How to apply for doctoral studies?
Are you interested in doctoral studies at Aalto University?
Doctoral studies are an excellent option when thinking about your next step after earning a master’s degree.
Applying to doctoral programmes - how and when?
Admission to doctoral programmes varies according to School. Some have continuous admission throughout the academic year whereas others admit doctoral students 1-4 times a year. See the details for each doctoral programme below.
After reading the applications instructions you may contact the Doctoral education services of the Doctoral programme you are interested in for more information.
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 and Media, the Department of Architecture, the Department of Design and the Department of Film, Television and Scenography offer doctoral studies for a Doctor of Arts (Art and Design) and a Doctor of Science (Architecture) degrees.
The Doctoral Programme in Electrical Engineering is a broad multi-disciplinary programme providing graduates with the ability to work in a variety of fields ranging from traditional electrical engineering to the energy field, biomedical engineering, robotics, nanotechnology and communications engineering. The doctoral programme is based on strong mathematical and natural sciences.
Aalto Doctoral Programme in Business, Economics and Finance is a four-year, English-language doctoral programme with three specialization areas: Business, Economics and Finance.
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.
The Aalto Doctoral Programme in Chemical Engineering comprises six research fields. The Departments of Bioproducts and Biosystems (Bio2), Chemistry and Material Science, and Chemical and Metallurgical Engineering are jointly responsible for the programme.
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.
Fees and costs
Aalto University doctoral studies are free of tuition fees. Aalto University does not charge fees for enrollment to the University. Doctoral students are welcome to join the Aalto University Student Union. The membership of the Student Union is subject to an annual fee.
Generally Aalto University does not offer scholarships for doctoral studies. Most of our doctoral students either work as salaried doctoral researchers at their Department or fund their studies with project funding, external grants or scholarships. There is an on-going scholarship scheme until 2024 for students from African and South American countries, read more below: Finland Fellowships.
Salaried doctoral researcher positions are applied for separately from the admission process. When salaried doctoral researcher positions are open, they are advertised at https://www.aalto.fi/en/open-positions. Any questions regarding the advertised salaried positions must be directed to the professors and HR personnel only, not to admission services.
If you need a residence permit for research in Finland, please see more information about income requirement at the Finnish Immigration Services.
Graduate survey 2022
Aalto has a great community and infrastructure to conduct research.
General eligibility and admissions criteria
The general eligibility criteria for doctoral education is defined by the Finnish law (section 37 of the Universities Act, 558/2009) and involves all Finnish universities.
To be eligible for doctoral studies, applicants must:
- hold a relevant master’s degree awarded by a university
- hold a relevant master’s degree awarded by a university of applied sciences; or
- hold a relevant applicable study programme abroad which in the awarding country gives eligibility for the corresponding level of higher education.
Generally an acceptable master’s degree has been carried out in accordance with the principles of the Bologna Process (3+2 years). As a rule, a higher education degree (or degree combination) earned abroad in a country that does not follow the Bologna Process should include a minimum of 4 years of studies and a master’s thesis.
The degree as a basis for doctoral studies needs to provide the student with an adequate knowledge and skills needed for doctoral studies in the programme chosen. The university may require a student admitted to complete the necessary supplementary studies in order to meet this requirement. The applicant must also fulfill the defined language proficiency needed for doctoral studies.
Academic evaluation criteria
The central criteria for assessing potential doctoral students include the applicant’s academic performance and potential for doctoral studies, the quality and feasibility of the research proposal together with the applicant’s possibilities to complete the studies within the target time.
The availability of supervision for the thesis topic is of key importance. In the field of Technology, applicants should be in contact with the professor responsible for the research field in question at an early stage of the application process.
Finland Fellowships for doctoral students
Aalto University awards Finland Fellowships to doctoral students as part of a national scholarship programme funded by the Ministry of Education and Culture. The programme runs from 2022 to 2024.
Finland Fellowship is awarded to those applicants from Africa, Central or South America who rank best according to academic criteria in the admissions process at Aalto. Applicants for Finland Fellowships must be citizens of a country in Africa, Central America or South America. Applicants with dual citizenship in Finland and one of the target nations may receive a Finland Fellowship only if their domicile is not Finland.
The amount of the fellowship per person is €2800/month for 7.5 months in addition to a €2000 arrival grant for moving expenses. Aalto scheme covers altogether 16 doctoral students (ARTS 2 students, BIZ 1 student, CHEM 2 students, ELEC 3 students, ENG 3 students and SCI 5 students). Finland Fellowships are paid in accordance with Aalto University Human Resources processes to Finnish bank accounts. Students who are absent for reasons permissible by law during the first year, who are prevented from beginning studies in Finland due to force majeure circumstances, or who already have funding for the next two years, may postpone their Finland Fellowship for a maximum of two academic years.
Students apply for Finland Fellowships when applying for doctoral studies at Aalto. Finland Fellowships are awarded only by application. Decisions on Finland Fellowships are made only for those students who have applied for them. The decisions on Finland Fellowship awards are made once per calendar year in December for that year’s applicants. Each school’s doctoral programme committee presents to its dean a list of nominees to receive the Finland Fellowship. The dean decides on the recipients of the fellowship.
By signing the employment contract, students confirm their acceptance of a Finland Fellowship with its monthly pay and its arrival grant. Students may also choose to decline a Finland Fellowship. This situation may arise for students who have funding from an external sponsor, for example. In such cases, the student declares to Doctoral Education Services in writing that he/she is declining the Finland Fellowship.
Graduate survey 2022
I feel truly confident in my professional skills and knowledge after completing the doctoral program.
45% of doctoral students aim for an academic career path during their studies. The rest plan to work in the industry, public sector or as entrepreneurs. (Graduate survey 2022)
Three years after graduation about a half of doctoral graduates are employed in the industry and one third in universities. As much as 70 percent of the doctoral graduates worked as experts. 56 percent worked in research, 23 percent in development and planning duties. (Career monitoring survey 2021).
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.
Finland Studies open online course
This course offers a starting point for learning about studying at Finnish universities. The course offers societal-, organisational-, and individual-level perspectives on Finnish student life as well as practical know-how for studying in Finland.
After reading the applications instructions the prospective applicants may contact the Doctoral education services of the Doctoral programme they are interested in for more information.