Doctoral education

Finalising your doctoral studies

Information for doctoral students at the end phases of their studies: What instructions there are for pre-examination and defence, how to publish your thesis and what is needed for graduation, etc. This is the third page of the 3-page Doctoral student study guide.

Drawing of two doctoral students each holding a paper, with doctor's hats shining on their heads.

Use the table of contents above for a quick scan of the contents of this page.

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

How to prepare and apply for pre-examination?

Submit your online request via Webropol

Please attach to your online request:

  1. Pre-examination application: Signed application for pre-examination and permission for public defence of doctoral thesis (PDF), including your supervising professor's signed confirmation and proposal for pre-examiners*
    Application form available at Doctoral student forms.
  2. Doctoral thesis manuscript:

    The complete thesis manuscript, which must include the title page, abstract, the compiling part and all the separate publications, including the published or submitted articles (not in monographs) as one PDF.
    If the manuscript contains a lot of images and the file size is large, you may send the manuscript by using Funet FileSender. The manuscript will be sent to the pre-examiners as an electronic version by the doctoral programme.
    SCI: The manuscript may also be sent to [email protected] one week after the pre-examination application deadline.

  3. Abstract, list of publications and authors' contribution (BIZ: contribution model) as one PDF.
  4. Pre-examiners' CVs and publication lists (from supervising professor)
    See instructions for supervising professors on choosing the pre-examiners and on their impartiality
  5. Grounds for the proposed pre-examiners from the supervising professor (mandatory only in BIZ & ELEC)
  6. ARTS: If your thesis includes artistic components, attach their documentation, if you have not submitted it earlier.
  7. In some cases, such as Cotutelle thesis, other attachments specified on the pre-examination request (Webropol).

See instructions for preparing the manuscript, abstract, list of publications and authors’ contribution at How to finalize your thesis for pre-examination and publication?

* If you or your supervising professor is not able to sign/scan the document, you can also send it from your own Aalto email to the email of your doctoral programme's Doctoral education services (cc your supervising professor and ask them to confirm the application by email).

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

Your final doctoral thesis manuscript should contain the following:

  1. Title page
  2. Abstract (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-examiners' statements and permission for defence

When you receive the pre-examiners' statements, it is good to know that each School has specific guidelines related to the 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 (DPC) 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 form (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.

Please note that the DPC’s decision on public defence and opponent should be made well in advance, recommended at the latest 6 weeks before the public defence. Note: if the thesis is published through ARTS Theses or has been done jointly with an international partner (Cotutelle), reserve even more time between getting the decision from DPC and the defence date.

The Doctoral programme committee (DPC) of the School decides about

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

Opponent and custos

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, Supervising professor usually acts as the custos, or finds a suitable person for the task. 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.

Language, date and time

Before proposing the date and time of the defence, ensure that they are suitable for the proposed opponent and custos, and that you have a reservation for a suitable lecture hall. This information will be printed on your thesis, make sure it will be correct.

The language to be used in the public defence is Finnish, Swedish or English, or some other language with permission by the Doctoral Programme Committee, if relevant in the case of your thesis.

Changing the confirmed details

If for insurmountable reasons there is a need to make changes to the date, time, language, or custos of the public defence, the Chair of the Committee can re-confirm them. Please contact your Doctoral Programme, if you notice that changes are needed. Please also note that in case of changes you may need to prepare an errata page to your thesis.

Defence on campus, online or in hybrid mode

Please note that the opponent proposal form also asks you to specify the planned mode of your defence (on campus, remote, hybrid). In case of defence on campus or in hybrid mode, you are also asked to give the lecture hall you have booked, if possible. This information is needed for the public defence announcement as well. It is important to plan these details out in advance.

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. Doctoral students at Aalto ARTS may also apply to publish their thesis through ARTS Theses.

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.

Detailed instructions at the page Publishing doctoral theses ('s estimation of the schedule for the printing process ( (requires login)

ARTS Theses' instructions for Aalto ARTS students ( 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

Using the Aalto publication platform to put together and order a publication

Instructions for using the Aalto University publication platform.

Aalto BIZ researchers, photo Aino Huovio

ARTS Theses' instructions for doctoral students

ARTS Theses assists the doctoral students of School of Arts, Design and Architecture in doctoral thesis book production.

Public defence at Aalto University

Instructions for planning and arranging public defences (for doctoral student and custos)

Read more
Doctoral hat floating above a speaker's podium with a microphone

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. Please update your contact information at Sisu at the same time.

Sisu instructions for requesting graduation ( 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 your School's Doctoral programme committee's next meeting following your defence, provided that the opponent has had time to submit their statement for the Committee.

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Doctoral education services

Doctoral student study guide

Two doctoral students looking at symbols on pieces of paper, with imaginary doctoral hats floating above their heads.

Beginning your doctoral studies

Doctoral students at the beginning of studies: information on arrival, doctoral personal study plan, curriculum and financing etc.

Doctoral education
Two doctoral students, one working with a laptop and one with pen on paper, both with imaginary doctoral hats floating above their heads.

During your doctoral studies

Doctoral students throughout their studies: information on thesis writing, research work, supervision and mobility etc.

Doctoral education
Drawing of two doctoral students each holding a paper, with doctor's hats shining on their heads.

Finalising your doctoral studies

Doctoral students at the end phases of studies: information on pre-examination, defence, publishing the thesis and graduation, etc.

Doctoral education
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