Planning and completion of doctoral studies

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Prospective doctoral students must draw up their first study plan when applying for admission. However, their plan may later change and become more specific. When beginning your studies, discuss your study plan with your supervisor and, if necessary, supplement it. Draw up your plan with care, and also plan a timetable for completing your studies. If you are a full-time doctoral student, you should plan your studies so as to be able to complete your degree in approximately four years. If you are a part-time student, take the above into account.

Planning studies

When planning studies, consider the timetable of both compulsory studies and your doctoral dissertation. Students usually plan their studies with their supervisor. You should also discuss and agree on the updating of the study plan with your supervisor as your studies progress and your research plan becomes more detailed.

For information on teaching programmes, please see the course catalogue of your doctoral programme in WebOodi. You should also find out whether your degree can include courses offered by, for example, other doctoral programmes or schools. For more information on WebOodi and the studies available to doctoral students, please click here.

Studies completed outside the University of Helsinki or other prior learning can also be recognised for doctoral studies. However, please note that studies included in your previous lower-level academic degrees cannot be recognised for a doctoral degree. If you wish to have previous studies recognised, discuss the matter with your supervisor and, if necessary, contact staff providing services associated with doctoral education for assistance. For more information, please see the instructions on the recognition of prior learning to a doctoral degree.

Expiry of studies

When planning studies, you should bear in mind that studies completed in accordance with the new degree structure specific to each doctoral programme expire in 10 years. This means that a course completed in January 2017 can be included in a degree until the end of the 2027 spring term. The expiry of studies applies to both courses and modules. The expiry of courses is calculated from the date of completion. The expiry of modules is calculated from the date of completion for the most recent studies included in the module. For more information on the expiry of studies, please click here.

When should the studies be complete?

When planning your studies, check your faculty’s instructions on the examination of doctoral dissertations for information on the deadline for completing degree studies. Most faculties require that these studies be completed by the time the student is about to be granted permission to defend their dissertation at a public examination, but several faculties also require that the studies be completed by the time you submit your dissertation for preliminary examination. For more information, please see the instructions on the preliminary examination of doctoral dissertations.

Completion of studies

Doctoral studies can be completed in many ways. Discuss the possible completion methods with your supervisors when you update your study plan, and explore the alternative methods for completing courses as per the degree structure of your doctoral programme by consulting its course catalogue. Be creative. If you are unsure whether a particular completion method is suitable, you can always ask for advice from the education planning officer of your doctoral programme.

Courses are the traditional method of completing studies. For more information on the courses available to doctoral students, please see the article on course offerings. The course teacher assesses course-based studies and awards credits. If you are unsure whether you can include a course in your doctoral degree, contact your supervisor or the coordinating professor, depending on who approves the modules included in degrees in your doctoral programme.

In some fields, studies can also be completed by writing essays, as agreed with the supervisor.

Some courses may also be completed independently by taking examinations. For instructions on general examination sessions, please click here.

Other methods of completing studies include conferences, scholarly and popular publications, research visits and various organisational tasks. As a rule, your supervisor or the coordinating professor awards credits for these types of studies.