The doctoral education system of the University of Helsinki consists of four doctoral schools and 32 doctoral programmes. New doctoral candidates apply for doctoral programme membership at the same time as they apply for postgraduate study rights in one of the faculties.

Doctoral candidates in the Doctoral programme in Brain & Mind (B&M) may complete the following degrees: Doctor of Veterinary Medicine, Doctor of Philosophy, Doctor of Science (Pharmacy), Doctor of Dental Science, Doctor of Medical Science and Doctor of Philosophy (Psychology).

B&M’s responsible faculty is the Faculty of Biological and Environmental Sciences, and its partner faculties are the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Pharmacy, Arts, Medicine and Science. Please, check which degree is available in the chosen faculty with your background studies. The Faculty of Veterinary Medicine and Medicine have more specific instructions about its degrees.

B&M has two application periods during the academic year 2019-2020: in September and in February.

To start with, you should read the University’s general instructions for doctoral applicants where you can find detailed instructions on how to prepare the required documents for your application. Once you are acquainted with those, come back here to read more about the programme-specific selection criteria and instructions for applicants.

Eligibility to apply for

A successful application is formally eligible and scientifically suitable (in quality and in substance) for the doctoral programme. Eligibility is estimated in regards of background degree and included studies, and language proficiency. Only applications meeting the eligibility criteria continue for scientific evaluation in doctoral programmes.

To be able to apply, you must have your Master’s degrees studies (or equivalent) completed. If you have not graduated yet, you need to have your required studies (incl. thesis) completed, graded and registered by the end of the application period. This must be confirmed in a free-of form certificate by an official representative (e.g., Student Services Office) of the university admitting the degree. Applicants who are granted study rights must be able to present a verified copy of their official degree diploma before accepting the offered study place.

Applicants who have been admitted to pursue a licentiate degree in medicine or dentistry at a Finnish university or a licentiate degree in veterinary medicine at the University of Helsinki can also be admitted to pursue a postgraduate research degree. Furthermore, applicants licensed as a healthcare professional by the National Supervisory Authority for Welfare and Health or veterinarians licensed by the Finnish Food Authority who have completed applicable education abroad in their home country equivalent to a second-cycle university degree or a second-cycle degree from a university of applied sciences can be admitted.

Next application period

The next application period is from September 1, 2020 at 09:00 AM EEST until September 15, 2020 at 03:00 PM EEST.

Applicants will be informed of the decisions by November 27, 2020. Those granted a study right must accept them by December 11, 2020. Study rights granted in the September round of applications will begin on January 1, 2021.

Applications must be submitted via the online application form. The link for the form can be found in the section ‘Submitting the application’.  Prepare your application carefully, concentrating on the sections below, supervision arrangements and in addition, to the educational documents required to support your application. Please, prepare your application and its documents in good time before the deadline. You may use this checklist to ensure, that you have all the necessary document.

Documents required for the application attached as scanned copies:

  • degree diploma
  • transcript of studies
  • language proficiency test result
  • approval by supervisors and members of the thesis committee

Documents needed as certified hard copies in mail:

  • certified official copies of your degree diploma, transcript of studies and official translations of these documents (if needed)
  • language proficiency test result (original)

Sections submitted directly to the application form

1. The research proposal is the most important part of your application. In the electronic application form, the research proposal is divided into the fields listed below. Prepare your research proposal right from the start to fit the different fields and their maximum lengths, so you will not need to start re-editing the proposal when filling in the application form.

The following fields related to the research plan are included in the electronic application form (the number in parentheses indicates the maximum number of characters per field, spaces included):

  • Preliminary title of the doctoral thesis
  • Field of research (menu)
  • Specification or additional information on the field of research
  • Language of the dissertation
  • Other language skills needed for completing the doctoral dissertation
  • Brief summary of the research plan (2000)
  • Research plan contains mathematical special characters or chemical formulas
  • Motivation for conducting doctoral research (2000)
  • Rationale for the research project (2000)
  • Objectives of the research and scientific impact of research results (2000)
  • Research methods and materials to be used and its significance for the research project (2000)
  • Research material to be used and its significance for the research project (1500)
  • Preliminary plan on the collection, usage and storage of the research material.  (1500)
  • Ethical issues (1000)
  • Does the research project require animal testing? (Yes or no)
  • The most important literature references for the research plan (2500)
  • Form of the dissertation (an article-based dissertation or a monograph)
  • Publication plan and timetable for the articles or a preliminary outline of the monograph (1000)   
  • Preliminary timetable for your research (2000)   
  • Planned funding for the research project including received and applied notable funding thus far (1000):  In B&M, the funding for the first year should be confirmed in the application stage. If you are planning to fund your studies yourself, you should mention that in the application. Possible funding organisations.
  • Estimated year of graduation

2. Previously acquired knowledge supporting the dissertation project (the number in parentheses indicates the maximum number of characters per field, spaces included):

  • Previously acquired research knowledge
    Previous experience in research work, other scientific work and/or scientific merits, including possible academic awards and other academic acknowledgements.
  • Possible previous publications and conference presentations (1500)
  • Possible international experience and other work experience relevant to your doctoral research (1500)
  • Possible career breaks (1500)
    Here you have the option to list reasons that may have caused delay in your studies (for example: possible family leaves, military or civilian service).

3. A study plan (the number in parentheses indicates the maximum number of characters per field, spaces included):

  • Preliminary study plan: Discipline-specific studies, 30 ECTS (1500)
  • Preliminary study plan: General competence studies, 10 ECTS (1500)
  • Completed doctoral studies (in ECTS) up to date, if any

Doctoral programme degree structures can be found in WebOodi (Course catalogues – Doctoral Schools and Programmes) or consult the B&M degree structure and requirements to plan your studies.

4. The title and summary of your Master´s thesis or equivalent (750).

5. Supervision arrangements: supervisors, responsible professor and members of a thesis committee

B&M specific criteria for supervisors:

  • Each postgraduate student must be assigned one to three supervisors (motivation for appointing a third supervisor is required) that are appointed at the application stage. Supervisors must hold at least a doctorate, and at least one of the supervisors must hold the qualifications of a docent or equivalent academic qualifications.
  • All B&M supervisors commit to adhere to University instructions on supervision practices and to responsible conduct of research of the Finnish National Board on Research Integrity TENK. Supervision agreement in Thessa is obligatory for all new students and their supervisors starting from August 2020.
  • B&M suggests that at least one supervisor or thesis committee member is from the University of Helsinki.

If you do not have a supervisor yet, you can look for potential B&M supervisors and their research interests at University of Helsinki Research Portal or from neuroscience research groups.

    After finding a potential supervisor, contact him or her to discuss your research ideas and plans. Please note that professors and principal investigators get dozens of emails from potential doctoral candidates. If you want to get your email noticed, you must give the professor/ principal investigator the information they need, quickly, clearly and professionally.

    Every applicant needs to also have a responsible professor (a person in charge of studies) when applying for the doctoral study right. Responsible professors/persons in the Faculty of Biological and Environmental Sciences and in the Faculty of Medicine. Other faculties: please check from the respective faculty's website.

    Your supervisors and responsible professors must commit to support you during your doctoral studies by signing the form below which must be attached to your online application. 

    In B&M, thesis committee is not obligatory at the application stage, but it has to be formed and the first meeting arranged within 6-12 months after being accepted to B&M. General and B&M-specific instructions for thesis committee.

    Approval for supervisors and members of the thesis committee - form

    The applications, along with the required additional documents, must be submitted by the end of the application period. Applications are submitted using an electronic application form, which closes at 3 PM (Helsinki time) on the last day of the round of applications. Those applicants who are required to send certified copies of the additional documents by post must make sure that these documents arrive by the end of the application period.

    English application form

    Applications and additional documents sent by email are not accepted. Incomplete applications are not considered.

    Certified copies of additional documents must be delivered to the Admissions Services of the University of Helsinki. For instructions on how to submit your documents, please visit the page Eli­gib­il­ity and edu­ca­tional doc­u­ments .

    For further information, please contact

    If you have technical problems relating to the application form itself, please contact

    Study right applications submitted on 18 February 2020

    Applicants will be informed of the decisions by April 7, 2020. Those granted a study right must accept them by April 21, 2020. Study rights granted in the February round of applications will begin on May 1, 2020.

    Student admissions for doctoral programmes follow the general admissions policies for studies leading to a doctoral degree and clarifications to these policies specific to doctoral programmes. The Doctoral School in Health Sciences has decided the common criteria for all of its doctoral programmes, which have also been confirmed by each Faculty. See the exact criteria of the doctoral programmes of the Doctoral School in Health Sciences.