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.
Aalto ARTS


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

Application period:

2.3.2020 – 23.3.2020

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 Arts (art and Design) and Doctor of Science (Architecture) degrees consist of general research studies, studies in the field of research, studies supporting the research work, 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. Doctoral candidates are welcome to join the Aalto University Student Union. The membership of the Student Union is subject to an annual fee.

The Aalto University does not offer scholarships to doctoral candidates and therefore most of our doctoral candidates fund their studies with individual grants and scholarships. The main funding instruments for doctoral students at the Aalto University School of Arts, Design and Architecture are Doctoral Candidate Positions, individual grants and scholarships from e.g. foundations, or obtaining a position in a funded research group.


1. Salaried doctoral candidate position

Departments can offer a salaried position only to a minority of their doctoral candidates. The salaried doctoral candidates are expected to pursue their doctoral studies, work on their thesis and perform any tasks specified by the research group and/or the head of the department. The duration is usually less than four years. Open positions are announced at

2. Individual grants & scholarships

One of the most common ways to finance doctoral studies is an individual grant and scholarship that funds individual research projects such as researcher mobility or conference costs. Some grants and scholarships offer support for full-time research work. Further information on the criteria and the purpose of specific grants or scholarships is communicated in connection with the public calls. Please check the Grant Bulletin for all grants and scholarships available at Aalto University, and additional links under the 'Scholarship portals'.

The Aurora database lists all Finnish foundations

3. Research projects

Doctoral candidates may fund their studies also by working in a research project closely connected to their own research. The main funding agencies of these projects are the Academy of Finland, Tekes and EU (FP7).

4. State-funded study grants

The Finnish government provides study grants under certain conditions. Further information at


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.

How to apply?

Admission is organised annually in March for studies starting in September. The next admission round is in March 2021.

In addition, there is a continuous application to full-time doctoral studies. Only applicants with confirmed funding for doctoral studies from Aalto University for at least nine months can apply through the continuous application system. Other applicants for full-time studies should apply in the March application round. Funded doctoral positions are advertised on the Aalto University webpage If you wish to apply, you must first secure the funded position before applying for a study right for doctoral studies. The same eligibility criteria and language requirements apply to applicants in the continuous application, and they must submit the same application documents as are required of the applicants in the March application round.

Admission schedule

The next application period opens in March 2021.

Applicants should follow the electronic application system for information regarding the processing of their application.

Although special conditions are in place for the time being, Aalto University is gradually reopening the Otaniemi campus, according to safety guidelines. The new policies enter into force on Thursday 14 May, 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 still working remotely and with limited resources. For that reason, be prepared that the processing of applications and granting the right to study might be delayed.

Contact us

For any questions and enquiries about the general admissions procedure, please contact [email protected]

In case of programme-specific questions and inquiries, please contact the Learning Services of the Doctoral Programme in Arts, Design and Architecture.

How to apply for doctoral studies?

Doctoral candidates at Aalto University can pursue the degrees of Doctor of Science (Technology), Doctor of Arts (Art and Design), Doctor of Science (Economics and Business Administation), and Doctor of Science (Architecture). The target time for the doctoral degree is four years. The admissions are organised individually by each doctoral programme.

How to apply for doctoral studies?

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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