Study options

Aalto Doctoral Programme in Arts, Design and Architecture

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.

For Application Instructions 2021, please scroll down the page.
Aalto ARTS


Doctor of Arts (Art and Design), Doctor of Science (Architecture)

Application period:

1.3.2021 – 22.3.2021

Language of instruction:



4 years, full-time


Relevant master’s degree awarded by a Finnish university or a Finnish university of applied sciences, or a corresponding degree completed abroad

Field of study:

Art and Design


Organising school:

School of Arts, Design and Architecture

Continuous application process for those with funding from Aalto University. The next application period for other applicants is open in March 2021.

Objectives of studies

The main purpose of doctoral education at the Aalto Doctoral Programme in Arts, Design and Architecture is to teach doctoral candidates how to create new knowledge through scientific and artistic methods and theories. During the research and studies, you will learn what it takes to be a professional academic researcher.

Doctoral studies provide skills and tools to apply knowledge and to create new scientific knowledge, including the ability to use research methods. In the field of arts, doctoral candidates should be able to independently create methods, products or performances that meet high artistic standards. They are also expected to publish scientific results in peer-reviewed publications and to disseminate the results on scientific fora.

Doctoral candidates are expected to have gained professional expertise on how to produce such syntheses and critical assessments as are required to solve complex problems in research and innovation and in other areas of society. They will also possess versatile written and oral communication skills. Doctoral candidates should work responsibly with respect to ethical and sustainable considerations. Their work in the scientific community should follow the responsible conduct of research.

Structure of degree

The Doctor of Art and Doctor of Science (Architecture) degrees consist of general research studies, studies in the field of research, and a doctoral thesis which altogether means four years of full-time studies.

Content of studies

Doctoral education is conducted in close collaboration with your thesis advisor(s) and supervising professor, resembling an apprenticeship. If studying full-time, you will spend three to four years working intensively on your research topic, then complete this with the written part of your final work, i.e. your doctoral thesis. Along the road, you will participate in theory courses, seminars, conferences, group activities, and teaching undergraduates. In addition, you will possibly build your artistic components and supportive tasks to facilitate the work your department and research group do.

Study language

The language of instruction is, in principle, English but the doctoral thesis can also be completed in Finnish or Swedish.

International possibilities

Doctoral education at the School of Arts, Design and Architecture is internationally active, and the school encourages researcher mobility to foster the exchange of ideas, research collaboration and career development. Researcher mobility and studies abroad are highly recommended.

Multidisciplinary opportunities

As an Aalto University degree student, you can also complete studies outside your own field of study. Some of the studies to apply for, while other studies are open to all Aalto students. You can complete either individual or minor courses outside your own field of study.

Financing of studies

Aalto Doctoral Programme in Arts, Design and Architecture is free of tuition fees. Aalto University does not charge fees for enrollment to the University. Doctoral candidates are welcome to join the Aalto University Student Union. The membership of the Student Union is subject to an annual fee.

Aalto University does not offer scholarships for doctoral studies. Most of our doctoral candidates fund their studies with external grants and scholarships, although sometimes Departments are able to offer salaried doctoral candidate positions or project funding.


Aalto University awards incentive scholarships to doctoral students according to certain guidelines (see below). According to the decision of the president of Aalto University on 15 December 2016, the scholarship system will be continued according to the current principles until the end of 2021.

Application instructions 2021

Admission is organised annually in March for studies starting in September.

During the academic year 2020-2021 special conditions are in place due to COVID-19 pandemia, more information from (if the link doesn't work, you can copy the URL and paste it into your web browser). The policies may be revised if the pandemic situation or official recommendations by the authorities change. 

Our staff is mostly working remotely.

Admission schedule, spring 2021

Application opens on Mon 1 March 2021 9 am (UTC+2)  
Application closes Mon 22 March 2021 3 pm (UTC+2)
Applicants should follow the electronic application system for information regarding the processing of their application.
Phase two for shortlisted applicants in April-May 2021
Results of the admission published at latest by 10 June 2021

In addition, there is a continuous application to full time doctoral studies, only for applicants who have confirmed funding for doctoral studies from Aalto University for at least nine months. Other full time applicants apply in the March application round. The same requirements (e.g. eligibility criteria and language requirements) apply to applicants in the continuous application, and they will receive personal instructions for applying after their funding has been confirmed by Aalto University. Funded doctoral positions are advertised on Aalto University webpage

Who can apply?

How to apply?

The application period for studies beginning in the autumn of 2021 runs from 1 March 2021 to 22 March 2021 (at 15.00, UTC+2). The application consists of an electronic application form to which you need to upload a set of required application documents in PDF form.

On the application you will need to specify to which research field of Aalto Doctoral Programme in Arts, Design and Architecture you are applying to and who is your potential supervising professor.

Language requirements

In order to be eligible to apply for the Aalto Doctoral Programme in Arts, Design and Architecture, applicants are required to be proficient in the one of the official languages of the programme, Finnish, Swedish or English, and demonstrate their proficiency by passing a language test, when necessary. The language test scores must meet the minimum requirements set by Aalto University. The applicant chooses the language (Finnish, Swedish or English) in which they demonstrate their proficiency.

Application and the required application documents

The application consists of an electronic application form to which you need to upload a set of required application documents in PDF form.

Carefully scan the original documents and save them in colour PDF format. Scan the documents in the correct orientation so that a horizontal document is displayed horizontally, and a vertical document is displayed vertically. Name the files as instructed (e.g. Transcript-lastname-firstname). Upload each document separately to the correct attachment section on your application form.

Admission results

Fees, costs and resources

Departments of School of Arts, Design and Architecture

You will find below information on the research fields and possible supervising professors.

Department of Architecture

We train professionals to design human-centred environments.

Student teamwork at Aalto University. Image: Unto Raunio

Department of Art

The Department of Art educates and prepares professionals in the fields of art education, visual culture, curating, and contemporary art. The department is recognized internationally for high-quality artistic and art pedagogical activities, scholarship, and research.

light colored artwork presenting exposures of a middle-aged body

Department of Media

The Department of Media is an academic community of approximately 500 students and 80 staff members. We conduct research and provide education in Bachelor's, Master's and Doctoral programmes across a broad range of subjects and themes.

Media Lab Demo Day

Department of Film, Television and Scenography

The Department of Film, Television and Scenography ELO is Finland's only university-level film school.

Filming. Image by Unto Rautio.

Department of Design

The Department of Design is a diverse community of competent, creative and responsible individuals. In design, we appreciate technical skill, social significance and artistic expression.

AALTO_b-9344_Original.jpg _OE_4723_Original.jpg

Continuous application process for those with funding from Aalto University. The next application period for other applicants is open in March 2021.

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