Aalto Doctoral Programme in Science
Language of instruction:
Field of study:
Objectives of studies
Doctoral students will be equipped with the professional skills and knowledge required for demanding academic research and teaching positions. They will be trained for management, research and development, and other specialist positions of the information society.
The departments, which are in charge of the doctoral programme’s education and research at the School of Science, offer research fields that are based on strong research traditions and research at the highest international level. The School of Science is also very active in various national and international doctoral education networks.
Structure of degree
The Doctor of Science (Technology) degree consists of three modules:
- an approved doctoral thesis
- research field studies (20–35 ECTS)
- general research studies (5–20 ECTS)
Content of studies
Doctoral education at the School of Science is based on vigorous basic research, forming a strong basis for teaching as well as development and innovation activities. The most important part of the education is the research work, which is conducted in a robust and dynamic research environment. The theoretical studies that support the research work are tailored individually to suit the different needs of each doctoral student. The theses of the School of Science are of very high quality and often contain articles published in international peer-review journals. Full-time doctoral students can complete the doctoral degree in four years.
|Stages of doctoral studies||Corresponding information|
|Start (1st year doctoral student)|
|During (1st-3rd year doctoral student)|
|End (4th year doctoral student)|
The language of instruction is, in principle, English, but the doctoral thesis can also be completed in Finnish or Swedish.
Language of the degree
The applicants will define in their application in which language they will pursue the degree. The possible languages are Finnish, Swedish, or English. If doctoral students want to write their doctoral thesis in Finnish or in Swedish, the language of the degree will be Finnish or Swedish. If the doctoral thesis is written in English, doctoral students can choose English as the language of the degree that must be approved by the doctoral programme committee. The language of degree can, on reasonable grounds, be changed at a later stage if the language of the doctoral thesis changes.
Full-time and part-time studies
All doctoral students are defined as either full-time or part-time students. Doctoral students may not change their study mode by themselves, but it can be changed by application if necessary.
Full-time doctoral students plan their studies with the view to allowing the doctorate to be earned within four years of the right to pursue a doctoral degree being granted. Those applying for a full-time right to pursue a doctoral degree must have funding secured for at least 6 months (e.g. from the employer, or through project funding or a grant). Students employed outside Aalto University must append in their application a certificate issued by the employer proving their possibility to pursue full-time studies (i.e. a minimum of 80% of working hours may be used towards doctoral studies).
Those who do not meet the above criteria for full-time doctoral students are regarded as part-time doctoral students. This category includes, for instance, doctoral students who have a main occupation elsewhere than at the School of Science. Part-time doctoral students plan their studies so as to allow the doctoral degree to be completed in a maximum of eight years.
It is advisable to have a discussion with the part-time students on whether their research is closely connected to their work, and how their employer can support intensive doctoral studies alongside work.
Internationality is an integral part of the school’s doctoral education in both recruiting and educating doctoral students. The School of Science is well connected to a number of top-level international universities and research institutes in its field.
Aalto University encourages its doctoral students to spend at least six months of their study time abroad, as international mobility enhances doctoral students’ career opportunities . 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 skills.
The doctoral education networks collaborate through seminars, courses, summer schools and events as well as promoting networking, and increasing peer support among doctoral students.
The School of Science operates in the following doctoral education networks:
Brain & Mind
CMMP- Network in Condensed Matter and Materials Physics
Doctoral Education Network in Systems Analysis, Decision Making and Risk Management
ENNUSTE - Doctoral Education Network in Nuclear Science and Technology
FDNSS - Finnish Doctoral Education Network in Stochastics and Statistics
HICT - Helsinki doctoral education network in information and communications technology
Nordic IoT Hub - Nordic collaboration in Industrial IoT
The Aalto University encourages doctoral degrees that are jointly supervised with an international partner. These agreements are referred to as Cotutelle Agreements. Arrangements for joint supervision are made in terms of the studies and supervision of a single doctoral student that will be awarded degrees and the associated certificates from both universities.
Cotutelle agreements are part of the university's aim to achieve and maintain high quality of international standards in research and education. International cooperation is an integral part of the doctoral education of Aalto University, and one method for such cooperation is arrangements for the joint supervision of doctoral degrees. A doctoral student may earn a double degree under a joint supervision arrangement between two universities provided that the joint supervision is based on genuine scientific cooperation, bringing added value to the doctoral thesis and enhancing the quality of the research.
Cotutelle agreements should be made at the beginning of the studies but it requires a right to study at the Aalto University before any agreement can be made.
Alumna Juulia Suvilehto is studying how coronavirus is affecting social behaviour and touching
The research targets Nordic countries, and it is still possible to participate in the study. On International Women's Day Suvilehto wants to thank inspiring female role models and to draw attention to the fact that women tend to be the ones who take care of community well-being.
Financing your studies
The most talented doctoral students may receive funding from their department, or they may fund their studies through projects or grants. The financing of studies should be discussed with the supervising professor.
For employment by research project: see and apply for the open positions at Aalto University.
How to apply?
Before submitting the application, each applicant must contact a supervising professor who is responsible in their intended research field to doctoral studies and the supervision of the studies. Applicants are urged to ensure that their expertise and research interests are commensurate with the research group (and those of the supervising professor of their studies) that they apply to.
Special conditions are still in place for the time being, 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.
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.
Application periods 2022
Applies to all applicants, with the exception of applicants for part-time doctoral studies in the research field of Industrial Engineering and Management.
|Deadline for applications||Admission decisions are made|
Applicants to the research field of Industrial Engineering and Management
- Applications are invited from full-time applicants to the research field of Industrial Engineering and Management once a month. The application deadlines are identical with those of other research fields in the programme, please see deadlines above.
- Full-time doctoral students plan their studies with the view to allowing the doctorate to be earned within four years of the right to pursue a doctoral degree being granted. Those applying for a full-time right to pursue a doctoral degree must have funding secured for at least 6 months (e.g. from the employer, or through project funding or a grant). Students employed outside Aalto University must append in their application a certificate issued by the employer proving their possibility to pursue full-time studies (i.e. a minimum of 80% of working hours may be used towards doctoral studies).
- Applicants to part-time doctoral studies in the field of Industrial Engineering and Management may apply twice a year.
- Those who do not meet the above criteria for full-time doctoral students are regarded as part-time doctoral students. This category includes, for instance, doctoral students who have a main occupation elsewhere than at the School of Science. Part-time doctoral students plan their studies so as to allow the doctoral degree to be completed in a maximum of eight years.
- It is advisable to have a discussion with the part-time students on whether their research is closely connected to their work, and how their employer can support intensive doctoral studies alongside work.
Application periods 2022: part-time applicants, Industrial Engineering and Management
|Application period||Admission decisions are made|
Processing the applications
Each application is processed in the next possible meeting of the Doctoral Programme Committee when all the required materials have been received. Only applications with all the required materials will be processed. Incomplete applications will be rejected, unless the missing materials are sent by the deadline given. The right to pursue a degree will be valid only after the dean has granted the right and the applicant has accepted the offer of admission. The applicant has two weeks to accept the offer and cannot postpone the start of the right to pursue a degree.*
From 1 August 2016 onwards applicants who have been given an offer of admission may accept only one student 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.
The academic terms run from 1 August to 31 December and from 1 January to 31 July. The acceptance of a student place is binding and cannot be cancelled. Even if the accepted applicants postpone the commencement of studies or give up their right to study, they cannot accept another study place leading to a higher education degree starting the same academic term.
The general eligibility criteria for higher education are defined in the Universities Act (558/2009, section 37) and in the Aalto University Student Admissions Criteria for 2022.
Eligible applicants for studies leading to a doctoral degree from the Doctoral Programme in Science will have completed:
- a relevant master’s degree awarded by a university;
- a relevant master’s degree awarded by a university of applied sciences; or
- a relevant study programme abroad which in the awarding country gives eligibility for the corresponding level of higher education.
Policy on the recognition of degrees awarded outside Finland
Applicants holding a degree earned abroad are eligible for doctoral studies provided their degree gives them eligibility for corresponding higher education in the awarding country. As a rule, degrees earned abroad are recognised at Aalto University provided that they have required studies of at least four years, including a thesis similar to the master’s thesis, and that such studies in the view of the school equip the student with the skills and knowledge needed to pursue doctoral studies at the school. The precondition for the recognition of European degrees is that the degree is a university degree combination earned in accordance with the Bologna Process principles (3+2 years).
Policy on the recognition of master’s degrees from Finnish universities of applied sciences
Applicants with a master’s degree in a relevant field earned at a Finnish university of applied sciences are reviewed on a case-by-case basis for their aptitude to pursue doctoral studies. If the school deems the applicant with a relevant master's degree from a university of applied sciences as having the potential to complete the doctoral degree, the applicant will be assigned sufficient supplementary studies to allow him or her to begin the doctoral/licentiate studies. The scope of the supplementary studies may not, however, exceed 60 ECTS credits. If the scope of the supplementary studies exceeds this maximum, the applicant is advised to complete a master's degree at the university level before applying for a right to pursue the doctoral degree.
When assessing the students’ potential for successful doctoral studies and determining their need for supplementary studies, the school will consider the scope of master’s degrees at the student’s university of applied sciences (in Finland, such degrees are of 60–90 cr, less than the 120-credit scope of master’s degrees at Finnish universities such as Aalto).
Applicants with a prior degree earned abroad and corresponding to a relevant Finnish master’s degree from a university of applied sciences are treated equally to those with master’s degree from a Finnish university of applied sciences.
The academic evaluation of the applicant is performed by the supervising professor in charge of the research field sought by the applicant. The Doctoral Programme Committee also evaluates the applicants. In addition, all applicants to the field of industrial engineering and management are evaluated by the Department of Industrial Engineering and Management.
The evaluation of applicants takes into account the following criteria:
Contents of the previous degree(s):
- sufficient basic information concerning the research field applied for; this information is collected from e.g. the major studies or advanced studies that were included in the applicant’s master's degree
- sufficient basic information to support the applicant’s ability to carry out the research work and writing for the doctoral thesis
The School of Science may set prerequisite studies for the applicant to complete by e.g. taking master’s level courses.
- The applicant received a minimum grade of at least 4 (on a scale of 1–5) for the master's thesis
- an average grade of 3.5 (on a scale of 1–5) for the master’s degree courses (excluding the thesis), OR
- if the applicant earned his/her master’s degree in accordance with the degree regulations of 1995 or earlier (when Finnish bachelor's and master's degree were not pursued separately), he or she received an average grade of at least 3.0 (scale 1–5) for the major at the master's level.
Exceptions to the grade limits mentioned above may be made only for special reasons set forth in a well-founded written statement by the supervising professor. In such cases, the Doctoral Programme will request a statement from the supervising professor.
Other evaluation criteria:
- the quality of the applicant’s university degree and its status internationally
- the applicant’s potential as a researcher; previous experience in research research-related work experience, conference presentations, journal articles, etc.
- relevance of the research topic: to ensure genuine research interest by the supervising professor and adequate resources to advise the student in the research of the department’s focus area
- the research proposal: the theoretical and practical innovative value of the topic; the feasibility of the research proposal (its quality, planned methods, etc.)
- time management and resources: the research proposal and the time the student has available for the doctoral studies over the next four (4) years
- the supervising resources of the university in the research field
- other grounds for admission presented by the applicant
Applicant evaluations for the research field of industrial engineering and management:
The Department of Industrial Engineering and Management and the supervising professor are responsible for evaluating applicants to the research field of industrial engineering and management. The Doctoral Programme will request an evaluation statement from the department. Preference will be given to applicants who have shown outstanding academic performance and are otherwise strongly qualified for doctoral studies in the department.
Successful applicants will have excellent skills in Finnish, Swedish, or English.
Finnish and Swedish proficiency are demonstrated according to ‘Demonstrating proficiency in a national language of Finland’, of the Aalto University Student Admissions Criteria for 2022.English proficiency is demonstrated by language test.
The recognized English language tests and their minimum scores required for admission to doctoral studies are (Aalto University Admissions Criteria 2022):
- IELTS (Academic): 6.5, and 5.5 for Writing;
- IBT (Internet-based Test): 92, and 22 for the Writing section or
- iBT® Special Home Edition: 92 and 22 for the Writing section
- PDT (Paper-Delivered Test): Reading 22, Listening 22, and Writing 24
- C1 Advanced, prev. Cambridge Certificate in Advanced English: A,B or C
- C2 Proficiency, prev. Cambridge Certificate of Proficiency in English: A,B,C or Level C1
- Pearson Test of English Academic (PTE A): 62, and 54 for writing
- When it comes to the IELTS and TOEFL tests, the following online tests are also accepted: TOEFL iBT® Special Home Edition ja IELTS Indicator (Academic).
An English language test is not required in doctoral admissions of applicants who (Aalto University Admissions Criteria 2022):
- earned a degree taught in Finnish, Swedish or English in a higher education institution in Finland.
- earned a degree in an English-medium programme at a higher education institution in an EU/EEA country. The language of the degree must be stated unambiguously in the degree certificate or its appendix, or in the transcript of records or other official document issued by the awarding higher education institution.
- earned an English-medium higher education degree in Australia, Canada, New Zealand, South Africa, Switzerland, the United Kingdom or the United States while residing in that country.
- 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.
- has completed the Aalto Executive Education MBA, EMBA or DBA degree.
A minimum of one half of the degree must be completed in a country and higher education institution that meets the requirements for exempting the student from taking an English test
In addition, at the School of Science, an English language test is not required in doctoral admissions of applicants who have:
- been deemed by their supervising professor as having sufficient proficiency in English to pursue doctoral studies. The supervising professor must submit a written statement on the language skills of the applicant and the statement should be added in the application. If the applicant does not submit the statement together with other application documents the Doctoral Programme will request the statement from the supervising professor.
Submission of English test result:
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.
Application form and its appendices
Before submitting the application, each applicant must contact the professor in charge of his/her doctoral research field and supervising the doctoral thesis (supervising professor).
Electronic application form (Studyinfo.fi)
In the application form, please choose Doctoral Programme in Science as a study programme ("Add study programme").
After reading the instructions and getting all the documents ready, register on the online application system, fill in the application, attach all the required documents and send it.
Required appendices (scanned in pdf form) for all applicants:
- Curriculum vitae (CV) including a list of publications and a proof of other scientific activity
- Study plan
- Supervision plan
- Research plan with an implementation schedule and funding plan. A research plan includes:
- a preliminary research plan
- a schedule for the research
- possibilities for funding the research work (full-time applicants must have acquired funding for at least six months when applying; plans to apply for funding is not sufficient for a full-time status)
- the aim and impact of the research
- methods and implementation of the scientific plan
- researcher mobility during and after doctoral studies
- a publication plan
The study plan, research plan and supervision plan must all be approved and signed by both the applicant and the supervising professor. Upon his or her signature of the documents, the professor in charge of the research field agrees to act as the supervising professor of the applicant.
- Copy of the identity page of your passport
Applicants with a master´s degree or education earned at an institution other than Aalto University (or the forerunners of Aalto University) shall also add the following documents in the electronic application form:
- Certified copies of the Master’s degree certificate and official transcript (also paper copies by postal mail required*)
- Master's degree certificate
- Official transcripts of records of all the courses included in the master’s degree
- the Diploma Supplement in European countries
- Official translations of these, if the originals are not in Finnish, Swedish, or English.
- 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.
- 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
*Degrees awarded by a higher education institution outside Finland:
Send certified hard copies of the required degree documents including official translations (listed above) also by postal mail to our office (Kitta Peura, Doctoral Programme in Science, P O BOX 15500, 00076 AALTO).
Country specific instructions:
Applicants who have completed their master's degree in: Australia, Bangladesh, Cameroon, Canada, China, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Ghana, India, Indonesia, Iran, Ireland, Kenya, Malaysia, Nepal, New Zealand, Nigeria, Pakistan, South Africa, Sudan, the United Kingdom or the United States:
Please note that the required degree documents including official translations need to be submitted according to the country-specific document requirements. Read the requirements on Country-specific requirements, and send the documents to the doctoral programme as required in the "Country specific requirements". If the documents need to be sent by postal mail, the address is: Kitta Peura, Doctoral Programme in Science, P O BOX 15500, 00076 AALTO. If the documents can be submitted electronically (they can be verified in an electronic system), send them by e-mail to [email protected]. Please DO NOT send the documents to the Admission Services as instructed in the country specific requirements webpage.
*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 and you do not need to send anything by postal mail.
- If your degree was completed before 1 January 2003, or you do not have a Finnish personal identification code, send certified hard copies of the required degree documents (listed above) to our office by postal mail (Kitta Peura, Doctoral Programme in Science, P O BOX 15500, 00076 AALTO).
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, thecertifying 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.
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