1. Make sure you are eligible for doctoral studies. The main rule of eligibility is that you must hold either a Finnish Master’s degree or a foreign degree that is roughly comparable to a Finnish Master’s degree. A foreign degree is, as a rule, considered comparable when it makes you eligible to apply for doctoral studies in the country where you have completed the degree.
Acquaint yourself both with the general rules of eligibility and with the possible additional, doctoral programme -specific rules well before applying.
An important part of eligibility are the language requirements. University of Helsinki demands an indication of academic level language skills in either Finnish, Swedish or English of all applicants. Acquaint yourself with the language requirements in good time before applying to assure that you will have enough time to take a language test, if needed.
You can prove your skills in any of these three languages – it does not have to be your doctoral dissertation’s language. The language that you choose to prove your skills in will be marked as the language of your doctoral degree. Please note that University of Helsinki has a specified list of acceptable ways to prove your language skills. You cannot prove your language skills in any way that is not listed.
2. Choose a discipline and find the doctoral programme best suited for you. Doctoral education at the University of Helsinki is organized in 32 different doctoral programmes, working under four doctoral schools. The boundaries between the programmes are flexible, and you can usually also take courses offered by other doctoral programmes. Through your doctoral programme you will belong to a doctoral school.
In choosing which doctoral programme to apply to, you can proceed in two ways:
- Look into the webpages of the programmes and read through the programme description, curriculum and activities. Once you have found a programme that suits your interests, research topic and/or background, click through the list of supervisors to familiarize yourself with their research.
- Start with finding a supervisor and discuss the choice of doctoral programme with them.
3. Look for supervision. Finding a supervisor is an important step in the application process, and it is a good idea to start the search early – i.e. months before the application round begins. Most doctoral programmes require that you have a supervisor, in some cases even two, when you submit your application.
In many ways, the most important person in the whole process of obtaining a doctorate is your supervisor. He or she will supervise your research and guide you through your doctoral degree.
A good starting point for finding a potential supervisor at the University of Helsinki is the University’s research portal. The research portal is where UH researchers update their latest publications and other activities. Under “Research units” you can find faculty-specific lists of principal investigators. You can also type in appropriate keywords in the Search engine to find principal investigators and research groups within your field.
Please also note that many research groups have their own websites and it is worth looking into these as well.
After finding a potential supervisor, contact him or her to discuss your research ideas and plans. Please note that professors and principal investigators get dozens of emails from potential doctoral candidates. If you want to get your email noticed, you must give the professor/ principal investigator the information they need, quickly, clearly and professionally.
4. Choose your degree. Many of the doctoral programmes are multi- or interdisciplinary and provide qualifications for doctoral degrees awarded by different Faculties. When you apply, you must mark your target degree in the application form.
The choice of degree depends on your academic background – different earlier degrees make you eligible for different doctoral degrees. For more information on the choice of degrees in your chosen doctoral programme and the rules of eligibility for each degree, please see your doctoral programme's website.
5. Prepare your application documents. If you do not submit your documents following the instructions, your application may be rejected. You must submit officially certified paper copies of your degree certificate and transcript of records to Admission services of University of Helsinki.
Check if there is a country specific requirement for your documents. If there is a country specific requirement in place, you must follow it. Neglecting the requirement may lead to your application being rejected.
If your degree is from the University of Helsinki, you do not need to submit paper copies of your educational documents.
6. Get to know your funding options. At the University of Helsinki, obtaining a doctoral study right does not automatically entitle you to a salary. There are no tuitions in place for doctoral students, and taking care of the costs of living is your responsibility. There are many options for finding funding for your doctoral studies. Before applying, you should familiarise yourself with different funding options and make a preliminary plan on how to fund your studies.