Start here: planning the timetable of your dissertation examination process

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The examination process of doctoral dissertations comprises two stages: the preliminary examination and the the public examination. In order to graduate as a doctor, students have to complete the compulsory studies included in the degree as well as an approved dissertation. The faculties are responsible for conferring degrees. Consequently, any issues related to the examination will be settled by the faculty council of your home faculty. This page provides you with instructions on planning your timetable and gives you an overview of the various stages of the process.

Planning of the timetable

The entire dissertation examination process, from the launch of the preliminary examination to graduation as a doctor, takes from four to six months. It is recommended that you draw up your timetable to be flexible, since unexpected delays may occur along the way. The examination will run more smoothly if you, together with your supervisor, have ensured that the registration of your completed studies is up to date, acquainted yourselves with the instructions related to preliminary examination and considered who you could ask to be the preliminary examiners and the opponent.

The meeting times of the faculty council will play a large role in the timetable of the examination process, since the dissertation will go through the faculty council a minimum of three times. The faculty council

  • Appoints the preliminary examiners
  • Grants permission to defend the dissertation in a public examination based on the preliminary examination statements and appoints the opponent and the other members of the grading committee
  • Makes the decision on the grade of the dissertation after the public examination

Faculty councils convene on average ten times a year. Since preparing for the meetings takes time, all statements and other material related to the matters to be discussed in the meeting must be submitted to the presenting official well in advance. Depending on the faculty, this means that they must be submitted one to two weeks prior to the meeting. At the Faculty of Medicine, the materials are first discussed in the faculty doctoral committee and must be submitted at least 10 days before the next meeting of the committee.

The presenting official for doctoral studies will send the necessary invitations and instructions to the appointed examiners and the doctoral candidate as quickly as possible after the meeting.

Preliminary examiners will be given two months from the official invitation to examine the work and write their statement. Permission to defend the dissertation in a public examination can be granted if the statements are positive. After having received permission to defend the dissertation in a public examination, the doctoral candidate will make the necessary corrections to the manuscript, print the dissertation and carry out communications related to the dissertation. There should be at least three weeks between the granting of permission to publicly defend the dissertation and the actual public examination to allow for timely communications. The completed doctoral dissertation must be publicly available (public display) five working days prior to the public examination. After the public examination, the grading statements related to it will be submitted to the faculty council for their decision on the grade.

The examination process in a nutshell

The examination is a long process with longer and shorter stages. The checklist below provides you with a quick overview of how the examination process will proceed and what you should take into account at its various stages – however, you should also acquaint yourself with the more detailed instructions related to each stage well in advance (links coming soon!).

The planning of the timetable and the preliminary examination of the dissertation

  • Set the time for launching the preliminary examination process with your supervisor well in advance. Supervisors should have sufficient time to read the latest version of the manuscript and think about suitable preliminary examiners (at the Faculty of Medicine also suitable opponent). Your responsible teacher will propose preliminary examiners after having consulted the supervisors.
  • Ensure that you have completed the studies required for the degree and that you have registered as an attending student at the University.
  • Read your home faculty’s instructions on how to submit the dissertation for preliminary examination. Take note of the faculty council schedules and deadlines for submitting dissertations for examination.
  • Submit the dissertation for preliminary examination following the instructions of your home faculty.
  • It takes approximately two months to get the statements from the preliminary examiners. During summertime the statements can take longer to arrive, since statement deadlines must take the holiday period into account.

 Permission for the public defence and the publication of the doctoral dissertation

  • If the preliminary examination statements are positive, the faculty council may grant you permission to defend your dissertation at a public examination.
  • The members of the grading committee are usually appointed in the same meeting where permission for the public defence is granted. Your responsible teacher will submit a proposal on the members of the grading committee to the faculty after having consulted your supervisors.
  • Please ensure at this stage at the latest that your dissertation has gone through language revision, if needed.
  • Acquaint yourself with the instructions on the printing and publication of the dissertation as well as on communications about the public examination, and prepare the dissertation for publication.
  • Carry out communications about your dissertation (3 weeks prior to the public examination) and ensure that printed copies are distributed (5 days prior to the public examination).

The public examination and the grading of the dissertation

  • Set the date for the public examination with the members of the grading committee.
  • Reserve a venue for the public examination and make other arrangements for the event well in advance.
  • Acquaint yourself with the public examination protocol and prepare your introductory lecture (lectio praecursoria).
  • Plan your post-doctoral party if you wish to organise one.
  • The opponent will give their statement approximately two weeks after the public examination. The grading committee will draw up a proposal for the grade.
  • Once the proposal from the grading committee has been received, the faculty council will make a decision on the grade for the dissertation.

Graduating as a doctor

  • Once the faculty council has approved the dissertation and made a decision on the grade, and after the studies required for the degree have been completed and registered as study modules, you are ready to graduate as a doctor.
  • Submit a graduation request in Sisu. In Sisu, you can request for graduation only after you have drawn up a Sisu study plan, and the study modules included in the degree as well as your doctoral thesis appear as completed in your plan.
  • Some faculties organise a graduation ceremony once a term for bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degree students graduating during the same term. The dates for the ceremony will be communicated closer to the event.
  • Approximately every four years, faculties organise a conferment ceremony for master’s and doctoral degree graduates who have graduated after the previous conferment ceremony. By participating in the conferment ceremony, you will be granted the right to bear the academic insignia of a doctoral degree: the doctoral hat and the doctoral sword.