Doctoral education

Finalising your doctoral studies

This is the third page of the 3-page Doctoral student study guide. Here you will find information which is useful towards the end of your studies: What instructions there are for pre-examination and public defence, how to publish your thesis and what is needed for graduation, etc. You can find links to the other two pages of the study guide at the bottom of this page.

Doctoral student study guide is maintained by the Doctoral education services (Learning services). We use the title doctoral student in this guide. The title doctoral researcher is used in employment matters.

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From pre-examination to permission for public defence

Your doctoral thesis manuscript is now ready, please see the step-by-step process for getting a permission for defence:

  1. Doctoral student has completed the required credits (ECTS) according to their confirmed credit plan (Sisu) and has a confirmed Doctoral personal study plan (DPSP).
  2. Doctoral student presents their finalised manuscript to their supervising professor who confirms that it is ready for pre-examination (see the section How to finalize your thesis for pre-examination and publication? below).
  3. Doctoral student applies for pre-examination (see the section How to prepare and apply for pre-examination? below)
  4. Supervising professor proposes two pre-examiners, who are willing and available, to the School's Doctoral programme committee (DPC). More information from Proposing pre-examiners and opponents (Being a supervising professor or thesis advisor at Aalto University,
  5. DPC decides on sending the doctoral thesis for pre-examination and appoints two pre-examiners for the thesis.
  6. Doctoral programme informs all parties of the decision of the DPC and sends all the material to the pre-examiners.
  7. The doctoral student cannot contact the pre-examiners during the pre-examination phase.
  8. The pre-examiners send their statements to the Doctoral programme within the given deadline (see the section Pre-examination statements and permission for defence below)
  9. The DPC decides on the permission for public defense based on statements of the pre-examiners (see the section Pre-examination statements and permission for defence below). The student has the right to submit an official written response.*
  10. After the permission for defence has been granted, the proposal for the details of the defence, the opponent and the custos can be approved by the DPC (see the section How to confirm the details for your defence, opponent(s) and custos? below)

Permission for public defence is also the approval for publishing - you cannot send your thesis to print before you have permission for defence. Please also note that you cannot start publishing before the the name of the opponent, custos and the date of defence are confirmed by DPC, as they need to be printed on the thesis. For more information on the printing, please see section How to publish your thesis below.

* You can submit an official written response e.g. if a pre-examiner has gravely misunderstood something in your thesis and there are significant mistakes in the statement that may affect the DPC's decision on granting permission for public defence. Submit your official written response before the decision of the DPC.

How to prepare and apply for pre-examination?

Before you submit your doctoral thesis manuscript for pre-examination, make sure that:

  1. Your manuscript is complete and ready for examination (as confirmed by your supervising professor).
  2. You have completed the required credits (ECTS) according to your confirmed credit plan (Sisu) and your doctoral personal study plan (DPSP) has been confirmed (if uncertain, please contact your doctoral programme).
  3. Your manuscript complies with Aalto University's general and your doctoral programme's specific requirements for the format, scope and quality of the doctoral thesis. More information on page Doctoral thesis at Aalto University (
  4. Your supervising professor has contacted pre-examinersfor your manuscript. More information from Proposing pre-examiners and opponents (Being a supervising professor or thesis advisor at Aalto University,
  5. The language of your manuscript has been checked (see below).
  6. You have checked the originality of your manuscript in Turnitin (highly recommended) (see more instructions on the section How to use Turnitin to improve and protect your doctoral thesis?)
  7. Check the list of attachments needed below in "Submit your application for pre-examination"

Also make sure that you are enrolled to Aalto University for the ongoing academic term and that your thesis advisor(s) are confirmed, if that has not been done earlier.

How to finalize your thesis for pre-examination and publication?

Your final doctoral thesis manuscript should contain the following:

  1. Title page
  2. Abstracts (read about language versions below)
  3. Table of contents
  4. List of abbreviations/symbols (if relevant)
  5. List of publications included in the doctoral thesis (not monographs)
  6. Authors' contribution (more information below)
  7. The content of the thesis (summary or monograph)
  8. List of references
  9. Article theses: included publications (whole text, both published and unpublished texts)

For more information on how to work on your doctoral thesis before the pre-examination phase, please check the page Doctoral thesis at Aalto University (

Read about the language revision of your thesis under the section How to prepare and apply for pre-examination?

See also the page How to use Turnitin to improve and protect your doctoral thesis?

Authors' contribution

In order to determine the doctoral student’s independent contribution to the research and writing work of the thesis, the doctoral student prepares an author’s contribution. Author's contribution describes the exact contribution of each author of a publication. School-specific guidelines are available below.

Pre-examination statements and permission for defence

Each School has specific guidelines related to the pre-examination statements and how the permission for defence is granted based on the statements.

How to confirm the details for your defence, opponent(s) and custos?

After you have been granted the permission for defence, the Doctoral programme committee can approve the details of your defence, opponent(s) and the custos. Depending on the School, this can happen in one meeting or two different meetings, see below for details.

Opponent proposal (307) is available at Doctoral student forms ( Both the supervising professor and the doctoral student sign it and the doctoral student submits it to their Doctoral programme's Doctoral education services with the proposed opponent(s)' CV and publication list.

The Doctoral programme committee of the School decides about

  • appointing 1-2 opponent(s)
  • appointing the custos
  • confirming the language, date and time of the defence

Supervising professor proposes opponent(s) who have confirmed their availability and willingness. For more information, please see Proposing pre-examiners and opponents (Being a supervising professor or thesis advisor at Aalto University,

The doctoral student has a right submit an official written reply on the selection of an opponent, e.g. if they feel that the suggested opponent is biased. If there are changes to the date, time, place, language, or custos of the public defence, the Chair of the Committee can re-confirm them.

Please note that the decision on public defence and opponent should be made well in advance, at the latest 6 weeks before the public defence (if the thesis is published through Aalto Publication Platform, publication through Aalto ARTS Books might need more time).

Instructions for arranging public defence at Aalto University ( see your School's related instructions below.

How to publish your thesis?

Doctoral students at Aalto University publish their thesis through the Aalto Publication Platform, see detailed instructions at the page Publishing doctoral theses ( Doctoral students at Aalto ARTS may also apply to publish their thesis through Aalto ARTS Books, see below and separate instructions (

Steps from starting the printing process to public defence

  1. Preparation for the printing process: get familiar with the Aalto publication platform, final revision of content and careful proofreading, converting your proofread manuscript to PDF, finalizing the abstracts
  2. Publication platform: fill in required information and upload your PDF, send your order to the printing house (it is strongly recommended that you have received the permission for defence before this step)
  3. Printing house (Unigrafia) works on the electronic proof
  4. You receive the electornic proof to read through and make corrections, if need be
  5. If you made corrections, new proof is made and and sent to you for checking
  6. When the proof is ready, approve it in the publication platform - printing of the publication begins (required before this step: permission for defence and official confirmation of the opponent, custos and the date of defence)
  7. Give your permission for electronic publication of your thesis (open access), 1 week before the start of public display at the latest. The form is available at the page Doctoral student forms (
  8. Printed thesis are delived to Aalto University
  9. Public display 10 days
  10. Public defence

The process can take anything from 4-8 weeks or more. If you want a swift printing process, invest your time and energy in the step 1: final revision and careful proofreading.

Aaltodoc's estimation of the schedule for the printing process (

See more information on the number of copies printed and their delivery under Distribution of thesis below.

Publishing doctoral theses

Aalto University has one shared publication series for its doctoral theses.

Doctoral hats in Aalto University Conferment

Aalto ARTS Books' instructions for doctoral candidates

Aalto ARTS Books assists the doctoral candidates of School of Arts, Design and Architecture in doctoral thesis book production.

Eva Durall's defence on Nov 1st 2018 - Department of Media Photo: Hilla Kurki

Public defence

Instructions for the practical arrangements of the doctoral defences:

Public defence at Aalto University (

Public defence announcement and public display of the thesis

The public defence announcement is a concise, plain-language description of the thesis, aimed at the general public and media. The official public display is arranged as online display for 10 days.

Distribution of thesis

Each School requires you to hand in a specific number of copies of your printed thesis for the use of the School. See below how your printed thesis is to be distributed and how many copies are required.

Approval of thesis

The Doctoral programme committee of your School will decide on the approval of your thesis based on the statement of the opponent. Opponents must give their statements within 14 days of the public defence. Your doctoral programme will send you the statement. You have the right to give your official written response regarding the statement to the Doctoral programme committee, for example in case you need to point out a grave error in the statement or some other issue that would affect the approval of the thesis.

Doctoral theses are graded either pass or fail.

ARTS: Doctoral theses at the School of Arts, Design and Architecture are graded pass with distinction, pass or fail.

Your doctoral programme will inform you of the decision regarding the approval of your thesis.

Remember to submit a request to graduate in Sisu. Do it early on, preferably before your thesis has been approved, or even before your public defence, see instructions below.


After your defence date has been confirmed and your Sisu credit plan has been approved in Sisu, you may request for graduation in Sisu, see instructions ( Please update your contact information at Sisu at the same time.

Once you have submitted the request for graduation, you will be able to graduate on the next official graduation date following the approval of your doctoral thesis. Your thesis will be approved in the Doctoral programme committee meeting following your defence, provided that the opponent has had time to submit their statement for the Committee.

Doctoral education
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