Study abroad through ISEP in the United States, Asia, South America or Africa.

General information about ISEP

ISEP is an international student exchange programme which has member universities all over the world. The programme is based on reciprocity in student exchanges between the member universities and it is coordinated by the ISEP organization in the United States.

ISEP programme:

There are two kinds of ISEP exchanges: to the United States and outside of the United States:

  • International-to-International (outside the United States).
    ISEP has over 60 member universities from the following countries:

  • China
  • Indonesia
  • Japan
  • Korea
  • Malaysia
  • Taiwan
  • Thailand
  • Vietnam
  • Botswana
  • Ghana
  • Morocco
  • South Africa
South America Middle East
  • Argentina
  • Brazil
  • Chile
  • Columbia
  • Mexico
  • Nicaragua
  • Uruguay
  • United Arab Emirates
Oceania North America
  • Fiji
  • Canada

A list of universities in the ISEP International-to-International programme *

*) limitations to ISEP I to I host universities

  • NB! Out of the non-American ISEP member institutions, only those marked as "I to I International Exchange" are available for JYU students.
  • ISEP Direct universities have tuition fees. If the ISEP university is marked only as a Direct university, the applicant has to pay the tuition fee of the host university in addition to the normal ISEP costs. If the institution is also an I to I university, it is possible to apply for it without the ISEP Direct tuition fee.
  • Summer programmes ('S') are not available for JYU students.
  • It is not possible to apply to European universities through ISEP because there are many Erasmus placements available through the Erasmus+ programme.

Fields of study

In the ISEP programme, applicants are required to apply to several universities (to 10 universities in the final application). The ISEP office in the United States places the applicant into one of the universities. ISEP exchange is therefore best suited for applicants who can find suitable courses from several universities.

Whether a candidate gets into a certain university depends on the number of all applicants.

You can either study your major or your minor subject during the ISEP exchange. When applying to the ISEP universities, please choose universities which offer courses that deepen and support your current studies.

ISEP universities most suitable for you can be searched using the Find a Program search engine on the ISEP website.

Modes of study and course selection

Studies in many of the ISEP universities are more school-like in comparison to the Finnish university studies. Teachers give weekly home assignments and participation in classes in obligatory. Students in the US usually take about 12-15 credits per semester. The general rule is that one American credit on the undergraduate level is equal to two Finnish credits. On the graduate level, one American credit usually equals to 2.5 credits.

It should be noted that in many ISEP universities, especially in the US and in Canada, the basic degree is a 3- or 4-year Bachelor's degree. ISEP students mainly have the right to take courses from years 1-3. Some universities also allow students to take advanced (graduate-level) courses. If this is the case, the information will be stated on the university's introduction page on the ISEP website (courses for graduate (masters) level).

Exchange period and semesters

It is possibly to apply for ISEP exchange (to the US and non-US destinations) only for one semester. Please pay attention to the semesters at the host universities as they may differ from the Finnish semesters, especially in Japan, South America and Africa. In North and Central America the semesters follow more or less the same schedule as in Finland.

Check the semester dates of the host universities with the Find a Program search engine on the ISEP website.

NB! Because it is possible to apply for ISEP exchange for one semester only, you cannot apply to universities who only take students for a full academic year.

Accommodation and meals

ISEP students will usually get a room from the student dormitory on campus. The apartments are often of the "double-occupancy" type, i.e. one room houses two students. In Latin America, ISEP students often live with host families. The accommodation is included in the ISEP programme fee (see below) which means that you do not have to pay for it during your exchange.

Meals are arranged for ISEP students in the university cafeteria. Meals (min. 19 per week) are included in the ISEP fee (see below). Alternatively, the host university may pay the ISEP student a food stipend which covers food expenses. In Latin America, host families usually provide the meals.

Special characteristics of American campuses

Please note that most American ISEP universities are located in small towns. Malls, in which students often spend time, are located outside of city centres. However, universities often have a lot of free-time activities such as clubs and societies. Working on campus may also be possible during the exchange, although you have to apply for permission from ISEP to work during your studies.

Costs and funding

Costs of the ISEP programme

  • Application fee 100 $ (non-refundable)
  • Placement fee 325 $ (paid at acceptance after the ISEP organisation has found a placement for you)
  • ISEP fee
    In addition to the Placement Fee the student has to pay the ISEP fee before his/her exchange. The fee covers the living and the food costs during the exchange. During the academic year 2017-2018, the ISEP fee is 2800 € per semester. Living and meals are free of additional charges during the exchange.
  • Mandatory ISEP health and accident insurance (77 $ / month in academic year 2016-2017)
  • Visa (about 340 $ for the US)
  • TOEFL language test 245 $
  • Travel expenses

Funding of the ISEP exchange

  • University of Jyväskylä awards a travel grant to those going on ISEP exchange. In 2016-2017 the amount of the grant was
    • 1350 € for students going to North America or Asia
    • 1850 € for students going to South America, Africa or Australia

ISEP students do not have to pay tuition fees at their host university.

Language requirements

English ISEP destinations

For admission to English-speaking destinations (e.g. in the US or Canada), taking an English-language TOEFL test (Test of English as a Foreign Language) is usually required from the applicant. The required amount of points depends on the host university: usually the limit is 79 points but speficic point requirements can be found from the universities' pages on the ISEP website. The applicants must enroll for a TOEFL test as soon as the selection is completed at the University of Jyväskylä. Note: you do not have to enroll for the test during the application period.

The TOEFL test costs 245 $ (v. 2016) and you can take it in Helsinki. More information about the TOEFL test: and on the Fullbright Center webpage:

Non-English-speaking ISEP universities

The language requirements for non-English-speaking countries vary from country to country. Usually  approximately two years' of studies of the language of tuition are required.

Tuition in English is available (in addition to English-speaking countries) for example in:

  • South Korea
  • Ghana
  • South Africa
  • Morocco
  • United Arab Emirates
  • Indonesia
  • Malaysia
  • Taiwan (limited)
  • Thailand
  • Vietnam

Country-specific language requirements can be seen here:

A language certificate by a language teacher is needed for most non-English-speaking countries as proof of language skills. ISEP has drawn up a special Language Proficiency Report (LPR) form that those who are nominated for exchange need to acquire, but not before they have been nominated by JYU for the ISEP exchange (i.e. not yet at the first phase of application).


Application procedure

The ISEP application has two phases. First you apply at JYU for the right to participate in the ISEP programme, and after that, for the exchange place through the ISEP office which coordinates the exchange.

  • Those interested in the ISEP exchange fill out the application form of the University of Jyväskylä. The application period for the following academic year ends annually on November 1. The application period for additional places (when available) ends on 15 February. The application is done via the electronic application form. You can only apply for either American universities (ISEP-US) or ISEP-International universities (a mixture of the two types is not possible).

    Study plans to a minimum of three universities must be included in the application (= 3 US or 3 non-US universities). JYU makes the decision on who to nominate for ISEP exchange during November and all applicants are notified of the results by e-mail in December at the latest. The selection is done by the Director of Student and Academic Services based on the proposal of the student exchange selection committee.

  • The students who are nominated for ISEP exchange by the university send a full application to the ISEP programme. In the full ISEP application the applicant lists the destinations he/she is interested in (recommended number is 10 destinations) from the group of universities that can be applied to in the application round in question. A list of such universities are published on the ISEP webpage before the application periods of spring/autumn.

    The ISEP office places the applicant into one of the chosen destinations.

    Due to the nature of the ISEP programme it is best suited for applicants who have many suitable host universities. The ISEP office finds a place for 95 per cent of those applying to the US, and the host universities admit 95 per cent of those applicants. NB! There are also very competitive destinations in the ISEP programme (e.g. all Australian destinations) that are hard or very hard to get in to.

Selection criteria

The selection criteria regarding the applications at JYU include:

  • study performance (grades and progress of studies)
  • a suitable timing of the exchange period. NB! 1st year students and those at a very advanced stage of their studies are chosen for the popular destinations only in exceptional cases
  • the applicant's motivation and academic grounds
  • study plan, study goals, credit transfer to the applicant's degree
  • language skills
  • earlier exchanges, if applicable

The selection also aims to show a balance between applicants from different faculties.

  • Those nominated for ISEP exchange by JYU have to fill out the full ISEP applications for the ISEP office. At this point the applicants must (based on the instructions of the host universities) either sign up for the TOEFL language test or ask for a language certificate from their language teacher. The applicants are instructed on acquiring the language certificate.

Chances of getting into ISEP exchange


Because the ISEP exchange is based on reciprocation, the annual number of ISEP places depends on the number of ISEP students coming to Jyväskylä. In 2016/2017 there are likely to be about 8 places to the US (for one semester) and 6 to 8 places outside the US.



Application statistics

to the US 6 35 8 38
outside US 6 29 8 24


ISEP exchange experiences

(mostly in Finnish)

 More ISEP exchange experiences on the website of the ISEP programme: Blog

More information

You can get more information about the ISEP programme from the International Coordinator at the International Office.