Doctoral education offered by the University of Helsinki equips students with a broad range of knowledge and skills for employment as researchers or as experts outside academia. A doctoral degree consists of a doctoral dissertation and 40 credits of obligatory studies that support the research work.

The main focus of the doctoral degree is on research. The compulsory studies can be flexibly planned to support the doctoral student’s future plans. In addition to methodological and theoretical studies, degree studies may relate to communication, pedagogy, science administration and management. Students can earn credits through traditional completion methods as well as by presenting conference papers, producing scientific publications, providing teaching and organising events. An individually constructed degree enables students to develop their expertise based on their own interests. It's good to remember that research is social and public work.

The dissertation is a document that presents the author's research and findings. A doctoral dissertation is the product of extensive research and presents an original contribution to knowledge in a given field. The dissertation is an integrated, logically constructed, coherent work. The dissertation may be a monograph or an article-based dissertation. A monograph is a specialist work of writing on a single subject or an aspect of a subject. An article-based doctoral dissertation consists of (typically) 3 to 5 articles that are published in refereed journals.

Compulsory studies are divided into discipline-specific studies (30 ects) and general competence studies (10 ects).  Discipline-specific studies consist of studies supporting the development of research skills relevant to the field and can include studies for example from the following areas: research seminar, research ethics, internationalization, philosophy of science, methodological and theoretical studies, central research literature and other studies supporting the dissertation work. General competence studies consist of studies related to acquiring different kinds of skills to prepare for professional life, for example from the following areas: academic writing, science communication, university pedagogy, language studies, management and leadership, project management, scientific administration and popularizing research.

Each doctoral programmes has its own degree requirements designed to support research work and development of expertise in the different disciplines working under the doctoral programme. Information on the degree requirements of each doctoral programme can be found from the doctoral programmes' websites as well as from the WebOodi Course Catalogue Service.

Completion of the doctoral degree (dissertation and studies included in the degree) is estimated as four years of full-time study.