Scope and structure of doctoral degrees

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 curriculum of your doctoral programme specifies the structure and learning objectives of your degree, as well as the learning objectives, content and competence assessment methods of the modules and study units included in the degree.

By selecting your doctoral programme from the menu above, you will see a link to the entire curriculum for your programme. In addition, the degree structure of your doctoral programme is updated at the end of the page. You will also see the degree structure of your doctoral programme as well as information on the modules and courses in Sisu after you have completed the study plan.

The focus and composition of a doctoral degree

A doctoral degree consists of a doctoral dissertation in addition to studies worth 40 credits. If you study on a full-time basis, you can complete your degree in approximately four years.

The primary focus of the degree is on research work and activities in the academic community. The doctoral thesis presents the results of your research work. See more information on the scope and structure of a doctoral thesis in the article Structure and criteria of doctoral theses.

In all the University of Helsinki doctoral programmes, the studies included in the degree are divided into two study modules:

  • Discipline-specific studies (30 credits)
  • Transferable skills (10 credits)

You can complete as much studies as you like, but a max. 45 credits can be included in your degree.

Teaching is carried out in accordance with the doctoral programme's curriculum. Each study unit in the curriculum has one or several methods of completion (e.g., lecture course, independent studies, exam, seminar), and after their successful completion, you will have completed the study unit in question and will receive a grade.

The faculty councils make decisions on the curricula, and the curricula are valid always for three academic years. Currently all teaching is arranged according to the 2020–2023 curricula. Get to know the curriculum of your doctoral programme right at the beginning of your studies and plan your studies using the instructions on the Planning your doctoral studies page.

Teaching for the coming academic year is published in Sisu and Courses as a rule by the end of June. However, due to the coronavirus situation, the teaching programmes for the academic year 2021–2022 will be published on an exceptional schedule: the teaching programmes for the autumn term will be published by the end of July and for the spring term by the end of November. Final teaching programmes contain information on the schedules, facilities, teachers, languages ​​of instruction, methods of completion and enrolment. For more information on teaching and enrolment, please see page Teaching and course registration for doctoral candidates.

Discipline-specific studies

Discipline-specific studies (30 credits) support the development of skills important for the researcher’s dissertation work and discipline. Once you have completed the discipline-specific studies, you will have a deep understanding of the nature of your discipline as well as its key theories and concepts.

The module always includes 1 credit of research ethics, compulsory for all doctoral students at the University of Helsinki.

Aim to include international conferences, research visits and other scholarly activities in your degree process. International activities will help you to establish networks that are important for your future and to view your research from new perspectives.

Transferable skills

The aim of transferable skills studies (10 credits) is to support the development of the doctoral student’s identity as a researcher and expert as well as his or her future career plans. Plan the studies so that they help you achieve your future goals.

Doctoral schools provide doctoral students with courses in transferable skills. You can also acquire these skills by integrating related learning into your research work in the manner of components to be entered into student records as completed studies.