Doctoral Programme Brain & Mind (4 years)

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Degree level
Doctoral degree
Start semester
2019 Spring
Scope of studies and length
--- ECTS credits, 4 years
Language of instruction
English, Finnish, Swedish
Tuition fee per year (only non-EU/EEA citizens)
0 €
Application period

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Doctoral Programme Brain & Mind (B&M) trains doctoral graduates in neuroscience to provide them with:

  • strong theoretical and methodological expertise in own scientific field and ability to apply this knowledge, 
  • in-depth understanding of the key theories of neuronal phenomena and the methods used to study them, from molecular to cellular, systems and behavioural levels,
  • skill for critical thinking of scientific methods, results and conclusions,
  • good communication, argumentation and problem-solving skills, and other skills to work in demanding, multidisciplinary, international research and/or expert positions.

The language of the doctoral programme is English.

The Doctoral Programme Brain & Mind (B&M) is one of eight doctoral programmes of the Doctoral School in Health Sciences (DSHealth) at the University of Helsinki. B&M is based on a multidisciplinary network of leading neuroscience research groups at the University of Helsinki and Aalto University. The doctoral candidates have a background in medicine, biosciences, psychology, cognitive sciences, humanities, pharmacology, medical technology, physics or chemistry. 

Research and doctoral training in the B&M includes 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 research strategies are strongly integrative, implying that questions are addressed at different levels of organization (from molecules to behavior), at different stages of development, and under both normal and pathophysiological conditions. In addition to basic research, a number of the research groups are also developing applications relevant for pharmaceutical companies, for the clinic, and for novel technologies to be used in research.

The B&M doctoral candidates will carry out research in a research group and write a doctoral thesis based on this work. The University of Helsinki hosts many internationally prominent neuroscience research groups and the Doctoral Programme Brain & Mind links researchers and lecturers especially within the biosciences, biomedicine and psychology. This active neuroscience community offers unique opportunities for research and doctoral studies in state-of-the-art facilities and an inspiring research-oriented atmosphere.

In addition to the doctoral thesis, 40 ECTS of course work is required for the degree. It is possible to finish doctoral degree in 4 years of full time work. The doctoral candidates have an opportunity to select theoretical and practical courses, seminars and book exams from different fields of neuroscience to support their thesis work. In addition, DSHealth provides transferable skills training essential for successful careers within academia as well as in the private and public sectors.

Doctoral degree includes the following:

  • Substance-specific training (30 ECTS), including research ethics (and philosophy of science) 
  • Transferable skills training (10 ECTS), such as communication, teaching, management and entrepreneurship skills
  • International mobility, e.g. research collaboration
  • Doctoral dissertation

Doctoral dissertation can be either A) an article-based dissertation that includes a summary section and scientific publications (or manuscripts intended for publication) on the same scientific question; or B) a monograph which is a scientific work issued under the name of the doctoral candidate alone and based on previously unpublished results of independent research.

The objective of doctoral education is the student to be well-versed in his/her own field of research and to possess the knowledge and skills needed to independently apply scientific research methods and produce new scientific knowledge.

The dissertation should:

  • include new scientific knowledge
  • show the candidate's ability for critical thinking
  • demonstrate in-depth knowledge of the field of research
  • demonstrate the ability to manage and apply methods
  • be scientifically convincing
  • contain justified results
  • be scientifically honest and ethical

The Doctoral Programme Brain & Mind provides in-depth training and education required for careers in academic research, pharmaceutical, biomedical or biotechnical industry, and expert appointments locally and abroad.

A doctoral degree opens the door to many interesting career possibilities. In addition to a purely academic career as a post-doctoral researcher, opportunities exist in the public and private sector in Finland and abroad. For instance: scientific experts in ministries, research and government agencies, research institutes, patent offices; administrative jobs in higher education establishments; scientific publishing and journalism; private companies; start-ups etc.

The Doctoral Programme Brain & Mind is a truly international doctoral programme with about 40% of the doctoral candidates originating from outside Finland, represented by over 15 nationalities. The pool of teaching staff is also highly international with many global cooperation partners. Regular events are held where doctoral candidates can network with top-level international scientists who are visiting Finland. These include weekly research seminars and yearly student-organized scientific meetings. International mobility and networking is also encouraged and supported by travel grants to research/study visits, and for participation in courses, conferences and meetings abroad where the doctoral candidates can discuss their research with experts in their field.

B&M is part of the Network of European Schools in NeuroscienceNENS, which provides further opportunities for networking in doctoral training events of other partner universities. In addition, DSHealth is part of the Nordic Network of Doctoral Training (NorDoc).

Neuroscience is a highly multidisciplinary field of science, and the Doctoral Programme Brain & Mind connects researchers and lecturers especially within the biosciences and biomedicine. Our courses are organized and thesis projects conducted mainly on two campuses of the University of Helsinki:  Viikki (including the Department of Biosciences, the Neuroscience Center, the Institute of Biotechnology and the Faculty of Pharmacy), and Meilahti (including Medicum, Clinicum and the Helsinki University Central Hospital). In addition to neuroscience, you will be able to select courses from related programmes, including the doctoral programmes of the Doctoral School in Health Sciences. and the Master's Programme in Neuroscience.

As we also collaborate with the Aalto University Master’s Programme in Human Neuroscience and –Technology, you will be able to include their relevant courses into your degree.

The University of Helsinki hosts many internationally prominent neuroscience research groups.  This offers unique opportunities for research and doctoral studies in state-of-the-art facilities and an inspiring research-oriented atmosphere.

Current research focusses on the following areas: developmental neuroscience, excitability, synaptic transmission, and neuronal networks, disorders of the nervous system, sensory and motor systems, neuroimmunology, neuroendocrine systems and sleep, cognition and behaviour, systems and computational neuroscience. The research strategies are strongly integrative, implying that questions are addressed at different levels of organization (from molecules to behaviour), at different stages of development, and under both normal and pathophysiological conditions.  Further information on research is available at

How to apply
Below you’ll find a link to the entry requirements for this programme. The application period to our international programmes is in December every year.

Doctoral programmes

The doctoral candidates at the University of Helsinki are supervised by top-class researchers, and carry out their research as part of an international academic community. The University of Helsinki is the only Finnish university in the League of European Research Universities (LERU) and a member of the EUA Council for Doctoral Education.

Doctoral education is offered in research- and researcher-oriented doctoral programmes. Each of the 32 doctoral programmes belong to one of the University’s four doctoral schools. The doctoral schools are in charge of coordinating the totality of doctoral programmes in their field as well as developing the overall quality of doctoral education. In addition, they are responsible for the offerings in transferable skills courses.

Most of the doctoral programmes are joined programmes offered by different Faculties. In these programmes the doctoral candidates can pursue a doctoral degree offered by any of the participating Faculties.

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