Organization of doctoral education

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.

There are many different parties working with doctoral education, and grasping the structure of it all can be a bit of a mouthful, especially for a new doctoral researcher. This article is your quick guide to what’s what in doctoral education at the University of Helsinki.


Disciplines are not official units, but the discipline often forms the primary home of the doctoral researcher. The thesis supervisors and coordinating academics function in the disciplines, and the disciplines also organize the research seminars, which form a compulsory part of the the degree structure in many doctoral programmes, as well as other discipline-specific teaching.

Doctoral programme

Doctoral programmes are multidisciplinary degree programmes. Every doctoral researcher in the University of Helsinki belongs to a doctoral programme. Doctoral programmes coordinate and organize teaching for the discipline-specific studies of the degree, as well as organize other activities for the doctoral researchers in the programme. All doctoral researchers studying in a doctoral programme complete their degree following their own doctoral programme’s curricula.

Doctoral programmes are in charge of the yearly recruitment of salaried doctoral researchers.

Each doctoral programme has a board that also includes student representatives. The functions of the doctoral programme are coordinated by the planning officer of the programme.


Faculties decide on the rights to pursue a degree and, once the studies have been completed, award the degree. Even though the studies included in the degree are completed following the doctoral programme’s curriculum, the examination process of the doctoral thesis follows the criteria and practices of your own home faculty. The doctoral thesis is graded and approved by the faculty council of your home faculty.

Doctoral programmes often have doctoral researchers from several different faculties. Especially at the start and at the final stages of your degree, and whenever you have questions related to your doctoral study right, it’s important to remember which of the 11 faculties at the University of Helsinki is your own home faculty.

At the faculties, services for doctoral researchers are provided by each faculty’s Doctoral Student Services.

Doctoral school

Doctoral school functions as an umbrella organization for the doctoral programmes. The University of Helsinki Doctoral School has 33 doctoral programmes.

The doctoral school organizes teaching in transferable skills and Research Ethics to all doctoral researchers belonging to the programmes of the school. Doctoral school coordinates the functions of the doctoral programmes and are, for example, responsible for travel grants and dissertation completion grants.

The functions of the doctoral school are coordinated by the senior advisors and the coordinators of the school.

Other parties

The units (departments etc.) working under the faculties are significant for you if you are employed by the university or have a grant researcher’s contract. Employment contracts and other matters related to the your employment are taken care of by the on-site HR services of the unit you're working in. Grant research contracts are also taken care of by the unit's on-site HR services.

The University’s International Exchange Services are in charge of matters related to doctoral-level student exchange as well as questions related to flexible JOO-studies in other Finnish universities.

The University Career Services offer career counselling services also for doctoral researchers.

Don't know who to ask?

If you are unsure of who to approach with your question, you can always be in touch with your doctoral programme officer, the staff at your doctoral school or the doctoral student services of your home faculty. We’re here to help you find your way to the right information.