Church music

As a church music student, you’ll receive high-quality and versatile training in music. You can choose to complete studies that will give you the qualifications to work in church musician posts within the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland or pursue a career as a pedagogue, singer, conductor or composer. The Sibelius Academy's Church Music education is organized in Helsinki and Kuopio.

In a nutshell

  • Target degree: Bachelor's and master's degrees in music, master's degree in music
  • Scope of the degree: BA+MA, 180 + 150 credits (3 yrs. + 2,5 yrs), master´s degree, 150 credits (2.5 yrs.)
  • Field of art: Music
  • Organiser: the Sibelius Academy
  • Next time to apply: January 2019
  • Studies begin: at the start of the academic year in August
  • Person responsible for the degree programme: Department Head Timo Kiiskinen (Helsinki), Department Head Seppo Kirkinen (Kuopio)

Objective of the studies and career opportunities

After completing a degree in church music, you can work as a versatile music expert and developer and as a musician, pedagogue or a researcher. As a cantor in a parish, you are in charge of planning the music for church services and performing it, and you can also work in other positions in the field of church music, including as a singer, musician or conductor. Church musicians work as artist-performers and researchers, for example. The training will give you the knowledge and skills concerning pedagogy, theology and instrument maintenance needed as a professional. Church music majors can choose to complete studies that will give them the qualifications for a church musician post within the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland. Depending on your interests, you can focus on early childhood education, solo musicianship, gospel music, or choral conducting, for example. 

Contents and structure of the education

Studies in vocal music, conducting and organ music are the core of church music training. Students will also acquire a wide set of skills that supports their musicianship.

By completing a bachelor’s degree, you’ll gain the basic competence needed to know how to plan the music for church services and how to perform and work in the field of church music. You will complete studies in improvisation, accompaniment, arranging and composing music, pedagogy, all-around music skills and research, and finally, at the end of your studies, you will complete a thesis project in liturgical music. You can review the course selection provided by the department of church music, Sibelius Academy or Uniarts Helsinki and choose the elective studies that interest you the most.

As a master’s student, you will reach a higher level in your instrument and expand your knowledge and skills in pedagogy and research. You will choose an area of specialisation – choral conducting, singing, organ music, a project, or research – or alternatively, you can design your own unique module of artistic studies. Degree requirements include a written work and a thesis project. Master’s students, too, can choose elective studies of their own choice from Uniarts Helsinki’s wide selection.

Doctoral studies and other further training

After graduation, you’ll have the option to apply for doctoral studies in music and specialise in researchoriented doctoral studies, arts-oriented doctoral studies or applied doctoral studies. At the Sibelius Academy, you may complete a Licentiate of Music (LMus) degree and a Doctor of Music (DMus) degree. 

How to apply

Annually, the Sibelius Academy’s takes approximately 30 new church music and organ students and a select few students who will major in the organ. Applicants to the Finnish- and the Swedish-speaking programmes are selected in two separate groups. The applicants are required to have good musical knowledge and skills. In addition, educability and motivation for church music study as well as sufficient skills in Finnish or Swedish are required. The church music programmes in Kuopio and Helsinki conduct a joint entrance examination.


In late 2011, Sibelius Academy’s church and organ music programmes were endowed with the new Helsinki Music Centre Organo Hall, where up to three instruments can be used for teaching and concerts. For student use, the Nervanderinkatu premises and the Kuopio Unit host several other instruments. The Metropolitan region and Kuopio churches are also available for organ and church music teaching.

Contact information and teaching staff

All University of the Arts Helsinki e-mail addresses are in the form firstname.lastname (at)


siba.admissions (at)


Head of Department Timo Kiiskinen
Church Music/Helsinki


Deputy Head of Department Pekka Suikkanen
Church Music/Helsinki


Contact information, Kuopio


Head of Department Seppo Kirkinen


Deputy Head of Department Mikko Korhonen

kuopioinfo (at)

Church Music teachers in Helsinki

Church Music teachers in Helsinki


Timo Kiiskinen (Department Head)
Olli Porthán



Jani Sivén
Pekka Suikkanen (Department Vice Head)
Peter Peitsalo
Susanna Metsistö
Ville Urponen
Jorma Hannikainen

Part-time teachers
Liisa Ahlberg
Hannele Ketomäki
Susanne Kujala
Elina Laakso
Anna Marte
Katja Mäkiö
Matti Pohjoisaho
Olli Pyylampi
Kaisa-Marja Sidoroff
Senni Valtonen
Hilkka-Liisa Vuori
Markus Malmgren
Markku Hietaharju
Markku Mäkinen
Mari Torri-Tuominen

Kirkkomusiikin opettajat Kuopiossa

Kirkkomusiikin opettajat Kuopiossa