Postgraduate studies

The doctoral degree comprises 60 credits of theoretical studies, the doctoral dissertation and its defence in a public examination.

The core of the doctoral degree is research. The degree also includes theoretical studies that support the doctoral student’s research.

Doctoral programmes organise courses and seminars. In addition, they are responsible for the supervision and guidance of doctoral students.

According to Government Decree 1039/2013 on University Degrees (section 21), the objective of scientific postgraduate education is that the student

  1. becomes well versed in his or her own field of research and its social significance;
  2. gains the knowledge and skills needed to apply scientific research methods independently and critically and to produce new scientific knowledge;
  3. becomes conversant with the historical development, basic problems and research methods of his or her own field of research;
  4. gains knowledge of the general theory of science and of other disciplines relating to his or her own field of research that enables him or her to follow developments in them; and
  5. gains sufficient communication, language and other skills to work in extensive and demanding expert and development positions as well as in international cooperation.

The target duration of doctoral studies is four years of full-time study.

Doctoral programmes organise courses, seminars, workshops and other teaching tailored to the needs of doctoral students.

Details can be found on the My Studies website. You can also search for and view detailed information using the course information search service.

The current course catalogue can be found on WebOodi. A full list of studies offered by the doctoral schools and programmes can be found on the Doctoral schools and programmes website.

Doctoral students must receive regular supervision in both research and theoretical studies. They may also have more than one supervisor. The primary supervisor must be a professor, docent or a scholar with equivalent academic qualifications. The other supervisors must hold at least a doctoral degree.

The doctoral student and primary supervisor will agree upon the details of the supervision. Both the supervisor and the doctoral student have rights and obligations that will be discussed at the start of the supervision process.

A monitoring group will be appointed to each doctoral student at the application stage. At least two of the members must hold a doctoral degree and be experts in the doctoral student’s field.

The members should not work in the same research group with the doctoral student and must be impartial in relation to the doctoral student. When appointing the monitoring group, it should be noted that one of the preliminary examiners can serve as a group member, provided that he or she is not otherwise disqualified. In this case, the other examiner must be from outside the group. 

The student’s monitoring group is not responsible for dissertation supervision, but offers constructive, critical feedback on the progress of the doctoral studies and research work as well as the supervision provided.

The monitoring group, including the doctoral student and his or her supervisors, will convene at least once a year to assess the doctoral student’s progress. When agreeing to serve on the monitoring group, the expert members commit to these meetings. One of the supervisors or members of the monitoring group must be from the student’s major subject department.

  • The doctoral student must commit to independent, critical, long‑term work.
  • The doctoral student has the right to receive supervisory support for independent research work.
  • The doctoral student has the right to receive help from the professor in charge of the discipline and other supervisors in matters relating to studies and research.
  • The doctoral student has the right to receive support for studies from the monitoring group.
  • The doctoral student is responsible for the progress of his or her studies, for keeping his or her supervisors apprised of the research and for updating his or her personal study plan annually.
  • The doctoral student must convene the monitoring group and present a report on the progress of his or her studies and dissertation project.
  • The doctoral student must register as an attending or non-attending student at the University each academic year.
  • The supervisor must commit to regular, long‑term supervision work and to promoting the student’s research work.
  • The supervisors must agree on the distribution of duties between them.
  • When drawing up the research plan, the supervisor must bear in mind that the target time for completing a doctoral degree and related studies is four years of full-time work.
  • The supervisor must arrange sufficient and equal time for all students under his or her supervision.
  • The supervisor must meet with the student regularly and treat all students under his or her supervision equally.
  • The supervisor must offer the doctoral student supervision on the practices and protocols of research work (research ethics, the preparation of research plans, scientific meetings, publishing, etc.).
  • The supervisor must offer the student support in joining the scientific community.
  • The supervisor must discuss research funding and funding opportunities with the student.
  • The supervisor must ensure that the doctoral student has access to continued supervision even in case of changes and propose the appointment of another supervisor as necessary.
  • The supervisor must ensure the quality of the dissertation manuscript and its eligibility for pre-examination.

The degree diploma may be awarded once the postgraduate student has completed all theoretical studies and his or her doctoral dissertation or Licentiate thesis has been approved.  In addition, the student must be registered for attendance or non-attendance at the University.  The diploma will not be prepared automatically; the student must submit a written request for a degree diploma to Viikki Student Services.

The instructions and the form for the request for degree diploma are in Flamma.

Licentiate thesis examiners are appointed by the Faculty Council. Licentiate theses are examined in accordance with the same guidelines and principles as doctoral dissertations. The Faculty Council grades the thesis on the basis of the examiners’ statements.

At the University of Helsinki there is a system for monitoring doctoral (postgraduate, PhD) students’ study progress. The system offers support and academic advice to doctoral students whose studies are in danger of being delayed.

The system screens out students who were granted the right to pursue a postgraduate degree six years ago or more, and who have not completed their degree. The study progress is surveyed annually in the spring.

As a doctoral student, if your degree is not completed before the end of the academic year (31 July), you must devise a personal study plan.

The screening does not affect your right to pursue a degree, but a registration block will be set. The registration block will be removed when you present a study plan that is approved by your faculty. After this you may register as an attending student and continue with your studies. Approved study plan is valid for three years at a time.

If the examination process for your dissertation manuscript has begun, but your degree will not be completed by the end of the academic year, contact the Doctoral study services to remove the registration block.

Otherwise, contact your supervisor and prepare a new, updated personal study plan. The personal study plan includes a postgraduate studies monitoring form and an updated study and research plan (free form, maximum three pages) approved by the professor in charge.
Postgraduate studies monitoring form word

Postgraduate students who have been granted doctoral study right before 1 January 2014 must join to doctoral programmes.