The title of docent is an academic title conferred in recognition of achievements in scientific research and teaching. The title of docent can be granted, upon application, to an applicant possessing extensive knowledge in his or her field and the ability for independent research as demonstrated by publications or other means as well as good teaching skills. Previously docents had an employment relationship with the University, but the amendment of the Universities Act in 2010 turned docentships into an academic title.  At the University of Helsinki, the title of docent is granted by the chancellor on the proposal of the faculty.

The requirements for the title of docent at the University of Helsinki include scholarly studies equivalent in scope to at least two doctoral dissertations as well as good teaching skills. When applying for the title of docent, the applicants must present a list of their scientific publications and other academic merits as well as give a demonstration of their teaching skills on a topic in their field. The applicants’ qualifications are assessed by independent academic assessors.

The key duty of docents in the University community is to provide teaching. The title of docent gives its holder the right to supervise Licentiate theses and doctoral dissertations. Docents who are employed by the University often work as researchers. Above all, the title of docent testifies to the esteemed position of its holders in the academic community as experts in the research and teaching of their field.

The University of Helsinki has some 4,400 docents. The chancellor grants about 180 new titles of docent every year.