Employment as a doctoral candidate
Once a year, the doctoral programme opens a call for applications for university-funded doctoral candidate positions. The doctoral candidates selected for these positions complete their doctoral research employed by the university. Both current University of Helsinki doctoral candidates and new applicants planning on doctoral studies are eligible to apply for these positions.
Instructions for applicants

The University of Helsinki (UH) annually allocates funding to doctoral programmes for salaried positions (employment contract). These doctoral candidate positions are designated as full-time work. The aim is that doctoral candidates employed by the University will pursue a post-graduate doctoral degree, which should be completed within four years.

A share of the positions are earmarked in particular for multidisciplinary projects that promote the goals of sustainable development in all fields of science.

The next application period for salaried positions is open from August 23 to September 7, 2021 (23.59 PM EEST). Please apply for a position using the electronic application form for salaried positions (see section "Application form").

Both current University of Helsinki doctoral candidates and new applicants planning doctoral studies are eligible to apply for these positions. 

Please read the application instructions carefully before applying. If you are also planning to apply for the right to pursue a post-graduate doctoral degree, remember to read the instructions related to applying for a doctoral study right.

Salaried doctoral candidate positions are aimed at enabling full-time work on dissertations and postgraduate studies, with the goal of completing a doctoral degree in four years. The exact duration of employment, its’ start and end dates are determined in the employment contract. 

The salary and other further details concerning the employment relationship are available in the call for applications.

You can apply for a salaried position in a doctoral programme if you are currently a doctoral candidate at the University of Helsinki or are planning to pursue a doctoral degree. 

If you already have a doctoral study right at the University of Helsinki, you can apply for a salaried position, provided you have not yet spent a total of four years with a UH funded doctoral candidate salary.

If you do not yet have the right to pursue a postgraduate doctoral degree, you may apply for a doctoral study right in the September call for doctoral study rights or in the spring at the latest. In this case, please read carefully the instructions for doctoral study right applicants.

Applications for a salaried position in a doctoral programme are submitted by completing an electronic form and enclosing the required attachments. 

If you already have the right to pursue a post-graduate doctoral degree at the University of Helsinki and you are applying for a salaried position in your doctoral programme:  

  • Read the application instructions regarding salaried positions
  • Complete the electronic application form 

If you do not yet have the right to pursue a post-graduate doctoral degree at the University of Helsinki, you must apply for the right in the September study right call or in the spring at the latest . Please note that this may result in your employment beginning later than 1 January 2022. According to the guidelines of the University of Helsinki, individuals recruited to salaried doctoral candidate positions must gain admittance to doctoral studies (doctoral study right) within the six-month trial period of the employment. 

If you already have the right to pursue a post-graduate doctoral degree at the University of Helsinki, you may apply for a salaried position from another doctoral programme that suits your research profile. If you receive a salaried position from another doctoral programme, you will need to change your doctoral programme. Please note that you may need to reapply for post-graduate study rights if your faculty or target degree change in relation to an awarded salaried position. This application should be made in the spring at the latest, but please note that this may affect the start date of your potential employment. 

If you are applying for a salaried position in more than one doctoral programme, please complete a separate application form for each one.

The application form calls for information on your research and study plan, skills that support writing a doctoral dissertation, the title and abstract of your master’s thesis, as well as details on your supervisory arrangements (in the case of certain doctoral programmes).

The electronic application form for salaried positions is open during the application period.

The research plan is the most important part of your application, and it must be entered into the specified fields in the application form, divided into the sections described below. Please prepare your research plan according to this division and the maximum number of characters including spaces for each section. More specific information can be found below and the application form is open for approximately two weeks before the call.

The application form sections concerning the research plan (maximum number of characters including spaces in parentheses): 

  • Preliminary title of the doctoral thesis 
  • Field of research (menu) 
  • Specification or additional information on the field of research (unrestricted text field) 
  • Brief summary of the research plan (2,000) 
  • Research plan contains mathematical special characters or chemical formulas 
  • Motivation for conducting doctoral research (2,000) 
  • Rationale for the research project (2,000) 
  • Objectives of the research and scientific impact of research results (2,000) 
  • Research methods and materials to be used and its significance for the research project (3,500) 
  • Preliminary plan on the collection, use and storage of research material (1,500) 
  • Ethical issues (1,000) 
  • Does the research project require animal testing
  • I ask that my application be considered also for the positions earmarked for projects that promote the goals of sustainable development.  
  • The most important literature references for the research plan (2,500) 
  • Form of the dissertation (article-based or monograph) 
  • Publication plan and timetable for the articles or a preliminary outline of the monograph (1,000)
  • Start date of doctoral study right.
  • Preliminary timetable of your research (2,000) 
  • Planned funding for the research project including received and applied notable funding thus far (1,000)
  • Estimate of thesis work completed to date (0–100%) 
  • Estimated year of graduation 

Previously acquired knowledge supporting the dissertation project and study plan (maximum number of characters, including spaces in parentheses): 

  • Previously acquired research knowledge (1,500) 
  • Possible previous publications and conference presentations (1,500) 
  • Possible international experience and other work experience relevant to your doctoral research (1,500) 
  • Possible career breaks (1,500) 

Preliminary study plan (maximum number of characters, including spaces in parentheses) 

  • Preliminary study plan: Discipline-specific studies, 30 ECTS (1,500) 
  • Preliminary study plan: Transferable skills, 10 ECTS (1,500) 
  • Previously completed studies applicable to your doctoral degree, if any 
  • Title and abstract of the master’s thesis or equivalent (750) 
  • Supervisory arrangements: supervisor(s) and thesis committee (see doctoral programme-specific instructions below) 

Salaried position applications are assessed based on the quality of the research and study plans, abilities and motivation of the applicant as demonstrated in conjunction with completing a previous degree or in another manner, as well as supervisory arrangements or their availability. The topic of the research plan must suit the profile of the doctoral programme. Interviews for short-listed applicants may be arranged. 

The board of the doctoral programme makes a proposal regarding appointment of doctoral candidate salaried positions. The director of the relevant employment unit makes the final decision on the appointments. 

If you are offered a salaried position, you must receive the right to pursue a post-graduate doctoral degree in the relevant doctoral programme within the six-month trial period. 

All applicants will be personally notified of the decisions.

If you are unable to find an answer to a question in these instructions, please check the Frequently asked questions. Further information can be requested by writing to phd-positions(at)helsinki.fi.

Please note that applications for the right to pursue a doctoral degree are processed according to a different schedule by the responsible Faculty. The relevant faculty makes decisions regarding study rights and applicants are personally notified in a separate notification to salary positions.

MBDP spe­cific ap­plic­a­tion in­struc­tions in 2021

Microbes have a major effect on the ecosystem and humans. Microbes run biogeochemical cycles of the elements, play a major role in the intestines of animals and biotechnology such as waste water treatment and food production, just to mention some. On the other hand, microbes cause diseases for plants, animals and humans.

The Doctoral Programme in Microbiology and Biotechnology covers the entire field of microbiology, i.e., bacteria, archaea, eukaryotic microorganisms and viruses in any environment where microbes can be found. In addition to basic research in microbiology, it includes applied microbiology which is reflected by including microbiologically relevant biotechnology in the program.

Focus area of the program include:

  • environmental microbiology
  • microbial biotechnology
  • genetics and genomics of microbes
  • food microbiology
  • human and animal microbiota
  • microbe evolution
  • microbe-host interactions
  • infection microbiology
  • virology

The researcher community formed around the program is nationally the most significant unit in its field and the only one in Finland in several sub-fields.

The Faculty of Agriculture & Forestry has main responsibility for the programme.

You can find MBDP degree structure on our webpage. For MBDP events, please visit the MBDP Courses and events page.


Only students who have completed their Master’s degree by the end of the application period may apply for the salary positions. Please provide documentation in the application. Note that you must apply for the study right in the February 2022 or April 2022 call of the doctoral program and that you must receive the right to pursue a doctoral degree at the University of Helsinki within the 6-month trial period of the employment.


MBDP offers salaried doctoral candidate positions starting in January 2022. The salaried positions are for 1-4-years of full time work. Applicants must apply for full years (one, two, three or four years), corresponding to the length of time required to complete the PhD. The minimum period is 12 months starting in 2022.

Supervisor consent

The Confirmation of Supervision including the supervisor’s statement regarding the applicant must be completed by the primary supervisor in Aava by September 10, 2021 at 12.00 noon EEST. The Aava system will automatically send an email notification to the email address provided on the application form for the primary supervisor.

Language of the application

Only applications in English may be evaluated.

MBDP Selection Criteria

The Doctoral Programme in Microbiology and Biotechnology (MBDP) evaluates all applications in accordance with the following criteria:

  • Thematic suitability of the research topic to the doctoral program profile
  • The applicant must have a supervisor and a person in charge of studies at the application stage
  • Supervisory and follow-up of progress arrangements, quality of the research environment
  • Scientific relevance and ambition of the research topic, and the use of relevant methodology in the research plan
  • Feasibility of the thesis project within the intended four-year time frame (full-time work)
  • Motivation, previous work and research experience of the applicant
  • Success in previous studies (degree certificate, credit transcript, length of previous studies and the grades of Master thesis and studies)
  • Demonstration of adequate knowledge in the relevant fields and potential of the applicant to develop into an independent researcher
  • Realistic funding plan for research costs

Evaluation process and interviews

The board will evaluate the written applications, and top applicants will be invited to an interview. The board and two external evaluators will interview and evaluate the top candidates. The interviews will be arranged on Wednesday 3 November, 2021 and the invitations will be sent by email one week before the interviews. The decisions are made within one week after the interviews.

De­cision on salary po­s­i­tions start­ing in 2021

De­scrip­tion of the eval­u­ation pro­cess

MBDP received altogether 23 applications. The MBDP board and four external (three international and one Finnish) evaluators evaluated all applications and top 8 applicants were invited for the interview that was arranged on November 2. The interviews were held by four external evaluators and the decision was made according to their suggestion. The final decisions were based on both written applications and interviews. Conflicts of interest were taken into account.

The po­s­i­tions were filled as fol­lows

Sila Arsin (supervisor David Fewer), 3 years

Ravi Ojha (supervisor Giuseppe Balistreri), 3 years

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