Postgraduate studies

Student admission to the Doctoral Programme in Law is based on the University’s general admission guidelines for doctoral education as well as the programme-specific specifications.

The application period in the Autumn term 2018 is 14-27 September 2018. Decisions will be informed to all applicants by 30 November 2018 via e-mail, and applicants offered the study place must accept it by 14 December 2018.

The doctoral education is completed in the Doctoral programme of Law, and the study right is also applied for it:

Application form, documents and instructions for a study right of Doctor of Law

Each applicant needs a potential supervisor who has agreed to the task.

Supervisor’s statement: an electronic form


Students admitted to the Doctoral Programme in Law can complete the degrees of Doctor of Laws and Licentiate of Laws. All successful applicants are admitted to complete a doctoral degree, but they can choose to first complete a Licentiate degree.

The right to complete a degree may only be obtained through an admission procedure. The Doctoral Programme in Law uses two of the four annual application periods determined by the University of Helsinki: the second application period of the spring term and the first application period of the autumn. 

The right to complete a Doctor of Laws degree can be granted to applicants who have completed a Master’s or Licentiate degree in law in Finland or abroad, and who are deemed to have sufficient knowledge and skills to complete the doctoral degree and submit a high-quality research plan for a dissertation and an eligible personal study plan (PSP). For good reason, the right to study can also be granted based on a Master’s degree in another discipline, provided that the applicant is deemed sufficiently competent to pursue postgraduate studies in law.

Applicants cannot be granted the right to study unless the Faculty can assign them a supervisor who supports the applicant’s application and agrees to serve as his or her supervisor.

All studies required for a second-cycle degree or equivalent education must be completed before the deadline for applications, and the applicant must be able to present a degree diploma before accepting a place in the programme. Applicants, who are pursuing postgraduate studies elsewhere in another University, are recommended to outline in their application the scholarly grounds for transferring to the University of Helsinki. Applicants who have previously completed a doctoral degree in another field are also recommended to outline the scholarly grounds for reapplying for doctoral studies. Provisions on the other application enclosures required to demonstrate eligibility are included in the University’s general admission guidelines. Applicants must, for example, demonstrate their proficiency in Finnish, Swedish or English in accordance with the regulations issued.

When considering the capability of applicants to complete a doctoral degree, various factors will be considered, including the following: his or her research plan, study performance in connection with prior degrees (specifically the quality and grade of their thesis), any publications, any experience supporting their intended research, and acquired funding. In assessing the quality of applicants’ research and study plans, the programme considers feasibility, links with other research at the Faculty, scientific significance, and suitability to the profile of the doctoral programme.

If an applicant has completed a degree in a field other than law, the assessment of his or her ability to complete a doctorate considers the above-mentioned factors as well as any studies the applicant has completed in law (including difficulty and study performance), practical experience of professional duties requiring knowledge of law, and the relationship of the applicant’s previous studies, research or other activities with the research conducted at the Faculty.

Applicants must, in good time before submitting the application, contact the discipline relevant to their research interests and discuss the preliminary study plan and research plan as well as arrangements for dissertation supervision.  Each applicant is responsible for finding a supervisor. The teacher who agrees to serve as supervisor submits a separate written statement to the Faculty concerning the applicant, including an assessment of the applicant’s ability to complete the degree and the feasibility and expediency of his or her study and research plans. Applicants must present their supervisor’s supporting statement at the application stage.

In connection with admitting students to doctoral education, the Faculty must ensure that they have access to high-quality supervision and support in the field of their dissertation. Postgraduate students are recommended to have two supervisors who have completed a doctoral degree and of whom at least one  has a permanent or long-term employment contract with the Faculty of Law. As a rule, one supervisor can simultaneously supervise no more than 12 students who are actively completing their doctoral degree. The supervisor’s recommendation does not bind the doctoral programme in its decision on admission. If a supervisor has too many students to supervise, this may constitute grounds for rejecting an application.

The Faculty responsible for the target degree makes the final decision on granting the right to complete the degree based on a proposal by the steering group of the doctoral programme. Each student’s supervisor(s), doctoral degree title and doctoral programme will be confirmed in conjunction with admission. In addition to supervisors, each student will be assigned a supervising person, who may also serve as one of the dissertation supervisors.

The University of Helsinki monitors the progress of postgraduate students. In the monitoring procedure, enrolled postgraduate students starting their sixth year of postgraduate study who have not yet completed their degree will be screened from the Student Register.

The screened students cannot register as attending students for the next academic year without presenting a study and research plan approved by the faculty. For seeking supervision and registering at the University as an attending student, see the letter for Student Services' and Faculty of Law's more specific instructions.

There are two annual deadlines for submitting the plans to Study coordinator responsible for postgraduate studies. In the Autumn term 2018, the deadline is 27 September 2018. Decisions will be informed via e-mail in late November/early December 2018.

Students who will not complete their postgraduate degree before the end of the academic year must present a research plan and a personal study plan (necessary only if your studies are not completed)  in accordance with the instructions by the faculty in order to be able to register as attending students. The plans will be valid for max. three years.

Updated study and research plans are submitted as attachments to this electronic monitoring report form by 16 April at the latest:

Monitoring report form

If there are problems with attaching the plans to the form, you can submit the documents via e-mail to:

Please, fill in the monitoring report form in this case as well. It is needed by the Faculty to get the required information for acceptance of your monitoring report.

Update of research and study plans presented earlier:

If a postgraduate student whose research and study plans have been approved earlier needs still more time to complete his/her dissertation or Licentiate thesis, he/she must present updated research plan and study plan. The deadlines given above apply also to these updates. Additionally, he/she must clarify the way in which the research and the postgraduate studies have progressed during the extension time. A student may be granted an extension of right to register as an attending student, provided that the dissertation and postgraduate studies have clearly progressed during the previous extension and that the postgraduate student's supervisor approves of the plans.

Disciplines will arrange the academic advice and guidance of the sampled students. This advice and guidance will not include supervision of the doctoral dissertation, but rather consultation in drawing up a feasible research plan and a realistic postgraduate studies plan. It is recommended that during this consultation the reasons for the delay in studies and research be discussed and improvements to the situation sought.