How to fund a doctorate?

Employed, grant-funded or self-funded? If you are planning to start doctoral studies, it's important to consider how you will fund your doctoral research. A realistic funding plan is a routine part of a researcher’s life and sometimes securing funding at the start of your career can be difficult.
How much does doctoral education cost?

At the University of Helsinki, a doctoral degree can be completed through full-time or part-time study. Approximately a quarter of our doctoral researchers complete their doctoral research in an employment relationship with the University. The rest fund their studies with grants or, for example, by working in tandem with conducting their research.

The University of Helsinki does not collect tuition fees from doctoral researchers, and studies at the University are free. As a rule, the research resources open to the University’s researchers are also available to doctoral researchers. The doctoral school and doctoral programmes regularly offer doctoral researchers the opportunity to apply for support for scientific conference and research visits.

Other costs

As a doctoral researcher, you are expected to cover your costs for living and accommodation. Helsinki is a comfortable city where services are close by and public transport works excellently. However, the cost of living in the Helsinki Metropolitan Area is relatively high in European terms. It is important that you have an adequate monthly sum at your disposal to cover your costs of living.

If your research calls for special equipment, the use of fee-based material or other special infrastructure, you must also take any related costs into account in your funding plan. The University usually cannot acquire expensive equipment for the use of a single doctoral researcher.

Employment relationship with the University

The University regularly offers University-funded salaried positions for doctoral researchers. The call for applications for these positions is announced once a year in each doctoral programme. In addition, doctoral researchers are hired around the year, for example, by various research projects and groups.

An employment relationship with the University requires you to handle the related duties and obligations but also ensures you the same rights offered to University employees. In addition to a salary and social security, these rights include, for example, occupational health care, work facilities and equipment, as well as other staff services.

Grant-funded doctoral studies

Grants are the most common way of funding doctoral studies at the University of Helsinki. Grants for academic research are awarded by various foundations and organisations both in Finland and other countries.

The University of Helsinki strives to actively develop the position of grant-funded researchers at the University. Nevertheless, grant-funded researchers should keep in mind that a grant does not constitute an employment relationship with the University. For example, the University may be unable to provide them with a work space.

The rights and obligations of grant-funded researchers are always separately agreed. The agreement between an individual grant-funded researcher and the relevant University unit determines the rights and responsibilities related to work premises, laboratory facilities, keys and similar matters.

Self-funded doctoral research

Many doctoral researchers at the University of Helsinki conduct their doctoral research in tandem with work or supported by their savings. For some with a longer work career, the doctoral degree may be part of their career development that their employer is prepared to support.

A doctoral degree carried out part time is a project stretching over several years and should be planned very carefully in advance. If you are employed, you could consider whether it is possible for you to take periodic study leave, which gives you the opportunity to focus full-time on your doctoral research. Also look into possible funding for your research leave from work.

If you are moving to Finland from abroad and plan to conduct studies self-funded, please note that the funds at your disposal must meet your monthly living costs and other needs. If you need a residence permit, your monthly funding must meet the income limits set by the Finnish Immigration Service.

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