How to apply to doctoral programmes
This page briefly introduces the application process in its individual stages. The process is divided into two parts: preparing and applying. Start by familiarising yourself with the different stages of the application process on this page. After that, read the detailed application instructions and the guidelines of your chosen doctoral programme.
Admission periods
  • 1–15 September 2020
  • 3–17 November 2020 (only some doctoral programmes)
  • 2–16 February 2021 (only some doctoral programmes)
  • 1–15 April 2021 (only some doctoral programmes)
  • 19–30 July 2021 (only graduates of University of Helsinki, only some doctoral programmes)

Please note that the application closes at 3 PM local time on the last day of the application round.

Once a year in September, University of Helsinki also offers salaried doctoral candidate positions. The salaried position only includes an employment contract. In addition to this, you should apply for a study right if you don’t already have one. It is advisable to apply for the salaried position and the study right at the same time.

Preparing for applying

You must have completed a Finnish second-cycle (master’s) degree or a foreign degree that makes you eligible for doctoral education in the country where the degree was completed.

The University of Helsinki will verify your eligibility for doctoral education from the documents you have submitted (<-- link to document submission). 

You have to demonstrate your academic language proficiency in either Finnish, Swedish or English. To ensure you have the time to complete a language test, if necessary, familiarise yourself with the language requirements well in advance of applying. 

You can demonstrate your language proficiency in any of the three languages regardless of the language in which you intend to write your doctoral thesis. The language in which you demonstrate your language proficiency will be recorded as the language of your degree. The options for demonstrating language

Visit the doctoral programme websites to read their descriptions, teaching programmes and activities. Once you have found an interesting programme that matches your research topic and background, browse the research profiles of the programme’s supervisors. (<- link to programmes)

If you already have a supervisor, you can also discuss your programme options with them.

Start looking for a supervisor well in advance, that is, months before the application round begins. Many doctoral programmes require that you have one or two supervisors at the time of submitting your application.

The University of Helsinki’s Research Portal is a good starting point when looking for potential supervisors. (<-LINK) The portal’s Research Units section contains faculty-specific lists of principal investigators.

Many research groups also have websites of their own where you can find out more about them.

Many doctoral programmes are multi- or cross-disciplinary, making it possible to pursue degrees awarded by a number of faculties. When applying, you have to state your target degree in your application.

If you fail to submit the documents as instructed and by the deadline, your application will be rejected. You have to submit certified copies of the degree certificate of your second-cycle degree and transcript of studies to the University of Helsinki’s Admission Services. (<-links)

Please check whether any country-specific special requirements apply to your documents. Special requirements override general requirements. (<-links

A right to pursue a doctoral degree at the University of Helsinki does not include funding. 

You are requested to submit a funding plan as part of your application.

Read about different funding options. (< link) 


A research proposal is the most important part of your application. Start preparing it in good time and, if possible, discuss it in advance with your planned supervisor(s). 

The research proposal is written on the application form in specific fields with a limited number of characters. You can familiarise yourself with the application form here. (< link) 

A study plan is a preliminary plan of the studies you will complete as part of your degree. The study plan must be drawn up in a way that makes it possible for you to complete the studies in four years of full-time study. Further information on the degree requirements of different doctoral programmes is available in Sisu (<--link). 

Submit the required certificates of your previous studies and language proficiency. Admission Services must receive the documents by the application deadline.

Also remember to submit programme-specific attachments, if any. 

Apply for a right to study by the end of the application deadline using an electronic application form. The application can be written in Finnish, Swedish or English. Check the programme-specific requirements – some doctoral programmes require an English-language research proposal.

Reserve plenty of time for completing the application. The application cannot be saved as a draft, but you can edit it during the application period. 

After submitting your application in the Studyinfo service, you will receive a confirmation by email. The processing of applications and related decision-making takes a few months. 

If your application is in order, we will not contact you before communicating on the admission decision. (<-- link to the After submitting your application page)

Check the timetable for decisions here. (<- link to timetable)

Further information and important links

If you have read all the instructions, and you still have questions on applying for doctoral studies, please contact admission services:

If you want to know more about the different doctoral programmes, the research plan, or supervisors, please contact the programme directly. Contact information can be found on the doctoral schools’ and programmes’ web sites.