Finnish for busy people

Talking About Your Education in Finnish – Koulutus

In this article, I’ve gathered phrases that can prove useful when you want to describe your past education or what you’re studying currently. Talking about your education can be a vital topic when applying for  a job, and also a common topic to talk about with new friends.

You can learn plain words related to school in this separate article.

1. Opiskella

The verb opiskella means “to study”. However, pay attention to the case you use in different sentences related to studying.

1.1. Opiskella + missä

First, you can use a location case (-ssa or -lla) to express where you study. As you can see from the examples below, the word kurssi will get -lla (adessive). Most other places to study get the -ssa (inessive) ending.

Finnish English
Opiskelen alkeiskurssilla. I’m studying in a beginner’s course.
Opiskelen iltakurssilla. I’m studying in an evening course.
Opiskelen kotoutumiskoulutuksessa. I’m studying in integration education.
Opiskelen ammattikoulussa. I study at a vocational school.
Haluan opiskella ammattikoulussa. I want to study at a vocational school.
Kotimaassani opiskelin yliopistossa. In my home country, I studied at university.

1.2. Opiskella + mitä

When you want to express the subjects you study, you will need the partitive case.

Finnish English
Opiskelen suomen kiel. Opiskelen suomea. I’m studying Finnish.
Opiskelen tällä hetkellä matematiikkaa. I’m currently studying maths.
Olen opiskellut kiel ja ekonomiaa. I’ve studied languages and economics.
Nuorena opiskelin biologiaa. When I was young, I studied biology.
Opiskelin kotimaassani lääketiedettä. I studied medicine in my home country.
Olen opiskellut suomea yhden vuoden. I’ve been studying Finnish for one year.
En ole ennen opiskellut ammattia. I haven’t studied a profession before.

1.3. Opiskella + -ksi

Use the translative ending -ksi when you want to express what you study to be; what the goal profession of your studies is.

Finnish English
Opiskelen lähihoitajaksi. I’m studying to be a practical nurse.
Opiskelen insinööriksi. I’m studying to be an engineer.
Opiskelin kotimaassani opettajaksi. I studied to be a teacher in my home country.
Suomessa haluan opiskella hitsaajaksi. In Finland, I want to study to be a welder.

2. Valmistua

Just like opiskella, the verb valmistua “to graduate” can also come with a variety of different cases.

2.1. Valmistua + -ksi

The translative ending -ksi is used in combination with the verb valmistua to express what you graduate as; what your profession is once you graduate.

Finnish English
Valmistun ensi vuonna lähihoitajaksi. I’m graduating as a practical nurse next year.
Valmistun kohta rakennusmieheksi. I’ll soon be graduating as a construction worker.
Valmistuin vuonna 2012 kirjanpitäjäksi. I graduated in 2012 as an accountant.
Valmistuin kotimaassani opettajaksi. I graduated as a teacher in my home country.
Valmistuin maisteriksi. I graduated with a master’s degree.
En koskaan valmistunut. I never graduated.

2.2. Valmistua + mistä

You can also use the verb valmistua in combination with the mistä-form in order to express what type of school you’ve graduated from.

Finnish English
Valmistun ensi kuussa yliopistosta. I’ll graduate from university next month.
Valmistuin lukiosta vuonna 2003. I graduated from high school in 2003.
Valmistuin Varsovan yliopistosta vuonna 2011. I graduated from the University of Warsaw in 2011.

3. Käydä + object

Usually, the verb käydä means “to visit a place“, ie. to go somewhere and stay there for a short period of time. However, we can also use käydä with an object, in which case it means to go to school or finish an education.

The difference can be illustrated like this:

  • Kävin yliopistossa. “I visited the university.”
  • Kävin yliopiston. “I completed university.”
  • Käyn yliopistoa. “I’m currently studying in university.”

The object will be inflected in the partitive case (a) when you’re currently undertaking the studies, and in the genitive case (n) when you’ve finished them.

Finnish English
Kävin peruskoulun ja lukion Kiinassa. I did primary and secondary school in China.
Kävin yliopiston kuudessa vuodessa. I completed university in six years.
Olen käynyt pelkästään peruskoulun. I’ve only completed primary school.
Kävin kaiken kaikkiaan 8 vuotta koulua. I went to school for a total of 8 years.
En ole kotimaassani juurikaan käynyt koulua. I’ve hardly been to school in my home country.

4. Suorittaa + object

The verb suorittaa “to complete, accomplish, pursue” is another important word when talking about past or future education. It’s most commonly used in combination with the words:

  • tutkinto “degree” (e.g. kandidaatin tutkinto; maisteritutkinto, perustutkinto)
  • opinnot “studies” (e.g. perusopinnot, jatko-opinnot, tradenomin opinnot)
  • kurssi “course”(e.g. kielikurssi, ensiapukurssi)
  • koulu “school” (e.g. peruskoulu, ammattikoulu)

The object will be inflected in the partitive case (-a) when you’re currently undertaking the studies, and in the genitive case (-n) when you’ve finished them. The word opinnot is almost always in used in the plural (-t).

Finnish English
Suoritan tällä hetkellä kandin tutkintoa. I’m currently pursuing a bachelor’s degree.
Suoritan perustutkintoa yliopistossa. I’m doing an undergraduate degree.
Suoritan ammattikorkeakoulututkintoa. I’m pursuing a polytechnic degree.
Olen suorittanut ammatillisen perustutkinnon. I have completed a vocational qualification.
Suoritin korkeakoulututkinnon Venäjällä. I completed my college degree in Russia.
Suoritin kandidaatin tutkinnon Intiassa. I completed my bachelor’s degree in India.
Haluan suorittaa ylioppilastutkinnon. I want to achieve a high school degree.
Suoritin merkonomin opinnot Vaasassa. I completed my economics studies in Vaasa.
Olen suorittanut viiden vuoden opinnot. I’ve completed five years of study.
Suoritin opinnot Oxfordin yliopistossa. I completed my studies at Oxford University.
Suoritin opintoni avoimessa yliopistossa. I completed my studies at the Open University.
Suoritin lukio-opinnot Puolassa. I completed my high school studies in Poland.
Haluan suorittaa opinnot nopeasti. I want to complete my studies quickly.
Olen suorittanut kielikurssin yliopistossa. I’ve completed a university language course.
Suoritin suomen kielen kurssin. I finished the Finnish language course.
Suoritin kuuden kuukauden kielikurssin. I finished a six month language course.

5. Hakea and päästä + mihin

I’m combining sentences for the verb hakea “to apply for” and päästä “to get into” in the same section because both of them require the mihin-form of the school you are interested in.

Finnish English
Haen ammattikouluun ensi vuonna. I’m applying for vocational school next year.
Aion hakea yliopistoon ensi vuonna. I plan to apply to university next year.
Olen hakenut ammattikouluun. I’ve applied to vocational school.
Hain hoiva-avustajakoulutukseen. I applied for nursing assistant training.
Pääsin ammattikouluun! I got into vocational school!
Hain yliopistoon, mutta en päässyt. I applied to university but I didn’t get in.
Hain kurssille ja pääsin!
I applied for the course and I got in!

6. Other Verbs

Finnish English
Osallistuin eilen pääsykokeisiin. I took the entrance exams yesterday.
Aloitin kotoutumiskoulutuksen viime kuussa. I started integration training last month.
Aloitan ammattikoulun syyskuussa. I will start vocational school in September.
Jätin opintoni kesken. I dropped out of my studies.
Opintoni jäivät valitettavasti kesken. Unfortunately, my studies weren’t completed.
Tutkintoani ei voida rinnastaa. My degree cannot be equated.
Kotimaani tutkinto on rinnastettu. My home country’s degree has been equated.

These phrases should help you when you’re talking about your education in Finnish. Hopefully you find some that apply to your own situation!

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