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The University of Helsinki offers doctoral degrees as the primary postgraduate research degree, but postgraduate students can also choose to complete a research-oriented licentiate degree. At present, the right to pursue such a licentiate degree cannot be separately applied for, but the degree can be completed by those granted the right to complete a doctoral degree. Exceptions to the above include specialist licentiate degrees, whose completion provides graduates with certain professional qualifications (e.g., in law). Specialist licentiate education differs from postgraduate research education and, thus, always has separate degree requirements. These instructions apply to the completion of a research-oriented licentiate degree.

General information on licentiate degrees

The number of research-oriented licentiate degrees has continuously declined, with the licentiate degree turning into an “interim” degree typically completed when the progress of the student’s dissertation has proved difficult or uncertain due to, for example, the student’s personal life situation or other changed circumstances.

A research-oriented licentiate degree consists of a licentiate thesis as well as the compulsory studies required for a doctoral degree. Similarly to the doctoral dissertation, a licentiate thesis can also be a monograph or an article-based work. However, the scope of a licentiate thesis is significantly less extensive than that of a doctoral dissertation.

Licentiate thesis

A licentiate thesis must demonstrate its author’s ability to independently and critically apply scientific research methods in his or her own field. The research workload is less heavy than that of a doctoral dissertation, but a licentiate thesis must meet the same scientific standards as a dissertation. A licentiate thesis may be a scholarly work on a single topic or a collection of scholarly publications on a single topic and a summarising report. A master’s thesis or another thesis included in a second-cycle degree cannot as such be accepted as a licentiate thesis or its part.

An article-based licentiate thesis typically consists of one to three academic articles and a summarising report. The objectives, methods and results of the thesis must be outlined in the summarising section. Co-authored publications may be included if the author’s independent contribution to them can be demonstrated. The author must submit to the faculty a report on his or her contribution to co-authored publications. The report must be delivered when submitting the thesis for examination.

In accordance with the University’s principles of open publishing, licentiate theses must be published in the University’s open digital repository (E-thesis) after they have been examined.

Examination and grading of licentiate theses

The faculty council grades licentiate theses on the scale of pass with distinction, pass, fail.

The faculty council appoints a minimum of two examiners for licentiate theses at the proposal of the student’s coordinating academic. The examiners must have completed a doctoral degree. The examiners are subject to the same rules of disqualification as the preliminary examiners and opponents of doctoral dissertations. The examiners must submit, either jointly or separately, a written reasoned statement on the licentiate thesis, including a grade proposal, within two months of accepting the task. Before the thesis is assessed, the author must be provided with the opportunity to object to the examiners’ statements. If either or both of the examiners propose in their statements that the thesis be rejected, the author can ask for the assessment procedure to be suspended. This will terminate the examination process, which can later be started again once the required revisions have been made to the thesis.

Once the faculty council has decided on the thesis grade, the author receives detailed instructions concerning graduation from the faculty’s doctoral student services.

Transition period in licentiate studies

As of August 2020 (or earlier if the student has already transferred to the new degree system), studies included in a licentiate degree must be completed in accordance with the curriculum of the student’s doctoral programme. Doctoral-programme curricula now require the completion of a total of 40 credits of studies, rather than the previous 60 credits. The studies are divided into the 30-credit module of discipline-specific studies and the 10-credit module of transferable skills studies. Further information on the degree structure of your doctoral programme can be obtained from its course catalogue in WebOodi.

The same rules on the expiry of studies in the new degree system apply to both licentiate and doctoral degrees. A degree cannot include studies or modules completed more than 10 years prior to the time of graduation. Read more in the instructions related to the expiry of studies.

If a postgraduate student completing a licentiate degree has completed all the postgraduate studies required in the old degree system (i.e., 60 credits), and these have been registered as a module, the expiry of studies is calculated from the date of completing the module. In other words, individual courses included in the module do not expire even if they were completed more than 10 years earlier. If some studies defined as compulsory in the new curriculum of the doctoral programme (e.g., research ethics) are missing from the 60-credit module, the student must complete such studies in addition to the 60 credits he or she has already completed.

Submission of a licentiate thesis for examination

The commencement of the examination of a licentiate thesis is largely governed by the same instructions and timetables as those applying to the commencement of the preliminary examination of a doctoral dissertation. Any faculty-specific specifications or exceptions regarding the examination of licentiate theses and the preliminary examination of doctoral dissertations can be found below. If you do not find instructions specific to your faculty on this page, this means that such instructions do not exist. The faculty-specific instructions for submitting a doctoral thesis for pre-examination are available under the theme Preliminary examination.

Also bear in mind:

  • You must always be registered as an attending student throughout the examination process, until the completion of your degree.
  • As a rule, all the studies required for a degree must have been completed and registered by the time you submit your thesis for examination.
  • Similarly to a dissertation manuscript, a licentiate thesis must also be submitted for analysis to the Urkund plagiarism recognition system before the thesis is submitted for examination.
  • Acquaint yourself with the timetables for the submission of doctoral dissertations for preliminary examination well in advance, as they also apply to the submission of licentiate theses for examination.

Faculty of Agriculture and Forestry

The faculty-specific instructions: In an article-based licentiate thesis all the articles should be published in peer-reviewed scientific journals. At least one article must be published or accepted for publication, and the rest have to be submitted for publication.

An article included in a licentiate thesis can later be included as a separate article in a doctoral dissertation. 

The thesis is submitted for examination to the Faculty's doctoral student services. Please use the forms and follow the instructions given on submitting a doctoral thesis for pre-examination in the faculty of agriculture and forestry. Don't forget to state on the form that the manuscript you have submitted is a Licentiate thesis. Note, that the abstract following the title page of a licentiate thesis must be drawn up on the university's abstract form.

Before the licentiate thesis can be approved and graded, the student must present his or her research at a licentiate seminar, during which the examiners and other interested parties will present their commentaries.  After this, the examiners will write their statement.

Faculty of Arts

Unlike doctoral dissertations, which allow the author to choose the format of the accompanying abstract, the abstract following the title page of a licentiate thesis must be drawn up on the university's abstract form.

Faculty of Educational Sciences

When you are ready to submit your thesis manuscript for examination, submit the following documents in good time to the faculty’s postgraduate student services:

  • Contact details form
  • Your Licentiate thesis as a single pdf-file to the address: edu-research@helsinki.fi. The manuscript must included a Finnish-language and an English-language abstract. In the case of an article-based thesis, the file must include a summarising report and original articles. The file is named: lastname_lic.pdf. It is possible to use PDF-Xchange Tools or PDF-Xchange Editor programmes installed on University workstations to compile the materials. If the manuscript is too large to be sent by email, please use Funet Filesender.
  • At the same time, submit a report on the share of independent work, which is signed by the supervisor in addition to you. This report should be written in the language used in the study. For article-based Licentiate theses, the report must clarify the share of independent contribution by article. For monographs, the share of work by the doctoral student and others (e.g., the supervisor or external experts) in the planning of the study, the collection and analysis of the material as well as the use of information technology and the graphic design of the thesis should be clarified.

Faculty of Medicine

The scope of a licentiate thesis is approximately half of what a doctoral dissertation would cover, and is subject to the same general regulations. 

An article-based thesis typically includes two separate articles and a summarising report. The scope of the report is approximately half of what the equivalent section of a doctoral dissertation would cover. As a rule, the articles included must have been published in high-level international peer-reviewed journals or academic publication series. One of the articles must have been approved for publication. At least one of the articles must feature the licentiate student as the first author.

A monograph submitted as a licentiate thesis is a scholarly work issued under the name of the thesis author alone and based on the previously unpublished results of independent research. A monograph submitted as a licentiate thesis must meet scholarly criteria equivalent to an article-based thesis.

Once completed, licentiate theses are submitted for examination to the faculty’s doctoral student services. In addition to the thesis manuscript, submit to doctoral student services a proposal for the appointment of thesis examiners using this form (in Finnish), an abstract drawn up on the university's abstract form as well as any other required enclosures.

Faculty of Science

The proposal for the examiners of the Licentiate thesis should be sent to the Faculty's doctoral student services using the attached form (in Finnish). An abstract, drawn up on the the university's abstract form, must be included in the thesis after the title page.

Faculty of Social Sciences

The layout of Licentiate theses submitted for examination must correspond to the instructions (in Finnish) given on the layout of Master's theses.

An abstract must be included in the thesis, drawn up on the university's abstract form.

The thesis is submitted for examination to the Faculty's doctoral student services. Please use the forms and follow the instructions given on submitting a doctoral thesis for pre-examination (including the instructions on the Urkund-check). Don't forget to state on the form that the manuscript you have submitted is a Licentiate thesis.

Faculty of Theology

Unlike doctoral dissertations, which allow the author to choose the format of the accompanying abstract, the abstract following the title page of a licentiate thesis must be drawn up on the university's abstract form.

Publishing the Licentiate thesis

Once the Licentiate thesis has been approved at the Faculty Council, it will be published in the University’s open digital repository (E-thesis). The Faculty can, for well-grounded reasons, grant the student a special exemption to forego the electronic publication. In these cases, you must provide the University library with one printed, bound and covered copy of the thesis. For more information on the practices and regulations related to special exemptions, please see the instructions related to publishing a doctoral thesis.

Once you have received a confirmation that your Licentiate thesis has been approved, send the thesis as a single pdf-file to e-thesis@helsinki.fi. Attach also a scanned copy of a filled-in and signed publishing contract form.