Doctoral degree reform: frequently asked questions

The instruction belongs to the following themes

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 three-year transition period of the degree reform has ended on December 18, 2020. 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.

Have a puzzling question you couldn't find an answer to from the instructions related to the degree reform and transferring? On this page, we have gathered answers to the most frequently asked questions related to the degree reform.

The general instructions related to the degree reform and transfer period are available on Instructions for students. Instructions on what to do when you want to complete your degree following the old degree requirements are available on Instructions for students as well.

If you can't find a satisfying answer from this page either, you can always contact the doctoral students services of your home faculty.

Frequently asked questions

What degree reform and transfer period?

Answer: The Big Wheel educational reform transformed all the doctoral programmes of the university into degree programmes on August 1, 2017. This means that each doctoral programme now has its own degree requirements and all the students in the programme are completing their degree following the doctoral programme's  requirements, independent of their target degree and home faculty. The transfer period to the new, reformed degree structures began on August 1, 2017 and will end on December 18, 2020. During the transfer period, all doctoral students who have started their studies before August 1, 2017, have the option to either complete their degree following the old, major subject -specific degree requirements or to transfer to the new, doctoral programme -specific degree requirements. At the end of the transfer period on December 19, 2020, all doctoral candidates who have not yet defended their thesis and completed the required studies will be transferred to the new degree structures automatically (apart from those whose pre-examination was launched in January 2020 or earlier).

I've given a notification of my intent to transfer, can I still cancel it?

Answer: No. The notification of your intent to transfer is binding, and a student once transferred to the new degree structures cannot change their mind and return to the old structures. Therefore, it's important that you acquaint yourself with the rules and instructions related to transferring before you give the bindin notification and, when necessary, seek counselling. 

It's been a while since I gave the notification of my intent to transfer, but my information in WebOodi still shows a major subject. Why is this?

Answer: Be patient. When you give the notification of your intent to transfer, your information is not automatically updated to WebOodi. The Student Services check all the given transfer notifications before updating your information to the student register. This processing takes, on average, a month.

I've completed a part of my studies following the old degree structures and am now about to transfer to the new ones. Do I need to have my old studies re-registered with new codes, following the new degree structures?

Answer: No. 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 your doctoral programme's transfer rules and have a clear idea on how your old studies fit into the new degree structure of your programme and what studies you still need to complete.

The pre-examination of my doctoral thesis was started in February 2020 or later. Can I still complete my degree following the old degree structures or do I have to transfer to the new ones?

Answer: If you haven't completed the study modules and defended your thesis by December 18, 2020, you will be transferred to the new degree structures. Should this happen, please note that if there are studies you still need to complete to meet the new degree requirements (e.g. research ethics), you cannot graduate until all the studies needed have been completed.

I've completed almost all of the studies needed for my degree following the old degree requirements, but my manuscript will not be finished in time to graduate in the old system. Is it a good idea to have my studies registered into study modules following the old degree requirements before transferring?

Answer: Yes. If you have enough studies for a module in the old degree requirements, it's a good idea to have the module registered before transferring. Doubly so, if some of your studies are quite old and there's a danger that they will expire before you graduate. In the new degree structures, studies will expire in 10 years. The date of expiry for individual study units is counted from the date of completion of the study unit, but the date of expiry for study modules is counted from the date of completion of the most recent study unit within the module. If your studies have been registered into a module, studies older than 10 years are "safe" within it, as long as the date of completion of the most recent study unit is recent enough.

I've completed all of the studies needed for my degree following the old degree requirements but will not graduate before the end of the transfer period. Is it enough that I have completed and registered the old study modules or do I need to complete some additional compulsory studies (e.g. Research Ethics) for the new degree requirements?

Answer: If you have already completed all the studies required for the study modules in the old degree requirements, it's a good idea to have the modules registered before transferring (for further information, see the answer to the previous question). However, after transferring to the new degree requirements, you will still need to complete all the study units defined as compulsory in the new degree structure (such as Research Ethics) if the studies you have already completed don't include study units that could be used to substitute the compulsory study units in the new structure.

Help! I thought I would graduate before the end of the transfer period but now it seems obvious I won’t make it. What should I do?

Answer: Don’t worry. Unless the studies you have already completed are very old, chances are that transferring will not cause you too much trouble. Acquaint yourself with your doctoral programme's rules on how to fit the studies you have already completed to the new degree structures. When needed, ask for counselling from your doctoral programme’s planning officer or the doctoral student services of your home faculty.

Do I need to complete all the studies for the new degree structures as traditional courses?

Answer: No. Studies included in the doctoral degree can be completed in many different ways and usually only a small part comprises of actual traditional coursework. There are, however, courses available for doctoral students, and oftentimes doctoral students can also participate in courses arranged by the MA programmes, as long as their content and level is suitable for doctoral studies. Check your own doctoral programme’s degree requirements from your programme’s study guide in WebOodi.

I have completed a course on research ethics as a part of a professional skills module in the old degree structures. In the new degree structures, research ethics belongs under discipline-specific studies. Do I need to ask the student services to unregister my old module so I can move research ethics under discipline-specific studies?

Answer: No. Old, already registered study modules need not be dismantled and re-registered after transferring. The most important thing is that you have completed all the required studies.

I have work experience that relates closely to my doctoral degree. Is it possible to have my work experience recognized towards credits to the degree?

Answer: Yes. It’s possible to have experience relevant to the doctoral degree and the thesis project recognized as a part of the doctoral degree. For more information, please see the instructions related to recognizing prior learning.