Aalto Doctoral Programme in Engineering

Midterm review of doctoral studies (ENG)

The Aalto University School of Engineering launched a procedure for midterm review of all full time doctoral students on 1 Aug 2018. The midterm review is aimed to improve organisation of doctoral studies and facilitate the evaluation of study progress within the objective time of four years of full time doctoral studies.

The objectives of the midterm review are:

  • Help outline structured studies and facilitate discussion about the research objectives and methods with an aim to identify the steps toward publishable results.
  • Strengthen the link between student, supervising professor, and advisors, and provide early identification of any problems.
  • Provide training toward independence in key aspects of research: literature review, report preparation, analysis and presentation.
  • Review how the original study plan and research plan have been realised.
  • Update research plan and outline table of contents for the final thesis in the midterm report.
  • Offer general feedback from the research team.
  • Allow early exit from doctoral studies if this proves in the best interests of the student.


  • The midterm review is for doctoral students enrolled at the Doctoral Programme in Engineering after 1 Aug 2016. It is compulsory for full-time students, and recommended for part-time students (the deadlines are scaled accordingly in the latter case).
  • Doctoral students are initially hired on a contract from one to two years.
  • The midterm review is completed during the second year. An exception can be an early midterm review in the end of the first year, if the starting contract is for one year.
  • The Doctoral Programme planning officer notices the student and the supervising professor before the end of the second year, if the midterm review is not conducted at an earlier time.


  • It is the supervising professor’s responsibility to begin preparations 2 months before the time of the midterm evaluation at the Doctoral Programme Committee meeting.
  • The supervising professor will instruct the student about the details of the review. The recommendation is that the student prepares the review material and presents the review to supervising professor, advisors, and research team in a seminar. The supervising professor may invite external evaluator(s) to comment on the review. The minimum requirement is submission of the review reports (see details below) with supervising professor’s statement to the Doctoral Programme planning officer.

Midterm review report

The student’s report includes the following

  • Progress report about timetable (real start dates), credit status, publications, manuscripts, and a reflectance to the original research plan. Motivation letter was a part of application material to the doctoral programme. The student is recommended to reflect the letter as a part of the progress report.
  • Update of the research plan, which covers the aims, methods, expected results, and timetable for the remaining doctoral studies, and includes table of contents of the doctoral thesis and list of existing and planned publications.
  • Supervising professor and advisors may provide instructions and comments about the report.
  • The presentation of the review is optional and strongly recommended (following supervising professor’s instructions).

Supervising professor’s statement

  • Supervising professor prepares a statement for evaluating the success of the midterm review.
  • The statement includes description and assessment of the midterm review report, and assessment of completion of studies during the remaining study years.
  • Supervising professor makes a clear proposal about passing or failing the midterm review.
  • If supervising professor is proposing to fail the midterm review, it is recommended that advisors include their statements about the midterm review.

The Doctoral Programme Committee reviews the midterm review material and identifies the following cases:

  • Case 1: Student’s review report demonstrates success and supervising professor’s statement recommends pass
  • Case 2: There is a clear discrepancy between the student’s report and professor’s statement
  • Case 3: Student’s review report is inadequate and supervising professor’s statement recommends fail.

Procedure after the midterm review

  • Case 1: The Doctoral Programme Committee makes a recommendation to the Dean to decide that doctoral student passes the midterm review. The student can continue full time studies, and the contract can be renewed.
  • Case 2: the Doctoral Programme Committee may ask more accurate information about the review material and may bring the subject to the attention of the head of department, to make a recommendation about passing or failing the review.
  • Case 3: The Doctoral Programme Committee makes a recommendation to the Dean to decide that the doctoral student does not pass the midterm review. Full time doctoral study is terminated at the end of the current contract.

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