What are exchange studies?
- Exchange studies are integrated in your degree at Aalto University.
- The duration of the exchange is from 3 months to 12 months. You can go on exchange for a semester (all schools) or an academic year (ARTS, CHEM, ELEC, ENG, SCI).
- It is recommended to take courses for your minor or elective studies. It may be possible to take courses for your major as well, provided you find equivalent courses at the host university and your programme approves.
- In most of Aalto’s programmes, you can go on exchange during both Bachelor and Master’s studies. Please check the best time for exchange studies with your study programme.
- While abroad, you will study full time and advance in your studies as planned. Exchange studies should not delay your graduation.
- Please check more details from your School’s information below.
Planning the exchange
Start planning the exchange well in advance. This will give you time to consider your destination carefully and acquire the needed language skills and possible language certificates.
Things to consider: what university has the most interesting courses? Which language skills would advance your career? Would you prefer to immerse yourself in the culture of a faraway land, or strengthen your experience of Europe? And where are the best possibilities for networking or hobbies?
Choose a host university that has lots of suitable courses. In case you cannot access all the planned courses, you will have others to choose from.
Please ensure that you can integrate all the courses in your Aalto degree!
By careful planning, you will ensure smooth credit transfer after your return. In order to receive the exchange study grant, you should perform your studies as planned.
When applying for exchange, you need to prove you can follow the teaching at your host university. The studying language depends of the destination. In many host universities you can study in English. However, there are also universities that only provide education in the local language and universities that require elementary skills in the local language also when studying in English. Proving the language skills depends on the requirements of the host university. In case you intend to study in two languages, you will need to provide a certificate for each language.
For most universities, a language certificate provided by Aalto will suffice. Other universities demand an official language test, e.g. IELTS or TOEFL. You will need to take these tests by outside providers at your own expense. You should plan ahead for the language tests, as they are only available at certain times, and delivering the certificate might take time as well. If you have already done an official language test, you can use the certificate as long as it is still valid.
When to apply
Students studying at Aalto School of Arts and Design BSc, MSc and PhD level degree programmes can apply for student exchange abroad to ARTS destinations, or free mover destinations, for 1 -2 semesters, after completing at least one semester of studies at ARTS. Applicants have to be registered as attending at ARTS, during the application round.
Architecture and landscape architecture students can apply for student exchange only on master and doctoral level, after completing their first year of studies at ARTS.
The duration of the exchange is normally 3-12 months (excluding trimester based destinations where the minimum duration can be less than 3 months).
Before applying, discuss with your degree programme's professor, teacher tutor or study coordinator what would be a recommended timing for your exchange, what studies you can complete abroad and which institution would be a good destination for you.
How to plan your exchange studies
Studies completed during the exchange must be planned carefully before you apply and they must be approved by your degree programme. The studies must be part of your degree at Aalto and full-time. During the exchange ARTS students normally study major or elective studies suitable for your personal study plan, but it is possible to also study minor courses duting the exchange. Choose courses from the correct level (undergraduate / graduate) depending on your degree programme's level at ARTS. Before you apply, check the host institutions course offer for the semester which you are applying for, so that the courses which you wish to complete are available. If up-to-date course information is not available, use the information available from the previous corresponding semester, latest exchange reports, or contact the host institution or your ARTS Planning Officer responsible for outgoing exchange for up-to-date information. Make sure that you check in which language the courses are offered and that you choose a destination from where you can get enough credits. The recommended credit amount for studies abroad is approx. 30 ECTS/semester. Note that many destination outside Europe indicate the courses credit in the local system, not ECTS.
After you know what courses are available in your host institution, make a detailed study plan (including name, course code and credits of each course, if available) to all destination which you have chosen.
- Your study plan has to include studies worth approx. 30 ECTS/semester.
- The plan has to be written on a ARTS Exchange Study Plan form (see Planning the exchange).
- It has to be approved by your degree programme and included in Oodi.
You may also apply for an exchange to work on your thesis and final project during your exchange. However, some partner institutions want students to participate in the courses/lectures and therefore they do not accept independently working students.
Update your eHOPS before the exchange application round!
All students who apply for exchange must have the International Study Module in their personal study plan (eHOPS) already at the time of application.
Studies included in the International Study Module should be
- Primarily studies from the correct level (undergraduate/graduate)
- From economics, business administration or related field OR
- From other fields of science if supporting business studies - please validate your choices in your study plan / learning agreement
- Courses you have not yet completed for your degree
- International Study Module can also contain courses from the field of your own study program / specialization field if necessary. NB: Content must differ from the courses you complete for your study program / specialization field at Aalto
- Max. 8 ECTS local language/culture studies, min. 16 ECTS must be other than language/culture studies (NB: trimester universities!)
Exchange scholarships are tied to the amount of credits completed during the exchange period. Students are expected to complete a full-time workload at the host university regardless of what the minimum requirement of the host institution for foreign exchange students is. In Europe undergraduate students are expected to complete a minimum 30 ECTS credits for a semester and graduate students a minimum 24 ECTS. Outside Europe the full-time workload is the equivalent of 30 ECTS for undergraduate students and the equivalent of 24 ECTS for graduate students, unless the host university demands a bigger workload. In some universities where the academic year consists of trimesters, the extent can be approximately 20 ECTS or the equivalent in local credits. However, this does not apply to all universities that use trimesters. Students must commit to comply with the School of Business' requirements regarding the extent of the studies. The student is responsible for checking the course obligations at the host university as soon as the semester has begun (e.g. mandatory presence). In case the required studies are not completed regardless of good attempt (e.g. a course is cancelled), the student must be able to show written evidence of it (e.g. a note from a professor).
Transferring exchange studies into the Aalto university degree
Exchange studies are always part of the degree at Aalto University School of Business. In the learning agreement students define how they plan to include the exchange studies in their Aalto University degree. The studies are most often transferred to the degree as a minor (International Study Module). All students who apply for exchange must have International Study Module in their personal study plan (eHOPS) already at the time of application. In addition to International Study Module, students have the possibility to substitute individual courses from the study program or to include an individual course to the degree (e.g. to elective studies). However, at least 18 ECTS should be left for the International Study Module. More information on credit transfer can be found from After the exchange and from Credit Transfer.
When you can apply for student exchange
- If you're studying for a Bachelor's degree, you must have completed at least 60 credits.
- If you have been selected directly to study the Master's degree, you should have at least 25 credits registered to Aalto University transcript of records.
- Your weighted GPA should be at least 2,00.
- In order to apply for bilateral exchange outside Europe, your Academic Index should be at least 40,00.
How to calculate your Academic Index: number of credits / terms enrolled as present * weighted GPA.
Some exchange destinations are more suitable for Bachelor's degree students and some for Master’s degree students. Explore your possiblities and exchange universities via Destination Database.
If you are studying on the Bachelor level, we recommend you go on exchange during the third year. You can transfer credits to both your Bachelor and Master’s degrees, if there is space. In the Master’s phase, you should carefully ensure that all the courses can be integrated in your Aalto degree.
What you can study
During the exchange you can take courses for your minor, elective studies or major studies. It is often easier to find courses suitable for minor or elective studies. Studying an international minor is a very good option for exchange studies. For more information, please consult your programme.
Note that the exchange agreements are often made for a specific field of study (e.g. certain department or faculty) which may restrict what courses you can choose from the exchange university's offering. Also the study level (Bachelor/Master) must be taken into consideration.
Study plan requirements
You should make the study plan for 30 ECTS credits. In the Erasmus destinations, the learning agreement is made for 30 ECTS. In bilateral destinations, the number of local credits equivalent to 30 ECTS varies. Please check from the destination information for how many local credits you need to prepare your study plan.
How to prove your language skills
If you have completed an English language course at Aalto University, your School’s exchange coordinator can write the certificate. For this, you need to provide a transcript of records and notify them about the course you have completed.
If you have not completed an English language course or you need a certificate from another language, you will need to contact the Language Center. Language certificates are issued by language teachers. You should book an appointment well in advance. The language certificate will be written based on an oral test of about 10 to 15 minutes. If you need a certificate of a certain CEFR level, you need to complete an Aalto University language center course at a sufficient level.
Some partner universities require an official standardized language test, f. ex. TOEFL or IELTS. More information at the beginning of the page.
Applying for exchange in a nutshell
Choose 1–3 destinations. Please consider:
the teaching language – make sure you have sufficient skills
a study field suitable for your degree
other aspects and demands of the destination
Make a study plan for each destination.
Get an official transcript of records and a language certificate. Check if you need any other attachments.
Fill in the online application during Aalto’s application period.