Admissions for doctoral studies

(for funded positions, see Salaried doctoral student positions)

Are you considering to apply for a doctoral study right at PAPU?  Very good! First, have a look at the general information on who is applicable and how to apply for doctoral studies from the University of Helsinki Doctoral education web page (Finnish version).

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

Take note that University of Helsinki has common admission periods for all doctoral candidates. Applications are accepted only during these admission periods. Admission periods of the academic year 2018-2019 are in the following table.

Timetable for the decisions, deadlines for accepting the offer and default dates for the beginning of the study right

Application period Letters of acceptance to be sent by Deadline for accepting the offer Study right begins
14.-27.9.2018 30.11.2018 14.12.2018 1.1.2019
1.-14.11.2018 31.1.2019 15.2.2019 1.3.2019
1.-14.2.2019 1.4.2019 15.4.2019 1.5.2019
2.-15.4.2019 14.6.2019 28.6.2019 1.8.2019

After the call opens, the electronic form can be found  from the links in: Finnish, English and Swedish. The possible questions concerning the call are to be sent to

Before you start to prepare your application for the doctoral study right, you first need to find a supervisor for your PhD project. You must directly contact suitable researchers and research groups interesting you, you can find the contact information. You can also have a look at the list of our supervisors. 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. The application is done with an electronic form, and required documents have to be sent to UH Admission Services. Please take note that documents need to be officially certified, which might take some time, and they must arrive at the UH Admissions Services before the end of the application deadline!

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 closes at 15:00 (Helsinki time, UTC+3) on the last day of the round of applications. 

The admission criteria (pdf) for PAPU and other doctoral programmes in the Doctoral School in Natural Sciences.

Who can apply

According to the Universities Act (558/2009) section 37 eligible applicants for studies leading to a postgraduate 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.

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. 

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 (deadline for accepting the offer)

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 appropriateness. 


Prepare your application carefully. Applications are submitted using an electronic application form, which will be open during the application period. All applicants wishing to be considered must submit the following documents:

A. Electronic Application (form open during the application period), including

1. Research plan: it should be written directly to the electronic application form. Please see some guidelines for the research plan and the required attachments. In the electronic application form, the research plan is divided into the fields listed below (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)
  • Baselines of the doctoral research (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)
  • The most important research literature and/or sources (2500)
  • Form of the dissertation (an article-based dissertation or a monograph)
  • Publication plan (1000)
  • 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 PAPU degree requirements.

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

5. Names of the supervisors, who have agreed to supervise your thesis

B. Attachments to the Electronic Application

  • Copies of your previous degree certificate(s) (Master's degree or equivalent, if already obtained, and potential Bachelor's degree)
  • Transcript of records for your previous degree(s) (Master's degree or equivalent and potential Bachelor's degree)
  • Verification of language skills, if applicable (see instructions for EnglishFinnish or Swedish)
  • 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 the supervisor(s), who have agreed to supervise your thesis, and from the responsible professor. The letter can be made with the following form

C: 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)

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.

  • 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 FinnishSwedish or English.

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

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

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, Doctor of Philosophy (Pharmacy)) in the Doctoral Programme in Chemistry and Molecular Sciences are the Faculty of Science and the Faculty of Pharmacy.

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.