Results of the doctoral student yearly follow-up 2023

940 doctoral students answered the yearly follow-up survey at the turn of the year. Most of the respondents were full-time students, which means that the results cover the majority of our active doctoral students. All doctoral students are expected to answer the survey every year.

The results will also be presented in a feedback event on 25.4.2024, welcome!
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Doctoral students at Aalto University answer a follow-up survey of the progress of their doctoral studies and research every year. The purpose of the yearly follow-up survey is to follow the progress of doctoral students, offer them support and collect statistical information on general level to develop the support for doctoral students.

While answering the survey and based on their answers doctoral students get instructions and links for further information which are tailored to their situation. Doctoral students may also request to be contacted personally at the end of the survey.

Doctoral students actively pursuing their degree answered

The survey was sent to the 3294 doctoral students of Aalto University in December 2023 and 29% answered. 73% of the respondents studied full-time and 7% were currently absent from their studies.  59% had confirmed funding until the estimated end of their studies. Four out of five respondents had been able to follow their research plan during 2023.

86% of the respondents were preparing an article-based doctoral thesis. 73% of them were planning to include 3-4 articles in their thesis.

More than 80% of the respondents met their supervising professor and thesis advisor(s) frequently enough for their needs.

The figures were very similar as in 2022, but there was a slight increase in the percentage of students with funding until the end (54% in 2022) and of students who were able to follow their research plan (three out of four in 2022).

In their wishes for developing the supervision practices at Aalto many doctoral students emphasized the need for regular and structured supervision. Many felt that there should be mechanisms for accountability and transparency in the supervision practices. Quite a few brought up the importance of compassionate approach and awareness of wellbeing and support for mental health, as well as reassurance. 

I have the space to learn the skills myself while being able to get help from my supervisor if needed.

Yearly follow-up 2023


One out of five respondents had completed one or several international mobility periods during 2023. Altogeher 229 international mobility periods were reported in the survey. The most popular destinations were Germany, United States, France and Italy.

Half of the respondents had foreign nationality.

Different phases of studies

This year the survey had specific questions for students who are not currently actively pursuing their studies or research. 7% of respondents were not currently active. The main reason for not actively pursuing doctoral studies was full-time employment in another position.

One third of the respondents were at the start of their studies, half were in the middle and one fifth either at pre-examination phase or about to graduate.

59% of the respondents who were about to graduate had clear plans for their near professional future, which is less than in 2022 (70%).

It's a helpful survey to reflect where I'm at with my doctoral studies.

Yearly follow-up 2023

Feedback and further action

It was possible to request for a personal contact through answering the survey. 17% of the respondents hoped to be contacted and most of them have already been contacted. Doctoral education services has promised to contact those who so wished within one month of the end of the survey.

Many respondents thought that the survey was very useful for them to check their situation and get information on the various services and resources there are for doctoral students. Many found the survey to have improved from last year, but there were also a lot of comments for improving and developing the survey further. Please see below answers to commonly presented feedback and questions.

We are very thankful for all the comments received regarding the survey itself as well as regarding doctoral education and services and support for doctoral students at Aalto University.

Processing of the results

The survey results are processed at general level in the doctoral education working group DEWG and in the Schools' Doctoral programme committees. The results will be used to develop doctoral education and the support and services for doctoral students.

A more detailed presentation of the results and discussion event for doctoral students is arranged on 25.4.2024.

The yearly follow-up survey is organised by the Doctoral education services.

Privacy notice of the yearly follow-up survey (

Frequently asked questions about the yearly follow-up

Here is a compilation of the most frequently asked questions and feedback given for the the yearly follow-up in 2023.

Doctoral student follow-up survey results & feedback discussion

Presentation of the yearly follow-up survey for doctoral students 2023 results to doctoral students and chance for open feedback discussion

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