Frontiers in life sciences are increasingly found in areas requiring multidisciplinary skills and cooperation. Research areas in molecular biosciences and biomedicine that are strong in Finland include genetics, cell and developmental biology, cancer research, neuroscience and virology. These areas share a strong component of multidisciplinary approaches bridging research in basic biosciences, computational sciences and medicine. The research groups affiliated in ILS represent the highest quality life science research in Helsinki. Their research interests cover nearly all aspects of modern life sciences ranging from molecular medicine and developmental biology to biophysics and systems biology. Together with the Helsinki Institute for Life Sciences (HiLIFE) ILS forms a vibrant research community with critical mass for multidisciplinary research training and outreach to industry. About 200 doctoral students from over 20 different nationalities participate in the highly international program.

By attending the Structured PhD-training program in ILS you will engage in following layers of activity:

  • You will work full time for your thesis as a member of a research group instructed by your supervisor (see ILS PI’s).
  • Your thesis work is supported and monitored by a thesis committee reporting annually to the doctoral program.
  • In the process of the thesis project you will learn research competence, project management, independence, creativity and critical thinking.
  • You will learn scientific communication, presentation and networking skills. You will participate in relevant international scientific meetings in your field and attend seminar series to support your thesis work.
  • Through specific advanced training you will acquire good knowledge on research integrity issues as well as logical reasoning in life science research.
  • You will broaden your scientific horizon by attending the scientific content courses and gain a strong basic knowledge in thematic research areas represented in ILS. 
  •  You will benefit from the up-to-date scientific facilities.  Research infrastructures that are vital for research and doctoral training are available to support your research work. An open inter-campus culture for young researchers enhances effective use of these resources.
  • You will improve your career prospects.  In addition to subject-related course work you will gain transferable skills. Depending on your career goals you can choose to develop key competencies in the areas of management and organization, teaching and communication, as well as business and innovation. ILS is the home for BiotechClub – a society for industry-curious students where you can take a closer look at different career options.
  • You can participate in courses and other learning opportunities in UH and elsewhere. The wide provision of transferable skills training enables you to undertake demanding expert duties in many professions in academia, industry, commerce and policy making. 


New doctoral candidates apply for the right to pursue a doctoral degree from their chosen doctoral programme. Make sure you are eligible for doctoral studies before applying! Applications are submitted via an electronic application form, please see more below.

The next application period is from February 1, 2019 09:00 AM EEST until February 14, 2019 03:00 PM EEST.
Applicants will be informed of the decisions by April 1, 2019. Those granted a study right must accept it by April 15, 2019. Study rights granted in the autumn round of applications will begin on May 1, 2019.

During the academic year 2018-2019 the application periods are as follows:

  • 14-27 September, 2018
  • 1-14 February, 2019

General information on University webpages:

Apply for doctoral education (including information regarding language requirements)


Please read carefully all the criteria before applying. All the applications, which do not fulfill the guidelines and criteria, will be rejected.

General guidelines on doctoral admissions in the University of Helsinki:

According to the Universities Act (558/2009) section 37 eligible applicants for studies leading to a postgraduate research degree have completed

  • An applicable second-cycle university degree,
  • An applicable second-cycle degree from a university of applied sciences, or
  • An applicable education at an institution abroad providing eligibility for equivalent higher education in the country in question.

In addition, applicants who have been accepted to complete a Licenciate of Veterinary Medicine, Licenciate of Medicine or Licenciate of Dentistry degree in the University of Helsinki, are eligible to apply.

The purpose of student selection is to assess the motivation, commitment and aptitude of the applicants for studies. The right to complete a doctoral degree is granted on the basis of diplomas, certificates and other documents. The admission criteria include previous academic performance, the applicable content of previous studies to the prospective doctoral programme, the study plan and the research proposal.

Doctoral Programme selection criteria, please see on the left.


Applications are submitted via an electronic application form. The application form can be completed in English.

Follow the link - links are open when the call is open:

English application form

Prepare your application carefully, concentrating on the following sections below and all the required attachments to support your application.

  • Find a supervisor: In many ways, the most important person in the whole process of obtaining a doctoral degree is your supervisor. He or she will supervise your research and guide you through your studies. Applications to ILS require that you have a supervisor when you submit your application. An extensive list of Doctoral Programme supervisors can be found LINK (note: look for 'Supervisor for doctoral programme'). 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.
  • ILS 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 ILS supervisors commit to adhere to University instructions on supervision practices (LINK) and to responsible conduct of research of the Finnish National Board on Research Integrity TENK (LINK). Supervision agreement in Thessa is obligatory for all new students and their supervisors starting from August 2020.
    • ILS suggests that at least one supervisor or thesis committee member is from University of Helsinki.
  • Find a responsible professor and follow-up group/thesis committee for your doctoral studies and thesis
    • 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.
    • In ILS, thesis committee is not obligatory at the application stage, but it has to be formed and the first meeting arranged within four months (first semester) after being accepted to ILS. General and ILS-specific instructions for thesis committee: LINK (choose ILS/Doctoral Programme in Integrative Life Science from the drop-down menu to see also ILS instructions).
    • ILS suggests that at least one supervisor or thesis committee member is from University of Helsinki.
  • Write a research plan, it should be written directly to the electronic application form in English. Please see some guidelines for the research plan and the required documents. 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
    - 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
    - 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 (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 research literature references for the research plan (2500)
    - Form of the dissertation (an article-based dissertation or a monograph)
    - Publication plan (including a preliminary outline of the monograph) (1000)
    - Preliminary timetable and funding plan of your research (2000)
    - Grants and/or funded doctoral candidate positions applied / received thus far. (500)
    - I am planning to research: full-time / part-time
    - Estimated year of graduation

  • Draw up a funding plan. In ILS, 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. LINK to possible funding organisations.
  • Compose a study plan: consult the Doctoral Programme degree structure above to plan your doctoral studies.

Documents to be attached to your electronic application form:

  • Copies of your previous degree certificate(s) (Master's degree or equivalent and potential Bachelor's degree)
  • Transcript of records for your previous degree(s) (Master's degree or equivalent and potential Bachelor's degree)
  • Certificate of language proficiency from a language test rather than through your educational background. NOTE! This document must also be sent in paper form to Admissions Services AND must arrive by the application deadline. Instructions for English, Finnish or Swedish language proficiency..
  • A permit by an Ethical Review Board and/or by the National Animal Experiment Board, if required by the research arrangement
  • A signed letter of commitment from your supervisor(s), the responsible professor as well as the proposed members of your thesis committee

Additional documents to be sent by post (NOTE: Only applicants whose previous degree is not from the University of Helsinki):

  • An officially certified copy of your previous degree certificate (Master's degree or equivalent)
  • An official transcript of studies included in the Master's degree (or equivalent)
  • Certificate of language proficiency from a language test

Please see more instructions here, please check also if the country-specific requirements apply to you. NOTE: The copies that are not certified as required will be invalid for the application process and the application will be rejected.

Submitting the application

Applications, along with the required additional documents, must be submitted by the end of the application period. Applications are submitted via an electronic application form, which closes at 15:00 EEST 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.

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

The 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 see here. For further information, please contact admissions[at]


The doctoral programme's board assesses all applications to the programme that meet the formal requirements. The board draws up an admission proposal indicating the names of the admitted and rejected applicants, together with the reasons for each decision. The final decision is made by the degree-awarding faculty.

All applicants are informed about the decision by e-mail. The offered study right has to be accepted within a set time limit after the decision has been sent. Those who fail to report whether they accept the offer or to submit the requested documents by the deadline will lose their place.

Timetable for the decisions:

Application period

  Letters of acceptance to be sent by

  Deadline for accepting the offer

 Study right begins

14. - 27.9.2018




1. - 14.2.2019





The so-called one place rule has extended to cover all education leading to a university degree, including doctoral and licentiate degrees. The rule of one study place per term concerns all degree programme application options.

Applicants dissatisfied with admissions decisions may appeal in writing to the faculty council or a body appointed by it within 14 days of the announcement of the admission results. Should you receive a decision rejecting your application, it will be accompanied by information on the appeals procedure.


For further information, please contact the University of Helsinki Admission Services,


1.8.2017 - 31.7.2020 Guidelines for ILS doctoral candidates

  • All doctoral candidates must transfer to the new degree system if they do not complete their degree before 31.7.2020. During the preceding transition period (1.8.2017 – 31.7.2020) they can choose from the following options:
  • They can continue to study according to the old degree requirements, i.e., 60 ECTS credits (40 ECTS for Doctor of Veterinary Medicine and Doctor of Medical Science degrees) and faculty and/or major based guidelines until 31.7.2020. 
  • They can transfer to the new degree system and begin to study according to the new degree requirements, in which case it should be noted that:
  • The transfer to the new degree system can be done at any time during the transition period, but once it is done, it is not possible to return to the old system.
  • In the new degree system, 40 ECTS credits will be required in addition to the doctoral thesis. These credits are distributed between discipline-specific studies (30 credits) and general competence studies (10 credits).
  • The composition of discipline-specific studies differ between doctoral programmes, while the required general competence studies are doctoral school specific.
  • An obligatory course of research ethics must be included in the discipline-specific studies.
  • In the new degree system studies completed more than 10 years earlier cannot be included in a doctoral degree.
  • Studies included in a Master’s degree which exceed its minimum scope cannot be included in a doctoral degree.
  • In the new degree system there might be more obligatory courses or more detailed rules about minimum and maximum amount of credits that can be included in certain study modules.
  • If a doctoral candidate is nearing the end of his/her thesis work and intends to transfer to the new system, the transfer must be completed before the pre-examination process starts.
  • Once the transition period ends on 31.7.2020 all doctoral candidates will be transferred to the new degree system.

E-forms for transition to the new requirements