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.

B&M-spe­cific ap­plic­a­tion in­struc­tions

The B&M doctoral candidates have a background in medicine, biosciences, psychology, cognitive sciences, humanities, technology or physics and chemistry. They are required to complete 40 ECTS doctoral studies according to the B&M degree requirements.

Research and doctoral training in the B&M include the following fields of science:

  • Developmental neuroscience
  • Excitability, synaptic transmission, and neuronal networks
  • Disorders of the nervous system
  • Sensory and motor systems
  • Neuroimmunology, neuroendocrine systems and sleep
  • Cognition and behavior
  • Systems and computational neuroscience

The Doctoral Programme Brain & Mind (B&M) is based on a multidisciplinary network of leading neuroscience research groups at the University of Helsinki and Aalto University. 

The Confirmation of Supervision including the supervisor’s statement regarding the applicant must be completed in English by the primary supervisor by the deadline indicated in the call for applications. If you do not have a supervisor yet, you can find more information about supervision.

You can apply for the salaried positions in the B&M if: 

  1. You already have the doctoral study right at the University of Helsinki.
    Please note the duration of the available positions below. To be eligible to apply for the salaried position in the B&M, the total full-time length of your doctoral study right should not exceed three years at the end of 2021. (Thus, if your study right has started before December 2018, please indicate the career breaks in the application form).

OR

  1. You have an MSc, MD or equivalent degree. If you do not yet have the right to pursue a postgraduate doctoral degree, you must apply for a doctoral study right in the September 2021 application period (1.-15.9.2021) or in January 2022 at the latest. In this case, please read carefully the instructions for doctoral study right applicants.

OR

  1. You can apply for the position if you have not yet graduated. However, a relevant academic degree (MSc, MD or equivalent) in a field suitable for thesis project must be completed and obtained before 31.12.2021. Note that you must apply for the study right in the January 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.

Please note that the Aava application form requires you to upload a copy of your degree diploma (MSc, MD or equivalent). If you have not yet obtained the degree diploma, you can upload an official transcript of your studies thus far.

Before applying for a UH-funded doctoral candidate position, the applicant is required to find an appropriate research group and supervisor. Applicants are expected to contact prospective supervisors independently and agree on the details of the thesis project before applying for the UH-funded doctoral candidate position.

Duration

The doctoral programme offers 1-4-year positions. The salaried positions are for 1-4-years (*clinicians 6-48 months) of full time work and the length of the employment contract is determined by the stage of the applicant's doctoral thesis. 

*Exception: Applicants pursuing a specialist degree in medicine, dentistry, or veterinary medicine can apply for half of a UH-funded position (6 months/year). The applicants are expected to commit to full time (100%) doctoral training for a 6-month period and to specialist clinical training for the remaining six months of the same calendar year. Supplement your AAVA application with the Letter_of_Commitment indicating how the doctoral training period will be integrated with clinical work. Collect the requested information and signatures, scan and attach the letter as a pdf file to your Aava application before the application deadline. 

Please apply for a position using the AAVA electronic application form (the link to the form will be available here during the application period). The application period will open on 23 August 2021 and close on 7 September 2021 at 23.59 (local Helsinki time).

In addition to the application form, a 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.

When applying for a funded position, please use the English application form and write all parts of the application in English. Other applications will not be considered.

Please note that an applicant may apply for a UH-funded doctoral candidate position from a maximum of two doctoral programmes within Doctoral School in Health Sciences (decision by DSHealth board 23.3.2015). If an applicant has submitted more than two applications, the two latest will be considered and reviewed.

If you apply for a salaried positions for two doctoral programmes in Doctoral School in Health Sciences: 

  • If you are offered a position from a doctoral programme that was selected as your first preference (primary application), your second preference will be automatically canceled, and your application will not be further evaluated in your second preference 
  • If you are offered a position in both doctoral programmes, your second preference will be automatically canceled 
  • If you are offered a position in a doctoral programme that was selected as your second preference, and you are on the waitlist for your first preference, you can not wait for the free position from your first preference. 
STEP 1
  1. External evaluation panel includes a wide pool of evaluators from different disciplines and universities. 
  2. Each application is reviewed by three different evaluators (with no conflict of interest to applicants).
  3. Each evaluator individually ranks the applications 

Evaluation panel uses the following criteria when evaluating the applications (weight %):

  • Applicant’s potential: 40%: a) suitability of previous studies, b) success in previous studies (applicant’s stage of doctoral training is considered), c) motivation
  • Novelty, originality and feasibility of the research proposal: 40%
  • Research environment and supervisor’s statement: 20%
STEP 2

4. Shortlisting the applications for interviews
Ranking list of applicants is made based on the individual scores given by the evaluation panel members. Applicants with a final score of >4 (or a maximum of 10 applicants with highest scores / three times the number of available positions) will be invited for an interview.  A reserve list will be used.

5. Interview of shortlisted applicants
Top applicants will be interviewed to verify the applicants’ understanding of the research proposal and to identify the most promising researchers. The shortlisted applicants are interviewed by an interview panel on October 28th (tentative date) online in Zoom. The invitations to interviews will be sent by email about 1 week before the interview. The language used in the interviews is English. The B&M Board will make the final ranking list for a proposal of UH-funded positions.
The decisions are announced in the beginning of December 2021.

Further information

Other ways of funding a PhD project are:

  1. a salary/grant paid by the supervisor through his/her research project funding. Many research groups have project funding from e.g. Academy of Finland, Tekes, ERC, foundations, etc. and can hire doctoral candidates.
  2. a personal grant from a private foundation applied by the doctoral candidate him/herself. You can apply for funding from several Finnish or foreign foundations: www.aurora-tietokanta.fi
  3. Doctoral candidates may also fund their studies themselves or pursue their degree in tandem with work.

Funding for doctoral research

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