Planning to apply for a doctoral study right at our programme? Good choice!

To start with, you should read the University’s general instructions for doctoral applicants. Once you’re acquainted with those, come back here to read more about the programme-specific selection criteria and instructions for applicants.

The doctoral degrees available within the Doctoral Programme in Gender, Culture and Society are Doctor of Philosophy, Doctor of Education, Doctor of Law, Doctor of Social Sciences and Doctor of Theology. Most students in the programme complete a PhD degree, but the choice of target degree depends on your academic background and the topic of your dissertation. If you have, for example, an academic background in Law Studies or Theology, you can opt for the Doctor of Laws or the Doctor of Theology degree, respectively. Different degrees are awarded by different faculties, and you should choose a target degree that is relevant to your background and the discipline you intend to complete your dissertation in.

In addition to fulfilling the general rules of eligibility, your previous degree must be relevant to the planned research topic and 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.

To be able to apply, you need to have all the studies required for the degree you apply with completed, graded and registered by the end of the relevant application period. 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.


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

The spring application period is from April 3, 2018 09:00 AM (EEST) until April 16, 2018 03:00 PM (EEST). Applicants will be informed of the decisions in mid-June. Applicants will be informed of the decisions by June 15th, 2018. Those granted a study right must accept it by June 29th. Study rights granted in the spring round of applications will begin on July 2nd, 2018.

Next application period will be from September 14, 2018 until September 27, 2018.

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 1–4 are integrated in the electronic application form; points 5–6 are submitted as scanned attachments):

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 won't need to start re-editing the proposal when filling in the e-form.  The University of Helsinki research plan template is a useful support tool, as it will help you get a grasp on the kind of questions you should take into account when drawing up your research plans.

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):

  • Brief summary of the research plan (1500)
  • Significance of the project in relation to current knowledge (1500)
  • Motivation for conducting doctoral research (1500)
  • Objectives of the research (2000)
  • Effects and impact beyond academia (500)
  • Research methods (2000)
  • Research material to be used and its significance for the research project (1000)
  • Data management plan (1500)
    (Give a short description of how you plan to collect and use research data. You can also consider the best methods of data storage and the possibilities of opening your data 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.)
  • Critical points for success, alternative implementation strategies (500)
  • Ethical issues (1000)
    (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.)
  • 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)
  • Methods for ensuring open access (500)
    The University promotes open access research, and several research funding providers also expect grant applicants to be familiar with the principles of open access publishing. When you apply for a study right, you are not expected to master the details of open access publishing - it's enough that you have given preliminary thought on where and how your research could be made openly available.
    More information on open access publishing is available e.g. on the University Library's website.)
  • Schedule for the research (500)
  • Funding plan for research and doctoral studies (500)
  • Applied funding and salaried positions (500)
  • Motivation for choosing the University of Helsinki as the site of doctoral research and motivation for selecting the doctoral programme (500)
  • Mobility plan (500)
    The university aims to assure that all doctoral degrees include some sort of international activities. In this field, you can tell us of your own preliminary plans related to e.g. exchange studies, research visits or participating in international conferences.
  • The most important research literature and/or sources (1000)

2. A study plan. Before drawing up your own preliminary study plan, please acquaint yourself with the doctoral programme's degree requirements available further down this page. In the application form, there are two separate fields for the study plan (max. 1500 characters each); one for the discipline-specific studies and another for the general competence studies. 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. In the study plan section, there is also a separate field where you can, should you so wish, give a short description of the following: previous research and work experience, publications and manuscripts, scientific activities and other merits.

3. The title and summary of your Master´s thesis or equivalent, or a description of previous academic publications (maximum length 4000 characters, including spaces).

4. Names of the supervisors, who have agreed to supervise your thesis. For further information on the requirements placed on supervision, please see the selection criteria section on this page. Applying without the agreement of at least one supervisor (employed by the Faculty awarding your target degree) is not possible. N.B. A signed approval form from supervisors is not required when applying. It is enough to fill in on the application form the name and contact information of the person(s) who has agreed to supervise you.

5. A copy of your previous degree certificate (Master's degree or equivalent) and a copy of a detailed transcript of studies included in the degree. N.B. If you have completed all the studies required for eligibility (please see section “Who can apply”), but have yet to graduate and receive your diploma, you must include 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.

6. 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 copies of the documents mentioned in points 5. and 6.  by post. 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 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.

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.

The suitability of the previous degree as a basis for the planned dissertation project, previous study performance and the availability of high-quality supervision are also a central part of the criteria. Lack of suitable supervision resources can be used as grounds for rejecting an application.

A doctoral student must have at least two supervisors who have completed a doctoral degree. At least one of the supervisors must be in a permanent or long-term employment at the Faculty awarding the doctoral degree. At least one of the supervisors must hold the title of docent or similar scientific qualifications. Especially in cases where the topic of the doctoral thesis is multidisciplinary, supervisors are often sought across discipline boundaries.

A preliminary agreement from potential supervisors is required when applying. In cases where the search of a second supervisor is still underway, exceptions can be made – in these cases, an applicant can submit the application and be accepted with an agreement from only one supervisor (this supervisor must be in a permanent or long-term employment at the Faculty). The decision-making is not bound by the preliminary agreements received from the potential supervisors.

Applicants are required to have sufficient skills in any languages required for completing the planned dissertation project, as well as academic level skills in either Finnish, Swedish or English. Language skills will be assessed according to the general guidelines issued by the Rector for student admissions at the University of Helsinki.

A doctoral study right can only be gained through the admissions process. No more than half of the yearly quota of new doctoral students for the doctoral programme can be admitted in the spring round of applications. The yearly admission quota for the year 2018 is 2 students.

A doctoral degree at the Doctoral Programme in Gender, Culture and Society (SKY) consists of a doctoral dissertation and 40 credits of obligatory studies. The obligatory studies are divided into 30 credits of discipline-specific studies and 10 credits general competence studies.  More information on the degree structure is also available on the University's general website on doctoral education.

Discipline-specific studies (30 credits)

  • Research Seminar, 5cr. or 10 cr. (Compulsory. The scope of the research seminar is, as a rule, 5 credits.)
  • Updating the supervision agreement, 0 cr. (Compulsory)
  • SKY Meet 1, 1 credit (Compulsory)
  • SKY Meet 2, 1 credit (Compulsory)
  • SKY Meet 3, 1 credit (Compulsory)
  • SKY Meet 4, 1 credit (Compulsory)
  • SKY Meet 5, 1 credit (Compulsory)
  • Research Ethics, 1 cr. (Compulsory)
  • International Scientific Activities, 4 cr. (Compulsory)

Content Studies (In addition, choose studies in at least two of the following fields so that the Displine-Specific Studies give at least 30 cr):

  • Studies related to research topic, 5 cr.
  • Theoretical Studies in Gender Studies, 5 cr.
  • Methodological Studies, 5 cr.
  • Multidisciplinary Studies related to Gender Studies, 5 cr.
  • SKY Advanced Research Seminar / Christina Research Seminar, 0 cr.
  • SKY's supported writing groups, 0 cr.

General competence skills (10 credits)

Complete 10 credits of general competence skills in one or several of the following areas:

  • FemPeda - studies in feminist university pedagogy (10 credits)
  • Communication Skills, Publishing and Science Communication
  • University Pedagogy
  • Research Leadership and Science in Society
  • Career Planning and Worklife Skills
  • Other General Competence Studies