually are:
Environmental Studies (interdisciplinary)
Intercultural Communication
Visual Studies
Women’s Studies

For a complete list of courses in English, please see: Courses taught in English for exchange students

In addition to the courses offered at Åbo Akademi University, it is also possible to take courses at the University of Turku.

Academic Environment and Teaching Style

For the courses at the Abo Akademi University - Abo Campus, please understand that the academic system is quite different. Classes are usually lecture-based, instead of discussion or group work. Classes are often much larger than those found at Lake Forest College. Grades are based heavily, at times almost entirely, on one end-of-term exam, though some courses will also offer a midterm.  Professors are often more formal than those in the United States.

All courses/modules may have prerequisites.  Some departments may have limitations on numbers of courses that can be taken within or outside it.  Be aware of these limitations.


Language Courses: Beginner- to intermediate-level Swedish and Finnish available. Prior knowledge of Swedish or Finnish is not required. The number of contact hours per week/course is 4 hours, and the courses run for a whole term.

Please review the ISEP country handbook for more information on the education system. 

Student Life


The orientation program covers registration, the study system, introduction to computers and library resources, tours of the university area and town, Finnish history and society, health care, the student union, student life, registration for language courses, academic advising sessions, etc. Please see Exchange Student Information for details and program. 

Åbo Akademi runs a student tutor system for incoming ISEP students. Students arriving on the official arrival dates, and who have notified the International Office of their time and place of arrival in Åbo preferably two weeks before their arrival, will be met by a tutor at the indicated time and place of arrival in Åbo. Please complete a pickup request form or email your arrival information prior to arrival. If arriving outside of the official arrival dates, pick-up cannot be guaranteed.


There are a number of student organizations at the university that international students are also welcome to join. Almost every subject/department has its own student organization, and there are also various sports clubs and organizations for different types of interests. They organize excursions, parties, sports activities, competitions etc. The student union also plans events for their members. Students can also use the gym on campus, take part in different classes like Zumba, Pilates, and salsa, or use the facilities of other gyms in town for a small fee or for a reduced price. The Erasmus Student Network (ESN) organizes trips and other events for international students. For example, they organize several trips to Lapland every year, and have also made excursions to the Åland Islands; Stockholm, Sweden; as well as St. Petersburg (and Moscow), Russia. 

The international students at Åbo Akademi University will all be assigned a trained student tutor, a Finnish student of the university, who can help with practical matters during the exchange period. The student tutor will meet the exchange students upon arrival and arrange meetings with his/her tutor group regularly. The universities in the Åbo/Turku region also have a joint buddy project, the Friendship program, which matches Finnish families and individuals with international students.

Housing and Meals

ISEP Exchange students receive a housing stipend to pay for single rooms within shared student apartments off campus. The Student Village Foundation of Turku offers several housing options. Please see here for more information. All rooms have bathrooms and access to cooking and laundry facilities. Students are provided with a monthly stipend for meals. 

Financial Information

For all approved programs for guaranteed financial aid transferability, students pay their Lake Forest College tuition plus a program fee. The program fee for a semester with the ISEP Exchange includes orientation, on-site director, college fees, housing, and the equivalent of 19/meals per week.  

Here is an estimated budget for the Fall 2018/Spring 2019 programs:

Budget Item


Lake Forest College Tuition


Program fee (estimated)

Note: Spring may have added cost


Total Expected Billed by Lake Forest College


ISEP Fee due on Stage 2 Application


ISEP-required health and repatriation insurance (estimated, $90/mo)

Note: Some countries require national insurance. Check ISEP


Additional Meals


Estimated Airfare

*Students placed on ISEP Exchange may be eligible for up to $750 airfare award


Estimated Personal Expenses (passport, visas, immunizations, textbooks, supplies, personal expenses, additional national insurance if required, travel insurance, additional travel etc.)


Total Out-of-Pocket Expenses




Tuition rates and program fees are subject to change each year, but this information was up-to-date as of January 2018. We will notify applicants, and update this page if the program fee or other estimates change.

You can discuss with Financial Aid your specific aid package and your expected family contribution.

Keep in mind that you may spend more or less in certain areas like personal expenses, travel, meals, or airfare, depending on exchange rates and your own spending habits. Classroom or lab fees are not included in this estimate and will depend on your course registration choices.  

Don’t forget to apply for scholarships! A great listing can be found here.  

  • Contact:

    For Questions About the Initial Application Process:

    Alexandra Olson
    Coordinator of the Global Engagement Office