Finland has two types of higher education institutions. There are 14 Universities (of which only two are private) and 24 polytechnics. Municipal authorities manage 3 of those schools while 21 institutions are independent. The self-governing province of Aland also has a school, the Aland University of Applied Sciences, and the Ministry of the Interior manages a Police College. In terms of what students in Finland are studying, the country is known for its experts in ICT, bio-technology, design, forestry and environmental sciences, architecture, and art.
Universities are what most would imagine for a secondary school experience, while the polytechnic universities (also called Universities of Applied Sciences) are focused on practical and vocational learning. At Finnish Polytechnics one can attain a Bachelor's level degree in a variety of different fields. Such a degree can be completed in 3 ½ to 4 years. A Master's degree is also attainable through Polytechnics. Master's degrees from a Polytechnic is typically designed for those who are already involved in a career.
Those attending a Finnish University are able to obtain a Bachelor's degree, Master's degree or a Doctorate. With a wide range of programmes being offered in English (especially in the case of a Master's degree), Finnish Universities are often frequented by foreign students who wish to take their studies to Finland. Scientific research is also a common part of Finnish Universities.
The obtaining of a Bachelor's degree in Finland differs based on the type of University one attends. At a Polytechnic universities a core programme as well as professional studies, optional studies and also training and the completion of a Bachelor's thesis are required to obtain a Bachelor's degree. This takes approximately 3 ½ to 4 years and has a credit requirement of 210-270. The training that is required for a Bachelor's degree when attending a Polytechnic accounts for 30 credits (minimum). At Finnish Universities, a Bachelor's degree includes a combination of language, intermediate and basic studies and also, the completion of a Bachelor's thesis. The duration of a Bachelor's degree at a Finnish university is 3 years and a combined 180 credits need to be obtained.
Master's degrees are offered by both the Polytechnics in Finland as well as the Universities in Finland. A Master's degree takes one to two years to complete, depending on the type of higher education institution attended. There is however, a significant difference between obtaining a Master's degree from a Polytechnic compared to earning a Master's degree from a University. At a Polytechnic, the Master's degree focuses a lot on vocational training as well as applied research. At a Finnish University, the Master's degree can only be attained once a Bachelor's has been completed and the candidate has completed three years of work experience.