How to apply for doctoral studies?
Admission for doctoral studies
Admission to doctoral programmes varies according to each School. Some have continuous admission whereas others admit doctoral students 1-2 times a year. Each doctoral programme has their dedicated programme website providing details on the entry requirements and information on how to apply (see below). The admission of doctoral students is made on the basis of admissions criteria announced in advance on the programme web pages (see below).
Doctoral education is free in Finland so there are no fees. Please see more information about income requirement at the Finnish Immigration Services.
Applying to doctoral programmes - how and when?
See further information on the application procedure, entry requirements, and application times on each doctoral programme.
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.
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 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 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.
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.
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). A higher education degree (or degree combination) earned abroad in a country that does not follow the Bologna Process must 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.
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.
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.