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. The special feature of the programme is that the dissertation can also include art or design productions. Department of Art, Department of Design, Department of Film, Television and Scenography and Department of Media offer doctoral studies for Doctor of Arts degree.
Aalto ARTS


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

Application period:

1.1.2020 - 30.6.2020

Language of instruction:




Relevant master's degree awarded by university or university of applied sciences degree, or corresponding degree completed abroad

Field of study:

Art and Design


Organising school:

School of Arts, Design and Architecture

Tuition fees:

Objectives of studies

The main purpose of doctoral education at the Aalto Doctoral Programme in Arts, Design and Architecture is to teach the doctoral candidate 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 gain professional expertise on how to produce such syntheses and critical assessments that are required to solve complex problems in research and innovation and in other areas of society. They 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 responsible conduct of research.

Structure of degree

The Doctor of Arts 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 dissertation which 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 apprenticing. If studying full-time, you will spend 3-4 years working intensively on research topic, and complete this with your intellectual piece of work, i.e. doctoral dissertation. Along the road, you will be involved with theory courses, seminars, conferences, group activities, teaching undergraduates, possibly building your artistic components and supportive tasks needed to make your department and research group able to operate.

Study language

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

International possibilities

Doctoral education at the School of Arts, Design and Architecture is internationally interactive, and the school encourages researcher mobility to foster the exchange of ideas, research collaboration and career development. Annually approximately 15 Doctors of Arts and one or two Doctors of Science (Architecture) are graduating. Researcher mobility and studies abroad are highly recommended and can be included here.

Multidisciplinary opportunities

As an Aalto University degree student you can complete studies also outside your own field of study. Some of the studies require an application while other studies are open for 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 enrolment 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.

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 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 dissertation 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 fund individual research projects such as researcher mobility o conference costs. Some grants and scholarships offer support for full-time research work. Further information on the criteria and the purpose of the grant or scholarship 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 to Grant portals and Research Funding.

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 with certain conditions. Further information at


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

How to apply?

Admission is organized annually in March for studies starting in September. The next admission round is in March 2020.

In addition, there is a continuous application to full time doctoral studies.

Further information on general eligibility and admission criteria for doctoral studies.

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 Student 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, 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 program.

How to apply for doctoral studies?

Departments of School of Arts, Design and Architecture

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.

The art piece Railtrack Songmaps by Lucy Davis, a hanging mobile, is exhibited

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.

Application period open now

Application period will close on 30.6.2020
Apply now
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