Doctoral education

What are doctoral studies like?

Doctoral studies are an excellent option when thinking about your next steps after earning a master’s degree or when contemplating a return to academia after building your professional career. As a doctoral student, you create new knowledge through your own research and learn to distinguish between reliable and false information. In this, you are supported by experienced Aalto University researchers. As a doctoral student, you are part of an international academic science community, and develop into an expert in your professional field.
Two doctors raising their glasses to celebrate their promotion to doctors

The majority of Aalto doctoral students are in an employment relationship with Aalto University during their studies, at least partly, and most belong to a research group. Applying for research funding for your doctoral thesis work is a key part of your doctoral education.

Doctoral studies are tailored to your needs and focus on deepening your knowledge in the research topic of your choice. During your studies, you will be supported by a designated supervising professor and thesis advisor(s). Doctoral studies allow you to gain international expericence through conferences, exchange periods and visits for researchers, as well as through work in an international research group. You should also take time to network with experts and key organisations in your field during your doctoral studies. The normative duration of studies set for the doctoral degree is four years of full-time study.

I feel I received excellent supervision and got to be part of a team of outstanding researchers.

Doctoral Graduate Survey 2022

Six doctoral programmes

Aalto University has altogether six doctoral programmes: 

  • four doctoral programmes leading to the degree of Doctor of Science (Technology)
  • one doctoral programme leading to the Doctor of Science (Economics and Business Administration) degree and 
  • one doctoral programme leading to either the degree of Doctor of Arts (Art and Design) or Doctor of Science (Architecture). 

Each doctoral programme consists of multiple research fields for doctoral research. The university encourages its doctoral students to explore also multidisciplinary research topics as well as to deepen their language and generic skills during the studies.

The practicalities of applying for doctoral studies vary by school. The schools of technology usually have salaried positions open for doctoral students. Those who are selected for such positions can apply for a right to study in the school’s doctoral programme. The School of Arts, Design and Architecture and the School of Business both have one application period each year for their doctoral programmes.

Doctoral education is valuable in the world of work

45 percent of doctoral students aim for an academic career. The rest plan to work in companies or in the public sector or as entrepreneurs. (Doctoral Graduate Survey 2022)

Three years after graduation, one half of doctoral graduates are working as researchers, while one in four are in planning and development duties. 40% of graduates work in companies and one third at universities. As many as 3/4 are in expert positions. (Career monitoring survey 2022)

I feel truly confident in my professional skills and knowledge after completing the doctoral programme.

Doctoral Graduate Survey 2022

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A man with a doctor's hat on celebrating his promotion as a doctor with other doctors

How to apply for doctoral studies?

Find out what is required of applicants and what can our doctoral studies offer!

Doctoral education
Rows of doctors sitting with their doctoral hats on, photographed from behind

Results of the doctoral graduate survey 2022

The majority of doctoral graduates in 2022 were satisfied with the education they received and were employed at the time of their graduation. Each doctoral student is asked to answer the survey when they graduate.

Tohtorinhatut promootiopäivänä

Doctoral graduates of Aalto University in working life

Skills learned during doctoral education are valuable in working life

Doctoral education
Doctors dressed in black celebrating their promotion as doctors

International doctoral graduates in the workforce – ready for future challenges!

Global competence, good networks, and a doctoral degree are highly valued in the labour markets when companies are looking for game-changers.

Corporate collaboration

Experiences from our current doctoral students and graduates

Emilia Kauppi

Doctoral research is shedding new light on recycling

A research collaboration with industry partners is improving the recycling of milk and juice cartons

Annukka Svanda, photo by Linda Lehtovirta

Annukka Svanda: It's important to challenge yourself to do hard things

'I believe that those of us who can and are capable have a duty to work to make the world a little better place all the time. For example, we can try to improve the situation of those who are not so well off.'

An artistic rendition of a photo colliding with other particles.

Bridging gaps in reactor damage modelling and embracing diversity in academia

With a keen interest in electron-ion interactions, doctoral researcher Evgeniia Ponomareva describes her experience in the Nuclear Materials and Engineering (NuME) research group led by Assistant Professor Andrea Sand in the Department of Applied Physics.

Joaquín de la Barra Toloza standing in front of a blackboard

Finland Fellowship provided seven months of funding for Joaquín during his Ph.D studies

Finland Fellowship covered seven months’ salary for Joaquín when he moved from Chile to pursue his Ph.D studies at Aalto University.

Doctoral education
Photo: Leonardo Fierro.

Leonardo Fierro: Sharing experiences for a better doctoral student life

'Now I’m less fearful of failing. I know how to put things into perspective. It was a good lesson to learn that failing is part of the process of succeeding.'

The picture shows doctoral student Philipp Back standing in a forest. The photo was taken by Roope Kiviranta.

From research to business: doctoral student Philipp Back and team initiate forestry startup formation

How can forest owners reconcile timber revenues, carbon sinks, and biodiversity? A multi-disciplinary research team combines economics, ecology, and machine learning to find the most productive way to manage forests sustainably. Now the team wants to bring their novel method to the market

Anniina Suominen Photo: Evelin Kask

Novel solutions for cross-sector collaboration: exploring Artpreneurship

Aalto researchers collaborate with businesses and creative professionals in a research project aimed at finding solutions to growth challenges.

Aalto ELEC's doctoral student Anastasiia Kravtcova

Doctoral student Anastasiia Kravtcova: “Doctoral studies can be a combination of a job, hobby and lifestyle”

The chance of making a societal impact motivated Anastasiia Kravtcova to pursue her doctoral studies and to dive into a groundbreaking topic in medical engineering at the School of Electrical Engineering.

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