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
  • 3-16 April 2024 (only some doctoral programmes)
  • 15-25 July 2024 (only graduates of University of Helsinki, only some doctoral programmes)


  • 4-17 September 2024 (all doctoral programmes)
  • 6-19 November 2024 (only some doctoral programmes)
  • 8-21 January 2025 (only some doctoral programmes)
  • 2-15 April 2025 (only some doctoral programmes)
  • 21-31 July 2025 (only graduates of University of Helsinki, only some doctoral programmes)

Each admission period opens at 8 AM local Finnish time, and closes at 3 PM local Finnish 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

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.

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. 

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.

Check your programme's possible requirements for supervisors. Also note that some programmes require that you have a coordinating academic and a thesis committee already when applying.

The University of Helsinki’s Research Portal is a good starting point when looking for potential supervisors. 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 no go to academic evaluation and 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.

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

Also check if your programme has any programme specific enclosures, such as supervisors' supporting statement.

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.


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.

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 the Studies service.

Submit the required certificates of your previous studies and language proficiencyAdmission 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. To be able to save the application, there must be at least one character in every mandatory answer field.

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.

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 programmes’ web sites.