Doctoral Programme in Plant Sciences (4 years)

Go to degree finder
Degree level
Doctoral degree
Start semester
2019 Autumn
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
2.4.2019 - 15.4.2019

Bottom content


The Doctoral Programme in Plant Sciences provides in-depth training and education required for careers in both academic research and expert appointments locally and abroad. The doctoral degree is based mainly on independent scientific research and collaboration within the research community. Accumulated knowledge and expertise enable doctoral candidates to pursue a variety of respected careers.

During the training, doctoral candidates develop:

  • responsible, independent and critical thinking
  • problem solving skills
  • collaboration, management and planning competence
  • proficiency in scientific communication and an understanding of scientific ethics

All of the teaching and education in the Doctoral Programme in Plant Sciences is carried out in English. In addition, the majority of doctoral theses are written in English.

Plants are central to life on this planet. They produce the oxygen we breathe, are the main source of our nutrition along with fibre and bioenergy. Plants are also a rich source of pharmaceutical and other novel products. The rapidly increasing demand of food and fibre together with the requirement for sustainable energy such as biofuels requires extensive research and training of experts in different areas of plant sciences. The central aim of the Doctoral Programme in Plant Sciences (DPPS) is to meet these challenges and to train world-class experts in the fields of basic and translational plant sciences including plant biology and associated biotic interactions, plant production and other applications for example bioenergy to fulfil the ever growing needs for well qualified and highly motivated researchers in modern plant sciences and its industrial applications in Finland and globally.

Subject areas covered by the programme include: biology, agriculture and forestry, environment

  • molecular plant biology
  •  genetics, genomics and breeding
  •  physiology and biochemistry
  • developmental biology
  • pathology and biotechnology
  • plant production
  • ecophysiology
  • systematics
  • bioenergy

Through national collaboration, the teaching personnel of the programme includes all the major plant biology groups in Finland both at universities and research institutes as well as international experts and networks. The partnership of basic and translational research is seen as an important asset of the educational programme and is made possible by the joint collaboration of the two faculties in Viikki involved in this programme (Biological & Environmental Sciences and Agriculture & Forestry).

Short intensive courses on specific subject areas and methods in plant science complement the research of the doctoral candidate carried out in internationally rich research laboratories. Courses are either practically or lecture based and are usually assessed by written assignments or oral presentation of results.

Progress of doctoral candidates is followed not only by the supervisor but by a follow-up group (thesis advisory committee) who monitor the progress of students throughout their research and studies.

In the Doctoral Programme in Plant Sciences it is possible to complete your doctoral education in one of the following majors:

  • plant biology
  • plant production biology
  • plant production sciences
  • genetics
  • forest ecology and use
  • biotechnology
  • microbiology
  • environmental ecology

The total workload of four years of studies leading to a doctoral degree will correspond to 240 credits. Doctoral degrees may be pursued either full-time or part-time. The degree requirements are:

  • a personal study plan
  • 30 study credits in the field/research area of the thesis (A & B in the table below)
  • 10 study credits of transferable skills, for example university pedagogy, management and leadership skills, negotiation and planning skills and scientific communication
  • international mobility and activities
  • a thesis
A) In depth DPPS thematic courses
1) Advanced studies in cell & developmental biology
2) Advanced studies in environmental interactions
3) Advanced studies in ecophysiology & ecology & evolutionary biology
4) Advanced methods in plant biology
5) Current Challenges in plant biology
Other relevant courses 
B) Studies supporting the scientific discipline

Research ethics

DPPS orientation

DPPS annual meeting

Follow-up/thesis committee meetings

Scientific seminar series

International conferences & meetings


Study visit

Research visit

Publications outside the thesis

Book exam

Other relevant courses 

Transferable skills

University pedagogy, teaching, supervision

Presentation and academic writing

The doctoral thesis can be written as an article based dissertation consisting of peer-reviewed scientific publications or manuscripts accepted for publication and a summary, or as a monograph of scientific work issued under the name of the doctoral candidate alone and based on previously unpublished results of independent research. In the majority of cases, the thesis is written in English.

The dissertation should:

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

A doctoral degree opens the door to many interesting career possibilities. In addition to a purely academic career as a post-doctoral researcher, opportunities in the public and private sector in Finland and abroad are achievable. 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 Program in Plant Sciences is the most international of all doctoral programmes at the University of Helsinki, with almost half 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 are exposed to high calibre, high-impact international scientists who are visiting Finland and doctoral candidates are encouraged to participate in international research visits, courses and conferences abroad.

The Doctoral Programme in Plant Sciences brings together research and teaching staff from several departments and institutes at the University of Helsinki; doctoral programmes at the University of Helsinki such as LUOVA, AGFOREE, DENVI and ILS and doctoral programmes elsewhere in Finland such as the University of Eastern Finland (Doctoral Programme in Forests and Bioresources), the Biocenter Oulu Doctoral Programme. In addition, numerous networking partners collaborate with the Doctoral Programme in Plant Sciences:

All specialist research is carried out in the almost 40 research groups belonging to the Viikki Plant Science Centre (ViPS). The research topics available to doctoral candidates can be found here:

    • ecophysiology
    • developmental biology
    • environmental interactions
    • ecology and evolutionary biology
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.

Find out more: