Finding supervisors willing to guide you through your thesis project is one of the most important steps when preparing your application. But it’s not always an easy feat. Here are a few tips on how to go about it:
- Start early. And when we say early, we’re talking about months rather than weeks. Finding the right match can be a time-consuming business.
- Do your research. You are more likely to get a positive response if the researchers you approach actually share your research interests. Think of approaching the prospective supervisors in a sense like you would applying for a job – sending the same generic message to various recipients is unlikely to provide the hoped-for results. Acquaint yourself with the supervisors' research profiles, and try to pick the people you approach based on actual mutual research interests.
- Pay attention to detail. At least one of your supervisors has to be in a permanent or long-term employment to 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 in the further discussions that at least one of them fills these conditions.
- Be precise. Supervisors get a lot of email. 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 such that they would be interested in supervising it and whether if 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 the supervisors have their quota of new students already full. If you get a negative response, move on. Be also aware that, especially if your research topic is of a field that’s not widely represented here, it’s also possible that you will not find a supervisor. In that case, your only option is to continue your search and apply later – or set your sights to a different university with better prospects.
You can search supervisors affiliated with the University of Helsinki from the university's research database. Keep in mind that the research portal lists all researchers affiliated with the University of Helsinki – including current doctoral students, who should not be considered as prospective supervisors. If the person is employed, you will see their job title on their profile page.
You can also use the research database by searching a key words which are related to your research interests. The research database also lists the research groups of the university.