Students admitted to the Doctoral Programme in Social Sciences can complete the degrees of Doctor of Social Sciences (Faculty of Social Sciences) and Licentiate of Social Sciences and Doctor of Philosophy and Licentiate of Philosophy (Faculty of Science). Please, check which degree is available in the chosen faculty with your background studies. All successful applicants are admitted to complete a doctoral degree, but they can choose to first complete a Licentiate degree.

The right to complete a degree may only be obtained through an admission procedure. The Doctoral Programme has two application periods for doctoral study rights each year – the second one in the spring and the first one in the fall.

To start with, you should read the University’s general instructions for doctoral applicants where you can find detailed instructions 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.

The right to complete a Doctor of Social Sciences  degree can be granted to applicants who have completed a Master’s degree or equivalant in relevant field in Finland or abroad, and who are deemed to have sufficient knowledge and skills to complete the doctoral degree and submit a high-quality research plan for a dissertation and an eligible personal study plan (PSP). The previous degree must be relevant to the planned research topic and the discipline. A degree is regarded as relevant if it includes sufficient studies in a discipline which, given the topic of the proposed doctoral dissertation, can be regarded as a suitable basis for doctoral studies.

Applicants cannot be granted the right to study unless the supervision resources are sufficient (i.e. supervisors supports the applicant’s application and agree to serve as their supervisors).

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 studies included in it, and also in regards of language proficiency. Only applications meeting the eligibility criteria continue for scientific evaluation in the 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 all the studies (incl. thesis) required for the degree you apply with completed, graded and registered by the end of the application period. This must be confirmed in a free-of form certificate by official representative (e.g., Student Services Office) of the university admitting the degree. Applicants who are granted a study right must be able to present a verified copy of their official degree diploma before accepting the offered study place. Applicants who have previously completed a doctoral degree in another field are also recommended to outline the scholarly grounds for reapplying for doctoral studies.

Applicants must, in good time before submitting the application, contact the discipline relevant to their research interests and discuss the preliminary study plan and research plan as well as arrangements for dissertation supervision.  Each applicant is responsible for finding a supervisor. An approval form from supervisors is not required when applying.

The following criteria have been confirmed for admission to doctoral education in the Doctoral Programme in Social Sciences:

  1. Appropriate performance in previous studies and their suitability to serve as the foundation of the prospective doctoral degree.
  2. The quality of the research plan and the links between the planned dissertation research and the research conducted in the doctoral programme.
  3. Availability of supervision and related resources (incl. coordinating academic): as a rule, the person who agrees to serve as the supervisor can simultaneously supervise no more than six students who are completing their postgraduate degree in a way that is equivalent to full-time studying.

The Doctoral Programme has two application periods for doctoral study rights each year – one in the spring and one in the fall.

The next application period is from April 1, 2021 09:00 AM EEST until April 15, 2021 03:00 PM EEST.

Applicants will be informed of the decisions by June 10, 2021. Those granted a study right must accept it by June 24, 2021. Study rights granted in the April round of applications will begin on August 1, 2021.

The instructions on this page concern applicants who are applying for a doctoral study right. If you wish to apply for a salaried doctoral candidate position, please acquaint yourself with the instructions related to applying for a salaried position. Please note that the applications are processed separately and you will be notified separately of the decision concerning your study right application and of the recruitment decisions for the salaried positions.

Applications must be submitted via the online application form. Before submitting an application, applicants must contact teachers in the suitable field  to receive instructions concerning the suitability of their research proposal for supervisory and research profile in the field of science (no supervisory assistance can otherwise be offered for the research proposal). Teachers’ email addresses can be found under each doctoral programme supervision information. You can find their research interests from University of Helsinki Research Portal. Email messages sent to teachers must be accompanied by a preliminary research proposal (max. 5 pages). Information about a potential supervisor is asked in the application form.

Supervisor’s approval form is not compulsory in this doctoral programme. If it is asked on the application form, please, submit an empty page or the e-mail conversation with your potential supervisors.


Applications are submitted using an electronic application form, which will be open during the application period. All applicants must submit the following documents as part of their application (points 1-5 are integrated in the electronic application form; points 6-7 are submitted as scanned attachments and sent to the Admissions Services by post, please see the instructions below):

The links to the doctoral programme specific Studyinfo forms are on this website:

Applying at Studyinfo (the correct links open during the application period in question)

The required documents to be attached to the form:

1. A preliminary research proposal.

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 won't 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

Brief summary of the research plan (2000)

Motivation for conducting doctoral research (2000)
Describe your motivation for conducting doctoral research in general and for this topic in particular. Also explain why you have chosen the doctoral programme you are applying to.

Baselines of the doctoral research (2000)
How is the project linked to previous research? What are the most significant theoretical and methodological premises of the project?

Objectives of the research and scientific impact of research results (2000)
What are the objectives of the project and their theoretical and methodological underpinnings? Shortly present the hypotheses and the research questions. Describe the expected research result and their anticipated novelty value in terms of the research field and the current scientific discussion on the research topic. You may also shortly outline the reach, potential applications and utilization value of the research beyond the scientific community.

Research methods (2000)
Outline the research methods, described so as to explain how they will contribute to answering the research questions/confirming the hypotheses, or how they will support the chosen approach.

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)
Briefly describe how you plan to collect the research material and use it. Are there any ethical, data protection or copyright issues related to data storage that need to be taken into account? Is it possible to make the data available for the use of other researchers? We do not expect you to master topics related e.g. to open access or to the legal and ethical issues related to data management (e.g. data protection, copyright issues) when you apply. It's enough that you have given the topic thought and recognised the preliminary data management questions that might arise related to your research data.

Ethical issues (1000)
Are there ethical issues (e.g. ethical governance procedures, informed consent, and anonymity of subjects) that need to be taken into account when conducting the research? Does conducting the research require a research permit or a permit from the ethical board and/or the Animal Experiment Board? We do not expect you to be an expert of research ethical questions when you apply. The important thing is that you have considered the possibility of ethical issues related to your research topic and, if there are such issues, given preliminary thought on how to approach them.

Bibliography and sources (2500)

Form of the dissertation (an article-based dissertation or a monograph)

Publication plan (1000)
The preliminary outline of a monograph or, in case an article-based dissertation is planned, a preliminary publication plan for the articles.

Preliminary timetable and funding plan of your research (2000)

Grants and/or funded doctoral candidate positions applied / received thus far. (500)

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 publications and conference presentations (1500)

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

Before drawing up your own preliminary study plan, please acquaint yourself with the doctoral programme's degree requirements (please see the course catalogue of the programme). In the study plan, the important thing is that you have given thought on what kind of studies would best support your thesis work and drawn up a preliminary timetable for completing these studies.

The following fields related to the study plan are included in the electronic application form (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)

Possible completed doctoral studies so far (in ECTS)

4. The title and summary of your Master´s thesis or equivalent, or a description of previous academic publications (maximum length 750 characters, including spaces).

5. Names of the supervisors, who have agreed to supervise your thesis. 
N.B. A signed approval form from supervisors is not required when applying, but the applicant should be in contact with the potential supervisor(s) and discuss his/her preliminary study and research plans before applying. It is an applicant's own responsibility to find a supervisor.

6. Certified official copies of your degree diploma (Master's degree or equivalent) and transcript of studies and official translations of these documents (if needed)

If you have completed all the studies required for eligibility (please see section “Eligibility and Admission Criteria”), but have yet to graduate and receive your diploma, you still must include a certificate by official representative (e.g., Student Services Office) of the university admitting the degree and a detailed study transcript that clearly indicates that all the studies required for the degree have been completed, graded and registered before the end of the application period. 

N.B. The application form enables you to also submit documents related to your possible BA degree, should you so wish. However, submitting these documents is not obligatory.

7. Verification of language skills.
The University of Helsinki demands an indication of academic level language skills of all applicants. Please acquaint yourself with the options for verifying your language skills in either Finnish, Swedish or English in good time before applying. Additionally, you will need to have sufficient skills in any other languages needed for your research topic. Your skills in these languages will be assessed based on the application documents (e.g. transcript of studies) as well as preliminary discussions with your potential supervisors.

N.B. Applicants who have not completed their previous degree in the University of Helsinki must also send officially certified documents mentioned in points 6. and 7. by post. The documents must be submitted as paper copies that are officially certified by the awarding institution, or legalised. There are country specific requirements for documents issued in some countries. For more information on the means of having the documents officially certified, please see here.


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 UTC +3, (at 15.00 PM Helsinki time), on the last day of the round of applications. Those applicants who are required to send certified copies of the 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


Applications meeting the formal eligibility requirements will proceed to the academic assessment of the application, which will take place in the doctoral programme by its supervisors. The final decision on granting the right to pursue a degree will be made by the faculty responsible for the target degree based on a proposal by the steering group of the doctoral programme in question.

In conjunction with admission, the doctoral programme and the title of the doctoral degree to be pursued will be confirmed, and the student will be assigned at least two supervisors who have completed a doctoral degree and of whom at least one has a permanent or long-term employment contract with the Faculty in which the student will pursue the doctoral degree. In addition, each student will be assigned a coordinating academic, who may also serve as one of the dissertation supervisors.

Applicants will be informed of the decisions by June 10, 2021. Those granted a study right must accept it by June 24, 2021. Study rights granted in the April round of applications will begin on August 1, 2021.