Post­graduate studies

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

Doctoral programmes and doctoral schools 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 Faculty of Veterinary Medicine recommends limiting the number of supervisors to three per doctoral student.                

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. Detailed terms and conditions will be entered in a written supervision agreement.

If there is a need to seek a change to a supervisory relationship, all of the parties together must propose a new arrangement to the Committee for Research and Doctoral studies (TTJT).

A thesis committee will be appointed to each doctoral student at the application stage. At least one of the members must have the qualifications of at least a docent or equivalent academic qualifications, and be experts in the doctoral student’s field.

The members of the committee should not work in the same research group with the doctoral student and must be impartial in relation to the doctoral student.

The student’s thesis committee 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 thesis committee, 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 thesis committee, the expert members commit to these meetings.

  • 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 ensure the quality of the dissertation manuscript and its eligibility for pre-examination.
  • When applying for the permission to print, the director of studies should ensure that the studies have been completed and that the proposed pre-examiners and opponent(s) meet the Faculty requirements.

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.

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 Viikki Campus doctoral study services to remove the registration block.

Otherwise, contact your supervisor or director of studies and update your personal postgraduate study plan with him or her. Submit the updated study plan and the signed Postgraduate studies monitoring form to, or Viikki Campus doctoral study services, P.O.Box 65, 00014 University of Helsinki.

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