Apply to the master’s programme in Folk Music

Admissions guide to the 2.5-year Folk Music programme.

In folk music, your main instrument can be kantele, violin, a wind instrument, accordion, mandolin, guitar, harmonica, double bass, percussion, voice, a keyboard instrument, or some other instrument. Folk music studies can be focused on creative musicianship, pedagogy, and research. 

Admissions schedule 2022

  • Application period: Send your application in Studyinfo portal between 5 January 2022 8 am EET and 19 January 2022 3 pm EET
  • Submit required attachments and possible advance assignments at latest 26 January 2022 3 pm EET
  • Sibelius Academy confirms your eligibility to apply at latest 25 February
  • First stage submission deadline 25 March 2022, 3 pm EET
  • Second stage 9–10 May 2022 (preliminary schedule)
  • Applicants demonstrating their language skills with a language skills certificate: Submit your test result certificate at latest 20 May 2022 3 pm EET
  • Sibelius Academy publishes admissions results 3 June 2022
  • Confirm your study place at latest 15 July 2022 3 pm EET:
    • Officially accept your study place
    • Register for the academic year
    • Conditionally admitted applicants: Submit the required degree certificate
    • Students who are required to pay tuition fees: Pay your tuition fee
  • Waiting list procedure ends 2 August 2022 3 pm EET
  • New students’ studies begin in August 2022

Who can apply?

A person with the background education required for the degree programme in question and sufficient language skills may apply for studies.

In addition, a person who completes the required background education after the end of the application period, but no later than 15 July 2022 at 3 pm EEST is eligible to apply. In that case, the admission decision is conditional until the applicant submits a certificate of the completed degree. If the applicant fails to submit the certificate by said deadline, the study place will be cancelled.

The Sibelius Academy may, at its discretion, also accept a temporary certificate issued by the educational institution if it indicates that the applicant has completed all studies required for the degree and will receive the degree certificate later.

Sibelius Academy will check every applicant’s eligibility before the entrance examination.

Students are admitted to the Sibelius Academy based on their performance in the entrance examination. Certificate-based admissions or quotas for first-time applicants are not in place.

Master’s degree (2.5 years)

A person who has completed at least one of the following is eligible to apply:

  • A lower university degree in music (Bachelor)
  • A university of applied sciences degree in music
  • A foreign degree or qualification in music that provides eligibility for corresponding higher education studies in the awarding country
  • A lower university degree in another field and, additionally, higher education studies in music.

Some programmes may have other background education requirements in addition to those above.

The Sibelius Academy may require that a person admitted to study towards a master’s degree complete complementary studies of a scope equivalent to a maximum of one year of studies in addition to the minimum number of ECTS credits required by the degree programme in order for them to attain the skills required in the training. In principle, complementary studies must be completed in the first year of study, and they must be included in the student’s personal study plan. The applicant is informed of the complementary studies required of them in connection with the admission decision. Such complementary studies must be mentioned in the programme’s admissions proposal.

Exceptions to eligibility

The applicant cannot apply for both 5.5-year and 2.5-year programmes of a single major subject or main instrument in the same year. However, if the applicant submits an application to both programmes, the Sibelius Academy will

  • take account of the application for the 2.5-year programme if the applicant is eligible for it, or
  • take account of the application for the 5.5-year programme if the applicant is not eligible for the 2.5-year programme.

If you have completed a higher education degree at Sibelius Academy, you cannot apply for the same main subject again, or the same main instrument in the case of Classical Music Performance.

The student admission for bachelor’s and master’s degree programmes applies to applicants who do not have a valid right to study at Uniarts Helsinki at the beginning of the applied right to study, with the exception of persons who have the vice rector’s permission to complete two degrees simultaneously. A degree student registered at Uniarts Helsinki may apply for a change of right to study within the Sibelius Academy or between academies. There are separate instructions for applying for a change of the right to study and for applying for a permission to complete two degrees simultaneously. More information on the rule of one study right can be found here.

Language requirements

The languages of tuition in the Folk Music programme are Finnish, Swedish, and English. You must demonstrate your language proficiency in one of the abovementioned languages by the given deadline. However, the majority of group tuition at the Sibelius Academy is provided in Finnish or English.

How to apply

Submit your application in the spring’s first joint application period from 5 to 19 January 2022 by 3 pm EET in the Studyinfo portal.

Click here to read instruction on how to fill the application form. Please note that registration in the Studyinfo portal is not needed for filling in the application form.

Submit the supporting documents and any advance assignments in accordance with the instructions provided.

Supporting documents

Submit the supporting documents via the Studyinfo portal as PDF files by 3 pm EET on 26 January 2022. If the documents are not in Finnish, Swedish, or English, append a translation by an authorised translator into one of these languages.

Documents required from all applicants:

  • Degree certificate of the background education and a transcript of study records
    If you complete your degree after the end of the application period, it is adequate to submit the degree certificate by 3 pm EEST on 15 July 2022.

    In case of a foreign degree, the Sibelius Academy may request clarification on the degree’s status within the awarding country’s education system.
  • Certificate demonstrating language proficiency
    If you demonstrate your language proficiency based on your previous studies, the degree certificate or its appendix must clearly indicate the language in which the degree was completed. The degree demonstrating language proficiency must be completed by 3 pm EEST on 15 July 2022.
  • Official proof of identity
    Append a copy of your passport, EU identity card or Finnish driving licence to your application.

Applicants to programmes organised in English are also required to submit:

  • A document exempting from tuition fees
    If you apply to study in English, you will be liable to pay tuition fees unless you submit a document indicating that you are exempt. For more information on tuition fees, see Tuition fees and scholarships.

Refugees, persons in a refugee-like situation and asylum seekers:

If you are unable to submit documentary evidence of your degree, you may still be deemed eligible to apply. Submit a reliable report on the completed degree that grants you eligibility to apply and an additional report explaining why the documents are not available. In addition, submit an official decision on your refugee status (asylum decision or residence permit based on protection, or a proof that such an application is pending). Submit the required documents by email to the Admissions Office by 26 January 2022 3 pm EET. The Sibelius Academy will make a decision on your eligibility based on the submitted report. Applicants with refugee status must provide proof of their language skills required for the studies in one of the ways specified in the selection criteria (in Language requirements).

Advance assignments

Any advance assignments are mentioned in the target programme’s admissions criteria. The advance assignments must be submitted as attachments to the application.

The advance assignments must clearly state the applicant’s name and the programme to which they relate. Do not submit any other advance assignments than the ones requested. Upload the materials to the Studyinfo portal as early as possible. Large files may take several hours to upload if there is a lot of traffic in the system.

Entrance examinations

You can be invited to the entrance examinations if:

  1. you have submitted an electronic application form and the required attachments at Studyinfo portal, and
  2. the Dean of the Sibelius Academy deems you eligible based on the submitted documents.

The implementation of the entrance examinations for each programme is described in the programme’s admission criteria. Preliminary schedules will be published in the programmes’ admissions guides in January. The entrance examination schedules of separate programmes may overlap. If the applicant has applied for multiple programmes, they must choose which examinations they attend in case of overlaps.

A programme’s entrance examination may consist of several stages and contain multiple sub-tests. If the applicant does not participate in all of the examination’s compulsory sub-tests, they cannot be admitted as a student.

The Sibelius Academy will send applicants instructions and schedules for participation in entrance examinations in the entrance examination invitation. The exact times for individual entrance examinations are confirmed at the latest in the morning of the entrance examination day. Individual examination times cannot be changed except for compelling reasons not attributable to the applicant. Such reasons include the matriculation examination (or a corresponding event) and an accident or sudden illness (a medical certificate is required). In such cases, the examination time can only be rescheduled within the limits of the Entrance Examination Board’s working timetables.

The entrance examination is a closed event attended by the applicant, the Entrance Examination Board and the agreed assistants (for example, an accompanist, a training choir, a board assistant or the applicant’s assistant). Entrance examinations may not be recorded.

If you wish to cancel your participation in the entrance examination, notify the Sibelius Academy Admissions Office by email as soon as possible.

Individual arrangements in the entrance examination

If you require individual arrangements in the entrance examination because of a sensory or physical disability or other corresponding reason, more information on individual arrangements can be found here.

Entrance examination (folk music)

Applicants for this programme are not required to complete advance assignments. All applicants who have submitted their applications by the deadline and who have been found to be eligible will be invited to the entrance examination. 

The entrance examination consists of two stages. The first stage will be carried out remotely and the second on site at the Sibelius Academy in Helsinki. 

First stage

The first stage of the entrance examination will be carried out remotely and includes the following sub-tests: 

  • Instrument and voice audition, ensemble playing assignment and introduction 
  • Motivation essay 

Submit the assignments via the Studyinfo portal by 25 March 2022, 3pm EET (Finnish time).

Instrument and voice audition, ensemble playing assignment and introduction 

Submit a video recording for assessment. You are responsible for the production of the video recording. 

Programme for the video recording: 

  • A programme lasting no more than 10 minutes on your main instrument. The programme must demonstrate a command of instrument or voice skills and a familiarity with folk music performance practices. The programme may consist of traditional or new folk music, folk music material composed by yourself, and improvisation. The programme must include a section that showcases your knowledge of vocal and instrumental styles of Finland and/or the Nordics and/or the Baltic Finnic area, and/or of the indigenous peoples and/or minorities in the region. In addition to performing on your main instrument, you may include a secondary instrument and voice segment in your performance (optional).
  • An ensemble playing assignment, in which you will play and/or sing together with an audio track (the tracks will be sent to the applicants). When singing you can use any text that falls into the rhymed folk song (rekilaulu) metre. Examples of rhymed folk songs (rekilaulu). You can also sing without lyrics. This subtest tests your ensemble skills, the lyrics are not of key importance. Record a video of your ensemble performance with the audio track. You can play the recording from the stereo or a separate speaker in your background and play along with it. During the performance, think about your role between an accompanist and a soloist: you can play a melody in unison, a harmony to the melody, chords, improvise, etc. Check the sound quality of the video and pay particular attention to making sure your background recording plays simultaneously and in balance with your own instrumental performance. Tuning: A = 442 Hz
  • A verbal introduction in which you describe what kind of a folk music professional you would like to be after you graduate and how you could contribute to the development and evolution of the field of folk music. The duration of the introduction is a maximum of 3 minutes. 

The programme must be performed without sheet music and without accompaniment. Bass and percussion players may have an assisting musician for part of the programme. 

The video recording must not be edited. All pieces included in it must be played or sung continuously in one uninterrupted take. Your talk must also be included in the one uninterrupted take at the end of the video recording. If your video exceeds the 1 GB maximum, you may divide a single-take video into segments. 

Play facing the camera so that your face and hands are visible all the time. The video must not be shot from too far away. You must be visible in the frame from head to knees. 

Motivation essay 

Folk music professionals can work very extensively in different areas of the cultural sector: As artists, composers, researchers, educators and in various expert tasks in the cultural sector. Your motivation essay must be no longer than three pages long, and you will receive instructions on how to submit it later. The essay should shed light on your thoughts in relation to the field of folk music and, through them, illustrate your reasons for applying to become a student of the Sibelius Academy. You can emphasise the essay by reflecting on your perspectives, experiences and/or interests, addressing some or all of the following themes: 

  • your personal musical background and relationship with folk music 
  • your possible experiences of making music in an ensemble or other musical communication 
  • your possible experiences of composing and arranging and/or your interests related to it 
  • your thoughts and/or experiences of folk music pedagogy and acting as an educator 
  • your areas of interest in research 
  • your other activities related to folk music (e.g. organizing, volunteering or other communal activities) 
  • your views and reflections on the societal and global dimensions of folk music 

You can title your essay as you like. 

Based on the scores given for the first stage, the Board will invite a maximum of 15 applicants to the second stage of the entrance examination. Applicants invited to the second stage will be notified by e-mail.

Second stage

The second stage will be held on site at the Sibelius Academy in Helsinki. 

It consists of the following sub-tests: 

  • Instrument and voice audition, and interview  
  • Test on structural awareness of music 
  • Ensemble playing and teamwork test 
  • Self-selected section 

Instrument and voice audition, and interview  

In the instrument and voice audition of the second stage, you are to perform a programme with a maximum duration of 15 minutes. The programme must demonstrate a command of instrument or voice skills and a familiarity with folk music performance practices. The programme may consist of traditional or new folk music, folk music material composed by yourself, and improvisation. The programme must include a section that showcases your knowledge of vocal and instrumental styles of Finland and/or the Nordics and/or the Baltic Finnic area, and/or of the indigenous peoples and/or minorities in the region. The programme in the second stage should be different from the first stage. 

In addition to performing on your main instrument, you must include a voice performance if you are an instrumentalist and an instrument performance if you are a singer. You may include other secondary instrument segments in the performance, too.  

The programme must be performed without sheet music and without an accompanist [Updated 11 April: replaced word accompaniment with accompanist due to translation mistake]. Bass and percussion players may have an assisting musician for part of the programme. 

The Entrance Examination Board will interview the applicants in connection with the audition. 

Test on structural awareness of music 

The test includes transcription assignments, a prima vista assignment and rhythm and melody repetition assignments. The test also includes learning a melody by ear on your main instrument. 

Ensemble playing and teamwork test 

More detailed instructions will be sent to you with the invitation. 

Self-selected section  

In this section, you will complete one of three options:  

  1. a research assignment 
  2. a pedagogical assignment in folk music 
  3. an artistic emphasis assignment 

More detailed instructions on the assignment will be sent along with the entrance examination invitation. 

Entrance examination assessment

Applicants’ performance in the entrance examinations is assessed by programme-specifically appointed Entrance Examination Boards. The boards assess the knowledge, skills and capabilities of each applicant and their capacity to complete the degree studies within the normative duration for the completion of a degree. The assessment takes account of how the applicant’s previous education and experience reflects in their competence and assesses their competence in relation to the objectives set in the curriculum.

In addition, in the entrance examination for folk music, the Board will assess the applicants’ skills, knowledge and capabilities to act as wide-ranging experts of folk music. Areas to be assessed include: 

  • skills and technical command of instrument(s) or song (including improvisation skills) 
  • knowledge of folk music: performance methods, history, improvisation as well as traditional vocal and instrumental styles of Finland/Nordics/the Baltic Finnic area/the indigenous peoples in the region 
  • skills and expression typical of folk music (ability to play based on hearing, typical phrasing and rhythm) 
  • ensemble playing and cooperation skills, such as the ability to work with different people to achieve a common goal 
  • skills in structural awareness of music: musical perception skills, the ability to distinguish pitch and timbre, tonal memory and music theory skills 
  • motivation and ability to express goals and their views of the field and their own actions in relation to the field of folk music and the surrounding world. 

Scoring of the entrance examination

During both stages of the entrance examination and in all the sub-tests, the Board will assess the applicants’ performances on a scale of 0 to 25 points.   

In the second stage of the instrument and voice audition, the Board assesses the applicants’ performances as a whole so that the performances from the first stage are also taken into consideration in the assessment. The score from the second stage will remain the final score for the instrument and voice audition.  

Sub-tests will be weighted in the final score as follows: 

  • Second stage instrument and voice audition and interview 50% 
  • First stage ensemble playing assignment 10%  
  • Second stage ensemble playing and teamwork test 10%  
  • Test on structural awareness of music 10%  
  • Self-selected section 10% 
  • Introduction and interview 5%  
  • Motivation essay 5% 

Admissions results

The boards rank the applicants of each programme based on their entrance examination score. The final decision on students admitted to the programmes and those placed on the waiting list is made by the dean of the Sibelius Academy.

A study place is offered to highest scoring applicants who meet the selection criteria. Applicants ranked behind the admitted students may be placed on a waiting list in the order of their score. The waiting lists are either programme-specific or group-specific if there are several groups in a single programme. A study place will become vacant and can be offered to an applicant on a waiting list only if one of the applicants admitted to the same degree programme (or group) chooses not to accept the study place, or if someone who has been conditionally admitted fails to submit the necessary documents by the end of the deadline.

If there are no applicants who meet the admissions criteria, some programmes may choose not to admit new students. If a specific degree programme does not admit any new students, applicants to that programme cannot be placed on a waiting list.

Announcement of results

Admission results, including the names of the applicants who have given the permission to have their names published online, will be published on the Uniarts Helsinki website. In addition, each applicant can view their situation in the Studyinfo portal. Admitted applicants and those placed on the waiting list are informed of the results by email.


Applicants may request feedback on their entrance examination performance. The feedback provides the applicant with information on how the evaluation criteria stated in the admission criteria were applied in the assessment of their entrance examination. Instructions for requesting feedback will be published on the Uniarts Helsinki website in connection with the publication of the admission decision.

Rectification procedure

If you believe that the Sibelius Academy has acted contrary to its admission criteria, you can request for rectification to the student admission decision from the Sibelius Academy in writing within 14 days of the publication of the admission results.

The rectification procedure is not intended as a means for receiving feedback, asking for further information about the admission or requesting unjustified re-evaluation. Instructions for submitting a request for rectification will be published on the Uniarts Helsinki website in connection with the publication of the admission decision.

More information about the rectification process can be found here.

Accepting the offered study place and starting your studies

An offer of admission can be accepted either via the Studyinfo system or by filling in the confirmation form attached to the letter of acceptance and by delivering it to the admissions office. You must accept your study place by the given deadline. If the confirmation arrives late, it will not be considered.

Accepting an offer of admission is a binding choice, which cannot be changed or cancelled later on.

You must also register as attending at the Sibelius Academy before the academic year begins – more information will be sent to you along with your acceptance letter.

First-year studies begin in mid-August with an orientation period that is compulsory for all new students.

More information on accepting the offered study place and starting our studies at the Sibelius Academy can be found here

Questions or comments?

You can contact us via e-mail at

If you have any questions, please check first if your question has been already answered on our frequently asked questions page. This page will be updated constantly. Please check it regularly to see if new questions have been answered. Please note that in principle we do not explain the entrance examination assignments. The instructions are in the admissions guide.

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