Being a doctoral student at Aalto

All you need to know about your doctoral research journey at Aalto University.

On this page

Loading table of contents

Arrangements for public defences under COVID-19 (See below for all language versions)

Research fields

Doctoral students at Aalto University can pursue the degrees of Doctor of Science (Technology), Doctor of Arts (Art and Design), Doctor of Science (Economics and Business Administration), and Doctor of Science (Architecture). The university offers six doctoral programmes and each doctoral student belongs to one of the programmes. See detailed information about programme-specific studies and course on our Into webpages.

Tohtoriksi valmistunut nainen vastaanottamassa päähänsä mustaa tohtorinhattua promootiossa.

Doctoral programmes

Doctoral programmes of Aalto prepare to become highly qualified researchers and experts in most demanding positions. Doctoral education is carried out in a unique multidisciplinary international scientific community.

Research & Art

Doctoral studies and coursework

The doctoral degree at Aalto University consists of

  1. a doctoral thesis
  2. general research studies
  3. research field studies

There are three study modules in the doctoral degree. Doctoral studies are organised in study modules called 'General research studies' and 'Research field studies' and 'Doctoral Thesis'. Studies with credit points are worth of 40 or 60 credits (ECTS) depending on the doctoral programme. Sizes of the study modules are described in the curriculum of the doctoral programme.

General research studies prepare students for research work, the application of research results and the dissemination of research findings and to learn the principles of responsible conduct of research. General research studies can include transferable skills.

Research field studies and doctoral thesis help students to gain comprehensive and in-depth knowledge of their research field. Research field studies can include studies from several Aalto University's doctoral programmes when agreed on in the personal study plan of the student.

General research studies

  • TECH: Scientific principles and practices (5—20 ECTS)
  • BIZ: Common scientific doctoral studies (30 ECTS)
  • ARTS: General research studies (15-25 ECTS)

Research field studies

  • TECH: Research field studies (20—35 ECTS)
  • BIZ: Major subject studies and research-related studies (30 ECTS)
  • ARTS: Research field studies (15-25 ECTS)


The target time for completing the doctoral degree is four years if studying full-time.

Apply to study at Aalto

Admission to doctoral education varies in each school and is organised individually by every doctoral programme. Some schools have continuous admission whereas others admit doctoral candidates 1—2 times a year. The application timeline also depends on whether you are applying for full-time or part-time studies.

There are no tuition fees for doctoral programmes – please see further details regarding fees at

It is important, however, that you have a source of funding for your studies – both for your residence permit and for any additional costs (personal and study-related). Please see the specific funding opportunities for your doctoral programme and further details on making arrangements for self-funded studies.

Application essentials in each doctoral programme

Before you apply, check out the application information for your programme below. Each doctoral programme has its own dedicated website providing details on the entry requirements and information on how to apply.

As a check-list for prospective studies, please make sure that you know the following information regarding the doctoral programme of your choice:

  1. eligibility
  2. the admission requirements
  3. required language proficiency
  4. what supporting documents are needed to apply
  5. research fields and professors, so that you can address your application appropriately

Programme-specific information below:

Aalto Doctoral Programme in Arts, Design and Architecture

The Aalto University School of Arts, Design and Architecture offers an international doctoral programme for those seeking careers in art, design, film, media or architecture. A special feature of the programme is that the thesis can include art or design productions. The Department of Art, the Department of Architecture, the Department of Design, the Department of Film, Television and Scenography and the Department of Media offer doctoral studies for a Doctor of Arts (Art and Design) and a Doctor of Science (Architecture) degrees.

Aalto ARTS

Aalto Doctoral Programme in Business, Economics and Finance

Aalto Doctoral Programme in Business, Economics and Finance is a four-year, English-language doctoral programme with three specialization areas: Business, Economics and Finance.

Four students studying together. Three of them have their computer and one is having papers in front of them.

Aalto Doctoral Programme in Chemical Engineering

The Aalto Doctoral Programme in Chemical Engineering comprises six research fields that focus on: forest products technologies; chemical engineering; industrial biotechnology; materials science and nanotechnology; metals and minerals processing; and energy technology. The Departments of Bioproducts and Biosystems (Bio2), Chemistry and Material Science, and Chemical and Metallurgical Engineering are jointly responsible for the programme.

Doctoral students in the lab

Aalto Doctoral Programme in Engineering

The Doctoral Programme in Engineering consists of eight research fields including spatial planning and transportation engineering; real estate economics; geoinformatics; civil engineering, water and environmental engineering; technology education; mechanical engineering; and energy technology. Doctoral studies are available at all the departments of the School of Engineering: the Department of Mechanical Engineering, the Department of Civil Engineering, and the Department of Built Environment.

Aalto ENG

Aalto Doctoral Programme in Electrical Engineering

The Doctoral Programme in Electrical Engineering comprises 13 research fields. The Programme is a joint effort of the Departments of Electronics and Nanoengineering (ELE), Signal Processing and Acoustics (SPA), Electrical Engineering and Automation (EEA), and Communications and Networking (Comnet), as well as the Metsähovi Radio Observatory and Micronova - the Research Centre for Micro- and Nanotechnology. The completion of a doctoral degree equals four years of full-time studies.

Aalto ELEC

Aalto Doctoral Programme in Science

The Doctoral Programme in Science is a multidisciplinary programme with a unique combination of science, technology and business. The research done is committed to high standards of international excellence and the aim is to educate doctoral students in different research fields to tackle increasingly complex societal challenges in areas such as energy, environment, health and well-being. The doctoral programme offers a four-year doctoral programme in physics, mathematics, biomedical engineering, computer science or industrial engineering and management.

Picture of Aalto University

Organisation of the doctoral pathway (requires Aalto login)

Doctoral student well-being and welfare

Aalto University offers varied support services accessible to all doctoral students. There is a lot of help available for you at Aalto. Check also the community health care services. The health, safety and wellbeing of our student community is essential and is indeed one of our strategic initiatives.

Students studying together

Support for challenges during your doctoral studies

Doctoral students can encounter different kind of challenging situations during their studies. This page presents the support network of doctoral students and instructions for how to proceed if doctoral students experience any type of harrasment, bullying or misconduct, or have issues with supervision.


Career services for doctoral students

It is good to start preparing for life after the doctorate and to consider career options already during your studies.

Planning a career

Being a supervising professor or thesis advisor at Aalto University

The guidelines on this page describe the duties of the supervising professor and thesis advisor and the rights and responsibilities of doctoral students.

Annual enrolment

You have to enrol as either attending or non-attending each academic year. Only those enrolled as attending students may complete studies and graduate.

Enrolment takes place in the OILI enrolment and registration service: Enrollment period typically runs from early May until early September. During December-early January it is possible to enrol for the spring term or change your enrolment from non-attending to attending for the spring term in OILI. You can also change your enrolment from attending to non-attending by emailing the Doctoral education services of your doctoral programme.


Q: I'm a continuing student, but I don't have my Aalto user ID or password.
A: If you do not have a valid Aalto user ID you cannot login to OILI. If your right to study is valid and you were enrolled (as either attending or non-attending student) for the previous academic year, you must activate your Aalto user ID. After that you can enrol in OILI.

Q: I forgot to enrol during the enrolment period.
A: If your right to study is not valid, you have to apply for readmission (

Q: I have a valid Aalto user ID, but I'm not able to enrol in OILI.
A: If you don't have a Finnish identity number or a national leaner ID registered to your information in Sisu, you might not able to enrol in OILI. You can contact the student services (at [email protected]) for adding your Finnish identity number, or for enrolling without it.

Q: I want to change my enrolment status.
A: You can change your status in OILI from non-attending to attending during the enrolment periods. In other times you need to contact your doctoral programme's doctoral education services. If you wish to change your status from attending to non-attending during the enrolment periods, also contact the doctoral education services.

Connect with us

Every Aalto school has its own doctoral programme, and a doctoral programme committee chaired by the director of the doctoral programme. In addition, schools have planning officers and coordinators who provide administrative advice and support for students in each programme throughout the completion of their degree. Further, coordination and development of doctoral education is organised at the university level.

Get in touch if you would like to find out more about doctoral education at Aalto University or have any questions.

Aalto Conferment 2018, Photo: Matti Rajala

Doctoral education services

Doctoral education services team is part of Learning Services.


See also

Kaksi opiskelijaa selailemassa lasisen vitriinin päällä olevaa kirjaa Oppimiskeskuksessa.

Doctoral theses

Aalto university doctoral theses are published open in Aaltodoc publication archive. The majority of the theses are article based theses including several publications in referred international journals. Monographs are accepted, too. In the field of art and design, a thesis may also include artistic components like an art production or a series of art productions connected to each other.

Research & Art
Promootiohatut pöydällä

Companies need PhDs - from core competence to mastering a big picture

Doctoral studies pave the way for self-development and research geared toward solving practical problems. What companies get out of PhDs are multidisciplinary experts who are not afraid to tackle major challenges.

Tohtorinhatut promootiopäivänä

Doctoral graduates of Aalto University in working life

Aalto University Career Services conducts career tracking surveys to follow up careers of doctoral graduates.

Aalto ELEC Project Gala 8.12.2016

Networking for doctoral students

Aalto University is actively networking nationally and internationally and the department professors have excellent individual contacts worldwide. This provides the doctoral students various possibilities to get contacts and peer support. The university has several international thematic doctoral programmes running under the six Aalto doctoral programmes.

Research & Art
Aalto University's stand at Slush convention with lots of people standing around it

For alumni

Nearly 45 000 alumni from 80 countries are already members of the Aalto University alumni network. Our alumni are all who have graduated from Aalto University as well as all our exchange students. You can join the alumni network already as a student – a warm welcome!

Related webpages


Learning Services

Aalto University Learning Services (LES) is responsible for all services which facilitate the smooth progression of studies at the university.

Kuvassa kaksi opiskelijaa tutkii tietokoneen ruutua pöydän molemmiin puolin.Photo: Unto Rautio

Research & Art

Our research focuses on seven key areas combining four core competences in the fields of ICT, materials, arts, design and business together with three grand challenges related to energy, living environment, and health.

Sensual Mathematics Exhibition. Photo by Henri Vogt.
  • Published:
  • Updated:
URL copied!