Finnish Studies Program at Columbia University

About the Finnish Studies Program

The Finnish Studies Program at Columbia University offers courses in Finnish language and culture. The courses can be used to fulfill the foreign language requirement at Columbia and for linguistics students to fulfill the Non-Indo-European language requirement. You can start studying Finnish as a total beginner or, if you already know some Finnish, you may be placed in intermediate or advanced courses. Contact the Finnish instructor to find the most suitable course for you. Classes are relatively small, which entails ample teacher attention and friendly atmosphere. The Program has a small reference library with works both in the original language and in translation. Furthermore, the Columbia libraries have got an extensive collection of Finnish literature, both fiction and non-fiction.

Students taking Finnish represent different schools and various areas of study. We have had students from Barnard College, Columbia College, School of Continuing Education, School of Engineering and Applied Science, School of General Studies, Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation etc. They have been majors in fields such as Anthropology, Architecture, Biology, Computer Science, English, Environmental Science, French, German Literature and Cultural History, Hispanic Studies, Political Science, Linguistics and Political Science.

The Finnish Studies Program is located in The Deutsches Haus, located at 420 W 116th St, on the second floor. It is part of the Department of Germanic Languages and Literatures where alongside German you can also study Finnish, Swedish, Dutch and Yiddish.


Finnish Courses at Columbia

Columbia University offers 3 courses of Finnish every semester. The choice of courses varies but Elementary Finnish I is offered every fall semester. To see the accurate list of courses, follow this link. You can also contact the Finnish instructor for more detailed information.

For more information, contact Tiina Haapakoski, Director of Finnish Studies Program and Lecturer in Finnish @

Elementary Finnish I - II   (4 credits)

This course is for students with little or no previous knowledge of Finnish. Focuses on the development of basic language skills: listening, speaking, reading, and writing skills with Finnish culture 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)

Development of intermediate linguistic competence in Finnish (listening, speaking, reading, and writing) using a communicative approach. Study of Finnish culture by incorporating authentic materials. Students learn to talk about their studies/work, free time, traveling, expressing their likes and dislikes etc. Prepares students for advanced Finnish language and culture.

Advanced Finnish I – II   (3 credits)

Further development and refinement in Finnish grammar, speaking, reading, and writing skills. Emphasizes cross-cultural awareness through the study of short stories, films, and passages from novels. Students learn more about Finnish way of life and Finnish culture. Fosters the ability to write about and discuss a variety of topics using relatively complex structures.

Advanced readings in Finnish   (3 credits)

Students read authentic Finnish texts; fiction and non-fiction, mainly short stories, newspaper and magazine articles, and passages from novels. Students are exposed to colloquial Finnish through the readings and films.

Advanced readings in Finnish Society and Culture  (3 credits)

Students get more familiar with Finnish society and culture through articles, authentic texts, and films. Focuses on developing students’ discussion, composition and critical thinking skills with cross-cultural awareness.  

Introduction to Finnish Society and Culture   (3 credits)

An introduction to Finnish Society and Culture conducted in English. Students learn about Finnish history, welfare state, educational system, gender equality, the arts, and architecture etc.

         Painting by Akseli Gallen-Kallela

Upcoming Events

All our events are free and open to the public. Welcome!

Wednesday, April 2, 2014 at 6pm
Deutsches Haus, Columbia University, 420 West 116th St.

Comics in Concert

Art & Music performance (collaborative storytelling)

A trio consisting of an illustrator, guitarist and accordion player create fascinating new art.

The musicians’ improvised jazz sound is complemented by a third, soundless instrument, while the live comic drawing takes its inspiration from the music. Ville Ranta, Aleksi Ranta and Niko Kumpuvaara are all masters of their own craft but Comics in Concert is more than the sum of its parts; here, drawing becomes music and music becomes storytelling.

              Illustration by Comic Illustrator Ville Ranta

Comics in Concert in Stockholm:

For more information, see 


Thursday, April 10, 2014  @ 6.10pm
317 Hamilton Hall, Columbia University

Early Finnish-American Cookbooks: Ethnicity, Class and Gender in Perspective

A talk by Hanna Snellman, Professor of European Ethnology
Vice Dean of Arts, University of Helsinki


Past Events

Thursday, Nov 21 @ 8pm, 717 Hamilton Hall, Columbia University
Finnish Movie Night: Mika Kaurismäki: Kolme viisasta miestä / Three Wise Men (2008)

Suomi-kahvila, Finnish Conversation Hour, Deutsches Haus, Columbia University
November 13, 2013

Thursday, Sep 26 @ 8pm, 717 Hamilton Hall, Columbia University
Finnish Movie Night: Hanna Maylett: Erottamattomat / Sisters Apart (2006)

Wednesday, Oct 23 @ 8.15pm, 703 Hamilton Hall, Columbia University
Finnish Movie Night: Aki Kaurismäki: Laitakaupungin valot / Lights in the Dusk (2006)

SLIC Language Fair (Language Fair for Less Commonly Taught Languages), Low Plaza, Columbia University, April 17, 2013

The New Nordic Cuisine in New York City Symposium, Northwest Corner Building, Columbia University. The symposium was made possible by the generous support of the Coordinating Committee for Nordic Studies Abroad. April 6, 2013

The Seventh Multilingual Kalevala Marathon, Deutsches Haus, Columbia University.
March 6, 2013

November 10, 2011. Artist and Social Worker Miina Savolainen: The Loveliest Girl in the World. Presentation & Discussion. Deutsches Haus, Columbia University.

October 13, 2011. A talk by author Meritta Koivisto on Creative Writing. Deutsches Haus, Columbia University. 

The sixth Multilingual Kalevala MarathonAn event with over 80 participants; readings of the Kalevala in sixteen languages and performances by Finnish actors, dancers and musicians. February 28, 2011. 

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