The Finnish Studies Program at Columbia University is noted for its academic excellence. Language teaching, from beginners’ level to advanced, takes place in small groups, which provide a great deal of individual attention and interaction opportunities. If students have some previous knowledge of Finnish and they wish to continue their studies at Columbia University, they will be placed into the appropriate level.

Students of Finnish language go on to pursue successful careers in a broad range of fields and they have won many prestigious grants including Finlandia Foundation Scholarships, The American-Scandinavian Foundation Awards and Fulbright Grants.

Language courses in Finnish can be used to fulfill the foreign language requirement and, for linguistics students, to fulfill the Non-Indo-European language requirement.

Elementary Finnish I - II (4 credits) courses are designed for students with little or no prior knowledge of Finnish. The main focus is on the development of basic language skills (listening, speaking, reading, and writing) through a communicative approach. Students learn to provide information about their opinions and feelings, their families, their immediate environment, and their daily activities.

Intermediate Finnish I - II (4 credits) courses provide a thorough and consistently structured revision of intermediate linguistic competence in Finnish. Students look at a range of different authentic materials and explore the key moments of Finnish culture as well. Students learn to talk about their studies and work, free time, and express their likes and dislikes. These courses prepare students for Advanced Finnish language and culture courses.

For more course information, please refer to the course directory.


Advanced Finnish I – II (3 credits) courses further develop students’ knowledge of Finnish grammar and refine their ability to discuss and write about a variety of topics using relatively complex structures. The courses emphasize cross-cultural awareness through the study of short stories, films, television series, and excerpts from contemporary novels. Students also learn more about the Finnish way of life and Finnish culture.

Advanced readings in Finnish (3 credits) course exposes students to authentic Finnish texts including fiction and non-fiction, short stories, newspaper and magazine articles, and excerpts from novels, plays and film scripts. Students become proficient in the Finnish vernacular, in particular colloquial Finnish.

Advanced readings in Finnish Society and Culture (3 credits) course familiarizes students with Finnish society and culture through newspaper and magazine articles, blogs, television series, and films. The course focuses on developing students’ discussion, composition and critical thinking skills, and builds their cross-cultural awareness. Students explore the role slang plays in Finnish society and popular culture, and they acquire reading and communicative strategies necessary to discuss complex cultural topics.

Introduction to Finnish Society and Culture (3 credits) course explores the meaning of Finnish “Society” and “Culture.” Through newspaper and magazine articles, recent novels and films, students explore Finnish social issues, history, politics, educational system, the arts, architecture, and design. The language of instruction is English.