Doctoral programmes

Applications for the right to complete postgraduate studies must always be submitted to a faculty, which also decides whether to award the doctoral degree. However, all doctoral students at the University of Helsinki must also belong to a doctoral programme. The boundaries between the programmes are flexible, and students can also complete studies offered by other doctoral programmes, if the studies comply with their faculty’s degree requirements.

The University’s professors and principal investigators supervise doctoral students involved in doctoral programmes in their own field of specialisation.

The University allocates resources to doctoral programmes for a number of salaried doctoral student positions, but most of the students in the programmes receive funding from other sources or pursue their degree while working elsewhere.

Doctoral programmes of the Faculty of Arts

The Faculty of Arts is responsible for the following doctoral programmes:

All of the above programmes are part of the Doctoral School in Humanities and Social Sciences.

In addition to the above, postgraduate students of the Faculty of Arts can belong to the following doctoral programmes that fall under the responsibility of other faculties (the doctoral school for each programme is indicated in brackets):

Salaried doctoral candidate positions are applicable once a year, in the fall. Announcements for the doctoral student positions can be found on the programmes' websites and the University's Open positions website when the application period opens.

If you don’t yet have a postgraduate study right at the University of Helsinki, you have to apply for a doctoral study right in addition to applying for a salaried doctoral student position. Follow these instructions:

  • Acquaint yourself with the field of the doctoral programme and the subjects (or departments and faculties) participating in it.
  • Outline a plan for your dissertation that fits the field of the doctoral programme you’re planning to apply to or, if you already have a plan outlined, consider which doctoral programme would best suit it.
  • Contact one of the supervisors of the doctoral programme in question to discuss your plan and the available supervision resources. Information on supervisors can be found in the doctoral programmes' web pages.
  • Make sure that you fill the requirements set for postgraduate students in the faculty where you plan to apply for the study right.
  • Draw up a research plan.
  • Fill in the electronic application form.
  • Apply for a postgraduate study right in the faculty that best suits the field of your dissertation and where your degree most naturally fits.

If you already have a postgraduate study right at the University of Helsinki, follow these instructions to apply for a salaried doctoral student position:

  • Speak with your supervisor(s) about applying for a salaried position.
  • Update your research plan.
  • Fill in the electronic application form.

Research plan

The research plan should include

  • the theme of the proposed doctoral dissertation,
  • links to existing research
  • the sources or materials and methods to be used
  • the applicant´s previous activity in the field, and
  • the applicant's personal qualifications for the task (such as previous studies and any relevant work experience).

Fill in the research plan in the electronic form. Because you cannot save a partially completed form, it is advisable to prepare your text elsewhere and paste it in the text box. Be sure not to exceed the maximum number of characters allowed and do not use any special characters as they do not translate correctly. If there are pictures or charts in your research plan, please contact the coordinator of the doctoral programmes, Päivi Väätänen (paivi.vaatanen(at)

Selection criteria

A doctoral student must hold a second-cycle (master's level) degree and have an approved research proposal.

The most important criteria are the scientific quality and feasibility of the research proposal. Other requirements include the ability and motivation, as demonstrated through previous degree studies or otherwise, to pursue postgraduate studies and a doctoral degree according to the study plan and research proposal. The appointee must have the right to pursue a doctoral degree at the University of Helsinki by the start of the appointment.

A successful applicant must have the language skills required for successful completion of the dissertation research as well as good command of Finnish, Swedish or English.

A candidate chosen for a salaried doctoral candidate position must have a postgraduate study right (right to complete a doctoral degree) at the University of Helsinki by the beginning of employment.

If the applicant does not yet have a postgraduate study right at the University of Helsinki, he or she must apply for the postgraduate study right separately at the Faculty in which he or she intends to pursue a doctoral degree. The requirements placed for postgraduate study right vary from faculty to faculty.

At the doctoral programmes organised by the Faculty of Arts, a degree can be completed at the following faculties. For further information on applying the postgraduate study right and the requirements placed by different faculties, please see the following links:

The doctoral programme in Philosophy, Arts, and Society
Faculty of Arts
Faculty of Social Sciences

The doctoral programme in History and Cultural Heritage
Faculty of Arts
Faculty of Educational Sciences
Faculty of Law
Faculty of Theology
The doctoral programme in Language Studies
Faculty of Arts

The doctoral programme in Gender, Culture and Society
Faculty of Arts
Faculty of Educational Sciences
Faculty of Law
Faculty of Theology
Faculty of Social Sciences