What is a study plan?

The study plan is an official document in which the courses included in the degree are confirmed in detail: course code, name and study credits (cr). In the programmes among the technical sciences the study modules are research field studies and scientific principles and practices.

The Aalto University Academic Affairs Committee has decided on the 12th of June 2012 about study requirements for doctoral and licentiate’s degrees in technology (excluding architecture).

  • Studies in research field 20-35 cr
  • Scientific practices and principles 5-20 cr
  • 40 study credits in total

Note that the total amount of study credits can exceed the maximum limit of 40 credits only slightly, with 1-3 credits, but not with an extra course or courses.

Electronic form for the study plan. (Please use this link only when applying for the Doctoral Programme; for updating study plan, see below Process for updating the study plan)

Why to do and have it?

Study plan is an important part of planning of one´s studies. It is important to discuss the courses included in the degree with the supervising professor and he/she will be required to support the study plan in order it to be confirmed. The confirmed study plan ensures that there are no surprises with the studies required and the doctoral candidate can graduate as planned.

If the plan should change, the updated study plan needs to be confirmed. See below "Process for updating the study plan".

The official study plan is always confirmed by the Doctoral Programme Committee.

How to choose courses and what can be included to the degree?

It is worth discussing the degree courses with the professor when the dissertation research is planned. In some of the doctoral programs the content of the degree is defined in more precisely but in all programs it is possible to choose the studies individually.

Studies in the field of research should support dissertation work and you can choose courses from your own university, other Aalto schools or other Finnish universities. If Aalto does not have the necessary courses or teaching, the student can, within the framework of flexible study right, conduct individual courses at other Finnish universities as well. In these cases, the studies must be validated in the study plan before applying for a flexible study right.

If you have already completed a courses suitable for PhD degree (in Finland or abroad), the credits need to be confirmed in the study plan and then transfered to Aalto study registry. Studies completed at Aalto are automatically displayed in the registry and they are sufficient for approval in study plan. For studies completed elsewhere, the student must apply for a credit transfer.

Updating study register: registering of completed study credits can be done by our study affairs secretary. Please provide the official transcript if study was completed at another university. Accepted options:

  1. Original paper version (come to show it and we'll take copy of it)
  2. Electronic transcript with digital signature
  3. Electronic transcript without digital signature (scanned paper version), in this case please forward the original e-mail you have received from the other university
  4. Retrieval of credits via Puro service, https://puro.joopas.fi/puro/

Doctoral and licentiate degrees – Requirements and instructions for the theoretical studies (40 ECTS) at Aalto CHEM

 Requirements and instructions for the theoretical studies (40 ECTS) at Aalto CHEM

The requirements for a doctoral degree include a “theoretical studies” package that consists of various structured learning activities, such as doctoral seminars, literature-based assignments or formal courses for doctoral students. The contents of this theoretical studies package are agreed upon with the supervising professor and are set out in the study plan. The study plan must be in accordance with the personal study and career objectives of the doctoral student, taking into account her/his development as a professional scientist. These rules also apply to those pursuing a licentiate degree.

The extent of the theoretical studies is measured in credits, under the European Credit Transfer and Accumulation System (ECTS). One (1) credit equals 27 hours of active study work. The study plan for theoretical studies consists of two parts, “Research field studies” consisting of 20-35 ECTS and “Scientific practices and principles” consisting of 5-20 ECTS. The sum of both parts should amount to a total of 40 ECTS.

Courses suitable for doctoral studies at Aalto University are denoted in the Study Programme with the letters L or P, or are otherwise marked as a doctoral level course in the official course description. Under certain circumstances, the supervising professor can propose courses at the Master’s degree level as part of the study plan. Clear reasons for the selection of Master’s level courses must, however, be included in the study plan. Doctoral level education completed at other universities, graduate schools, doctoral education networks, etc. can also be included in the theoretical studies.

The doctoral level courses completed before the student acquired her/his Master’s degree can also be approved for inclusion in the theoretical studies if they did not form part of the Master’s degree or any other completed degree. Bachelor level courses cannot be included as part of the theoretical studies.

The degree regulations stipulate that those admitted to doctoral level education shall be educated in the principles of responsible research conduct. The basics of responsible conduct and research integrity are taught in the 5 ECTS “Toolkit for Doctoral Studies” course (CHEM-L1000) All doctoral students are strongly recommended to take this course. If students elect not to take this course, then it is compulsory for them to pass an alternative course, such as “Research Ethics”. In addition, the supervising professor and the research group as a whole have the responsibility to implement and maintain the rules of responsible research conduct at all times and in all their procedures.

Research field studies (20-35 ECTS)

The research field studies may contain a wide variety of forms of study. In addition to conventional university courses, the study plan can include individual tailored studies such as examinations based on pre-set scientific literature or text books, or, reports based on reviews of the scientific literature. In the evaluation of such studies the rule that 1 ECTS corresponds to 27 hours of work is applied.

Examples include:

  • Individual textbook exams.
  • Reports and practical assignments.
  • Scientific literature reviews, literature exams, literature reports of scientific publications.
  • Summer and winter schools.
    • Literature exams are presented as follows in the study plan: Author/editor, name of the book, edition/year, publication city and country, publisher, pages, credits; e.g. Johnsson L., This is an example name of the book, 2nd ed., Helsinki, Finland, Otava, 260 pp., 3 ECTS.
  • Peer reviewed articles that are not included or related to student’s doctoral research topic
    • As first author, the doctoral student can obtain 2 ECTS each of, maximum of three articles (i.e. 6 ECTS in total), since these are considered to be literature work.
  • See also: The doctoral programme's recommendations for credits given for individual study attainments (table below).

Scientific Practices and Principles (5-20 ECTS)

The Scientific Practices and Principles component of the theoretical studies provides the doctoral student with an opportunity to learn various skills, and acquire knowledge releavant to their future career, including transferable skills. The Scientific Practices and Principles module can incorporate studies in, for instance, research methodology, research ethics, pedagogical training for university teaching, the history and philosophy of science, academic writing courses  as well as presentation and communication skills. Courses included in this category must be denoted with L or P status. Language courses as such are not eligble. The module may also include innovation and business studies as well as programming, instrumental methods or other relevant skills. Components that can be included in the Scientific Practices and Principle module include:

  • Up to 20 ECTS of pedagogical studies (pedagogical training for university teachers) and active teaching of courses can be included
    • Teaching university courses can be included up to 5 ECTS.
    • As an officially nominated instructor, doctoral students can receive up to a maximum of 5 ECTS for the instruction of Master’s and/or Bachelor theses. For the instruction of a Master’s thesis, a doctoral student can receive from 2-5 ECTS depending upon the reported workload. As officially nominated Bachelor thesis advisor one ECTS per Bachelor thesis can be awarded.
  • Aalto University has compiled a list of suitable courses and information related to generic and transferable skills for doctoral candidates in its webpages.
  • Defence of the student’s research plan. After the first or second year of study, the doctoral student can formally defend their research plan and for doing so can earn ECTS. For the defence, the student produces an extended research plan, prepares an introductory talk about research plan and presents this using visual aids. There are two Opponents for this presentation. The Opponents can be, for example, two professors or one professor and one doctor. If possible, the supervising professor and thesis advisor shall attend the presentation. Neither the supervising professor nor the thesis advisor can act as Opponent.


If any possible prerequisite studies for admission to the doctoral studies were set, these cannot be included in the theoretical studies.

In addition, the following cannot be included as part of the theoretical studies:

  • Conference presentations, proceedings and talks
  • Tuition, other than as an official instructor to thesis (see above), guidance of any research work or preparatory work for research projects
  • Patent applications

Where possible, the course studies should be completed at Aalto University. Students should first check the availability of the requisite education at Aalto and only if no such education is available, look for further possibilities at other universities. For studies at other universities in Finland, the flexible study right (JOO studies) system must be used.

Recommendations for granting the study credits for individual study attainments (see table)

Individual study achievements must always be agreed on with the supervising professor and included as a part of study plan. The supervising professor grants the credits based on the following recommendations. These achievements are registered in the study register with a course code derived from research field code (see: Research fields for doctoral education and supervising professors at School of Chemical Engineering)

Recommendations for granting the study credits for individual study attainments*

Credits recommended


Scientific books, publications and dissertations as self-study for exam or report to demonstrate learning

27 hours of active work yields 1 ECTS


Scientific summer/winter schools, EU cluster courses

2-3 ECTS per week


Peer-reviewed journal article with doc. student as main author, and is NOT included in the thesis

á 2 ECTS per published article

max. 3 articles

Acting as reviewer of scientific manuscript for an international journal editor


max. 2 reviews

Instructor for accepted Bachelor’s thesis

1 ECTS per Bc. thesis

total max. 5 ECTS

Instructor/co-instructor for one or more Master’s theses

2-5 ECTS per Master’s thesis**

Assistant training course (Assistenttikoulutus in Finnish)


Theory of teaching and learning: UNIPS online materials (unips.fi/modules)

1 ECTS /module incl. pedagogical essay or learning diary + reflection to your own teaching work

Conference presentation, conference papers, presenting topics of your doctoral research

Not eligible for ECTS

Patent application

Not eligible for ECTS

*(note that these do not apply to courses listed in Weboodi/MyCourses, in which the credit amounts are set within the study programme)

**How to include your activities as Master's thesis advisor to your study plan and study register: The student and supervising professor agree on study credits for thesis advisor work (27h equals 1 ECTS. This should be recorded in the study plan and reported to the study register as follows: Master’s thesis advisor (topic of thesis, author name, year), amount of ECTS.

Teaching pilot participants have some modified rules for their study plan (40 ECTS):

The aim of the pilot is to give doctoral students an opportunity to focus more on teaching while developing their pedagogical skills and providing additional support to teachers in the CHEM bachelor level courses.

  • Doctoral students can include between 1 and 20 ECTS for teaching and pedagogical studies in their individual study plan, provided that the supervising professor accepts the study plan. However, research ethics studies must also be included in the study plan (40 ECTS).
  • Doctoral students can include teaching practice credits up to a maximum of 5 ECTS per academic year for every 6-7 weeks of intensive teaching activity along with pedagogical training or other means for documenting and developing a doctoral student’s own teaching skills.
  • In addition, doctoral students may receive up to 5 ECTS of pedagogical training, which can include the following aspects: assistant training, pedagogical training related to university teaching, mentoring in peer group and a pedagogical essay or other means of documenting and developing the teaching skills.

Requirements and instructions for the theoretical studies (40 ECTS) at Aalto CHEM (pdf version)

Process for updating the study plan

The official study plan is always confirmed by the Doctoral Programme Committee. Student has drafted the first version of study plan while applying for the programme. The first official approval of the plan must be made within the 6 months of doc. studies. Please note that the preliminary version is not automatically confirmed when student is admitted to doctoral studies; student needs to indicate the wish to either update the plan or apply for confirmation. This is usually discussed during the first appointment with Learning Services.

Later, the process for updating the plan is as follows:

  • Electronic study plan form will be returned for the student after they indicate the wish to update the plan (study affairs secretary of Doc Prog.).
  • Student makes the changes after discussion with the supervising professor.
  • Student submits the eAge form to the administration via eAge system.
  • Study secretary will forward the study plan for the professor's acceptance.
  • The Doctoral Programme Committee will validate the updates study plan by decision in the monthly meeting.
  • If more changes are needed later, this process will be repeated.

Study plan vs. 500 euro scholarship for completing theoretical studies

500 euro scholarship for completing theoretical studies is paid to doctoral student, who has, within one year and six months of the date of admission to pursue doctoral studies, completed the theoretical studies (40 credits) in accordance with his/her individual study plan approved for the postgraduate degree by the Doctoral Programme Committee.

Please note that after granting the scholarship, student is not allowed to update the study plan anymore.

Information about scholarships and application forms