|Stages in the pre-examination to graduation process||Link to the specific step|
|Public examination||Appointing the opponent and custos|
Publishing the doctoral thesis
Informing about the public defense
|Approval and grading||Approval of the doctoral thesis|
Preliminary examination (pre-examination)
Steps during the process
- Supervising professor and advisor(s) confirm that the manuscript is ready for pre-examination.
- Supervising professor proposes two to the Head of Research who presents the Department's proposal to the Doctoral Programme Committee. The doctoral candidate has a chance to make a remark on the selection of pre-examiners before the final decision is made by the Committee.
- Doctoral candidate submits the request for pre-examination and permission for defence with the manuscript and required attachments to the Secretary of the Doctoral Programme Committee by email within the deadline of the meeting.
- The Doctoral Programme Committee decides on sending the doctoral thesis for pre-examination and appoints two pre-examiners for the thesis.
- Secretary of the Committee informs all parties of the decision of the Committee and sends all the material to the pre-examiners.
- The doctoral candidate cannot be in any contact with the pre-examiners during the pre-examination phase.
- The pre-examiners send their statements to the Secretary of the Committee within 1,5 months.
- The Doctoral Programme Committee decides on the permission for public defense based on statements of the pre-examiners.
Please note that the thesis manuscript should be sent for pre-examination about six months before the preferred time of graduation. However, the timeframe of the process is always individual.
Before starting the preliminary examination
- Make sure that you have completed all the required 60 ECTS (40 ECTS for doctoral candidates who have started their studies since 1.8.2020) and that you have completed all the credits according to your confirmed Sisu credit plan (HOPS).
- Instructions for making Sisu credit plan: Doctoral Personal Study Plan
- Check the originality of your text to avoid plagiarism. Turnitin is available for this in MyCourses. Please use the “submission for drafts” submission inbox, so that your draft version is not saved in the database. Only the final version of your thesis should be saved in the database, so that it can be protected against plagiarism.
If you already haven't, please request permission to publish articles in your doctoral thesis in printed and electronic form from the publisher of that article. You may use this template. It is your responsibility to store the permissions.
- Reserve time for language revision (professional, especially if you are not writing in your mother tongue). The Doctoral Programme Committee may ask for a separate statement on the quality of language used in the manuscript and demand a language revision.
- Please contact your supervising professor about the possibility for support of the Department for the language revision. Aalto University or the School of Arts, Design and Architecture do not have funding reserved for the language revision.
- Supervising professor and advisor(s) will read your manuscript and decide if it is ready for pre-examination. They will submit their statements to the Secretary of the Doctoral Programme Committee.
- Submit by email the request for pre-examination and permission for defence (Applications and forms) to the Secretary of the Doctoral Programme Committee with your manuscript, abstract and transcript of records.
- If it has been agreed with a pre-examiner, a paper copy can be sent. In this case submit the paper copy to the Secretary who will mail it. Don't use heavy folders or bindings.
- First page of the manuscript must contain the title of the thesis, the name of the author and contact information, department, and date of the manuscript.
- An abstract must be enclosed as a separate PDF file.
- If the manuscript contains a lot of images and the file size is big, you may send the images as a separate PDF.
- If your thesis includes artistic components, attach their documentation, if you haven't submitted it before. More information under Artistic components
The abstract of the thesis
The separate abstract submitted with the manuscript to be sent to pre-examination should fit one A4 page and include the doctoral candidate's name and the title of the manuscript.
- The recommended place for the abstracts is at the beginning of the final doctoral thesis.
- If your thesis is written in Finnish/Swedish, please include abstracts in both the language of the thesis and in English.
- If your thesis is written in English it is optional to include an abstract in Finnish/Swedish, in addition to the one in English.
- The length of the abstract is approximately 2 500 - 3 000 characters (including spaces) (one A4).
Preliminary examiners and opponents
The supervising professor shall recommend two independent preliminary examiners (pre-examiners) and one or two opponents.
Pre-examiners and opponents:
- have to possess sufficient scientific competence and authority in the thesis’ research field or fields and have a sufficient amount of scientific publications
- have to hold a doctor’s degree
- are independent experts in the field, external to the school, and preferably also have gained expertise in the field of the thesis at the international level
- It is possible to appoint a third pre-examiner on the basis of artistic merit only (without a doctor’s degree).
- The opponent should, if possible, have the title of docent (dosentti) or equivalent merits. A pre-examiner may serve as an opponent.
This should be shown by presenting the pre-examiners’ and opponents’ CVs and lists of publications or an equivalent clarification (e.g. web links to the examiners’ home pages).
The pre-examiners and opponents are to present their own, independent and impartial evaluation of the doctoral thesis and thus they cannot:
- have had significant collaboration, such as co-authored publications, with the doctoral candidate.
have had significant collaboration, such as co-authored publications with the advisor of the candidate, especially at any time during the previous five years.
- be a close relative of the candidate
- be the candidate's immediate superior.
- the doctoral candidate shall not take part in selecting the pre-examiners and opponents
- the doctoral candidate has a right to make a remark on the suggested examiners.
- the supervising professor may ask the thesis advisor for suggestions for pre-examiners and opponent(s)
- before the examiners are recommended to the Doctoral Programme Committee, the supervising professor is advised to contact the examiners and check that they are willing to examine the thesis within the given time.
- the Doctoral Programme Committee appoints the pre-examiners and the opponent(s)
Getting permission for public defence
- Pre-examiners have 1,5 months to give their statements.
Once the statements of the pre-examiners have arrived, the planning officer sends them to the doctoral candidate and the supervising professor.
- The Doctoral Programme Committee makes a decision about the public defence after receiving both pre-examination statements. The Committee takes into account the manuscript, the statements of the pre-examiners as well as a possible official written reply submitted by the doctoral candidate
- Permission for public defence is also your approval for publishing - the thesis cannot be sent to print before you have permission for defence
The doctoral candidate can make an official written reply to the statements of the pre-examiners within four working days of receiving the statements. The written reply must be sent to the Secretary of the Doctoral Programme Committee.
- Written reply can be made, e.g. if the pre-examiner has completely misunderstood some key element in the thesis and there are significant mistakes in the statement that may affect the decision on granting permission for public defence. The official written reply is to be made before the decision of the Doctoral Programme Committee.
The pre-examiners' statements may contain suggestions for corrections and improvements.
- If changes are made to the manuscript after pre-examination, doctoral candidate needs to send a detailed list of corrections to the Secretary of the Committee.The purpose of the list of corrections is to respond to the possible corrections and/or suggestions presented by the pre-examiners in their statements.
- Refer to the page numbers of the manuscript to which the corrections have been made, or indicate the changed paragraphs/sections in some other way, so that the members of the Committee have the possibility to check the changes.
Minor or substantial corrections
- If the required changes or corrections are minor, the supervising professor is responsible for ensuring that the doctoral candidate makes the required corrections and changes. Minor changes may include the need for additional material acquired with moderate effort or the need for further inclusion of research literature.
- If the changes or corrections required by either of the pre-examiners are substantial, a second round of pre-examination is arranged after the doctoral candidate has made the required corrections and changes. Substantial changes and corrections may, in addition to those mentioned above, include revisions of research design and the development of the argument.
- In this second pre-examination round, the manuscript can be examined either by one or both pre-examiners, depending on the statements in the first round. If a pre-examiner is proposing substantial revisions and is willing to pre-examine a revised version of the manuscript, it can be sent to this pre-examiner without a decision by the Doctoral Programme Committee. In this case, the supervising professor must agree that the revised version is ready, and it will be sent to the pre-examiners by the Secretary of the Committee. If new pre-examiners need to be appointed, the Doctoral Programme Committee decides how the second pre-examination round will be arranged, based on the proposal of the Department.
- The second pre-examination round can usually be arranged at the earliest 3 months after the first round and at the latest 12 months after it. If the doctoral candidate needs more than 12 months to make the revisions, the matter expires and the pre-examination process will begin again from the appointing of the pre-examiners, unless the Committee decides otherwise due to unusual circumstances.
- In cases where a second pre-examination round is needed, the supervising professor needs to give grounds for the selection of the pre-examiners in the second round, if they are not the same persons as in the first round. These grounds can be, e.g., that the same pre-examiners are not available for a second round, the topic has changed, or that a different kind of expertise is needed.
If the manuscript has serious deficiencies with the quality of research and/or research integrity, the pre-examiner must propose that the permission for public defence is not granted.
In case one or more pre-examiners propose that the permission is denied, the doctoral candidate has the right to stop the examination process. The stopping of the process means that the Doctoral Programme Committee will not handle the proposals of the pre-examiners, and the pre-examination process expires. The examination process is stopped by informing the Secretary of the Doctoral Programme Committee in writing.
If the process is stopped but the doctoral candidate wishes to continue to work on the doctoral thesis, she or he needs to negotiate with the supervising professor and submit a new research plan to the Doctoral Programme Committee. A doctoral thesis based on the new research plan can be submitted for pre-examination at the earliest 6 months after the new research plan has been accepted.
The supervising professor needs to give grounds for the selection of the pre-examiners in the second round, if they are not the same persons as in the first round. These grounds can be, e.g., that the same pre-examiners are not available for a second round, the topic has changed, or that a different kind of expertise is needed.
If the doctoral candidate chooses not to stop the process, the Committee shall make a decision. In this case the candidate should submit a written reply to the statements to the Secretary of the Doctoral Programme Committee by the meeting deadline.
After the permission for public defence has been granted only minor corrections (eg. spelling mistakes) are allowed to be done.
Appointing the opponent and custos
- and the custos can be appointed together with granting the permission for public defence or later.
- Supervising professor proposes 1-2 opponent(s), who is (are) willing and available for the defence.
- The doctoral candidate has a chance to make a remark on the selection of an opponent, if the suggested opponent e.g. is biased.
The doctoral Programme committee will appoint 1-2 opponents and the custos, and confirm the language, date, time and place of the defence. The student and the custos are informed of the decision. If there are changes to the date, time, place, language, or custos of the public defence, the Chair of the Committee can re-confirm them.
The Doctoral Programme Committee appoints the supervising professor as the custos of the public defence. Some other professor of the School with a doctor's degree in the same research field may also serve as the custos. The custos is responsible for guiding the opponent in matters concerning the procedures of the examination of the thesis and the public defence. It is the role of the custos to discuss the grade with the opponent(s) and familiarise them with the grading scale used at the school and the principles of grading to be observed. The custos makes sure that the statement of the opponent is made according to the guidelines of the school and is submitted to the Secretary of the Doctoral Programme Committee within 2 weeks from the defense.
Publication of Doctoral Thesis
- Doctoral candidates at Aalto University publish their thesis through the Aalto Publication Platform. The doctoral candidates at Aalto ARTS may also apply to publish their thesis through Aalto ARTS Books. Information about the two options: https://www.aalto.fi/en/services/instructions-for-doctoral-candidates
- Note that on both cases, you will need to contact Aalto ARTS Books to receive more information about the publication process. Please fill in your thesis details on the form at Information about your dissertation for Aalto ARTS Books, at latest at the start of the pre-examination phase.
- Instructions for publishing your doctoral thesis via Aalto Publication Platform: https://www.aalto.fi/en/services/publishing-doctoral-theses
- Please note that you need to reserve at least 6 weeks for the printing process. This includes compiling the work on the publishing platform, printing process in the printing house and a ten-day public display of the work
- Timetable for printing: https://www.aalto.fi/system/files/2018-11/doctoral_dissertations_-_timetable_for_printing_2012-11_korjaus.pdf
- When you calculate your schedule, please note that the schedule in the link above starts from Approval for publication (you have approval for publication after you have been granted the permission for defence). However, if you are in a hurry, in practice it is possible to do steps a.-h. (days 1-14) before the permission for defence is granted.
- Aalto ARTS Books only published doctoral theses that have been approved by the ARTS editorial board. Candidates may apply to the editorial board for a decision on publishing. The board meets three times a year. Please note that the production process via Aalto ARTS Books takes at least 2 months.
The electronic version of your thesis is archived and published in the institutional repository of Aalto University, Aaltodoc: https://aaltodoc.aalto.fi.
The doctoral thesis (a monography or the summary part of an essay- or article-based dissertation) is published online when you have given permission to publish it. You will find the permission form with the recipient’s address at:
The Aaltodoc administrators will deposit the doctoral thesis in the Aaltodoc archive and modify it if needed, for instance by separating the previously published works from the summary part of an essay- or article-based doctoral dissertation. The summary is published when permission has been obtained from the doctoral candidate (permission form), while the previously published works are published online only when copyrights/permissions allow it.
The web address of the doctoral thesis will be generated on the reverse of the title page and on the abstract forms on the publication platform (in the format http://urn.fi/URN:ISBN...), and activated when the electronic version of the doctoral thesis is published in Aaltodoc. You will get an e-mail notification when the doctoral thesis is visible in Aaltodoc.
Fifteen (15) free copies of the thesis published as a book are to be submitted to the School of Arts, Design and Architecture. The copies shall be delivered to the Secretary of the Committee at least ten (10) days prior to the public examination.
An extra sheet shall be attached by the Secretary to the copies of the thesis distributed before the public defence. In it shall be printed the following information: Academic thesis to be presented with the permission of the Doctoral Programme Committee of the Aalto University School of Arts, Design and Architecture for public examination, date and place of the public examination, and the name of the opponent and his/her affiliation. The title page or the extra sheet must also state what other parts the doctoral thesis may contain apart from the written thesis.
Press release (aalto.fi) and public display of the thesis
Press release for aalto.fi
Before the public examination, the doctoral student writes a short press release about their thesis for the aalto.fi website. The press release is aimed at the general public and is read by people from different fields. A concise, plain-language description of the thesis is essential. The press release should be written in Finnish (or in Swedish) and in English. If you need assistance in writing the press release in Finnish, we advise you to ask help from your research group; e.g. colleagues and/or thesis advisor.
The press release for aalto.fi is submitted at the latest 15 days before the defence using a Webropol -form to the Doctoral Programme.The Doctoral Programme creates an event on your public defence at aalto.fi website under Events. Your press release will be added to the event. You can also send an image related to your thesis via the Webropol form.
- What was the subject of the study?
- What was the purpose of the study?
- How relevant is the thesis to other research in the field?
- What results were obtained?
- What was the main result of the study?
- What new information does the research bring?
- Where and how the information can be applied?
- What kind of conclusions can be drawn from the results?
The press release should not exceed 2500 characters.
Check for examples at https://www.aalto.fi/listing/137421
For more targeted media coverage, please contact the Communications at your School.
The doctoral student can distribute the press release and/or the thesis to all interested parties, including family, cooperation partners, professional publications etc.
Public display of the thesis
The doctoral thesis is publicly displayed for 10 days before the public defence. The public display means that an electronic copy of the thesis is held online at https://aaltodoc.aalto.fi/doc_public/eonly/riiputus. Link to the online display is included in the event information at aalto.fi. From 1.8.2021 onwards online display is the official mode of public display at Aalto University.
Approval of the thesis and graduation
Approval of the thesis
- The Doctoral Programme Committee decides on the approval or rejection of the thesis and its grade.The decision is based on the written statement of the opponent and other possible written statements, comments or official replies.
- The opponent must submit a written statement within two weeks of the public defence to the Doctoral Programme Committee. The statement must indicate whether the approval or rejection of the thesis is recommended, and in case of approval, propose a grade.
- The statement is sent to the members of the Committee and the doctoral candidate at least five days before the matter will be considered by the Committee meeting, or, with the consent of the doctoral candidate, later.
- If someone at the public defence of the thesis announces that they will submit comments on the thesis in writing, such comments must also be submitted to the School within two weeks of the defence.
- Before the thesis is graded, the doctoral candidate may submit a written reply to the opponent’s statement. The candidate shall be given an opportunity to reply also to the written comments that have been announced at the public defence.
The doctoral candidate has a chance to make an official written reply on the opponent's statements. An official written reply can be made, e.g. if the opponent has misunderstood something in the thesis and there are significant mistakes in the statement that may affect the decision on approving and grading the thesis. An official written reply is to be made before the decision of the Doctoral Programme Committee.
The following scale is used in the grading of a doctoral thesis: failed, pass, and pass with distinction.
Earning a pass with distinction requires that the thesis be among the top 20% of the doctoral thesis published internationally in its field. The criteria include that:
- the doctoral thesis be written in clearly and with correct usage, and the referencing be faultless;
- the articles of an article-based dissertation be published in international series of reputable standing in the field, or in similar peer-reviewed works;
- the author have made a significant independent contribution to the findings of the thesis;
- the findings be exceptionally significant for the research field;
- the thesis have particular scientific merit, and any included artistic components or product development projects meet particularly high artistic demands;
- the thesis be defended excellently at the public examination.
The doctoral candidate may submit a written claim for rectification of the grading of the thesis to the University Board of Examiners, in writing, within 14 days of receiving the decision.
Reassessment requests should be addressed to:
Aalto University Board of Examiners
PO BOX 11000
00076 AALTO, Finland
- After your defence date has been confirmed and you have a Sisu HOPS confirmed by the Doctoral Programme, you may request for graduation.
- Once you have submitted the request for graduation, you will be able to graduate on the next official graduation date following the approval of your doctoral thesis. Your thesis will be approved in the Doctoral programme committee meeting following your defence, provided that the opponent has had time to submit their statement for the Committee.
- Note that you will receive your diploma certificate appr. 1 month after the official graduation date.
- If you need earlier proof of your completed studies, you can order an electronically signed official transcript from Sisu, see more information here.
Requesting for graduation
You submit your request for graduation (inc. degree certificate) via your Sisu HOPS (study plan). Before you submit the request for graduation in Sisu, make sure that you have received a confirmation for your Sisu HOPS from the Doctoral Programme (signed PDF). More instructions on making your Sisu HOPS and getting approval for it: Doctoral Personal Study Plan
Instructions for requesting graduation in Sisu: https://wiki.aalto.fi/display/SISEN/Request+for+Graduation
Request for graduation submitted
|The degree certificate ready earliest|
Request for graduation submitted at the latest in Sisu /Graduation day
Scholarship for completing the doctoral degree
You can apply for a scholarship of 2000 euros, if:
- You have completed the doctoral degree at the latest by the end of the calendar year you turn 30 years.
- It has been no more than eight full semesters (approx. four years) from the date the doctoral study right was granted to the date when the pre-examiners were appointed (the date of the Doctoral Programme Committee meeting). If the doctoral thesis contains a pre-examined artistic components, the requirements must be fulfilled within nine full terms.
The ceremonial conferment of doctoral degrees
More information about the ceremonial conferment is available here.