Postgraduate studies

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

The doctoral degree comprises 40 credits of theoretical studies, the doctoral dissertation and its defence in a public examination.

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.

  • Commits to independent, critical and long-term work
  • Has the right to be assigned a supervisor who supports the student’s independent work
  • Has the right to receive supervision and assistance in issues related to studies and research from the supervisory professor and the supervisor(s)
  • Is responsible for the progress of studies, keeping the supervisor(s) up-to-date on the research work and updating the study and research plan each year
  • Must register at the University as an attending or non-attending student each academic year
  • A supervisor commits to long-term and regular supervision and the promotion of the student’s research work.
  • Supervisors agree on the mutual distribution of duties. 
  • During the drafting of the research plan, the supervisor must take into account that the student must be able to complete the doctoral degree and related studies in four years of full-time study.
  • The supervisor must have sufficient and equal time for all students.
  • The supervisor meets each student regularly and treats all equitably.  
  • The supervisor guides the student in research-­related practices (research ethics, research plan, scientific conferences, publishing etc.).
  • The supervisor supports the student’s integration into the academic community.
  • The supervisor discusses research funding with the student.
  • The supervisor ensures the continuity of his or her students’ supervision under changing circumstances. 
  • The supervisor ensures the quality of a dissertation manuscript and its suitability for preliminary 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 application for a degree diploma to Viikki Student Services. The date of submission will also be the date of graduation indicated on the diploma.

The postgraduate student may apply for a diploma when

  • he or she has completed all the required postgraduate studies in accordance with his or her study plan (checked and confirmed by the signature of the professor in charge of the discipline);
  • all the completed credits to be included in the degree can be found in the Student Register and they have been organised into modules (postgraduate studies in the major subject); and
  • the Faculty Council has approved and graded the Licentiate thesis or doctoral dissertation.

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 viikki-phd@helsinki.fi 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 responsible professor. Approval of the professor may also be confirmed via e-mail from the professor to viikki-phd@helsinki.fi.

Monitoring form

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

Faculty of Pharmacy doctoral students may belong to one of the following Doctoral Programmes at the following doctoral schools:

Doctoral School in Health Sciences

Doctoral Programme in Drug Research (DPDR) programme's home faculty is the Faculty of Pharmacy

Doctoral Programme in Integrative Life Science (ILS) programme's home faculty is the Faculty of Bio and Environmental Sciences

Doctoral Programme Brain & Mind (Brain & Mind) programme's home faculty is the Faculty of Bio and Environmental Scienes

Doctoral Programme in Biomedicine (DPBM) programme's home faculty is the Faculty of Medicine

Doctoral programme in Population Health (DocPop) programme's home faculty is the Faculty of Medicine

Doctoral School in Natural Sciences

Doctoral Programme in Chemistry and Molecular Sciences (CHEMS) programme's home faculty is the Faculty of Science

Doctoral Programme in Materials Research and Nanoscience (MATRENA) programme's home faculty is the Faculty of Science