Admissions to doctoral studies

Planning to apply for a doctoral study right at Doctoral Programme in Cognition, Learning, Instruction, and Communication? Good choice! We admit new doctoral students twice a year, so pay attention to the application deadlines, start preparations in good time, and make sure you've acquainted yourself with the selection criteria before you apply.
Admissions periods

The programme admits new doctoral students twice a year: once in the spring and once in the autumn.

The autumn 2024 application period is from September 4, 2024, 09:00 AM EEST until September 17, 2024, 03:00 PM EEST.

  • Admission results will be released by November 21, 2024.
  • Offered study places must be accepted by December 5, 2024.
  • Granted study rights will start on January 1, 2025.

The spring 2025 application period is from April 2, 2025, 09:00 AM EEST until April 15, 2025, 03:00 PM EEST.

  • Admission results will be released by June 19, 2025.
  • Offered study places must be accepted by July 3, 2025.
  • Granted study rights will start on August 1, 2025.

A doctoral study right can only be gained through the admissions process. Applying to the programme outside the set admission periods is not possible.

Who can apply?

In addition to the university's general requirements for doctoral applicants on eligibility and language proficiency, the doctoral programme requires the following conditions are met:

  • Applications must meet the minimum requirements set for supervisory arrangements (see selection criteria). Application must include a supervision agreement, signed by the applicant, responsible academic and supervisors. If there's difficulties in obtaining the signatures, the supervisors can confirm their commitment to supervision to -address.
  • If you have not yet graduated, you need to have all the studies (incl. thesis) required for the degree you apply with completed, graded and registered by the end of the relevant application period. This must be confirmed in a free-of form certificate by an official representative (e.g., Student Services Office) of the university awarding the degree. No exceptions are made to this rule. Applicants who are granted a study right must be able to present a certified copy of their official degree diploma before accepting the offered study place.

Only applications meeting the formal criteria for eligibility continue to scientific evaluation in the doctoral programmes.

The target degrees available within the programme are:

  • Doctor of Philosophy (Faculty of Medicine)
  • Doctor of Philosophy (Education)
  • Doctor of Philosophy (Faculty of Educational Sciences)
  • Doctor of Philosophy (Faculty of Arts)

The Doctor of Philosophy (Education) degree is only available to students who have completed advanced studies in education.

Please note that your supervisory arrangements must match your chosen target degree and home faculty. At least one of your supervisors must be in a permanent or long-term employment to the faculty you're applying to.

Doctoral programme's selection criteria

A doctoral student must have at least two supervisors who have completed a doctoral degree. At least one of the supervisors must be in a permanent or long-term employment at the Faculty awarding the doctoral degree and at least one of the supervisors must hold the title of docent or similar scientific qualifications.

A supervision agreement is required when applying. Supervision agreements are not binding at the application stage; they only become binding if the right to complete a degree is granted.

Professors involved in doctoral programmes can simultaneously supervise up to twelve (12) full-time doctoral students. Lecturers, docents, assistant professors and holders of similar positions can simultaneously supervise up to six (6) full-time doctoral students. The quotas are not absolute. They depend on how many full-time and part-time students a supervisor is in charge of, the supervisor’s previous performance in that role, as well as his or her research duties and other responsibilities in the University community.

In addition to supervisors, each doctoral researcher needs to have a coordinating academic, who may also serve as one of the dissertation supervisors. The coordinating academic is either a professor or a docent employed by the faculty and familiar with the rules and practices related to doctoral education at the University of Helsinki. A coordinating academic can also be an associate professor (tenure track, level 2).

In assessing the quality of applicants’ research plan, the programme considers

  • feasibility
  • scientific significance
  • suitability to the profile of the doctoral programme
  • ethical issues and
  • mobility

In addition, research plans are assessed for their realism and appropriateness.

The admission criteria include previous academic performance, the applicable content of previous studies to the prospective doctoral programme, the study plan and the research proposal (General guidelines for the student admissions of doctoral programmes, RD No HY/588/2020).

Study plans are specifically assessed for their realism and appropriateness.

Before drawing up your own preliminary study plan, please acquaint yourself with the doctoral programme's degree requirements. The study plan presented in the application is preliminary, and need not list specific courses. The important thing is that you have given thought on what kind of studies would best support your thesis work and drawn up a preliminary timetable for completing these studies.

It’s good to note that admissions to the programme are quite competitive and it’s important to prepare the application carefully. The number of applications received varies from one round to another, but in a typical round of applications approximately half of the applicants can be accepted.

The yearly admission quota for the year 2024 is 20 new students.

How to apply?

Acquainted with the selection criteria and all set to apply? Great! Now go back to the university's general instructions for doctoral applicants, where you will find all the information you need to prepare and submit your application and the needed enclosures. Good luck!


Decisions on admissions for doctoral studies in the programme are made based on the university’s general criteria for doctoral admissions as well as the programme-specific complementary selection criteria, presented on this page.

The final decision on admission is made by the faculty awarding the applicant’s target degree, based on a proposal from the steering group of the doctoral programme.

A timetable for decisions is available in the university's general instructions for doctoral applicants.