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Research and Higher Education

There are 13 official universities in Finland of which four offer degrees in religious studies or in theology: University of Turku, Åbo Akademi University, University of Eastern Finland, and University of Helsinki. Various courses are open also through Open Studies which is a platform for the universities to offer their courses to everyone.

University of Turku has a degree programme in religious studies in the Faculty of Humanities. Religious studies is one of the units operating in the School of History, Culture and Arts Studies. The premises are located at Sirkkala campus in the city of Turku. The focus of religious studies in the University of Turku is especially on the interface and points of contact between the religious and secular cultures and phenomena. The approach is multidisciplinary when it comes to using theories and analytical tools, and the research orientation has strongly been anthropological and ethnographical. (Department of Study of Religion).

Åbo Akademi University has a Bachelor’s and Master’s programme in theology. The university campus is in the city of Turku. Studying theology in Åbo Akademi University differs from studying in other universities in that the studies require a decent knowledge of Swedish language (the second official language in Finland). The discipline of theology focuses on examining various forms of religious phenomena from the viewpoint of Christian tradition. Research is conducted in church history, dogmatic, New Testament exegesis, Old Testament exegesis and Judaism, theological ethics and philosophy of religion, and practical theology. (Theology).

University of Eastern Finland has a School of Theology at the Faculty of Philosophy. It is located at the city of Joensuu in Eastern Finland. Studies focus on today’s phenomena from the viewpoint of Christianity and world religions. More specifically, the focus is on the interface of Eastern and Western traditions in everyday life and research. University of Eastern Finland is the only university in Finland where it is possible to take full degrees for cantors and for the priesthood in the Finnish Orthodox Church. (School of Theology).

The Department of Theology in the University of Helsinki has Bachelor’s and Master’s Degree Programmes in theology and religious studies. The Master’s programme has several disciplines from which to choose: exegesis, Church history, systematic theology, practical theology and religious studies. Theological disciplines are connected with the research traditions of humanistic and social scientific research fields. Areas such as the roots of European religiosity, changes in religiosity in Finland, Europe and worldwide, and the connection of religion to the wellbeing of individuals and societies are studied. Students who apply for pedagogical studies of teacher, duties of churches and religious communities or to Islamic theology, will have a specific study programme. (Faculty of Theology).

Universities of Helsinki, Turku and Eastern Finland all have a separate programme for teachers of religious education. It is also possible to apply for pedagogic studies of a teacher after having obtained a higher academic degree. If the pedagogical studies are already done, it is possible to acquire the qualification required for religious education through Open Studies. Students of religious studies and theology who do not specialise in teaching or are not aiming to be priests may end find work as professionals in different sectors of the society, or continue as researchers.

 Read more: Sakaranaho, Tuula (2014) Religious Education in Finland. Temenos - Nordic Journal of Comparative Religion, 49(2), 225–254.
 Read more about the Finnish higher education system in general: Higher education and degrees - OKM - Ministry of Education and Culture, Finland (

D 25 June 2021    AAnita Sipilä

CNRS Unistra Dres Gsrl

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