Admission to the Aalto Doctoral Programme in Arts, Design and Architecture is organized annually in March. The next admission round is from 3 March to 1 April 2019.

The School will open an application round for full-time applicants also in September 2018. Only applicants who have confirmed funding for their doctoral studies can apply in September. More information Application instructions for Autumn 2018.

Quick notes for prospective applicants

  • Start to prepare your application on time. Familiarize yourself with the instructions regarding the research plan and find out if the Department you are interested has a potential supervising professor in the specific area of your research plan.
  • Check out the structure of doctoral studies.
  • The doctoral candidates of the Doctoral Programme in Arts, Design and Architecture each study in one of the 14 research fields. 9 research fields lead to a Doctor of Arts degree and 4 to Doctor of Science (Architecture) degree.
  • The degree can be completed in English, Finnish or Swedish.
  • The estimated time to conclude the required studies (60 ECTS) and the dissertation is 4 years for full time candidates and 4-8 years for part time candidates.

Application instructions for Spring 2018

 Admission schedule
  • Application opens on Thu 1 March 2018 at 9am (UTC+2)
  • Application ends on Wed 28 March 2017 at 3 pm (UTC+2)
  • Applicants should follow the electronic application system for information regarding the processing of their application.
  • The results of the admission are published on Fri 1 June 2018
  • Study right is valid from 1 August 2018 and courses will start in September 2018.
  • The School organizes an admission for full time candidates also in September 2018. Only applicants with confirmed funding for doctoral studies can apply. A separate notice on the admission will be published.

What does it take to become a doctoral candidate?

 Research plan and studies

Doctoral studies are quite different from previous university studies. The doctoral degree comprises of studies and research that lead to a dissertation.

When you apply for doctoral studies, you need to present a research plan, which also needs to include a plan for completing the required studies of 60 ECTS. Normally approximately half of the 60 ECTS are completed with courses and the other half with independent studies. There are several possibilities for completing doctoral studies, which means that doctoral candidates need to prepared to independently investigate different possibilities.

Your research plan needs to present a new or different focus, it needs to be well-defined and realistic to pull through, and it needs to demonstrate your knowledge of the research area.

 Supervising professor and research topic

One of the professors of the School need to act as your supervising professor. In addition one or more advisors can be assigned for you. Advisors can be from within the School or external.

Your research topic needs to fit the field of your supervising professor. This will be easier if your research is linked to one of the research groups or projects within the School.

Only a part of the School’s professors may act as supervising professors for doctoral studies. You may be in contact with a potential supervising professor or the Head of research at the Department to find out whether or not the Department has a suitable supervising professor in the field of your research topic.

Professors keep getting a vast amount of contacts, so please prepare your message with care and send it early on, preferably a few months before the application period.

Professors are especially interested in your research topic and how realistic it is to pull through. Don’t include several pages of attachments or very long descriptions in your first email – be brief and on point.

Heads of Research at the Departments: Contact persons at departments

Professors are Aalto ARTS: (

You can find more information on the research groups and projects on the websites of the departments:

 Funding and resources

Assess your resources realistically: how will you fund your studies and how much time do you have for them?

Aalto Doctoral Programme in Arts, Design and Architecture is free of tuition fees and we do not offer scholarships to doctoral candidates. Most of our doctoral candidates fund their studies with individual grants and scholarships.

Salaried doctoral candidate positions are applied for separately from the admission process. When salaried doctoral candidate positions are open, they are advertised on the Open positions page at Often they are not open at the same time as the application for the study right is open. Any questions regarding the advertised salaried positions must be directed to the professors and HR personnel only, not admission services.

If you are not able to secure funding for full time doctoral studies or plan to complete your studies alongside with your work career, consider how you will cope with it. Consider how you will manage your time, how to secure your livelihood and how much personal resources you have at the moment. If you cannot permanently reside in the Helsinki Region during your doctoral studies, think about how can you participate in courses, seminars and event for doctoral candidates. Large part of doctoral studies are independent but the courses offered mostly require physical attendance.

The courses offered for doctoral candidates support and develop your skills as a researcher and the seminars connect you with the academic community. Doctoral candidates have the chance to take forward scientific and artistic pursuits and create new advances. Find your place and reach for it!

Doctoral degree

 Research fields

Doctor of Arts degree, DA

Department of Art

  • Art Education
  • Contemporary Art
  • Visual Culture

Department of Design

  • Design

Department of Film, Television and Scenography

  • Film and Television
  • Scenography and Costume Design

Department of Media

  • New Media
  • Photography
  • Visual Communication Design

Doctor of Science (Architecture) degree, DSc. (Arch.)

Department of Architecture

  • Architecture, Landscape and Urbanism
 Degree structure and scope

To complete a doctoral degree the doctoral candidate needs to complete the studies listed in the degree requirements (60 ECTS) and write a dissertation.

Degree Structure of Doctoral Studies (Into)

Who can apply?


Please note that unfortunately we cannot confirm the eligibility of an individual prospective applicant outside the actual application process. The eligibility is always assessed based on the degree certificates of the applicant and the educational system of the country of the degree awarding institution.

Eligible for studies leading to a postgraduate degree shall be a person who has completed
(1) an applicable higher university degree;
(2) an applicable higher polytechnic degree;
(3) an applicable education completed abroad which in the awarding country gives eligibility for corresponding higher education.

A person whom the university judges otherwise to have sufficient knowledge and skills for the studies may also be eligible for Doctor of Arts or Doctor of Science (Architecture) studies.

A student admitted to study towards a Doctor of Arts or Doctor of Science (Architecture) degree may be requiered to complete supplementary studies in order to acquire the knowledge and skills needed for the studies.

Master’s degree earned abroad

Students holding a master’s degree earned abroad are eligible for doctoral studies provided their master’s degree qualifies them for equivalent doctoral studies in the country where the degree was earned. Such degree combinations earned in Europe are recognized in accordance with the principles of the Bologna Process (3+2 years). Degrees earned in non-European countries must include a minimum of 4 years of studies and a master’s thesis, and be deemed by the School as providing the student with an adequate knowledge base for doctoral studies in the School of Art, Design and Architecture.

Finnish polytechnic Master’s degree

The potential of applicants with an applicable Finnish polytechnic master’s degree for successful doctoral studies is assessed by the School case by case. If the School deems the applicant with a polytechnic master's degree as having potential for completing the doctoral degree, the applicant will be assigned a sufficient amount of supplementary studies to allow him or her to start the doctoral studies. International applicants with a previous degree corresponding to a Finnish polytechnic degree are subject to the same rules as those with a Finnish polytechnic degree.

Language Requirements

You might be required to submit a language test result even if your previous degree was taken in English (depending on the country of the institution). Please read more below under Required Application Documents > Language Requirements.


The School may require the person approved for doctoral studies to take a sufficient amount of supplementary studies to allow him or her to start the doctoral studies.

These studies are often required of those students who have
a. taken an old graduate degree at the University of Art and Design Helsinki (A203/94). The studies required are often language studies or other supporting studies.

b.have taken a Finnish polytechnic Master's degree or a polytechnic Master's degree abroad.

c. have taken a Master’s degree in some other field than art, design or architecture abroad.

The studies required may be directly related to the research interest of the student or studies in art, design or architecture theory or history. In addition to courses taken at the Aalto University School of Arts, Design and Architecture, the School may recognize corresponding courses taken at other universities.

 Academic evaluation criteria

The selection is based on

  • the applicant's research skills and capability for development demonstrated in the research proposal and study plan, curriculum vitae and portfolio.
  • the quality and feasibility of the research proposal, and the capability of the student to finish his/her studies during the estimated time
  • the relevance of the research topic and how well it fits to the department’s research focus areas and its resources of supervision
  • the status of the optional productions within the overall dissertation plan.

How to apply?

 Before applying

Read the application instructions and check out the required application documents on this page.

Research plan is a key document. Check out the instructions and prepare your plan on time.

Before submitting your application you may be in contact with a potential supervising professor or the Head of Research at the Department to find out it the Department has a potential supervising professor in the specific area of your research plan. For more information, see What does it take to become a doctoral candidate? - Supervising professor and research topic.

 Filling out the application form

Apply by filling out the application form in the electronic application system eAge and attach the required attachments in PDF form.

Read the information regarding eligibility to apply, application process as well as required documents carefully before filling out an application.

Instructions (PDF)

Link to the application:

You can follow the processing of your case in the application system eAge. The application system is used throughout the whole application process. Also the final admission results are published via the application system.

 Application process

The Learning Services process all the applications and check their general eligibility, i.e. check the authenticity of the documents, make sure that the application contains all the requisite documents and that the applicant fulfils the admission requirements. Incomplete or ineligible applications can be rejected at this stage and professors are not obliged to process them. Applicants should check the Monitoring application process page in the application system to get information about the process.

The Heads of Research and professors evaluate the eligible applications.

Applicants who are selected by the academic evaluators to the Phase 2 of the application are required to submit officially certified copies of their degree certificate and transcript of records. These officially certified copies of documents need to physically arrive to the Aalto University School of Arts, Design and Architecture within the set deadline, or your application will be rejected.

You will have a maximum of 3 weeks to submit the documents, so make prepare for procuring and sending the documents and their translations well in advance.

Based on the assessment of the professors, the Doctoral Programme Committee makes a proposal of admission or rejection to the Dean of the School of Arts, Design and Architecture. The Dean makes the formal decision on admission or rejection.

 Final admission results

The results are published on 1 June 2018 and all applicants will receive an email directing them to the online application system to check their final admission decision. Once the results have been published, a list of the accepted applicants will be published on this site. Note that the list will only contain the names of those applicants who have given the permission to publish their admission decision on the website. If the applicant is accepted to Aalto University, a formal letter of acceptance will be sent by mail.

 Appealing against the admission decision and receiving feedback

The right of appeal means that the applicant has the possibility to request for rectification if she/he believes that there has been an error in the decision-making process. The appeal should be submitted to the Registry of the University within 14 days after the publication of the decisions. In the appeal the applicants should specify the reasons for it. The right of appeal is not intended as means for receiving feedback or asking for further information about the application process.

 Accepting the offered study place and start of studies

Successful applicants must inform the university about accepting the offered study place or the offer is cancelled. You will need to accept the offer in the application system eAge and enroll to the first academic year at the same time. The offer must be accepted by 29 June 2018, 3 pm. The accetance is binding and cannot be changed. Detailed instructions will be sent to accepted applicants with the admission letter.

The study right of an accepted applicant is valid from 1 August 2018. In practice studies start in September 2018.

Required application documents

 The application must contain

1. Application form
2. Degree certificates from each university attended, including official register lists of study courses taken for the degree (transcripts of records).

NOTE You need to scan and upload your orginal certificates/transcripts (with translations, if necessary) to the application system. Prepare to send officially certified copies by mail immediately, if you are notified that you are selected for Phase 2 of the admission.

3. Research plan: includes a schedule for the studies to be completed (study plan), schedule for dissertation, funding plan and possible work plan & schedule for artistic components
4. Curriculum Vitae (CV)
5. Copy of passport or other official document of identification
6. Letters of recommendation and certificates of employment (optional)
7. In the field of art and design a portfolio if the research plan contains work plan for art productions or product development projects
8. Proof of language profiency (see more below under Language requirements)

Applications which do not contain all documents deemed necessary will not be evaluated.


All documents must be in Finnish, Swedish or English. If the original certificate is in a different language, it must be officially translated to one of the aforementioned languages by an authorised translator. Copies of academic documents and their translations must be certified as authentic by a notary or a university official from your university. The translated documents you send to us should be the original official translations or their officially certified copies.

Note that you will need to submit both officially certified copies of the original documents in their original language as well as the official translations.

 Paper copies (Phase 2)

If you are selected for Phase 2 of the admission, you will have a maximum of 3 weeks to submit paper copies of your degree certificates and transcripts of records. These officially certified copies of documents need to physically arrive to the Aalto University School of Arts, Design and Architecture within the set deadline, or your application will be rejected.

Degree awarded by a higher education institution outside Finland

The copies of study certificates must be certified by the issuing institution or by a notary public. The copies must be made of the original, official documents. Copies of copies will not be accepted. If the certificate has several pages, each page must be certified from the right side of the page. Each page must be certified separately and indicate clearly the date and the original signature, printed name and stamp of the certifying officer. The mere mention of the official copy (eg. stamp "True copy") is not enough.

Degree awarded by a higher education institution in Finland

The copies of study certificates must be certified either by the issuing institution or by two unbiased signatories. The copies must be made of the original, official documents. Copies of copies will not be accepted.  If the certificate has several pages, each page must be certified from the right side of the page. Each page of the copy must carry the signature, name of the signatory/signatories and date. The signatories must see the original document and the copy of it side by side. By signing they certify that the copy is an unaltered copy of the original document.

Aalto University Learning Services does not take copies of application documents or attest them (except in the case of certifying the copies of degree certificates granted by Aalto University).

 Applying with an incomplete degree

You may apply for the doctoral studies even if the degree with which you are applying is incomplete, as long as you will graduate before starting your studies. Applicants with an incomplete degree can attach a certificate of student status or a statement by the home university about the estimated time of graduation to their application documents. Please note that you will have to be able graduate by 31 July 2018. If you are not able to graduate or fail to deliver the degree certificate by the given deadline, the offered study place will be cancelled. The deadline will be given separately.

Please note that in some faculties/institutions it may not be possible to graduate during holiday time. The students must reserve enough time to complete all courses required for the degree and for the administrative processes at their home institution.

 Submitting the application

Application (including its attachments) are submitted through the electronic application system eAge. The application will close on Wed 28 March 2018 at 3 pm (UTC+2).

Applicants who are selected for Phase 2 of the admission are notified separately. They are given a maximum of 3 weeks from the notice to submit paper copies of their degree certificates and transcripts of records. These paper copies of documents need to physically arrive to the Aalto University School of Arts, Design and Architecture within the set deadline, or the application will be rejected.

Applicants in the Phase 2 will receive a separate notice by email with instructions are postal address.


A portfolio is required ifthe research plan includes a plan for artistic components. Portfolio presents the abilities of the applicant to realise the artistic components planned. Portfolios can be either uploaded to the application systems in PDF form (maximum size for a single document is 500MB) or the applicant can provide a link to an online portfolio. In case of online portfolio, the applicant is responsible for ensuring that the link is accessible for a minimum of 2 months from the end of the application period.

 Language requirements

To be eligible to apply to the Doctoral programme of Aalto University School of Arts, Design and Architecture, language skills must be demonstrated by taking one of the accepted language tests.

Applicants are not required to prove their language proficiency if:

  • The applicant has completed a university degree in Finland taught in Finnish, Swedish or English.
  • The applicant has completed a foreign university degree (giving eligibility to Doctoral degree level studies) taught in English in an EU or EEA country. The official language of instruction must be mentioned on the degree certificate, in the diploma supplement, in the transcript of study records, or some other official document issued by the institution in question.
  • The applicant has completed a foreign university degree (giving eligibility to Doctoral degree level studies) in a university physically located in the US, Canada, Great Britain, Ireland, Australia, or New Zealand.

Bachelor’s degrees completed in English in the above‐mentioned countries must be at least three years in duration according to curriculum in order to be used as proof of proficiency in English. Master’s degrees must be at least one year in duration according to curriculum.

All others must submit their language test results within the application deadline.

Aalto Learning Services verifies the minimum score requirements for the different language tests annually.

Acceptable English language certificates and their minimum score requirements in 2018:

  • IELTS Academic, total score 6.5 and writing score 5.5
  • TOEFL paper‐based test, total score 580 and writing score 4.0
  • TOEFL Internet‐based test, total score 92 and writing score 22
  • Cambridge Certificate in Advanced English (CAE), grades A, B and C
  • Cambridge Certificate of Proficiency in English (CPE), grades A, B and C
  • PTE Academic, total score 59 and writing score 50

IELTS, TOEFL and PTE test results are valid for two years from the test date.

CAE and CPE certificates as well as National Certificates of Language Proficiency are valid indefinitely.

The acceptable Finnish or Swedish language certificate is the National Certificate of Language Proficiency in Finnish/Swedish (YKI), minimum level 4. The overall grade is considered to be 4 when no more than one of the four subtests is graded 3. The other three subtests must be graded 4. Applicants must submit a certified copy of the language certificate by the end of the application period.

National Certificates of Language Proficiency ( are valid indefinitely. The tests can only be completed in Finland.

Registration for a language proficiency test

Please make sure that you register for the language test well in advance. There might not be test dates available or they may be fully booked. You need to take the test early enough in order for the result to reach Aalto University in time. Please check from the testing center how long it takes for the test result to arrive at Aalto University. To find out more about the test dates and test centres, please visit the website of the test organizer:


If you have any questions after reading the application instructions on this page, please contact us through

Visiting Researchers