Aalto University’s definition of policy regarding the selection of doctoral students

Aalto University’s Academic Affairs Committee confirms the University’s definition of policy regarding the selection of doctoral students.

Aalto University general policy on doctoral student admission in 2016 (17 March 2015)

General admission criteria for Aalto Unviersity education leading to degrees 2017 (29 March 2016)

The Finnish University law outlines eligibility (The Finnish Universities Act 24.7.2009/558, 37 §)

Eligibility of applicants of the Aalto Doctoral Programme in Science

As a rule, the postgraduate degree completed in the School of Science is the Doctor of Science (Technology) degree, but the Licentiate of Science (Technology) degree is also possible. In special cases it is possible to pursue the degree of Doctor of Philosophy (not available for new students after 1 August 2013).

To be eligible for doctoral studies at the School of Science, students must:

  • hold a master’s degree in technology granted by a Finnish university
  • hold a master’s degree granted by a Finnish university providing them with the knowledge base required for the postgraduate research field applied for
  • hold a degree granted by a university abroad corresponding to the Finnish Master’s degree, providing them with the knowledge base required for the postgraduate research field applied for.

The knowledge base and skills required for doctoral studies shall be demonstrated by a master’s degree or by a degree earned abroad that qualifies them for equivalent doctoral studies in the country where the degree was earned.

In principle, an acceptable master’s degree has been 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 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 Science.

Applying with a degree from a polytechnic university

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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 that the applicant has potential for completing the doctoral degree, succesfully, the applicant will be assigned a sufficient amount of supplementary studies before starting the doctoral studies. The extent of supplementary studies may not, however, exceed 60 ECTS. If the extent of necessary 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 one. When assessing the applicants’ potential for doctoral studies, the School shall acknowledge that the extent of the polytechnic master’s degree in the field of technology is 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 polytechnic master’s degrees in fields other than technology is 60 ECTS or 90 ECTS.

International applicants with a previous technical degree corresponding to a Finnish polytechnic degree are subject to the same rules as those with a Finnish polytechnic degree.

Selection criteria

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. When needed, the doctoral programme will ask the department to evaluate the applicant. The department will define whether an evaluation statement from the department is needed regarding all applicants to that department or only when the doctoral programme considers it relevant.

The following is required for an applicant:

  • Adequate knowledge in the research field applied for, gained through, for example, courses in the major or courses in the advanced module within the Master’s studies.
  • Sufficient basic knowledge that supports the dissertation work and the writing of the dissertation.
  • An excellent command of Finnish, Swedish or English
  • When necessary, the School will set prerequisites for admission into the doctoral programme that may be gained, for instance, by taking master-level courses.


(on the scale of 1 to 5)

  • The master’s thesis has been completed with the minimum grade of 4/5.
  • The master’s degree that is the basis of doctoral studies has been completed with an average grade of 3.5/5 or higher (incl. the master's thesis, i.e. the average grade is calculated so that it includes all studies included in the degree and the thesis).
  • 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.

Other selection criteria (academic evaluation):

  • contents of the previous degree(s)
  • previous study achievements
  • the quality and international regard of the applicant’s degree and university
  • research potential, previous research experience: work experience in the research sector, conference papers, articles etc.
  • appropriateness of the research topic: research orientation on Department's focus areas so that proficient guidance and the supervising professor's genuine scientific interest is met
  • research plan: theoretical and practical relevance and novelty of the topic, and feasibility of the plan (quality, realism, methodology etc.)
  • effort and resources for doctoral studies: feasibility of the study plan, realistic time available for studying and research during the forthcoming 4 years
  • university’s resources for guidance in the research area
  • other reasons presented by the applicant

If these conditions are not met, but the applicant is otherwise suitable for doctoral studies, the applicant may raise his/her grades or the school may set prerequisites for entry. Admission criteria may be departed from on the grounds of the supervising professor’s written statement.

The School of Science may accept equivalent attainments completed in other schools as prerequisites on the grounds of the supervising professor’s written statement.

Check also application times and how to apply.

Granting the right to pursue doctoral studies

The Doctoral Programme Committee of the School of Science will present the applicants to the Dean of the School of Science based on the recommendations of the supervising professors and when needed from the departments. The Dean approves/rejects the applicants.

The School of Science confirms the research field and the professor of the research field to be the supervising professor of the student's doctoral studies.

All applicants are informed of the decision. A successful applicant will be granted the right to pursue the degree of Doctor of Science in Technology. All doctoral students are defined and registered as either full-time or part-time students. Also the language of the degree is registered. All new students are registered as attending in the student register.