The doctoral degree reform and transferring to the new degree structures

By selecting a degree programme you are able to see the general content as well as the possible degree programme-specific content. You do not have to select a degree programme to see the Open University's instructions.

The new degree requirements for doctoral programmes became valid on August 1, 2017. The degree reform had a transition period of approx. three and a half years, giving students who had started before the start of the reform the opportunity to complete their degree following the old, major subject -specific degree requirements.

The three-year transition period of the degree reform has ended on December 18, 2020. If your degree was incomplete at that time, you have been automatically transferred to complete your degree following the new, doctoral programme -specific degree requirements. The university’s new rules on the expiry of studies now apply to all the studies you have completed.

The contents of this page are archived content which has been kept public to facilitate study counselling given after the end of the transition period.

The end of the transition period does not affect the following groups:

  • Doctoral students who have completed all the studies required for the degree and defended their thesis publicly before the end of the transfer period. If you belong to this group, you have not been transferred to the new degree requirements.
  • Doctoral students whose pre-examination was launched in the faculty council in January 2020 or earlier. If you belong to this group, you will not be transferred to the new degree requirements, even if your public defence will be held after the end of the transfer period.

What will change?

The amount of compulsory studies required for a doctoral degree will be reduced from 60 credits to 40 credits. The studies are divided into two modules: Discipline-Specific Studies (30 credits) and General Competence Skills (10 credits). The recommended scope of a doctoral dissertation will not change. All students transferring to the new degree requirements must complete 1 credit of Research Ethics.

Doctoral students transferring to the new degree requirements will no longer be registered under a specific major subject but rather only to a doctoral programme. Studies / study modules will expire in 10 years from the date of completion. Expired studies cannot be used as a part of a degree.

In the new structures, studies included in a Master's degree, exceeding the minimum scope of the MA degree, can no longer be used as a part of the doctoral degree.

Your doctoral programme's new degree structure is available in WebOodi in your doctoral programme's study guide.

In addition to the reduced number of credits, a new feature for many students is the 10-credit General Competence Studies module (i.e. transferable skills) included in the degree. The aim of the general competence studies is to promote doctoral graduates' identity as researchers and experts as well as their employability. The doctoral schools arrange teaching in general competence skills for all the doctoral candidates belonging to the school.

Starting from August 1st, 2017, teaching will be offered only in accordance with the new degree requirements.

Unlike graduate and undergraduate students, who will be transferring to brand new degree programmes, doctoral students will remain in the doctoral programmes they already belong to, and simply transfer to complete their degree following the doctoral programmes’ new curricula.

When should I transfer?

  • If you have completed little or no studies, it’s a good idea to transfer immediately.
  • If you have completed less than 40 credits of studies, transferring is worth considering.
  • If you have already completed all or most of the studies required for your degree and expect that all your studies will be completed and registered and your public defence held before the end of the transfer period on December 18, 2020, you don't necessarily have to transfer.
  • If you have already completed all or most of the studies required for your degree but still plan to transfer, make sure to take care of transferring before the pre-examination of your doctoral thesis is started.

Some doctoral programmes' have drawn up tables of equivalence to determine how studies completed following the old degree requirements are fitted to the new structures. Please see further down this page for your own doctoral programme's possible tables or other additional rules related to transferring.

How to transfer?

Attending doctoral students

Once you have made the decision to transfer, please fill in the electronic notification of transfer. The notification is binding, so please don't fill in the form before you have acquainted yourself with all the instructions available on this page and are sure that you want to transfer. Once you have given the notification, you cannot cancel it.

Absent doctoral students and students whose study right is currently not valid

Transferring to the new degree structures during the transition period is only possible as an attending student. If you are currently registered as absent because the progress of your doctoral studies is being monitored, you need start by taking the necessary steps to pass the monitoring point to be able to register as attending. If you have neglected the annual registration and lost your study right, you need to apply for readmission from your home faculty. Transferring is only possible once you are an attending doctoral student again.

If you think it likely that you will not graduate as doctor before the end of the transition period on December 18, 2020, it’s important to take the necessary steps to become an attending student again as soon as possible. Stricter rules of expiry of studies apply to degrees completed following the new degree structure. As a registered student you can seek counselling and take steps to ensure that the rules of expiry do not cause you problems after the end of the transition period.

If you do not intend to complete your doctoral degree at all, you can also consider forfeiting your doctoral study right altogether.

What happens to the studies I've already completed?

Studies completed before the transfer need not be re-registered when transferring. The old completed studies will remain in the student register with the old codes and will be included into the new modules once you have completed all the studies needed for a module. The important thing is that, when transferring, you have acquainted yourself with the new expiry rules and have read your doctoral programme's transfer rules to find out how your old studies fit into the new degree structure and what yet remains to be done.

Expiry of studies

The principles concerning the expiry of studies changed with the introduction of the degree reform. The new rules on expiry apply to all students who begin their studies in the new degree structures or have transferred to them, regardless of when they were granted the right to complete a degree. The key changes are outlined below.

  • All studies, including modules, expire in ten years from the end of the term when they were completed.
  • Time of expiry is counted from the date of completion of an individual study unit or, if the studies have been registered as a module, from the date of completion of the most recent study unit in the module. 
  • The expiry rules apply also to Licentiate degrees. Studies included in a prior Licentiate degree cannot be used for a doctoral degree if they have expired.
  • Language and communication studies, which did not expire in the old system, also expire ten years after their completion.
  • The validity of studies can no longer be extended. Instead, studies that have expired ten years after their completion must be completed again if they are to be included in a degree.