Applying for Doctoral Studies
Admission to the Aalto Doctoral Programme in Arts, Design and Architecture is organized annually in March, for studies starting in September. The next admission round is 1-31 March 2017.
Application instructions for 2017
- Application opens on Wed 1 March 2017 at 9am (UTC+2)
- Application ends on Fri 31 March 2017 at 3 pm (UTC+2)
- Applicants are not notified separately of the receipt of their application or the status of their eligibility, but this information will be updated to the electronic application system.
- Application results are published on 31 May 2017.
- The School opens an application round for full-time applicants also in September 2017. Only applicants who have confirmed funding for their doctoral studies can apply. A separate notice is given on the details of the admission round.
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 both a research plan and a study plan.
Your research plan needs to present a new or different focus, it needs to be well-defined and realistic, and it needs to demonstrate your knowledge of the research field. It is equally important that your research fits the research profile of the School of Arts, Design and Architecture. Before you can proceed with your application to doctoral studies, you need to find a professor in our School who is able to act as your supervising professor. This will be easier if your research is linked to the research groups or projects within the School. The Head of Research at the Department can help you with finding a suitable professor (do not contact the Head of the Programme regarding admission issues unless you would like him to be your supervising professor).
Before submitting your application you need to be in contact with a potential supervising professor. Your research plan doesn’t have to be ready at this point, but you need to be able to present the significant points of your research idea with a few paragraphs and tell about your academic background shortly. Instead of attaching documents it works better to explain your ideas in the email itself and give links to your online cv and portfolio. Professors keep getting a vast amount of contacts, so please prepare your message with care. Before contacting the professors/Head of Research 1) read all application instructions, 2) get familiar with the research groups and projects of the Department and 3) prepare to explain how your research idea is linked to the research done at the Department.
You can find more information on the research groups and projects on the websites of the deparments: http://arts.aalto.fi/en/
Your personal strentghs and resources are crucial for completing doctoral studies. Full-time doctoral studies take appr. 4 years and you need to actively and independently pursue funding for that period. The Departments at the School of Arts, Design and Architecture can provide funding only for a part of their doctoral candidates and often only for a limited time. You need to search funding sources and even apply for funding already before submitting your application. If you plan to study part-time, consider your time management and coping.
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!
Aalto Doctoral Programme in Arts, Design and Architecture is free of tuition fees. Most of our doctoral candidates fund their studies with individual grants and scholarships, although sometimes Departments are able to offer salaried doctoral candidate positions or project funding.
Salaried doctoral candidate positions are applied for separately from the admission process. Instructions on this page are for the doctoral admission only.
When salaried doctoral candidate positions are open, they are advertised on the Open positions page at aalto.fi. Often they are not open at the same time as the application for the study right is open. Any questions regarding salaried positions must be directed to the professors and HR personnel only, not admission services.
More information about Financing your studies (Into)
Doctor of Arts degree, DA
1) Film and Television
2) Graphic Design
3) Scenography and Costume Design
5) Contemporary Art
6) Art Education
7) New Media
9) Visual Culture
Doctor of Science (Architecture) degree, DSc. (Arch.)
1) History and Theory of Architecture
2) Building Design
3) Urban Planning and Design
4) Landscape Architecture
According to the section 18 of the Degree regulations, the aim of the doctoral degree is that students:
- become well-versed in their field of research and its social significance;
- gain knowledge and skills needed to apply scientific research methods independently and critically and to produce new scientific knowledge within the field of research;
- become conversant with the development, basic problems and research methods of their field of research;
- gain such knowledge of the general theory of science and of other disciplines relating to the field of research as enables them to follow developments in them; and
- gain adequate communication, language and other skills needed for working in broad-scale expert and development duties and in international cooperation.
In the field of arts, the aim of doctoral education may be, in addition to the aims listed in items 1-5, that the student gains the knowledge and skills for independently conceiving methods of artistic creation or creating products, objects or works which fulfil high artistic demands.
In the fields of architecture and landscape architecture, the aim of doctoral education may be, in addition to the aims listed in items 1-5, that the student acquires a deep understanding of the significance of artistic expression in defining the research question.
Who can apply?
Please note that unfortunately we are 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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
Be in contact with the Department’s the Head of Research and/or other professor and discuss your research plan well in advance before submitting your application. You need to negotiate with the professor about your research topic, your work plan (production and research plan) and plan your doctoral studies. Do not contact the Head of the Programme regarding admission issues unless you would like him to be your supervising professor.
- Heads of Research at Departments (Into)
- Professors at Aalto ARTS (arts.aalto.fi)
- For more information please see above What does it take to become a doctoral candidate?
Note that if you are required to provide proof of your language skills in the form of a language test, you will need to register for a test as soon as possible. It takes a significant amount of time for test results to be available after you have taken the test. You need to plan ahead and should take the test well before the application period ends; it is recommended that you take the test before the application period begins.
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. To find out more about the test dates and test centers, please visit the test organisers' websites. See Language requirements for more information.
Apply by filling out the application form in the electronic application system eAge and attach the required attachments in PDF form. Also print out and sign the application form and send it with the attachments to the address mentioned on the application instructions by the end of the application period.
Read the information regarding eligibility to apply, application process as well as required documents carefully before filling out an application.
Instructions for filling out the application form (PDF, added 28 Feb 2017)
Link to the application form: https://eage.aalto.fi/?ff/arts_doc_2017_spring (added 28 Feb 2017, the form will open on 1 March 2017 09:00 GMT +02:00)
Applicants use the application system to follow the status of their application and see the arrival of their documents. The application system is used throughout the whole application process. Also the final admission results are published via the application system.
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 fullfils 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 page in the application system to see the status of their application, i.e. whether their application has been received by the Learning Services and if there are documents missing from it.
The Turnitin originality checking tool may be used in evaluating the research plans.
The Heads of Research and professors evaluate the eligible applications. 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.
Application results are published on 31 May 2017. When the results are published, 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.
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.
Successful applicants must inform the university about accepting the offered study place with a confirmation form which is mailed to accepted students along with the official letter of acceptance. The signed confirmation form needs to arrive at latest on 15 August 2017 3pm (UTC+2). The acceptance of the offered study place is binding. Instructions are mailed to accepted students along with the letter of acceptance. More information about accepting the offered study place and start of studies is available at the School of Arts, Design, and Architecture and from firstname.lastname@example.org.
Required application documents
1. Application form
2. Degree certificates from each university attended, including official register lists of study courses taken for the degree (transcripts of records)
3. Research plan and possible work plan for art productions or product development projects and the schedules and budgets including funding plans for both plans
4. Preliminary study plan
5. Curriculum Vitae (CV)
6. Copy of passport or other official document of identification
7. Letters of recommendation and certificates of employment (optional)
8. In the field of art and design a portfolio if the research plan contains work plan for art productions or product development projects
9. Proof of language profiency (see more below under Language requirements)
Applications which do not contain all documents deemed necessary will not be handled.
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.
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.
The copy of your passport does not need to be officially attested.
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).
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 2017. 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 summer. The students must reserve enough time to complete all courses required for the degree and for the administrative processes at their home institution.
Application (including its attachments) are submitted through the electronic application system and are printed, singed and posted to the address below.
Both the electronic application and the printed form with its attachments need to arrive by Fri 31 March 2017 at 3pm (UTC+2). Late applications are rejected.
School of Arts, Design and Architecture
Post Box 31000
If you deliver your documents in person or use courier services, please use the following address:
School of Arts, Design and Architecture
Hämeentie 135 C, 5th floor
A portfolio is required if there are one or more art productions or product development projects in the dissertation. After the admission decision the portfolios can either be picked up according to the information in the decision letter or portfolios with prepaid postage will be returned to the applicant. One must clearly inform the university about this in the application form for doctoral studies.
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 2017:
- 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 (oph.fi) 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:
A preliminary study plan is free of form, but it must contain a list and schedule of studies to be completed for doctoral degree. The study plan of full-time doctoral students is prepared so as to allow the completion of the degree in four years. Part-time students (less than 80 % of working time to doctoral studies) will make a study plan so that the time for doctoral studies will last longer than four years but maximum eight years.
Research Plan (link within Into)
Language of degree (link within Into)
If you have any questions after reading the application instructions on this page, please contact us through email@example.com.
- maaliskuuta 01, 2017