Studying abroad as a doctoral candidate - start here!

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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.

Would you like to write a part of your doctoral dissertation abroad? The University of Helsinki encourages doctoral candidates to engage in international activities, and an exchange period or a researcher visit abroad is a good way to get international experience. It is important to start planning the exchange visit well in advance. This site provides information on what doctoral candidates should take into account when planning their stay abroad.

Exchange studies primarily refer to an exchange period lasting from three to twelve months, which is organised according to an exchange agreement between universities or as a free mover student exchange.  If an exchange period of several months is too long a time for you but you would nonetheless like to partake in internationalisation activities, you will have an opportunity to take part in them through conferences, summer schools or researcher visits.

Are you employed by the University?

If you are working on your doctoral dissertation under an employment contract with the University of Helsinki, the guidelines and agreements referred to on this website do not apply to you. However, doctoral candidates employed by the University can take part in staff exchanges. Doctoral candidates embarking on a researcher and teacher exchange may also receive a travel grant related to the exchange from the University. More information and guidelines related to international teacher and researcher exchange is available in Flamma.

If you are employed by the University but would still like to go on an exchange through a student agreement, it is possible. However, as a doctoral candidate under an employment contract, you will not be entitled to mobility grants intended for exchange students unless you apply for a leave of absence for the duration of the exchange period. More information on applying for a leave of absence is available in the section Terms of the mobility grant in the article on funding the student exchange.

Working on a grant or without funding?

If you are working on your doctoral dissertation with a grant or without funding, you are, as a rule, subject to the same guidelines and rules as outgoing undergraduate exchange students. However, many of the exchange agreements of the University of Helsinki are aimed only at bachelor’s and master’s students, so if you find a suitable exchange destination, read the instructions carefully and make sure you are eligible to apply to the destination in question. Pay also attention to the application periods indicated and follow them; you will often have to submit the application up to six months before the planned exchange period.

If you wish to go on an exchange at a university with which the University of Helsinki does not have an exchange agreement or the agreement does not apply to doctoral candidates, you can apply for a free mover or visiting student status at a university that interests you. More information on independent student exchange is available here.

Your supervisor can help you find a suitable exchange destination and a possible supervisor/mentor at the destination university. Consequently, it is recommended that you talk about your plans well in advance with your supervisor.

It is possible to receive a mobility grant as a form of support for exchange studies. More information about mobility grants is available here. It is also possible to receive financial support especially for conferences and other shorter visits through doctoral school travel grant applications. More information about travel grants is available here.

How do I read the instructions?

Start by reading the specific instructions for doctoral candidates on this page. Then acquaint yourself with the instructions found under the theme International studies and researcher visits. Please note, however, that with the exception of these instructions and those pertaining to researcher visits, all the instructions found under this theme are aimed equally at bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral students. Therefore, you should read them carefully and be aware that some of the content may apply only to bachelor’s and master’s students. Should you have any questions, contact the University of Helsinki International Exchange Services or your faculty's doctoral student services to find the answers to your questions.

International traineeships

Doctoral candidates can apply for an Erasmus traineeship. Trainees receive an Erasmus grant that covers part of the traineeship expenses. More information about Erasmus traineeships is available in undergraduate traineeship instructions. However, please note that of the traineeship opportunities presented on the page, only the Erasmus traineeships apply also to postgraduate students.

If you are employed by the University of Helsinki as a doctoral candidate, you must apply for a leave of absence to become eligible for a traineeship grant. The SAP HR employee portal is used to apply for a leave of absence.

Research visits

Sometimes a shorter research period based on researcher status may be a more desirable option for exchange studies for doctoral students. For example, a few weeks’ visit to work at a laboratory or studying dissertation material located at a university abroad is considered a research visit.  More information about research visits is available here.

Cotutelle degrees

A doctoral student who has a valid right to complete a doctoral degree both at the University of Helsinki and at another university abroad can, in certain cases, opt to pursue a jointly supervised bi-national double degree. These degrees are called cotutelle degrees.

If you are interested in pursuing a cotutelle degree, get acquainted with the instructions and contact your home faculty's doctoral student services for futher counselling.