Doctoral education

Supervision of doctoral studies

Each doctoral student at Aalto University has a supervising professor and thesis advisor(s). In a supervision plan they together agree about how the supervision is arranged in practice. Supervision is a central aspect of doctoral research and thesis work. Supervision work is supported by Aalto University's guidelines (esp. Degree regulations on doctoral education), code of conduct and trainings for the supervising professors and thesis advisors.

Supervision plan

The supervision plan explains the roles and responsibilities of the supervising professor, thesis advisor(s), and the doctoral student and describes what has been agreed. It is part of the doctoral personal study plan and is updated as needed. The plan is valid until the scheduled time of graduation, assuming that it has been followed. Supervision plan template is available at

Doctoral student forms (

Agreeing on authorship (

Roles and responsibilities

The supervising professor is an Aalto University professor who is responsible for overseeing the doctoral student's studies and may also be appointed to act as a thesis advisor. Thesis advisors have expertise in the subject area of the doctoral thesis, and one or more are appointed for each doctoral student.

If doctoral students have questions about supervision, their primary contact person is their supervising professor. If necessary, they can also contact the Doctoral education services.

Change of supervising professor, thesis advisor, research field, thesis topic or status

If the doctoral student's supervisory arrangements, research field, thesis topic or full-/part-time status change, the School must officially confirm the change. More information on full-/part-time status (

The supervising professor is responsible for supervisory arrangements of their doctoral studetns and for making sure that the students have appointed thesis advisors. Supervisory arrangements can change e.g. if the supervising professor retires or another advisor needs to be appointed.

First the doctoral student and the supervising professor should discuss the change, and then submit the application form to the Doctoral education services of their doctoral programme.

More information about changing the thesis topic

The form "Change of supervising professor, thesis advisor, research field or mode of study" is available at

Doctoral student forms (

Required attachments

Change of supervising professor and / or thesis advisor(s)

  • All: CV and list of publications if the thesis advisor is from outside Aalto University
  • CHEM, ELEC, ENG, SCI: also supervision plan

Change of research field

  • ARTS: research plan
  • BIZ: up-dated credit plan (Sisu) for the new research field
  • CHEM, ELEC, ENG, SCI: Appendix not required if only the name of the research field changes

Change of topic of the doctoral thesis

  • All: research plan

Change of status (mode of study)

  • From full-time to part-time: Appendix not required
  • From part-time to full-time: ARTS & BIZ: Appendix not required
  • From part-time to full-time: CHEM, ELEC and SCI: supervision plan and research plan,
  • From part-time to full-time: ENG: research plan

Resources for challenging situations

Well-functioning relationships between supervising professor, thesis advisor and the doctoral student are of utmost importance during the doctoral studies. Doctoral students and their thesis advisors and supervising professors may face challenges stemming from i.e. the different national, cultural and organisational backgrounds of all participants, or differences in working styles or ways of expressing themselves. You can always turn to the Aalto University Code of Conduct for the ‘fair play rules’ of our university community.

Often doctoral students encounter some kind of challenging situations during their studies, and we hope to be able to give support through those situations. 

You can also consult the Recommendations for doctoral thesis supervision by the Finnish Advisory Board on Research Integrity (TENK) and Universities Finland UNIFI (external link).


Support for challenges during your doctoral studies

Support network and help for harassment or other type of challenging situations

Doctoral education
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Doctoral student wellbeing and support

Support services, challenging situations, progressing in your studies and research, study skills and wellbeing

Doctoral education
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Code of Conduct - Values into practice

The Aalto University Code of Conduct is one way of putting our values and way of working — the foundation of our community culture — into practice

Aalto University

Co-supervision within Aalto - division of doctoral education results

Under the Aalto funding model, the schools receive result-based funding based on the number of doctoral degrees awarded. Aalto University has agreed to enable the division of doctoral education results between its schools for the purposes of resource allocation under the Aalto funding model, in cases where the degree is produced jointly by two schools. The change is designed to boost doctoral-level collaboration between the Aalto schools and further the Aalto strategic goal of promoting multidisciplinary research.

It should be noted that the division of degrees is only a statistical tool developed for the purposes of the funding model. For the funding model the degree is divided so that both schools earn 0.5 degrees. The division of degrees does not have any other effects on the school-level statistics on doctoral degrees.

The division of doctoral degrees for funding purposes between the Aalto schools requires clear evidence of collaboration. Dividing a degree follows uniform principles in the university:

The doctoral student and the supervising professor are from the same school. In addition to the supervising professor, the doctoral student must have a co-supervising professor at the partner school.

A person who can act as a supervising professor in his/her own school can also act as a co-supervising professor.

The supervising professor and the co-supervising professor draft a joint proposal for dividing the degree between the schools in which the research work is done (evidence of collaboration). The freely formulated signed proposal and the supervision plan is sent to the doctoral programme of the school of the doctoral student.

The proposal must be made as early in the studies as possible (preferably with the application for doctoral studies).

The decision on dividing the doctoral degree with the partner school rests with the dean of the school of the doctoral student (since this school “gives up” 50% of the result-based funding for this degree). The decision of the dean is communicated to the doctoral programme of the partner school.

The doctoral student carries out the doctoral studies according to the process of his/her school and the degree will be awarded to the doctoral student only from his/her own school.

Only the name of the school of the doctoral student is mentioned on the doctoral thesis cover, but on the reverse of the title page the name of the co-supervising professor should be mentioned. The collaboration of the two schools can be mentioned e.g. in the preface or in the introduction part of the doctoral thesis.

Dividing doctoral degrees is an option for doctoral degrees earned at the beginning of 2015 or later. Thus the degree cannot be divided retrospectively.


Doctoral education services

We support doctoral students, supervising professors, thesis advisors and doctoral programme directors in matters related to doctoral studies.

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Doctoral page index

Index of all pages about doctoral education

Doctoral education
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