Info for doc­toral can­did­ates & supervisors

The new degree structure applies to everyone who gain their study right after 1.8.2017. Doctoral candidates who have received their study right before this date have the option to graduate based on either the new or the old degree structure until end of July 2020. From 1.8.2020 onwards everyone will follow the new degree structure. More information on the transition period is available in Flamma.

KLTO degree structure from August 1, 2017 onwards:

  • Doctoral thesis research work
  • Scientific content training (30 ECTS)
    * Metodology and substance training
    * National (max. 8 ECTS) and international (max. 14 ECTS) scientific activities
    * Research ethics (min. 1 ECTS)
  • Transferable skills (10 ECTS)

In addition, the new KLTO degree structure requires the following:

  • personal study plan (0 ECTS)
  • annual thesis committee meetings and reports (0 ECTS)

E-forms for Transferring to the new degree requirements:

Please see rules for transition from the degree requirements of 2014–2017 to the curriculum of 2017–2020.

Instructions for drafting a study plan and calculating credits
KLTO study guide in WebOodi
More information on the Big Wheel reform in Flamma


In connection with the Big Wheel degree reform at the University of Helsinki, decision-making concerning the content of doctoral education is transferred to the curricula of the doctoral programmes. Students who obtained the right to study before 1 August 2017 can complete their degree in accordance with the old degree requirements by 31 July 2020. Starting on 1 August 2020, all doctoral candidates must complete their studies in accordance with the new, doctoral programme-specific degree requirements. Doctoral candidates can also choose to transfer to the new degree system earlier.  

All doctoral candidates who are not likely to complete their degree by 31 July 2020 are recommended to transfer to the new degree programmes. Doctoral candidates who have completed studies that will expire before the transition deadline are not recommended to transfer to the new degree system. In accordance with the Rector’s decision, studies completed under the new doctoral programme-specific requirements may not include studies completed over ten years ago. Doctoral candidates who transfer to the new degree programmes must complete their degree in accordance with the guidelines for the new degrees and studies that enter into force on 1 August 2017.  Doctoral candidates, who wish to complete their degree in accordance with the new degree requirements, must transfer before beginning the preliminary examination process of their dissertation.

Because the transition period to the new doctoral programmes is quite long, doctoral candidates are encouraged to make an unhurried transition. Before deciding to transfer, doctoral candidates must carefully read the curriculum and equivalence table of their doctoral programme (WebOodi) as well as any decisions regarding the transfer. Moreover, doctoral candidates are advised to check which studies they must complete in accordance with the new degree requirements before they can submit their dissertation for preliminary examination. It is also useful to consult one’s supervisor and/or coordinating professor and, if necessary, advisory committee about transferring to the new degree system. 

Doctoral candidates can transfer to the new degree system by submitting a notice. The binding notice of transferring is given by using an e-form. NB! Doctoral candidates who have transferred to a new degree programme cannot return to the old degree structure.

What will change?

Below, we have listed the primary changes in doctoral education based on the doctoral programme-specific curricula launched on 1 August 2017:

  • A doctoral degree comprises a dissertation and 40 credits of studies divided into substance-specific studies (30 cr) and general transferable skills studies (10 cr). However, the teaching provided by the doctoral programmes is equally available to students in the old and new degree system. Doctoral candidates do not need to have their old studies recognised in the new system or change the registration method of their studies. After Doctoral candidates have completed all their studies, the credits are included in the new modules.
  • Studies completed in accordance with the new doctoral programme-specific requirements may not include studies completed over ten years ago. This applies to all studies. Related calculations are based on the date the studies were completed or the date the last course included in the relevant study module was completed. Moreover, degree programmes may impose shorter validity periods on the studies included in the study modules they offer.
  • Studies used for a prior first- or second-cycle degree at a university or a university of applied sciences may not be incorporated into a doctoral degree completed at the University of Helsinki. Doctoral candidates must consult their supervisor regarding the recognition of other prior learning.
  • For doctoral candidates who complete their degree in accordance with a doctoral programme-specific curriculum, the scope of the studies specified in the degree diploma is restricted to the statutory scope of the degree increased by 10%. However, any studies completed at the University of Helsinki that are not included in the degree are specified in the study transcript. NB! However, doctoral candidates who obtained the right to study before 1 August 2017 and transfer to the new degree system can use all the studies they have completed up to the moment of the transfer.

The doctoral programme-specific requirements and study equivalence tables are available on the websites of the doctoral programmes and in the course catalogues in WebOodi. Doctoral candidates must also read the transfer rules available on Flamma here. Please submit any further questions to your Faculty.

The doctoral candidate, the supervisor(s) and at least two external experts together form the doctoral candidate’s thesis committee. The external experts nominated by the doctoral candidate and the supervisor(s) are expected to have the academic competence to assess the progress of the doctoral candidate’s thesis project. At least one expert must hold the qualifications of a docent, but the minimum requirement is a doctoral degree. The thesis committee members must be approved by both the Doctoral Programme in Clinical Research and the Faculty of Medicine.


The primary goal of the thesis committee is to monitor the progress of the doctoral candidate’s research project and formal studies. The selected thesis committee members should ideally be independent researchers committed to supporting the doctoral candidate in both scientific as well as other issues related to obtaining the doctoral degree. The appointed members cannot be close collaborators (shared research projects or grants within the last 3 years) of the thesis supervisor.  The thesis committee members are expected to work independently of the thesis supervisor.

Thesis committee members can be affiliated with either domestic or international a) universities b) independent and/or sector research institutes c) clinics. A thesis committee member may also represent a local research program. If both thesis committee members are local, then one must be from a different department, clinic or institute than the doctoral candidate and the thesis supervisor. At least one of the external members should be a licensed physician or dentist if the doctoral candidate has a background in clinical medicine.


The thesis committee evaluates the progress of the thesis project annually and gives feedback on the doctoral candidates personal study plan. The doctoral candidate is expected to send an updated progress report to the thesis committee members prior to the annual meeting. During the meeting the doctoral candidate presents the current status and future plans of the thesis project the thesis committee members assess the progress and make suggestions on further studies. The doctoral candidate is expected to submit a progress report to the doctoral programme after the annual thesis committee meeting.

The aim of annual follow-up is to ensure that the:

  • Research plan is appropriately updated.
  • Project is scientifically sound and well formulated.
  • Doctoral candidate’s formal training support the transition to an independent researcher.
  • Doctoral candidate graduates within the intended timeframe.


The doctoral candidate revises the follow-up report based on the feedback at the meeting, and submits the revised report to the Doctoral Programme in Clinical Research using the electronic reporting form. Doctoral candidates can save a partially completed form and continue later by providing an email address in the ‘partial submission’ section at the end of the form. A report with only a short description of the status of the thesis project is required if the doctoral candidate has concentrated on specialist training or is on e.g. maternity leave. The deadline for the annual follow-up report is January, 31.

Follow-up of the thesis project in THESSA

Information for Phd candidates who have received the right to pursue doctoral degree in 2018 or later.

First task of a new doctoral candidate is to draw up a personal study plan. A doctoral candidate and his/her supervisor may sign a supervision agreement, which will be mandatory for all doctoral candidates from August 2020 onwards. The personal study plan and the supervision agreement are made electronically in the THESSA-system for doctoral candidates and thesis supervisors.

To start using THESSA, please take the following steps:

1)      Open the website
2)      Log in with your UH user account
3)      Confirm that you are a doctoral student

To move forward to the next step and to start filling in your information to THESSA, you must first choose your supervisor from the list of UH supervisors. If you can find your supervisor’s name on the list, this means that (s)he has already logged into the system. If you cannot find your supervisor’s name on the list, please contact your supervisor and ask him/her to join THESSA. Once you and your supervisor have logged in for the first time, a connection can be made and you can start planning your studies and thesis project.

As the THESSA-system is still in a beta stage, it is only available in English. The Finnish and Swedish versions will follow later. Filling the fields is, of course, possible in any chosen language.

Phd candidates (starting 2018 or later) will only use THESSA for submitting annual thesis committee meeting reports and progress reports.

Annual reports

THESSA asks doctoral candidates to complete a report of their PhD project's progress at least once a year during the doctoral studies. The report is a snapshot of the current progress and that's why most of it can be automatically copied from the PhD project. There are however some additional fields that the doctoral candidate needs to complete. After submitting, all supervisors will be notified of the new report. One supervisor then reviews the report and either accepts it as it is or leaves review comments. The doctoral candidate gets a notification about review comments and is required to resubmit the report. Finally, the supervisor(s) accept the report. THESSA sends out reminder emails about reporting deadlines. The report's deadline is one year after the later date of either the last report or the beginning of doctoral studies.

Thesis committee and follow-up reporting

  • The doctoral candidate invites the thesis committee members in to sign in to THESSA during the first semester of doctoral studies
  • The members receive an email from to join the thesis committee
  • Once the thesis committee is set up, the annual progress report can be generated and submitted
  • The thesis committee members can view and comment the progress report in THESSA before the meeting
  • The thesis committee meeting approves the annual progress report
  • At the end of the meeting, the doctoral candidate submits the Conclusions & Recommendations as agreed
  • One year later, THESSA reminds the doctoral candidate to organize the next thesis committee meeting

The Doctoral Programme in Clinical research at the University of Helsinki produces 40-50 theses annually. The primary faculty for dissertations is the Faculty of Medicine, University of Helsinki. Starting from June 2014 theses of the Doctoral Programme in Clinical research are published in DSHealth dissertation series "Dissertationes Scholae Doctoralis Ad Sanitatem Investigandam Universitatis Helsinkiensis". More information at DSHealth web pages.

Search from the E-Thesis

If anything is unclear with dissertation, please contact: