The Department of Mechanical Engineering is a leading multidisciplinary research establishment with strong industrial ties and impact on industry and society alike.
Aalto Doctoral Programme in Engineering
Language of instruction:
Field of study:
The application period has closed
Objective of studies
The goal of our doctoral education is not only to educate researchers and professors of the future, but also to equip them with professional skills so that they can become experts and game changers in the engineering industry and other sectors.
The aim of doctoral studies is that the student:
- To acquire a profound knowledge of their research field and its social significance;
- To obtain the necessary skills to independently apply the scientific methods of their field and produce new scientific knowledge;
- To obtain a thorough knowledge of the research methods and development of their research field;
- To possess a sufficient level of expertise in the philosophy of engineering and other areas related to their research field.
Structure of degree
The Doctor of Science (Technology) degree consists of
- an approved doctoral thesis
- scientific principles and practices studies (5–20 ECTS)
- research field studies (20–35 ECTS)
Content of studies
Doctoral candidates are to complete their degree in four years of full-time study, during which they complete the required doctoral studies and write a doctoral thesis that will be examined in a public defence. For this timescale to be feasible, the workload of the degree should be proportionate to the objective duration of studies. This will be taken into account in the course of the supervision of the doctoral candidate.
|Stages of doctoral studies||Corresponding information|
|Start (1st year doctoral candidate)|
|During (1st-3rd year doctoral candidate)|
|End (4th year doctoral candidate)|
The language of instruction is, in principle, English but the doctoral thesis can also be completed in Finnish or Swedish.
Internationality is an integral part of the school’s doctoral education in both recruiting and educating doctoral candidates. The School of Engineering is well connected to a number of top-level international universities and research institutes in the field.
Aalto University encourages its doctoral candidates to spend at least six months of their study time abroad because international mobility enhances doctoral candidates’ career prospects. Visiting a foreign university or research institute often means sharing knowledge and know-how, creating new ideas, expanding international networks, and developing one’s professional proficiency.
Doctoral candidates have various alternatives to finance their studies and research work. Funding can be discussed with the supervising professor. Applications for funded doctoral student positions and applications for a right to study leading to doctoral degree are submitted using the electronic Studyinfo.fi system. Application period for funded positions is annually in the fall. Note! If you are applying for both a doctoral study right and a funded position, you should fill out BOTH forms in Studyinfo (application period September 2022).
Aalto University's research groups have projects that can provide employment positions for doctoral students. There are also other sources of funding for your doctoral studies, such as the following:
- International or national doctoral programmes funded by the EU or Finnish government
- Grants given by other governments for their citizens, such as CSC in China.
- Grants given by your home university to pursue for doctoral degree at abroad.
- Funding for doctoral studies provided by national and international foundations
- See the Aurora database for a list of all Finnish foundations http://www.aurora-tietokanta.fi/
Please see further information on financing and promoting your research.
How to apply?
There are two annual application periods for the programme: one in September and another in March.
Spring application deadline: 1 March until 15.00 (EET) on 21 March, 2022 (decisions are made in April)
Please note that from 1 August 2016 onwards the accepted applicants may accept only one study place leading to a higher education degree in Finland during one academic term (Universities Act 558/2009). Higher education degrees include bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees awarded by universities as well as degrees from universities of applied sciences.
Applicants must submit the electronic application and all required attachments by the deadline. Only complete applications will be processed.
Although special conditions are in place for the time being, Aalto University is gradually reopening the Otaniemi campus, according to safety guidelines. See more information at https://www.aalto.fi/en/aalto-university/information-on-coronavirus (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.
Eligibility of applicants to the Aalto Doctoral Programme in Engineering
To be eligible for doctoral studies at the School of Engineering, students must hold:
- a master’s degree granted by a Finnish university or a Finnish university of applied sciences that provides them with the knowledge base required for the postgraduate research field applied for, or;
- a degree granted by a university or university of applied sciences abroad corresponding to the Finnish master’s degree, providing them with the knowledge base required for the postgraduate research field applied for.
In principle, an acceptable master’s degree is one carried out in accordance with the principles of the Bologna Process (3+2 years). A degree earned abroad in a country that does not follow the Bologna Process must include a minimum of four years of studies and a master’s thesis, and be deemed by the School of Engineering as providing the student with an adequate knowledge base for doctoral studies in the school.
Applying with a degree from a university of applied sciences
The potential of applicantsto succeed in doctoral studies is assessed by the School of Engineering on a case-by-case basis for applicants with a Finnish master’s degree from a university of applied sciences. Granting the right to study requires that the school to determine the applicant’s need for supplementary studies. If the school deems that such an applicant in an applicable technical field does have potential for completing the doctoral degree, the applicant will be assigned any necessary ssupplementary studies to allow him or her to start the doctoral studies. The extent of supplementary studies may not, however, exceed 60 ECTS. If the extent of supplementary studies exceeds this maximum, the applicant will be advised to first pursue the master's degree before applying for a right to pursue a doctoral degree. When assessing the applicants’ potential for doctoral studies, the school shall take into account that the extent of the master’s degree from a university of applied sciences in the field of technology is 40 or 60 ECTS, which corresponds to studies of one year’s duration, whereas the extent of a university master’s degree is 120 ECTS, which corresponds to studies of two years’ duration. The extent of master’s degrees from a university of applied sciences in fields other than technology is 60 ECTS or 90 ECTS.
International applicants with a previous technical degree corresponding to a Finnish degree from a university of applied sciences are subject to the same rules as those with the corresponding Finnish degree.
It is also possible to complete doctoral studies in a field or school other than the one in which the master’s degree was obtained. Those wishing to pursue doctoral studies in another field, on account of job experience gained in that field or interest in it, can discuss with a professor in that field the necessary prerequisites for admission as a doctoral student.
The professor (i.e. supervising professor) who is responsible for the research field to which the applicant is applying to is responsible for the academic evaluation of the applicant. The Doctoral Programme Committee will also evaluate the applicant.
Full-time and part-time studies
Full-time doctoral students plan their studies with the aim of completing a doctoral degree within four years of admission to the doctoral programme. Full-time doctoral students need to have funding allocated for the doctoral studies (e.g. project funding, a personal grant or funding from employer). Students working outside of Aalto University who wish to be full-time doctoral students must provide a document of the employers' approval for full-time doctoral studies (working students must be able to dedicate up to 80 % of their working hours).
Part-time doctoral student
Part-time doctoral students are those who do not meet the above-mentioned requirements for full-time doctoral students. Their studies are planned in such a way that the time spent on doctoral studies is eight years or less. A part-time doctoral student typically has a main occupation outside the School of Engineering which occupation does not include scientific research for a doctoral thesis.
Applicants for part-time doctoral studies should discuss:
- whether the research is closely connected with the applicant’s own work;
- what opportunities the employer has for supporting intensive postgraduate studying e.g. alongside work.
The following is required of the applicant:
- Adequate knowledge in the research field applied for, gained through, for example, courses in the major subject or courses in an advanced module within the master’s studies.
- Sufficient basic knowledge that supports the thesis work and the writing of the thesis.
- An excellent command of Finnish, Swedish or English.
When necessary, the School of Engineering will set prerequisites for admission to the doctoral programme. These may be gained by taking master's-level courses.
Grades (on the scale of 1 to 5)
- The master’s thesis has been completed with the minimum grade of 3/5.
- The master’s degree that is the basis of doctoral studies has been completed with an average grade of 3.0/5 or higher.
- Those with a master’s degree earned in accordance with the degree regulations of 1995 or at an earlier time must have earned the master’s degree that is the basis of doctoral studies with an average grade of 3.0/5 or higher.
The same criteria are applied to students with a foreign degree or degree from another Finnish university or university of applied sciences. Students who fail to meet these minimum grade criteria, but are otherwise suitable for doctoral studies, may improve their grades by taking additional courses, or the School of Engineering may set other prerequisites for doctoral studies.
Other admissions criteria (academic evaluation):
- prior academic success;
- content of prior university studies;
- potential for a researcher career, prior research experience: research-related work experience, conference presentations, journal articles etc.;
- suitability of the research topic: relevance of the topic for the research focus area of the department;
- research proposal: the original contribution of the research to the theory and practice of the field; the feasibility of the research proposal;
- time management and resources: the feasibility of the study plan and the time available for the doctoral studies within the next four years;
- the university’s resources for thesis supervision in the applicant’s field of research;
- other grounds presented by the applicant.
The professor (i.e. supervising professor) responsible for the research field the applicant is applying to is responsible for the academic evaluation of the applicant. The Doctoral Programme Committee will also evaluate the applicant.
Please submit your application for doctoral studies by filling in the electronic application form. All the application materials must be submitted in electronic format (pdf). Also see the instructions for mailing the degree certificates and transcripts*.
The mailing address for degree certificates and transcripts of records is:
School of Engineering
P. O. Box 15200
If you deliver your documents by using courier services, please use the following address:
Incomplete applications will not be accepted. Therefore, start to prepare your application early enough.
The study plan, research plan and supervision plan need to be approved by the applicant and the supervising professor. By signing these documents, the professor responsible for the research field confirms his or her commitment to be the supervising professor of the applicant.
Students who have earned a master's degree at Aalto University (or the forerunners of Aalto University) are required to provide the following application materials:
- Application form in the Studyinfo.fi
- A curriculum vitae (CV) that includes a list of publications and other scientific activity
- Preliminary study plan (PDF) (the supervising professor's signature is needed). Please use the abbreviation D for doctoral level courses provided by Aalto University.
- Preliminary research plan (PDF) and schedule for its completion. The plan must include the signature of the applicant and the supervising professor of the research field applied for.
Full-time doctoral candidates should prepare their research and publishing plan for a midterm review (after 1½-2 years of doctoral studies). This means, for example, completing all courses (40 ECTS) and developing the research and publishing plan according to the plan.
- Funding plan; alternatively, it can be included in the research proposal. Indicate the start and ending of secured funding time and describe your funding sources (scholarships, projects etc.).
- Supervision plan (Guidelines for supervising doctoral candidates). The supervision plan must include the signatures of the applicant, the supervising professor, and the thesis advisor.
- Motivation letter in English, one page long
- Copy of the applicant's passport or ID-card
- Any other supporting documents e.g. letter(s) of recommendations
Applicants with a master's degree or education earned at an institution other than Aalto University (or the forerunners of Aalto University) shall also provide the following documents:
- Master’s degree certificate or a certified copy, and official transcript*
- master's degree certificate, including all the appendices and the Diploma Supplement in European countries
- Official transcripts of records of all the courses included in the master’s degree
- Official translations of these, if the originals are not in Finnish, Swedish, or English.
- Please upload these as scanned copies to the electronic application form on Studyinfo.fi and mail them to the address above, too.
- Abstract of master's thesis in English
- Proof of proficiency in Finnish, Swedish or English
- A successful applicant must have an excellent command of Finnish, Swedish, or English.
- Please see Required language proficiency
- A document confirming eligibility for doctoral studies, if needed (please see Eligibility for doctoral studies) with an official translation, if the original document is not in Finnish, Swedish or English
- Please also see the country-specific requirements if the degree is awarded in:
Australia, Bangladesh, Cameroon, Canada, China, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Finland, Ghana, India, Indonesia, Iran, Ireland, Kenya, Malaysia, Nepal, New Zealand, Nigeria, Pakistan, South Africa, Sudan, the United Kingdom or the United States.
*Degrees awarded by a higher education institution outside Finland:
You are asked to present your original degree certificate (including all the appendices and the Diploma Supplement in European countries) and official transcript of records, or certified copies of all these* before a right to study can be granted. You are asked also to present official translations* of these, if the originals are not in Finnish, Swedish or English.
*Degrees awarded by a higher education institution in Finland:
If you have completed a degree in Finland after 1 January 2003 and you have a Finnish personal identification code, Aalto University will verify your degree electronically using a national database.
If your degree was completed before 1 January 2003, or you do not have a Finnish personal identification code, you are asked to present your original degree certificate (including all the appendices and the Diploma Supplement in European countries) and official transcript of records or certified copies of all these* before a right to study can be granted.
*Certified copies and translations
Copies of degree certificates and a transcript of records must be certified by the awarding university or by a notary public. The copies must be taken from the original, official documents. A multiple-page certified copy must be certified on the front side of every page. Each page must have the certifying official’s original signature, printed name, ink stamp and date. Copies of officially certified copies are not accepted, the certifying official’s ink stamps and signatures must be original. A note declaring official copy status (such as a “True copy” stamp) is insufficient.
The translation is official if it has been done by the higher education institution that awarded the degree or by a certified translator (authorised translator). The translations must have the certified translator’s original ink stamp and signature.
The official translations must be either original or certified paper copies of the original documents. Unofficial copies of the translations are insufficient. The official translations must be accompanied by certified paper copies of the original documents in the original language. Translations by themselves are insufficient.
Supervising professors for the research fields of the doctoral programme are listed here.
All international students applying for doctoral studies must demonstrate their proficiency in English. Applicants are required to attach an official language test report to their application.
The recognized English language tests and their minimum scores required for admission to doctoral studies are (Aalto University Admissions Criteria 2022):
- Academic: 6.5 and for writing 5.5
- Indicator (Academic): 6.5 and for writing 5.5
- IBT (Internet-based Test): 92 and for the writing section 22 or
- iBT® Special Home Edition: 92 and for the writing section 22
- PDT (Paper-delivered Test): reading 22, listening 22 ja writing 24
- C1 Advanced (prev. Cambridge Certificate in Advanced English (CAE)): A,B or C
- C2 Proficiency (prev. Cambridge Certificate of Proficiency in English (CPE)): A,B,C or Level C1
- Pearson Test of English Academic (PTE A): 62 and for writing 54
The minimum requirements are very strict. If your score does not fulfill the minimum requirements, you are not eligible to apply and your application cannot be processed. Only the above-mentioned language tests are accepted.
IELTS, TOEFL and PTE results are valid for two years starting from the test date. The CAE and CPE results do not have an expiration date.
Submitting language test scores
Only official reports of the language test are acceptable as proof of proficiency.
- For IELTS test, upload a copy of the official test report (as a PDF) to the application system. The test results are verified through the test administrator’s electronic verification service.
- TOEFL test results must be sent to Aalto University by the test administrator directly. Request your official score report to be sent from the test administrator to Aalto University reporting code 7364. Unofficial score reports sent by applicants will not be accepted. Test scores submitted with the Aalto University reporting code are checked for authenticity in the test administrator’s verification database. The scores are available within 1 to 2 weeks of sending the score report request.
- PTE test scores are sent via the test administrator’s electronic service. Applicants who took the PTE test must log in to their PTE account and send their results in the system to Aalto University. The test administrator notifies by email when the results have been sent to the university.
- For the C1 Advanced or C2 Proficiency language test, upload a PDF copy of the results report to the application system. The test-taker’s ID number (e.g. ABC1234567) and reference number (e.g. 173YU0034522) must be entered in the system. Test takers must be logged in to the language test system to submit their results to Aalto University. The results are verified electronically.
An English language test is not required in doctoral admissions of applicants who (Aalto University Admissions Criteria 2022):
Applicants who have completed a higher education degree and the requisite studies
- at a university or a university of applied sciences in Finland in Finnish, Swedish or English;
- at a university or a university of applied sciences in an EU/EEA country in English. The language of the degree must be stated in the degree certificate or its appendix, the transcript of records or other official document, such as diploma supplement, issued by the higher education institution in question.
- in an English-language programme requiring a physical on-site presence at a university in Australia, Canada, Ireland, New Zealand, United Kingdom, Switzerland, South Africa or the United States.
- received his or her primary and secondary education in English in an EU/EEA country, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, South Africa, Switzerland, the United Kingdom or the United States.
- earned a degree Aalto Executive Education MBA, EMBA or DBA.
- Applicants to doctoral studies who have academic duties in the field of science and technology at Aalto University (statement needed from the professor of the research field on the adequacy of the student’s language proficiency).
Only the above-mentioned groups are exempted from the language test requirement. For all other applicants, the official language test result is a compulsory application document and applications without the test result will not be processed. There are no exceptions to the above-mentioned requirements.
Guidelines for filling in the application form
- After reading the instructions and getting all the documents ready, register on the online Studyinfo.fi application system. Fill in the application, attach all the required documents and send it.
- Definition of a full-time and a part-time doctoral candidate. Please indicate accordingly. Full-time doctoral students must be able to dedicate up to 80 % of their working hours. Those working outside Aalto University and applying for full-time doctoral studies must provide a document of the employees' approval for full-time doctoral studies.
- The language of the degree: choose either Finnish, Swedish or English
- Last name and all first names: the spelling of names must match your valid passport.
- Contact information: all information regarding the application and the decision process will be sent to the email address you provide.
- If you haven't completed your master's degree by the application deadline, check the graduation schedule with your home university and the date for acquiring your official degree certificate.
- Conditions for providing student information: The conditions will take effect if and when you receive a right to study. You will be able to change the conditions in the Sisu ([email protected]) system later.
- Remember to save and submit your application.
Before submitting the application, each applicant must contact a professor in charge of doctoral studies in their intended research field and the supervision of the studies. Applicants are urged to ensure that their own expertise and research interests are commensurate with those of the research group that they are applying to to (and with those of the supervising professor of their studies).
In order to prepare for the discussion with the professor, it is beneficial to prepare a CV (along with a possible list of publications) and a preliminary research plan. At this point the applicant’s eligibility and prerequisites for doctoral studies will be checked by the professor. Possible prerequisites for admission will also be discussed.
In addition to the research plan, the student will discuss the study plan, a funding plan and a supervision plan with the professor. See more about these documents below. By signing the application, you and your supervising professor commit to study and work according to the mutual plan. See here for more information about the rights and responsibilities of the student and the supervising professor.
Get to know us – The Departments of the School of Engineering
Supervising professors for the research fields of the doctoral programme are listed here.