How to find a suitable supervisor
Finding supervisors willing to guide you through your thesis project is one of the most important steps when preparing your application. Here's a few tips to help you succeed:
- Start early. This means months in advance rather than weeks. Finding the right match can be time-consuming.
- Do your research. You are more likely to get a positive response if the researchers you approach share your research interests. Approach prospective supervisors as if you were applying for a job – sending the same generic message to various recipients is unlikely to provide the hoped-for results. Familiarise yourself with the supervisors' research profiles, and try to select the people you approach based on mutual research interests.
- Pay attention to detail. At least one of your supervisors must be employed (permanent or long-term) by the faculty awarding your prospective target degree, and at least one needs to hold the title of docent or similar scientific qualifications – i.e. be a senior researcher in your field. When you find potential supervisors, make sure that at least one of them fulfills these requirements.
- Be precise. Supervisors receive a lot of emails. When you approach a prospective supervisor, present your topic and motivation in a clear, succinct manner to allow them to easily estimate whether your topic is something they would be interested in supervising and whether it seems feasible.
- Be patient and prepare for disappointments. In the process of finding a supervisor, you are likely to receive several negative responses – or, sometimes, no response at all. Sometimes your topic is simply not a good match for the person you approached, and sometimes supervisors do not have room for new students in their research groups. If you get a negative response, move on. Also be aware that you may not find a supervisor if your research topic is not widely represented at the University of Helsinki.
From the the University of Helsinki Research Portal you can search for individual research profiles as well as by using keywords related to your research. Keep in mind that the research portal lists all researchers affiliated with the University of Helsinki – including current doctoral candidates, who should not be considered as prospective supervisors. If the person is employed, you will see their job title on their profile page.