Info for doctoral candidates

Doctoral Programme in Population Health (DocPop) new degree structure from 1.8.2017 onwards:

Doctoral thesis research work

Scientific content training (30 ECTS)

  • DocPop Workshop (min. 1 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 DocPop degree structure requires the following:

  • Personal study plan (0 ECTS)
  • Annual thesis committee meetings and reports (0 ECTS)

Please note: 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.

E-forms for Transferring to the new degree requirements:

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.

Progress report

All DocPop doctoral candidates are required to submit an annual progress report (See: Writing the progress report below).

Deadline December 31st

Online form for submitting the progress report:

Thesis Committee

The purpose of Thesis Committee work is to improve the quality of research and research training. The Thesis Committee meetings are arranged annually and aim to:

  • Ensure that the project is scientifically valid and suitable for a PhD project
  • Ensure that the doctoral candidate's coursework supports the PhD project and provides the expected skills
  • Evaluate the progress and future plans of the PhD project including overseeing the timely graduation of the doctoral candidate

The committee members act as mentors to the doctoral candidate throughout the project. They both guide and support the doctoral candidate in his/her research and studies. All interactions between the doctoral candidate and the Thesis Committee are to be considered confidential. All new DocPop doctoral candidates are required to have their own Thesis Committee (please see DocPop degree structure).

Thesis Committee Members

The Thesis Committee consists of at least two external experts with the necessary academic qualifications to assess the progress of dissertation work and who are impartial in relation to the supervisor(s) and the doctoral candidate at the committee's appointment stage. At least one expert must hold the qualifications of a docent. The Members of the Committee are suggested by the doctoral candidate and accepted by the doctoral programme. A membership in the Thesis Committee is a position of trust, aiming to guide the doctoral candidate throughout his/her PhD project. The doctoral candidate and supervisor can suggest changes in the composition of the Thesis Committee.

Meetings and reporting

Deadline December 31st

The Thesis Committee Meeting is held once a year until the thesis defense. Organizing the meeting is the responsibility of the doctoral candidate. The nature of Thesis Committee work changes according to the maturation of the doctoral candidate. In addition to the general follow-up on the progress of the project, each meeting has its specific aims, which may vary depending e.g. on the doctoral candidate´s former studies and progress.

Following is the recommended structure:

Meeting 1: Forming a personal study plan together with the doctoral candidate, verification of faculty registration of the project
Meeting 2: Follow up on the personal study plan
Meeting 3: Follow up on the personal study plan, thorough check of research results, first preliminary future career plans (labs and funding)
Meeting 4: Accepting the PhD project for printing, writing a statement to the faculty in support of the printing permit for the thesis where applicable, having a thorough look into postdoctoral funding or other future career plans

Arranging the meeting

Prior to the meeting the doctoral candidate prepares and sends a progress report to the Thesis Committee members and supervisor(s). Thesis Committee members are expected to familiarize themselves with the report in advance. The doctoral candidate, supervisor(s), and the Thesis Committee members must all participate in the TC Meeting. Participation can be organized e.g. over skype to reduce travelling.

During the meeting

1. The doctoral candidate presents the current status and future plans of the PhD project.
2. Thesis Committee members evaluate the project and make suggestions for the project.
3. The doctoral candidate and the participants of the Thesis Committee Meeting check the courses taken by the doctoral candidate and plan the studies to guarantee adequate knowledge of and expertise in the field.
4. Part of the meeting has to be held in the absence of the supervisor to allow for possible confidential matters to be discussed between the TC members and the doctoral candidate.
5. Based on the feedback at the meeting, the doctoral candidate revises the progress report and submits the revised report to the doctoral programme using the online form.
6. The Thesis Committee Meeting form must be filled online during/ right after the meeting and approved by all participants (a copy of the form is automatically sent to the TC members replacing the need for signatures).
7. The Thesis Committee Meeting form summarizes the discussion from the meeting - the progress report summarizes the annual progress.


All interactions within the Thesis Committee are to be considered confidential. Part of the meeting is held in the absence of the supervisor to allow for possible confidential matters, or issues where the supervisor and the doctoral candidate may have conflicting views to be discussed between the TC members and the doctoral candidate.

Approval of the progress report

The final report is submitted to DocPop in the online form. The doctoral candidate is expected to send the progress report also to the supervisor(s) for approval and comments (as well as the Thesis Committee members prior to the annual meeting). The meetings provide an important tool for the doctoral programme to keep updated on the current status of the PhD project. The annual meetings are compulsory to all new DocPop doctoral candidates.

Writing the progress report

Please write your report in the following order. You will need to submit the report online, paper copies or email attachments are not accepted. You can first write your report in any text editor and then submit the report by copy/pasting it to the online report form. Note! You can write the report in Finnish, if you want.


Title of thesis
Name of the doctoral candidate
Name of the supervisor
Name of the thesis committee members
Thesis project started
Thesis plan accepted (date and faculty)
Thesis Committee Meeting date (if applicable)
Percentage of thesis project completed


Abstract (250 words)
Aims of the study
List of methods used
Results and future prospects
What is the planned structure of your thesis?
What has been the major obstacle/problem during the past year?


Accepted publications (indicate if the publication will not be used for your thesis)
Submitted publications (when submitted the original/revised version, which journal)
Manuscripts under preparation (short description of the time table)
List of meeting abstracts (who was the presenting author, poster or oral presentation)

TRAINING (please indicate venue, organizer, date)

International courses or workshops
Visitor in an international laboratory (what did you learn?)
Describe which meetings, seminars, journal clubs you attend. How often?
Seminars held
Other training related to your research work
Relevant extracurricular activities


List the relevant grants and awards you have received


Submitting the revised progress report and the TCM form:

Online form for submitting the progress report:

Online form for submitting the Thesis Committee Meeting form (must be approved by all participants at the meeting):

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 Population Health at the University of Helsinki produces 14-20 theses annually. The primary faculty for dissertations is the Faculty of Medicine.

Further information on dissertation, please contact Mari Siltala (Faculty of Medicine), (Faculties at the Viikki Campus)

Starting from June 2014 doctoral candidates have been able to publish their theses in the DSHealth dissertation series "Dissertationes Scholae Doctoralis Ad Sanitatem Investigandam Universitatis Helsinkiensis". 

To search for dissertations published in the dissertation series, please see E-Thesis.

Doctoral School in Health Sciences (DSHealth)

Doctoral Programs in DSHealth (in addition to DocPop)
Doctoral Programme in Biomedicine (DPBM)
Doctoral Programme Brain & Mind (B&M)
Doctoral Programme in Clinical Research (KLTO)
Doctoral Programme in Clinical Veterinary Medicine (CVM)
Doctoral Programme in Drug Research (DPDR)
Doctoral Programme in Integrative Life Science (ILS)
Doctoral Programme in Oral Sciences (FINDOS)

Faculty of Medicine
Faculty of Pharmacy
Faculty of Agriculture and Forestry


Nordic Doctoral Training in Health Sciences (NorDoc)
The activities of NorDoc aim to initiate, facilitate and intensify collaboration among the Nordic doctoral schools/faculties in all relevant fields for the benefit of Nordic doctoral candidates and their supervisors, in order to support and ensure the highest possible quality in doctoral education in health sciences.

For more information, please see:

Finishing your PhD thesis related links:
UH information for Doctoral Candidates - En route to the Doctorate

The Doctoral School in Health Sciences (DSHealth) has introduced a new dissertation series: "Dissertationes Scholae Doctoralis Ad Sanitatem Investigandam Universitatis Helsinkiensis".

Please see the DSHealth website for detailed information and step-by-step instructions.

More info on publishing your thesis can be found at the University of Helsinki Information for doctoral candidates - En route to Doctorate.

Printing costs:
A doctoral candidate can apply for financial support to cover the dissertation printing costs. The University of Helsinki printing grant (up to 250 €) is personal and the application process is continuous. More information can be found in Flamma.

University of Helsinki doctoral dissertation form: one-stop-shop for all the information required by different units at the University (E-thesis, University Communications Department and University calendar of events).