|General instructions and criteria|
These instructions are based on the admission criteria to the Doctoral Programme in Science for year 2020.
Eligibility of applicants
The general eligibility criteria for higher education are defined in section 37 of the Universities Act (558/2009), and in Aalto University Admissions Criteria for year 2020. Eligible applicants for studies leading to an academic licentiate or doctoral degree in the Doctoral Programme in Science:
- have completed a relevant master’s degree awarded by a university;
- have completed a relevant master’s degree awarded by a university of applied sciences; or
- have completed 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, a degree earned abroad is recognized at Aalto University provided that it includes at least four years of studies, including a thesis similar to the master’s thesis, and that such studies in the view of the school equip the applicant with the skills and knowledge needed to pursue doctoral studies at the School of Science. 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).
If the applicant’s degree or education differs from the description above, but makes the applicant eligible for doctoral studies in the country that awarded the degree or gave the education, the applicant must provide a document confirming his/her eligibility for doctoral studies in the country where the education was given.
The potential for successful doctoral studies of applicants with an applicable Finnish master ’s degree awarded by a university of applied sciences will be assessed by the school case by case. If the school deems the applicant with a master's degree in an applicable field 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. 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 in the university before applying for a right to pursue doctoral studies. When assessing the applicants’ potential for doctoral studies, the School shall take into account that the extent of the master’s degree awarded by a university of applied sciences is 60-90 ECTS, whereas the extent of a university master’s degree is 120 ECTS.
International applicants with a degree corresponding to a Finnish master’s degree awarded by a university of applied sciences are subject to the same rules as those with a Finnish degree.
The professor (i.e. supervising professor) who is in charge of the research field the applicant is applying to is responsible for the academic evaluation of the applicant. The Doctoral Programme Committee will also evaluate the applicant. The doctoral programme may ask the department to evaluate the applicant.
The departments have defined whether an evaluation statement from the department is needed regarding all applicants to that department or only when the doctoral programme considers it relevant. Departments can make changes in the definition only when the admission criteria are confirmed, and the doctoral programme should be informed about the changes in writing.
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 studies within the Master’s degree
- When necessary, the school will set prerequisites for admission to the doctoral programme that may be gained, for instance, by taking master-level courses.
- Sufficient basic knowledge that supports the dissertation work and the writing of the dissertation.
- An excellent command of Finnish, Swedish, or English, please see Required language proficiency.
- Master’s thesis completed with the minimum grade of 4/5.
- Master’s degree (excluding the master’s thesis, i.e. the weighted average grade of the courses) that is the basis for the doctoral studies completed with an average grade of 3.5/5 or higher.
- Major of the degree that is the basis for the doctoral studies completed with an average grade of 3.0/5 or higher, if the master’s degree was earned in accordance with the degree regulations of 1995 or at an earlier time (when the bachelor’s and master’s degrees were not separated).
Other selection criteria
- 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 the department's focus areas so that proficient guidance and the supervising professor's genuine scientific interest are 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 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 set prerequisites for entry. The School of Science may accept equivalent attainments completed in other schools as prerequisites on the grounds of the supervising professor’s written statement.
The above-mentioned admission criteria may be departed from on the grounds of the supervising professor’s well-founded written statement.
Full-time doctoral studies
Part-time doctoral studies
September: The application time for part-time doctoral studies is 1.-21.9.2020. The decisions on study rights are made 13.11.2019, which is also the date when the study right starts.
From 1 August 2016 onwards the accepted applicants may accept only one study 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, licentiate and doctoral degrees awarded by universities as well as degrees awarded by universities of applied sciences.
The academic terms run from 1 August to 31 December and 1 January to 31 July. The acceptance of a study place is binding and cannot be canceled. Even if the accepted applicant postpones the commencement of studies or gives up her/his right to study, s/he cannot accept another study place leading to a higher education degree starting the same academic term.
Before submitting the application
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. The most talented doctoral candidates may receive funding from their department or they may fund their studies through projects or grants. The funding should be primarily discussed with the supervising professor. More information on financing your studies.
In order to prepare for the discussion with the professor, it is beneficiary to prepare a CV (along with a list of possible publications) and a preliminary research plan. At this point the applicant’s eligibility and prerequisites for doctoral studies will be checked by the professor. Also the possible prerequisites for entry will be discussed.
In addition to the research plan, a study plan, a funding plan and a supervision plan will be discussed with the professor. See more about these documents below. When the applicant signs the application he/she commits to study according to it and when the supervising professor signs the application he/she commits to be the supervising professor of the doctoral candidate. More information about the rights and responsibilities of the doctoral candidate and the supervising professor.
The Doctoral Programme in Science comprises seven research fields, which are based on the strong research traditions of the departments. The programme is a joint effort of the Department of Neuroscience and Biomedical Engineering, Department of Mathematics and Systems Analysis, Department of Applied Physics, Department of Computer Science, and Department of Industrial Engineering and Management. The doctoral candidate chooses a research field when applying to the programme. The professor supervising the doctoral studies is agreed upon at the same time.
Research fields and professors
The Doctoral Programme in Science comprises seven research fields, which are based on the strong research traditions of the departments. The programme is a joint effort of the Department of Neuroscience and Biomedical Engineering, Department of Mathematics and Systems Analysis, Department of Applied Physics, Department of Computer Science, and Department of Industrial Engineering and Management.
The doctoral candidate chooses a research field when applying to the programme. The professor supervising the doctoral studies is agreed upon at the same time.
Application form and its appendices
Only complete applications will be processed. Incomplete applications will be rejected, if the application is not supplemented in the given time limit.
Electronic application form (Studyinfo.fi). Please read the instructions carefully before filling in the online application form. After reading the instructions and having all the documents ready, register to the online application system, fill in the application, attach all the required documents and send it.
Required appendices (scanned in pdf form):
- including a list of publications and an account of other scientific activity; example. Remember to update you CV so that the information there does not conflict with your funding source!
4. Research plan. Applicant can also make a free-form research plan; note that it has to be signed by the applicant and the supervising professor! Research plan includes:
- preliminary research plan
- schedule for the research
- possibilities for funding the research work (full-time applicants must have acquired funding for at least 6 months when applying; plans to apply for funding is not sufficient for a full-time status)
- aim and impact of the research
- methods and implementation of the scientific plan
- researcher mobility during and after doctoral studies
- publication plan
The study plan, research plan and supervision plan needs to be approved by the applicant and the supervising professor. By signing these documents, the professor responsible for the research field confirms to be the supervising professor of the applicant.
In addition, from all applicants to the research field of Industrial Engineering and Management:
- an approving statement from the department is needed. The Doctoral Programme will ask for this statement on behalf of the applicant. The statement must be a recommending one in order for the applicant to be approved to the programme. More information about the requirements of the Department of Industrial Engineering and Management.
Applicants with a master´s degree or education earned at another institution than Aalto University (or the preceding universities of Aalto University) shall also provide the following documents:
1.Master’s degree certificate and official transcript:
- Master's degree certificate, including all the appendices and the Diploma Supplement in European countries
- Official transcripts of records of all the courses included in the Master’s degree
- Official translations of these, if the originals are not in Finnish, Swedish or English.
- Please upload these as scanned copies to the electronic application form in Studyinfo.
Degrees awarded by a higher education institution outside Finland:
You are asked to present your original degree certificate (including all the appendices and the Diploma Supplement in European countries) and official transcript of records, or certified copies of all these* before the study right can be granted. You are asked to present also the official translations* of these, if the originals are not in Finnish, Swedish or English.
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.
If your degree was completed before 1 January 2003, or you do not have a Finnish personal identification code, you are asked to present your original degree certificate (including all the appendices and the Diploma Supplement in European countries) and official transcript of records or certified copies of all these* before the study right can be granted.
Please note: in exceptional circumstances caused by the corona virus, a separate deadline for showing the original degree certificates and translations will be agreed. This deadline will be after the situation with the corona virus has been normalized.*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, the certifying 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.
2.Abstract of Master´s thesis in English
3.Proof of proficiency in Finnish, Swedish or English
A successful applicant must have an excellent command of Finnish, Swedish, or English.
Please see Required language proficiency
- If the applicant is working at the department or if the applicant applies for full-time doctoral studies, the supervising professor may write a recommending statement that the applicant has sufficient language skills. If the professor writes a recommending statement, no language test is required.
4.Copy of the holder page of your passport
5.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.
Required language proficiency
A successful applicant must have an excellent command of Finnish, Swedish, or English. All international applicants applying for doctoral studies must demonstrate their proficiency in English. Applicants are required to include an official language test report to their application.
Accepted language tests in English and their minimum score requirements are (Aalto University Admissions Criteria 2020):
- IELTS (Academic): 6.5, and 5.5 for Writing;
- IBT (Internet-based Test): 92, and 22 for the Writing section or
- 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
An English language test is not required in doctoral admissions of applicants who have (Aalto University Admissions Criteria 2020):
- 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 requiring a physical on-site presence at a higher education institution in Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, or the United States.
- been educated in English (primary and secondary education) in an EU/EEA country or in Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, or the United States.
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 applicant from taking an English test.
In addition, an English language test is not required in doctoral admissions of applicants to Doctoral Programme in Science who:
- are full-time applicants or applicants already working at the department, and whose supervising professor writes a statement of the applicant´s sufficient language skills in English.
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.
Granting the right to pursue doctoral studies
The Doctoral Programme Committee of the School of Science will recommend 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 or rejects the applicants. All applicants are informed of the decision in writing. A successful applicant will be granted the right to pursue the degree Doctor of Science (Technology). All doctoral students will also have the right to pursue the degree Licentiate of Science (Technology). All students are defined as either full-time or part-time students.
The study right starts on the day when the Dean admits the applicant to the doctoral programme, but the study place is not established until the applicant has accepted the study right offered. The applicant will have 4 weeks time to accept the study place.
All doctoral candidates are defined and registered as either full-time or part-time students. Also the language of the degree is registered. All new doctoral candidates are registered as attending in the student register.
Full-time and part-time studies
All doctoral candidates are defined as either full-time or part-time students. Doctoral candidates may not change their study mode by themselves, but it can be changed by application if necessary.
Full-time doctoral students
Full-time doctoral students plan their studies with the aim of completing a doctoral degree within four years of the admission to the doctoral programme. The studies can include a licentiate degree with a target completion time of two years, and this time is included in the four-year target period of a doctoral degree. Full-time doctoral students need to have funding allocated to doctoral studies (e.g. project funding, personal grant or funding from employer). Those working outside Aalto University who wish to be full-time doctoral students must provide a document of the employers' approval for full-time doctoral studies (80 % of their working hours can be dedicated to doctoral studies).
Part-time doctoral students
Part-time doctoral students are those who do not meet the above-mentioned requirements for full-time doctoral students. Their studies are planned in such a way that the time spent on doctoral studies is eight years or less. A part-time doctoral student typically has a main occupation outside the School of Science which does not include scientific research for doctoral dissertation.
Applicants of part-time doctoral studies should discuss:
- whether the research is closely connected with the applicant’s own work
- what opportunities the employer has for supporting intensive postgraduate studying e.g. by side of work.
Language of degree of a doctoral candidate
The applicant will define in his/her application in which language he/she will pursue his/her degree (language of degree). The possible languages are Finnish, Swedish or English. If the doctoral candidate wants to write his/her doctoral dissertation (the compiling part of a compilation dissertation or a monograph) in Finnish or in Swedish, the language of degree of the doctoral candidate will be Finnish or Swedish. If the doctoral dissertation is written in English, doctoral candidate can choose English as a language of degree. The language of degree is approved by the doctoral programme committee.
The language of degree can on reasonable grounds be changed later on, if e.g. the language of the doctoral dissertation changes. A freely formulated application with reasons for why the language of degree should be changed shall be submitted to the doctoral programme at the latest together with the degree certificate application.
Finnish or Swedish as a language of degree
A doctoral candidate whose language of degree is Finnish or Swedish will get the degree certificate in Finnish or Swedish along with a translation in English. If the doctoral candidate writes his/her thesis in Finnish or Swedish, the language of the degree will always be Finnish or Swedish despite the earlier choice of language.
English as a language of degree
If the doctoral dissertation or licentiate thesis is written in English, doctoral candidate can choose English as a language of degree.
If the doctoral candidate's language of degree is English, he/she will get the degree certificate in English and in Finnish or Swedish. The language of degree will be mentioned in the diploma supplement, and in the degree certificate that two degree certificates have been given.