University of Helsinki tenure track

The University of Helsinki attracts top international researchers with its transparent tenure track system. The goal is to increase the predictability, competitiveness and attractiveness of academic careers. A tailored career path and a transparent international recruitment process promote first-class research in a unique research and teaching environment.
The Helsinki tenure track model
Tailored career paths on the tenure track

The tenure track system provides internationally recognised top researchers with a clear and predictable way to progress to a professorship. At the University of Helsinki, all assistant and associate professors are provided with their own tailored career paths and individuals goals, and their career advancement is supported. 

  • Clear and transparent practices: Criteria and processes have been determined for recruitment, review and progress.
  • Individual goals: Individual criteria are determined for assistant and associate professors and used to assess successful performance.
  • Personal commitment: After being hired on the tenure track, the individual is responsible for their progress, as they no longer compete with others for appointment as a professor.
  • Equal system: The tenure track applies to all assistant and associate professorships at the University of Helsinki.


The University of Helsinki tenure track system has three stages: assistant professor, associate professor and full professor. Recruitment is possible for any of the above stages, depending on the appointee’s career level, as assessed during the recruitment process.

1. Fixed-term assistant professorship for three to five years

  • Promotion review: Achievement of the individual criteria set for the assistant professorshi

2. Fixed-term associate professorship for three to five years

  • Promotion review: Achievement of the individual criteria set for the associate professorship
  • Tenure review: Assessment in relation to the criteria for a professorship

3. Permanent professorship

Advancement on the tenure track is always assessed comprehensively. Individual goals are set for the assistant or associate professorship in relation to the requirements for the next stage. These criteria guide the development of professional skills and support the appointee’s progress on the career track. Meeting the challenges posed demonstrates that the appointee is determined to pursue a career as a professor at the University of Helsinki. In the recruitment and tenure track advancement of assistant or associate professors and professors, assessment focuses on three areas:

  • Research qualifications
  • Teaching and supervision qualifications
  • Public and academic engagement


Assessment is always comprehensive and based on the criteria set for each stage of the tenure track. The assessment criteria are founded on Rector’s Decision HY/125/

Assistant professors

Assistant professors must demonstrate their academic potential and ability to develop in their academic career. When recruiting for the first term on the tenure track, the goal is to identify future talent.

When recruiting assistant professors, the following are considered:

  • Research qualifications of a high level in terms of academic experience, and evidence of an independent research approach and the originality and quality of research
  • Quality and quantity of peer-reviewed publications or monographs
  • Activities in Finnish and international research groups and networks
  • Postgraduate studies, postdoctoral periods or work abroad
  • Being considered a future talent by representatives in the field
  • Demonstration of motivation to develop teaching, and teaching experience and other teaching qualifications, if any
  • Activities in academic research communities
  • Evidence of active efforts to obtain competitive research funding

Associate professors

Associate professors are required to have not only future potential, but also significant scholarly qualifications. They must exhibit clear potential for being appointed to a permanent (full) professorship.

When recruiting associate professors, the following are considered:

  • Evidence of continuous high-quality scholarly research on an upward trajectory
  • Independent production of peer-reviewed publications issued in significant publication series or publication channels in the field, or monographs issued by major publishers
  • Activities in international research groups or networks as well as work abroad
  • Being valued as a researcher by representatives in the field
  • Demonstration of teaching and supervision experience, and evidence of teaching development and other teaching qualifications
  • Activities (incl. leadership experience) in academic research communities
  • Evidence of obtaining competitive research funding
  • Participation in public and academic engagement


An appointee to a professorship must have strong academic qualifications and be recognised as having a significant influence on their field.

When recruiting a (full) professor, the following qualifications are taken into account:

  • High-quality scholarly qualifications and significant publication qualifications
  • Evidence of leading scholarly research
  • Evidence of supervising doctoral theses and other supervision experience 
  • Ability to provide high-quality research-based teaching
  • Strong teaching experience, pedagogical training, teaching demonstration assessed with the grade of good or higher
  • Ability to produce and develop learning material
  • Experience, expertise and evidence of serving as an academic leader, strong leadership and interaction skills
  • Activity within the scholarly community
  • Evidence of obtaining significant competitive research funding
  • International scholarly work and international elected positions
  • Evidence of public engagement
Opportunity to concentrate on research

As one of the University of Helsinki’s key tenets is that high-quality teaching is based on research, the opportunity to concentrate on research is a central element of the tenure track. Consequently, in the tenure track system, all assistant and associate professors are expected to both teach and do research. Appointees to these positions play an important role in designing and teaching courses in their field. From an international perspective, their duties at the University of Helsinki include a fairly small amount of teaching.

Teaching and research staff have an annual workload of 1,612 hours. Working hours are highly flexible: many duties can be completed independent of time and place, and staff included in the annual workload system are themselves responsible for how they spend their working hours.

Attractive incentives and quality services

The University of Helsinki and Finnish society as a whole offer a wide range of services available to all those working in Helsinki.

Pay is based on the salary system of Finnish universities. Requirement levels are determined for all positions on the basis of the four-level career model for researchers. In addition, each employee receives a salary component based on personal performance.

The University of Helsinki supports tenure track researchers with various services as well.

Researchers living in Finland can maintain a healthy work–life balance, as Finnish society offers a variety of services to families with children.

International and transparent recruitment process of assistant professors, associate professors and professors

The University of Helsinki aims to find the most talented and motivated individuals for its tenure track positions. The University’s recruitment process has been praised for being transparent, international and professionally carried out. All recruitment decisions are based on careful consideration by distinguished internal and external experts. We communicate with applicants openly throughout the recruitment process.

As a rule, the University fills tenure track positions through open, international application processes. The Universities Act stipulates that a professorship can be filled by invitation when an academically distinguished person is being invited to take the position or a candidate is appointed for a fixed term. In exceptional cases, the invitation procedure can be used for an associate professorship too.

Recruitment process overview

Because of the multiple stages involved in a recruitment process, its duration varies from six to 12 months. 

1. Surveying prospective candidates and opening the position for applications

The University of Helsinki uses an open recruitment process for positions on its tenure track. These positions are usually open rank, which means the faculty is open to hiring a candidate at the assistant, associate or full professor level.

Faculties can identify potential candidates for tenure-track positions by establishing a search committee or equivalent group.

2. Assessing and shortlisting candidates

At the next stage of the recruitment process, candidates are assessed and the top candidates are shortlisted. When recruiting for a tenure track position, the dean establishes an appointment committee including five professors. In exceptional cases, two members of this committee can be other individuals holding the title of docent and the experience required for the task.

When establishing the appointment committee, any disqualification issues must be considered. The University of Helsinki promotes equality in all operations and thus aims to name both women and men to serve on appointment committees.

After the appointment committee has drawn up a shortlist, all candidates are notified whether they are on it.

3. Assessing and interviewing the shortlisted candidates, evaluating their teaching skills, and conducting aptitude tests (shortlisted candidates only)

The appointment committee requests statements from two external assessors on the scholarly qualifications and other merits of the shortlisted candidates. The aim is to invite both women and men as assessors. See detailed information below under Instructions for assessors.

The shortlisted candidates are invited to an interview conducted by the appointment committee according to an interview framework agreed in advance. Candidates may be interviewed twice during the recruitment process.

The teaching skills committee of the relevant faculty assesses the teaching skills of the shortlisted candidates based on the faculty matrix designed for this purpose. This assessment demonstrates whether the candidate has the teaching skills required for the position. The matrices used by faculties differ slightly (see faculty instructions on their website in the section on the assessment of teaching skills). Typically, the teaching skills matrix encompasses the following areas:

  • Pedagogical training and teaching philosophy
  • Teaching experience and development
  • Thesis supervision experience
  • Ability to produce learning material
  • Other teaching merits
  • Demonstration of teaching skills

For the assessment of teaching skills, the shortlisted candidates give teaching demonstrations on a topic chosen by the appointment committee; the topic is usually the same topic for all candidates. The purpose is to illustrate in a pedagogically appropriate manner how the candidates would teach a certain topic to a certain group of students. The demonstration focuses on the development of students’ knowledge and skills and on active student engagement, thus differing considerably from a scholarly presentation. The duration of each teaching demonstration is 20 to 30 minutes. The shortlisted candidates receive instructions on the assessment of teaching skills and on the teaching demonstration in advance. At the end of the recruitment process, they are provided with a statement on their teaching skills.

This stage of the recruitment process can be implemented as a visit to the faculty. In this case, the shortlisted candidates can also give a scholarly presentation, meet other researchers in the field and familiarise themselves with the infrastructure in the field, depending on the practices of the faculty and the recruitment process in question.

In some recruitment processes, the shortlisted candidates may also be invited to take an aptitude test, carried out by the University’s contractual partner.

4. Submitting an appointment proposal and deciding on the appointment

The appointment committee assesses the shortlisted candidates comprehensively to obtain an overview of their qualifications. The committee then submits an appointment proposal to the faculty dean, who proposes the appointee to the rector. The rector decides on the appointment after carefully examining the application documents and other material produced during the recruitment process.

When the recruitment decision has been made, the faculty contacts the new assistant professor, associate professor or professor to make practical arrangements, after which an employment contract is signed. If the appointment is as an assistant or associate professor, specific criteria are drawn up for the appointee’s successful performance during their term. Each of the other shortlisted candidates is informed of the appointment decision.



As part of the overall assessment procedure, the University of Helsinki invites experts to assess the scholarly qualifications of shortlisted candidates.

The instructions below are for the experts assessing candidates for assistant professorships, associate professorships and professorships and serving in tenure review processes, the reviews of the terms of assistant and associate professors, and invitation procedures.

1. Inviting assessors, disqualification

The dean invites assessors based on the proposal of the appointment committee. In each recruitment procedure, at least two assessors are invited to issue a statement on all shortlisted candidates.

The assessors are usually professors or have equivalent academic qualifications. When choosing assessors, the research field of the position to be filled is taken into account.

Certain restrictions apply to assessors. General principles of disqualification are followed in the assessment procedure.

  • Assessors cannot have co-authored publications or engaged in other academic collaboration with the relevant candidates during the past three years.
  • Assessors are also disqualified if they have applied for or received a grant with the candidate during the past three years or are the candidate’s supervisor (in the past 10 years), close friend or close relative.
  • To avoid conflicts of interest, assessors are asked to explain in their statements how they know the candidate.

2. Assessment of candidates, assessor statements

The University of Helsinki adheres to the recommendations and principles of the responsible evaluation of researchers and asks assessors to apply the same in the assessment of candidates. Assessors are asked to draw up a comprehensive assessment of the candidates’ scholarly qualifications and submit a short written statement on their strengths and weaknesses and on each candidate’s suitability for the field of the position. In addition, assessors are asked to comment in their statements on the tenure track stage (assistant professor, associate professor, professor) suitable for which each shortlisted candidate and to group the candidates into those they would highly recommend, recommend and not recommend for the position.

Assessors are provided with instructions or templates to aid them in their task and ensure the equal quality and usability of their statements.

In accordance with the Act on the Openness of Government Activities, assessor statements are delivered to all the shortlisted candidates at the end of the process. On the same grounds, other parties must be provided with the statements upon request.

3. Principles for the recruitment of assistant professors, associate professors and professors at the University of Helsinki

University of Helsinki tenure track

In accordance with the University’s three-level tenure track system, candidates can be recruited to serve as assistant professors for fixed-term employment of three to five years, at the end of which they may advance on the tenure track to another fixed-term employment of three to five years as associate professors. If the terms for tenure are met at the end of the associate professor’s term, the person can be appointed to a permanent professorship. When recruited, candidates can be appointed to any stage on the tenure track, depending on their career stage.

The Regulations of the University of Helsinki determine the qualification requirements for professors (section 34) and assistant and associate professors (section 37). Further information is available in the Regulations.

The University of Helsinki has defined detailed assessment criteria for the recruitment of assistant professors, associate professors and professors. The same criteria also apply to the end-of-term reviews of assistant and associate professors and to tenure decisions.

Provisions on disqualification in University of Helsinki recruitment processes

The purpose of disqualification provisions is to promote the impartiality of decision-making and prevent undue influence over decisions. All decisions must be fair and balanced.

Disqualified persons cannot participate in proceedings or be present during discussions. Individuals are found disqualified if their impartiality is compromised. Individuals themselves are responsible for considering the need for their disqualification and raising the issue.

Typical disqualification cases:

  • Close scholarly collaboration: Co-authored publications and other close collaboration over the past three years, as well as joint funding or funding applications over the past three years. Serving as a doctoral thesis supervisor constitutes grounds for disqualification for the next 10 years.
  • Close connections between the individuals concerned: These include relationships between immediate supervisors and employees, and those between friends, mentors and close relatives.

To protect candidate rights, the composition of the appointment committee should not change during the process. However, disqualification issues may pose challenges and impede the progress of a recruitment process. Consequently, the appointment committee may be supplemented in exceptional cases based on consideration of all relevant circumstances. This may be the case, for example, if a candidate whose involvement in the process had led to another individual’s disqualification withdraws from the process.

4. Equality and diversity in recruitment

The University of Helsinki is committed to promoting equality and preventing discrimination in all its operations. Assessors must comply with the principles of equality and diversity when assessing the shortlisted candidates and should consider unconscious biases, if any, about gender, ethnicity, age or other factors that may contribute to discrimination.

The University of Helsinki promotes equal recruitment regardless of gender. It aims to ensure equal opportunities for career advancement at all levels. Recruitment is based on clear and transparent criteria, based on which the qualifications of all candidates are assessed equally. If possible, both women and men[KE2]  are selected for appointment committees and as assessors.

Read more: Equality and diversity at the University of Helsinki

5. Academic careers at the University of Helsinki

Exploring the academic career options available at the University of Helsinki helps assessors evaluate candidates. Applications may include Finnish terms and expressions.




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