Admissions for doctoral studies

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 and instructions for the educational documents you are requested to submit to verify your eligibility. Once you’re acquainted with those, come back here to read more about the programme-specific selection criteria and instructions for applicants.

The most important thing is to find a supervisor for your PhD project. Unfortunately, the GeoDoc coordinator cannot help you to find a supervisor but you must contact suitable researchers yourself. To get started, please see the list of our supervisors. You can also try to get in contact with our supervisors through our yearly call for letters on intent.

Once you have found a supervisor and agreed on a PhD project with him/her the next step is to apply for a PhD study right at GeoDoc.

The application process in a nutshell.

Starting in autumn 2017 the University of Helsinki will have common admission periods for doctoral candidates. Applicants will be informed of the admission results, including the reasons for them by a letter of acceptance, to be sent by e-mail to the address given in the application. Admitted applicants must report whether they accept the offer by a specified deadline. Those who fail to report whether they accept the offer or to submit the requested documents by the deadline will lose their place. During the academic year 2020-2021 the admission periods are as follows:

Application period Letters of acceptance to be sent by Deadline for accepting the offer Study right begins
1.-15.9.2020 27.11.2020 11.12.2020 1.1.2021
3.-17.11.2020 29.1.2021 12.2.2021 1.3.2021
2.-16.2.2021 7.4.2021 21.4.2021 1.5.2021
1.-15.4.2021 10.6.2021 24.6.2021 1.8.2021
19.-30.7.2021* 27.8.2021 10.9.2021 6.9.2021

*Please notice that the July application round is only for graduates from the University of Helsinki.

After the call opens, the electronic form can be found here. Please, see below the sections 1-6 before filling the application. The possible questions concerning the call are to be sent to

Kindly note that the 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 must be submitted before 15:00 Helsinki time on the last day of the admission period (either EEST/GMT+3 or EET/GMT+2).

Admission criteria for doctoral programmes in the Doctoral School in Natural Sciences
These guidelines apply to doctoral education for which applications can be submitted as of 1 August 2020. The guidelines will apply until further notice.

1. The following admission criteria apply to the programmes in the Doctoral School in Natural Sciences, including the Doctoral Programme in Geosciences (GeoDoc)

2. General information
Student admission to the doctoral programmes is based on the University of Helsinki’s general admission guidelines for doctoral education as well as the programme-specific details.
All postgraduate research students pursue a doctoral degree. The right to complete a degree may only be obtained through an admission procedure. The application periods are indicated on the table above.

3. Eligibility
Pursuant to section 37 of the Universities Act (558/2009), eligible applicants for studies leading to a research degree have completed
1) An applicable second-cycle university degree,
2) An applicable second-cycle degree from a university of applied sciences, or
3) An applicable education at an institution abroad providing eligibility for equivalent higher education in the country in question.

All studies required for a second-cycle degree or equivalent education must be completed before the deadline for applications, and a certificate of this degree must be presented before the doctoral study right can be granted (see deadline for accepting the offer above).

An applicant may also be admitted to pursue a postgraduate research degree if the University finds him or her to have otherwise obtained the required knowledge and skills.

4. Admission criteria
Admission criteria for doctoral education include the applicant’s potential for success in academic postgraduate education, the quality and feasibility of the applicant’s research proposal, the applicant’s motivation, and the supervisory and other resources available for the research. Other criteria include the applicable content of previous studies to the prospective doctoral programme, the suitability of the research proposal for the research profile of the doctoral programme as well as the ability to complete the studies in the target duration. The applicant’s potential and motivation will be assessed on the basis of the quality and feasibility of the research proposal as well as previous academic performance and research experience. The ability to complete the studies in the target duration will be judged on the study plan, research proposal and funding plan. The study plan will be assessed specifically for its feasibility and

5. Application documents required
Applicants wishing to be considered must submit the following documents in Finnish, Swedish or English:

A. Electronic Application

The application form calls for information on your research and study plan, skills that support writing a doctoral dissertation, the title and abstract of your master’s thesis, as well as details on your supervisory arrangements.

The research plan is the most important part of your application, and it must be entered into the specified fields in the application form, divided into the sections described below. Please prepare your research plan according to this division and the maximum number of characters including spaces for each section. More specific information can be found below and the application form is open for approximately two weeks before the call.

The application form sections concerning the research plan (maximum number of characters including spaces in parentheses): 

  • Preliminary title of the doctoral thesis 
  • Field of research (menu) 
  • Specification or additional information on the field of research (unrestricted text field) 
  • Brief summary of the research plan (2,000) 
  • Research plan contains mathematical special characters or chemical formulas 
  • Motivation for conducting doctoral research (2,000) 
  • Rationale for the research project (2,000) 
  • Objectives of the research and scientific impact of research results (2,000) 
  • Research methods and materials to be used and its significance for the research project (3,500) 
  • Preliminary plan on the collection, use and storage of research material (1,500) 
  • Ethical issues (1,000) 
  • Does the research project require animal testing 
  • The most important literature references for the research plan (2,500) 
  • Form of the dissertation (article-based or monograph) 
  • Publication plan and timetable for the articles or a preliminary outline of the monograph (1,000) 
  • Preliminary timetable of your research (2,000) 
  • Planned funding for the research project including received and applied notable funding thus far (1,000) 
  • Estimated year of graduation 

Previously acquired knowledge supporting the dissertation project and study plan (maximum number of characters, including spaces in parentheses): 

  • Previously acquired research knowledge (1,500) 
  • Possible previous publications and conference presentations (1,500) 
  • Possible international experience and other work experience relevant to your doctoral research (1,500) 
  • Possible career breaks (1,500) 

Preliminary study plan (maximum number of characters, including spaces in parentheses) 

  • Preliminary study plan: Discipline-specific studies, 30 ECTS (1,500) 
  • Preliminary study plan: Transferable skills, 10 ECTS (1,500) 
  • Previously completed studies applicable to your doctoral degree, if any 
  • Title and abstract of the master’s thesis or equivalent (750) 

Supervisory arrangements: supervisor(s)

B. Attachments to the Electronic Application

B1. Copies of your previous degree certificate(s) (Master's degree or equivalent and potential Bachelor's degree)

B2. Transcript of records for your previous degree(s) (Master's degree or equivalent and potential Bachelor's degree)

B3. Verification of language skills, (see instructions for English, Finnish or Swedish)

B4. A permit by an Ethical Review Board and/or by the National Animal Experiment Board, if required by the research arrangement

B5. A signed letter of commitment from the supervisor(s), who have agreed to supervise your thesis


NOTE: If there are difficulties in obtaining the signatures due to corona virus situation, the supervisors can confirm their commitment to supervision to

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

C1. An officially certified copy of your previous degree certificate (Master's degree or equivalent)

C2. An officially certified copy a of detailed transcript of studies included in the Master's degree (or equvalent)

All educational documents must be either officially certified by the awarding institution, or legalised, unless the degree has been awarded by the University of Helsinki. Officially certified copies issued by a Finnish Notary Public will also be accepted. Please note, however, that there are country-specific document requirements in place for some degree-awarding countries. Documents from these countries must be attested or submitted in a certain way. These Country-Specific Requirements must be followed first and foremost, before any regular requirements for attesting documents.

C3. Verification of language skills. The University of Helsinki demands an indication of academic level language skills of all applicants. See information on the options of verifying your language skills in either Finnish, Swedish or English.

C4. A supporting statement by the dissertation supervisor(s). A separate statement submitted by the supervisor(s) directly to the University of Helsinki admissions service.

Applicants can also submit other enclosures to demonstrate that they have the knowledge and skills required to complete a doctoral degree. The Administrative Procedure Act (434/2003) stipulates that applicants must be provided a reasonable period to supplement a deficient application. Applicants have two weeks to supplement a deficient application, such as a supporting statement by the supervisor(s).

NOTE ALSO THAT all studies required for a second-cycle degree or equivalent education must be completed before the deadline for applications. Applicants for the right to complete a doctoral degree must enclose with their application a copy of their degree diploma and a transcript of studies or of other certificates with which they wish to demonstrate that they have the required knowledge and skills. The copies accompanying the application (incl. of the diploma) must be certified; however, certificates of language tests must be original certificates from the awarding institution. The other documents attached to the application must be in Finnish, Swedish or English, or a translation into one of these by an authorised translator that includes the translator’s signature and stamp. Copies of the degree diploma and the transcript of studies are sufficient if the degree that provides eligibility for postgraduate studies under section 37 of the Universities Act was completed at the University of Helsinki. Applicants must have the language proficiency specified in the University of Helsinki’s general admission guidelines.

6. Submitting the application
All applications must be submitted using the electronic application form. The required additional documents must be sent by post and must arrive by the end of the application period. Applications and additional documents sent by email are not accepted. Incomplete applications are not considered.

The required additional documents should be sent to:

Admission Services
P.O.Box 3
FIN-00014 University of Helsinki

If sent via courier service, please use the following address:

Admission Services / University of Helsinki
Fabianinkatu 33, 1st floor
00170 Helsinki

In case of questions concerning application of doctoral study right, please send e-mail to .

Granting the right to complete a degree
The steering group of each doctoral programme assesses the applications of all applicants to the programme who meet the formal requirements. 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. 

When selecting students for doctoral education, it must be ensured that the admitted students have access to high-quality supervision and support related to the topic of their doctoral dissertation. Applications can be rejected if no suitable supervisor can be designated for the dissertation. See programme specific admission criteria for more details.

The steering group then draws up an admission proposal for the faculty’s decision-making. This proposal indicates the names of the admitted and rejected applicants, together with the reasons for each decision.  The final decision on admitting an applicant to complete the degree is made by the degree-awarding Faculty.

Target degrees
The primary postgraduate degree offered at the University of Helsinki is a doctoral degree. The right to pursue postgraduate studies is always requested and granted with a doctoral degree as the primary goal. However, a Licentiate degree can also be completed in the disciplines represented by each doctoral programme. Faculties which grant the right to complete a doctoral degree (Doctor of Philosophy) in the Doctoral Programme in Geosciences are the Faculty of Science and the Faculty of Arts.

Announcement of admission results and acceptance of a place offer - one place rule
The faculty responsible for the target degree will announce the admission results, including the reasons for them by a letter of acceptance, to be sent by e-mail to the address given in the application. Admitted applicants must report whether they accept the offer by a specified deadline. Admitted students who fail to notify the University of their acceptance of a place and to submit the relevant documents by the date determined by the University will lose their right to pursue studies.

Section 38 of the Universities Act states that applicants may accept only one place in a degree programme that leads to an academic degree and begins in the same term.

The main points of the one place rule are:

  • If you are offered more than one study place at a higher education institution leading to a university degree starting at the same term, you may accept only one of them
  • A place of study granted through a university-to-university transfer within Finland is not governed by this rule.
  • Accordingly, you may be completing several on-going degree programmes simultaneously, but only if your admission to these programmes has been granted in different terms.

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, as referred to in sections 82 and 83 of the Universities Act.