Apply to the Nordic Master in Folk Music (NoFo) programme

Admissions guide for the 2.5-year Nordic Master in Folk Music (NoFo) programme.

New students will not be selected for this programme in 2022. The next application period for this programme is currently scheduled for January 2023.

Application period: between 7 and 20 January 2021 (at 3pm EET)
Entrance examinations: will be completed remotely, second stage 18–19 March (preliminary schedule)
Admissions results: published 2 June 2021

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 language of tuition in the Nordic Master in Folk Music (NoFo) programme is English. You must prove your language skills in English by the given deadline.

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.

First stage: Advance assignments

Advance assignments must be submitted to the Sibelius Academy Admissions Office online via the Studyinfo portal by the given deadline. Advance assignments cannot be submitted by e-mail.

Assignments must clearly state your name and the main subject or instrument you are applying to study. Do not submit any other advance assignments than the ones requested.

Please reserve enough time to upload your advance assignments. It can take up to hours to upload larger files if there is a lot of traffic in the system.

Submit the following advance assignments to the Sibelius Academy via the Studyinfo portal no later than 27 January 2021 (at 3pm EET):

1) Motivation essay (max. three A4 pages, you may title the essay as you wish), including the following details:

  • Your musical background, your education, and your relationship to folk music
  • Your experience of making music in an ensemble or other musical communication, if any
  • Your other activities related to folk music (e.g. teaching, research, organising, volunteering or other communal activities)
  • Why you are applying to study in Nordic Master in Folk Music -degree programme

2) Video recording

  • You are to perform a freely selected programme (max. duration 15 minutes). You must demonstrate a command of instrument or voice skills and a familiarity with Nordic folk music performance practices. The repertoire may consist of traditional or new folk music, folk music material composed by yourself, and improvisation. The programme must include a segment that demonstrates your familiarity with Finnish traditional folk music. In addition to performing on your main instrument, you may include a sample of your secondary instrument and voice performance.
  • The programme must be performed without sheet music and a minimum of 2/3 of the programme must be performed without an accompaniment.
  • The video recording should not be edited or cut. You must play the whole repertoire in one single take. If your video exceeds the 1 GB maximum, you may divide a single-take video into segments.
  • The material must include information about the musical source (e.g. composer and arranger).

Based on applications and the advance assignments, a select group of applicants will be invited to the second stage of the entrance examination. When choosing applicants to the second stage, especially the following areas will be assessed: instrumental skills, understanding the aesthetics of folk music and stylistic features of the performed repertoire, artistic vision, and interpretation within the folk music context.

Selected applicants will receive an invitation by e-mail, detailing the exact date and time of the examination. Others will be notified of rejection.

Second stage

The second stage of the examination will be held via remote connection. A stable internet connection is necessary.

The second stage of the examination consists of the following subparts:

  1. Instrument or voice audition and interview
  2. Sight reading, aural skills, and accompaniment in ensemble playing

Instrument or voice audition and interview

You are to perform a freely selected programme (max. duration 15 minutes). The most important part of the entrance examination is the freely selected programme, displaying your artistry and musical skills. The programme must demonstrate an acceptable mastery of your instrument(s) or voice, as well as a thorough knowledge of folk music interpretation in performance. The repertoire may consist of traditional or new folk music, folk music material composed by yourself, and improvisation. The programme must include a segment that demonstrates your familiarity with Finnish traditional folk music.

The programme must be performed without sheet music and a minimum of 2/3 of the programme must be performed without an accompaniment.

A short interview in English is included in the examination.

Sight reading, aural skills, and accompaniment in ensemble playing

In the sight-reading test you will play/sing a tune from the Nordic folk music traditions. You will receive the tune form the Entrance Examination Board shortly before the test.

In the aural skills (picking up tunes, rhythms and/or songs by ear) test you will play/sing a tune that you have not heard before. You will hear the tune several times, then you play it on your instrument.

In the accompaniment test your task is to improvise a harmony or an accompaniment to a tune that is presented to you at the test.

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.

Evaluation criteria

The admissions are based on the Entrance Examination Board’s assessment of your suitability for education and a career in music based on the entrance examination. The entrance examination assesses your technical and expressive skills, musical communication and perception skills, and knowledge of folk music.

The parts of the entrance examination are weighted as follows:

  • Performance audition 75 %
  • Interview and motivation essay 10 %
  • Ensemble playing / improvisation 10 %
  • Sight reading (prima vista) 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.

The Sibelius Acad­emy Ad­mis­sions Chat

What is it like to study at the Sibelius Academy and live in Helsinki? Please watch the recording of our admissions chat to find out! To watch the recording, please open it from below.

You can also listen to our fall 2020 edition of the admissions chat in Soundcloud. Click here if you wish to read the text version instead of listening to the audio recording.

Read more about the programme