Admissions to doctoral studies

Planning to apply for a doctoral study right at the Doctoral Programme in Philosophy, Arts and Society? 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 spring 2024 application period is from April 3, 2024 09:00 AM EEST until April 16, 2024 03:00 PM EEST.

  • Admission results will be released by June 6, 2024.
  • Offered study places must be accepted by June 19, 2024.
  • Granted study rights will start on August 1, 2024.

The exact dates for application period in the autumn 2024 will be announced later.

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). The supervisors named in the application must have preliminarily agreed to the task.
  • Your previous degree must be relevant to the planned research topic and discipline. A degree is regarded as relevant if it includes sufficient studies in a discipline which, given the topic of the proposed doctoral dissertation, can be regarded as a suitable basis for doctoral studies.
  • All the studies required for the degree you apply with completed, graded and registered by the end of the relevant application period. 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 Arts)
  • Doctor of Social Sciences (Faculty of Social Sciences)

Most students complete a Doctor of Philosophy degree, but those with a topic related to social and moral philosophy and a background in social sciences can opt for the Doctor of Social Sciences degree.

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

Availability of high-quality supervision is a central part of the selection criteria. The programme requires that the supervision arrangements presented in the application meet the following requirements:

  • You 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 you're applying to.
  • At least one of the supervisors must hold the title of docent or similar scientific qualifications.
  • The supervisors mentioned in the application must have preliminarily agreed to the task.

If the search for a second supervisor is still underway when the application period ends, exceptions can be made: it's possible to submit an application and be accepted with only one supervisor, provided that this supervisor is in a permanent or long-term employment to the faculty you're applying to, and that the search for a second supervisor is underway. Please note, however, the the lack of a second supervisor can impact the evaluation of your application.

At least one supervisor is always required – if no one has agreed to supervise you, you are unfortunately not eligible to apply.

Please note that the doctoral programme's decision-making is not bound by the preliminary agreements to supervise given by the potential supervisors. The evaluation of the applications is based on their overall quality, and available supervision resources alone do not guarantee acceptance.

In addition to the supervisors, each accepted new student will be appointed a coordinating academic. Finding a suitable coordinating academic is not the applicant's task – the supervisors will take care of this as a part of the evaluation process.

The following are emphasized in the assessment of the quality of the research plan:

  • Feasibility
  • Scientific significance
  • Suitability to the programme's research profile

When assessing the provisional timetables presented in the applications, special attention is paid to the fact that a full-time doctoral student should aim to complete the dissertation and related studies in approx. 4 years. Supervisors are expected to support this goal.

The following are emphasized when assessing the quality and suitability of previous studies:

  • Suitability of the previous degree as a basis for the planned dissertation project
  • Previous study performance

When assessing the study plan presented in the application, the following things are considered:

  • Feasibility
  • Appropriateness for the planned dissertation project

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.

In addition to meeting the general language requirements placed for doctoral applicants at the University of Helsinki, you must have sufficient command of any possible other languages you will need related to your own specific doctoral research topic. For example, if you are planning to write your doctoral thesis in Spanish, or the bulk of your planned source material is in German, you must prove that you have sufficient skills in these languages.

These language skills are evaluated based on preliminary supervision discussions, other possible contacts and the application documents. The supervisors will, as a part of the evaluation process, give their estimate on the adequacy of these language skills. The final evaluation is made by the doctoral programme’s steering group.

The research proposal must specify the planned language of the doctoral dissertation. When assessing the research proposal, consideration will be given to whether the supervision of the applicant as well as the preliminary examination, approval, and assessment of the doctoral dissertation are possible in the language specified by the applicant.

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 18 new students.

No more than half of the yearly quota can be admitted in the spring round of applications.

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.

Before making the proposal, the doctoral programme will ask for a statement from the relevant discipline. The decision-making of the faculty and the steering group are not bound by the recommendations received from the disciplines.

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