Selection criteria and terms of exchange
Student exchange policy
The main content of this page concerns the application and selection process for student exchanges, the studies to be carried out in the exchange, the recognition of exchange studies as part of a degree and the student exchange grants awarded by Aalto University.
Below you will find a general summary of the terms and principles. Please check all possible details for the principles of Aalto University's international student exchange pdf-file. The file can be found from the bottom of the page in Finnish, English and Swedish.
Please read the sections below carefully so that you will know how you will be eligible for exchange and what will be required of you when applying for exchange.
The policy of student exchange concerns the exchanges of Aalto University's bachelor- and master's degree students, and in the case of the School of Arts, Design and Architecture, also doctoral students. The policy coversteh exchanges to Aalto Univeristy's partner universities, and in addition so-called free mover exchanges. The principles are followed in the International Business Program of the School of Business (Mikkeli Campus) and the CEMS Program, as applicable. Exchanges are divided by field of study (arts, business, and technology).
School-specific differences are specified in the summary. Exchange destinations may also have their own exceptions and application conditions that differ from Aalto University's policy.
- You can be awarded a maximum of one exchange place with a mobility scholarship, or a free mover scholarship during one application round. If you receive an exchange place offered by Aalto University, you will automatically be awarded an Aalto University student exchange scholarship.
- You can apply for exchange places in your field of study (arts, business, technology). If you have several degree study rights in Aalto University, you can choose which study field's exchange places you apply for. You can only apply for places of one of your study fields during one application round.
- If your previous application process is in progress, you will not be able to submit a new application for the same time period (semester / academic year).
- Your exchange study period can last either one semester, the entire academic year, or one trimester. The duration of semester exchange is 3 to 12 months (trimester exchanges may differ).
- School of Business: An exchange place can only be granted for one semester or trimester. If you have already received one exchange place, you cannot apply for another place in the School of Business' supplementary application round. As a student of the School of Business, you can complete a maximum of one exchange study period per degree; one in the Bachelor's degree and one in the M.Sc.
- School of Arts, Design and Architecture, and the schools of technology (CHEM, ELEC, ENG, SCI): The number of exchanges is not limited, but the requirements for international student exchanges, and the degree regulations must be met. The duration of the exchange is usually 3-12 months (with the exception of trimester destinations, where the duration of the exchange may be less than 3 months).
- There must be room for exchange studies in your degree, as they are part of your degree at Aalto University.
- You must be an attending student at Aalto University when applying for an exchange. You can apply for exchange or free mover scholarship as non-attending student if you have registered as absent for a statutory reason. Reasons may include, for example, the military, non-military service, parental leave, or an inability to study due to illness or injury. In this case, a certificate of the reason for your absence must be attached to your exchange application (if you have a certificate from a doctor or other confidential certificate, please do not attach it to the application, but contact the exchange coordinator of your school instead).
- If you are completing a bachelor's degree, you must have at least 30 ECTS credits registered in the Aalto University study register by the end of the application period. Your exchange can take place at the earliest in the second year of study. Please note that exchange destinatinations may have additional requirements for studies completed prior to exchange.
- If you have been selected to Aalto University to complete only master's degree (in other words, you have completed your bachelor's degree elsewhere than at Aalto University), you must have attended at least one full semester in Aalto University at the time of application. You are not required to have a certain minimum number of credits at the time of application, but you must have some credits in the student register in order to be eligible and so that academic index can be calculated for you. Your exchange can only take place in the second year of study.
- The aim for studies completed at the destination university is at least 30 ECTS / semester for a bachelor's degree and at least 24 ECTS / semester for a master's degree. In certain specified target universities where the academic year consists of trimesters (or equivalent), the aim for studies during one-trimester (or equivalent) may differ from this aim.
- School of Arts, Design and Architecture: Students enrolled during the ARTS application period Registered students may apply for an exchange during their bachelor's, master's or doctoral level studies after completing at least one semester of study at ARTS. Students of architecture and landscape architecture can participate in the exchange only during their master’s or doctoral level studies. The number of credits to be completed in a doctoral degree during a student exchange is agreed separately with the applicant's supervisor.
- Schools of Technology (CHEM, ELEC, ENG, SCI): If a single course in an exchange is credited to a bachelor's degree, the exchange is regarded as a bachelor's exchange and the exchange plan must be 30 cr. If all exchange courses are credited to a master's degree, an 24 ECTS study plan will suffice.
Minimum grade point average
As an applicant, you will be required to have the following minimum averages at the time specified in theapplication schedule:
- School of Arts, Design and Architecture: no minimum requirement
- School of Business (Otaniemi Campus): 3.00
- Schools of Technology (CHEM, ELEC, ENG, SCI): 2.00
The minimum average is checked for the studies used in the calculation of the study success index.
Required language skills
- You must indicate the level of language proficiency required by the exchange destination by the end of Aalto University's exchange application period.
- Exchange universities may have language proficiency requirements that differ from Aalto University's guidelines (e.g. official language test TOEFL / IELTS), which you must follow. Required language certificate must be provided by the end of Aalto University's exchange application period. However, if the exchange is planned to start later than in the next semester following the application round (in other words, if you e.g. apply for spring term during January application round), you may provide the language certificate later. However, in this case your possible selection will be conditional, and those students who provide the required certificate by the end of the application period are prioritized in the selections.
- You can read more about language proficiency requirements and how prove your language proficiency in the exchange application instructions page.
Other possible requirements
- If the destination university or a mobility program with external funding have special requirements such as language skills, degree level, minimum number of credits, study background, academic success, age, work experience, citizenship, etc., you must also meet those requirements in order to be selected by Aalto University as an applicant to the destination.
- Aalto University publishes the exact deadlines for applying for student exchange annually.
- Aalto University selects applicants to destinations and announces the results to the applicants.
- If you do not want to accept the exchange place offered to you, inform your school by the given deadline, following the instructions you will receive from your Aalto school.
- Aalto University informs your exchange destination that you have been selected as candidate for the exchange (this is called ‘nomination’).
- You must apply to the exchange destination according to their schedule and instructions given to you.
- The exchange destination makes the final decision on whether you will be accepted or rejected as an exchange student.
- The exchange places that are available to applicants are published by the beginning of the application period.
- You may apply to a certain number of exchange places in a binding order of preference. The amount of places you may apply to depends on your study field. See more details from Application instructions -page.
- If you cannot be selected to any of the exchange places you apply to, you may be offered an addition "wild card" destination, if you have indicated in your application that you want to be offered one.
- School of Arts, Design and Architecture: The exchanges are defined as bachelor’s (‘undergraduate’), master’s (‘graduate’) or doctoral level (‘PhD’) exchanges. Student pursuing a bachelor’s degree apply to bachelor’s level exchanges, master’s students to master’s level exchanges, and doctoral students to doctoral level exchanges. In some separately mentioned partner destinations, master’s students complete their exchange studies at the undergraduate level (third- and fourth-year studies), if the destination does not offer master’s level studies.
- School of Business: The exchanges that BIZ has agreed with its partner institutions are either bachelor’s (‘undergraduate’) or master’s (‘graduate’) level exchanges. BSc and MSc (Econ & Bus. Admin) students apply for undergraduate or graduate-level exchanges, respectively. The partner institutions determine whether their programmes are at the undergraduate or graduate level. When there are ambiguous cases due to institutional differences in degree structure, the learning services of BIZ will determine the level of the partner institution’s programme(s) using Aalto School of Business studies as the point of comparison. In some separately mentioned partner institutions, Aalto MSc (Econ & Bus. Admin) students complete their exchange studies at the undergraduate level (third- and fourth-year studies).
- The schools of technology (CHEM, ELEC, ENG, SCI): The exchanges are defined as bachelor’s (‘undergraduate’) or master’s level (‘graduate’) exchanges only if required by the partner institution. The exchange is regarded as a bachelor's exchange if any of the studies completed during the exchange will be transferred to the student’s bachelor’s degree. The exchange is regarded as a master's exchange, if all credits are trasferred to a student's master’s degree. Note! you will only be offered a wild card option, if you apply to 3 destinations, and indicate in your application that you wish to be offered a wild card destination.
More information about available exchange places on Exchange destinations -page.
- Eligible applicants (=applicants who fulfill the requirements of both Aalto Univeristy and destination university) are selected for exchange place on the basis of their application and their academic index. Applicants may be interviewed, if necessary.
- If your time to complete your degree will end before or during a planned exchange period, you may be given conditional admission to the exchange programme provided that you have a realistic possibility to be granted an extension of time to complete your degree. Your situation will be assessed by the manager of academic affairs at your school. Your application for extension to your study time should state that you would like to go on an exchange.
- School of Arts, Design and Architecture: The students applying for an exchange are required to have a study plan for the target amount of studies approved by their degree programme, and they must fulfil possible additional criteria set by the destination university. The admission of bachelor’s degree students to a master’s level exchange is conditional on their completion of a BA (Art and Design) or BSc (Tech) degree. Completion of the degree will be checked before the beginning of the exchangeperiod.
- School of Business: Students applying for a master level exchange are required to complet a bachelor’s degree before teh beginnign of the exchange period. If you are pursuing a bachelor’s degree and plan to continue directly to a master’s programme, you may apply for an exchange occurring in the autumn term and counted towards your MSc (Econ and Bus Admin) degree once you have completed 150 credits towards your BSc (Econ and Bus Admin) degree by the deadline specified in the application timeline. Application for an exchange period in the spring term is possible if you have completed 138 credits towards your bachelor’s degree by the deadline specified in the application schedule. Your admission is conditional until you have completed your bachelor’s degree. The completion of the degree will be checked at a specified point in time before the start of the exchange period.
- The schools of technology (CHEM, ELEC, ENG, SCI): The students applying for an exchange are required to have a study plan for the target amount of studies approved by their degree programme, and they must fulfil possible additional criteria set by the destination university.
[number of credits] x [credit-weighted grade point average]) / number of academic semesters enrolled as an attending student (not including the current semester at the time of application)
Supplementary information about the calculation of the academic index, exchanges 2023-24 onwards, all schools:
The academic index is calculated based on the studies that have been entered into the Aalto student register by the deadline indicated in the application schedule and have been completed while the current field’s (technology, business, or arts) study right has been valid. The GPA of these studies and semesters are counted towards the academic index. The field of the applied exchange place determines which studies are taken into concideration.
If you have changed your study right from one bachelor's degree programme to another bachelor's degree programme on the same field (e.g. from ENG to SCI), the credits and semesters that you have completed during the expired study right will not be taken into consideration.
If you have a study right in e.g. School of Business and one of the technical schools, and you apply to School of Business exchange place, the academic index is calculated from studies completed after your School of Business study right has started.
If you have graduated as bachelor and changed to another master level study right within the same field, the credits and semesters of the bachelor degree are taken into consideration
Credits completed before the start of the study right will not be taken into consideration, unless the student has been admitted to Aalto University based on studies completed in the Open University.
BIZ: 60 ECTS of credits completed in the Open University that were basis of admittance are taken into consideration. Two semesters are added to the semesters when calculating the academic index. The student must inform about the Open University studies in the application.
CHEM, ELEC, ENG, SCI: 27 ECTS of credits completed in the Open University that were basis of admittance are taken into consideration in the calculation. One semester is added to the semesters when calculating the academic index. The student must inform about the Open University studies in the application.
- When you apply for exchange, Aalto University may, upon your request, reconsider how many semesters are used in the calculation of your academic index, if you have been enrolled as an attending student but have been unable to complete studies due to one of these statutory reasons: (1) military or non-military service; (2) being on maternity, paternity or parental leave; (3) being unable to study due to a medical condition; or (4) serving or having served on the Aalto student union (AYY) board during the your current degree studies. In this case, attach to your application a certificate confirming the statutory reason why you have been unable to complete studies. If you have a certificate from a doctor or other confidential certificate, please do not attach it to the application, but contact the exchange coordinator of your school instead.
If you have previously enrolled as a non-attending student, those semesters will not be taken into consideration when your academic index is calculated.
Note: If the destination university has a GPA eligibility requirement, the GPA is checked from Aalto University transcript (GPA of all studies in the transcript).
Allocation of exchange places
- Students who meet the eligibility criteria are selected for exchange place according to the order of preference they indicated in their applications, taking into concideration their academic index and the partner institution’s requirements for candidates.
- Where two or more applicants have the same academic index (or in the School of Arts, Design and Architecture, if the index cannot be calculated) and the same preferred exchange destination, but there are not enough places available for all of them, the applicants’ situations will be overall evaluated. If there are still no differences between the applicants taking into concideration e.g. GPA, completion status of the degree, and language skills for the host country, the decision will be made by lot.
- Being selected: When you are selected for an exchange programme, you will be offered an exchange place.
- School of Business: You need to accept or reject the exchange place offered to you as instructed and by the given deadline.
- The schools of technology and the School of Arts, Design and Architecture: If you do not want to accept the place offered to you, inform your school by the deadline given to you.
- Being left unselected: If you cannot be offered a place in any of the destinations of your choice, no exchange place can be offered to you.
- Being rejected: Your application for an exchange programme or free mover scholarship will be rejected if you:
- Do not meet the selection criteria;
- Have not filled in the required parts of the application form, or have not turned in requested additional materials by the deadline despite being asked to do so; or
- Submitted your application after the deadline.
- Cancelling your exchange place: After you have been selected for an exchange, you have a short time to cancel your place without this affecting your possibilities of getting selected in future application rounds. If you cancel your exchange after this time without providing a justifiable reason, this may weaken your chances of being selected for exchange in the future.
- Losing a place in an exchange programme: if you have been selected for an exchange programme, you will lose your place if you:
- Neglect the responsibilities assigned to you as a student;
- Give false information about yourself or your studies; or
- The partner university does not admit you to the university as an exchange student.
- Your future exchange applications may be rejected or your chances of getting selected may weaken, if during an earlier exchange period, you have not adhered to the Aalto University policy on international student exchange.
- In general, you must transfer all the credits you complete during an exchange to your degree at Aalto University. The studies you plan to complete have to be approved in advance and included in your exchange study plan or learning agreement. Your exchange study plan is not the same thing as your personal study plan (HOPS) which covers your entire degree.
- The transfer of credits for exchange studies follows the Aalto University credit transfer guidelines.
- Choose your studies from the courses specified in the exchange agreement and/or included in the course offering defined by the exchange destination. Courses relating to hobbies, sports, etc. may not be transferred in to Aalto University degree even if they are entered in the destination institution’s transcript of records.
- You have a responsibility to find out about the course requirements (e.g. attendance requirements) of the destination university as soon as the semester starts.
- If your do not complete enough credits during your exchange despite your earnest attempts to complete them (e.g. failing to pass a course due to illness) or due to reasons beyond your control (e.g. a course is cancelled without substitute courses for it), you must give Aalto University a written document (e.g. a certificate from the teacher, a medical certificate of illness) of the reasons why you did not complete the course(s).
- If you fail to complete the studies you planned or do not notify Aalto University of changes to your exchange study plan, or fail to obtain Aalto University’s approval for such changes, and for these reasons you either fail to earn the required number of credits during your exchange or the credits cannot be transferred towards your degree, you are liable for any financial or other consequences (for example losing your scholarship or student financial aid).
- The studies that you complete to Aalto University during your exchange period are not usually taken into consideration when Aalto University determines whether you are entitled to the scholarship.
- School of Business: The credits for your exchange studies are usually transferred to your degree as an international minor (with the exception of students in the IDBM or Global Management programme). The scope and content of the international minor are defined in the curriculum. After your place in an exchange programme has been confirmed, you must edit your personal study plan (HOPS) so that it enables your studies abroad to be transferred to your degree at the School of Business. You need to have your HOPS approved before your exchange begins. Exchange studies may not include a work place or parts related to your thesis work. As a rule, students complete bachelor’s studies on a bachelor’s exchange and master’s studies on a master’s exchange. Students may, however, take the International Study Module (e.g. in a subject where the student has no prior studies) for justifiable reasons.
- The School of Arts, Design and Architecture and the schools of technology (CHEM, ELEC, ENG, SCI): You must have your exchange study plan approved by your degree programme and attach it to your online application before Aalto’s internal application period for exchange studies ends.
- Aalto University grants no more than one student exchange scholarship per student-mobility period.
- Aalto University may additionally grant you accessibility funds to enable an international exchange. If you are a guardian of a minor, you may be paid additional support. The support can be paid even if the child(ren) remain in their home country.
- Externally funded programmes (e.g. Erasmus+, Nordplus, Erasmus+ Global Mobility) may have different scholarship amounts and practices than Aalto University.
- Aalto University schools may grant additional scholarships for international mobility by their own decision (for mobilities such as summer schools).
- The student exchange scholarship will be paid in full if the destination university approves your application, the exchange is carried out as planned and you fulfil the commitments given to you (incl. submitting the required documents, completing sufficient studies, and transferring the studies in your Aalto University degree).
- You need to submit the required documents whether you are entitled to the full scholarship or not.
- The scholarship is paid in two instalments: As a rule, the first instalment is made before the exchange, and the second instalment after you have returned from the exchange.
Loosing your scholarship
- If you cancel or interrupt your exchange period or otherwise neglect your obligations, you become liable to reimburse the scholarship in full or in part.
- If the number of credits earned or the quality of the studies completed fails to meet the requirements without reasonable grounds, the second instalment of the scholarship may be cancelled or you may be required to reimburse a portion of the scholarhip that was already paid to you. If you complete an inadequate amount of studies despite your earnest attempts to complete them, or for reasons beyond your control, you must be able to produce a written document of the reasons why you failed to complete the studies.
- The studies that you complete to Aalto University during your exchange period are not usually taken into consideration when Aalto University determines whether you are entitled to the scholarship.
- Cases where students fail to meet the aim set for completed studies are considered individually. When deciding possible reimbursement of scholarship, the studies completed during the exchange will be taken into concideration.
- You can apply for discretionary ‘free mover’ scholarship for an exchange period if you have obtained an exchange place by yourself in a foreign university that meets Aalto University's requirements.
- Free mover applications are processed according to the application periods for the different fields. The application periods are confirmed annually.
- The School of Business and the School of Arts, Design and Architecture: Submit your application early enough so that the school has time to make an official decision on the scholarship before the start of your exchange period.
- The schools of technology (CHEM, ELEC, ENG,SCI): Submit your scholarship application early enough to enable your school to make the decision on your scholarship before or during your exchange period. The scholarship cannot be granted after your exchange period has ended.
- The Aalto University policy on international student exchanges also pertains to students who apply for a free mover scholarship.
- The courses completed during the exchange must be suitable for your Aalto University degree and tehy must be transferred to your degree.
- The free mover destination must fulfill the quality requirements of Aalto University and the courses you complete during the exchange must be part of the exchange institution’s normal degree education.
- Free mover scholarship may not be granted if you have earlier cancelled an Aalto Univeristy exchange place granted to you, or you have failed to fulfill the requirements of an earlier exchange without a justifying reason.
- The School of Business and the schools of technology (CHEM, ELEC, ENG, SCI): Free mover scholarhips is not granted, if the destination university has a valid exchange agreement with Aalto University.
- School of Business: Students who do not meet the free mover scholarship criteria cannot include an international minor in their degree. Students who are on an exchange period at a partner university of BIZ and independently decide to continue for a second term as a free mover, will not receive funding for the scond semester, and their second semester will not be considered part of the official student exchange period.
- The schools of technology (CHEM, ELEC, ENG, SCI): Free mover scholarships may also be granted for working on a master’s thesis at a foreign university. The scholarship can be granted only once for master's thesis work; the amount of the scholarhip corresponds to the time (one semester) reserved for the thesis work. Applications, policy and conditions for the scholarship for master’s thesis are the same as for other free mover exchanges.
- Aalto degree students approved for an international joint programme may be granted a student exchange scholarship for the part of the programme in which the student studies abroad. However, this does not apply if the student is receiving a student mobility scholarship for the same studies or another mobility grant administered by Aalto University.
- Students may not receive student mobility grant for more than one EU-funded activity.
- Eligibility for student scholarships is determined on a case-by-case basis. The method of applying is arranged with the coordinator of the joint programme. The application procedure may differ from that of the exchange programme.
The Aalto University liability waiver on international mobility applies to all students who have been selected for an outgoing exchange. The waiver defines the responsibilities of outgoing exchange student. Aalto University or the exchange institution may cancel or discontinue an exchange period for justifiable reasons. The waiver is included as an appendix to the Aalto University policy on international student exchange.