Thesis committees

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The thesis committee (follow-up group) assigned for all doctoral candidates is responsible for monitoring the progress of the doctoral dissertation work as well as the quality of the degree and supervision.

All doctoral programmes do not yet use thesis committees, but the practice will be implemented in all of the doctoral programmes during the year 2020 at the latest.

Duties of the thesis committee

The thesis committee meetings are organised annually. The aims of the meetings are

  • to provide feedback on the progress of the research work and doctoral studies
  • to support graduation in the target duration and to monitor that other duties are not preventing the scheduled progress of the dissertation
  • to issue recommendations on the continuation or interruption of the dissertation as well as for changes to be made in supervision
  • to support the doctoral candidate in career planning
  • to support the progress of high-quality doctoral studies by offering expertise in the topic of the doctoral dissertation

Assembling the committee

The thesis committee consists of at least two experts who are able to assess the progress of the dissertation. At least one must hold the qualifications of a docent or equivalent academic qualifications.

The thesis committee should be independent of both the supervisor(s) of the dissertation and the doctoral student (e.g. no family connections, manager/employee relationship). It should also be taken into account when assembling the committee that members of the thesis committee cannot later be appointed as preliminary examiners or opponents for the doctoral dissertation in question.

The doctoral candidate, with the help of the supervisors, chooses the members for the committee following these principles and the instructions given by the doctoral programme.

Membership in a doctoral candidate’s thesis committee is a position of trust.

Principles for operation

The thesis committee will convene at least once a year, and the members commit to supporting the doctoral student throughout their studies. Convening the thesis committee meeting is the responsibility of the doctoral student. If it's easier, you can use e.g. Skype instead of arranging a face-to-face meeting.

During the thesis committee meetings, the doctoral student and the supervisor(s) discuss the progress and possible problems of the doctoral studies with the thesis committee. It is the duty of the thesis committee to ensure that the doctoral studies are proceeding according to the doctoral student’s personal study plan and to support the doctoral student in planning their career. After the meeting, the doctoral student will write a short summary of the meeting and report on the progress of the research to the doctoral programme. If necessary, the doctoral programme will give feedback and advice to the doctoral student.


All discussions with the thesis committee are confidential. Supervisors can participate in the meetings, but in each thesis committee meeting, some time should be set aside to allow the doctoral student to talk to the members of the thesis committee without the presence of the supervisor(s).

Meetings and reporting

Your doctoral programme’s additional instructions on how to assemble the committee, how to arrange the meetings and how to submit your annual report are available below. If your doctoral programme instructs you to use the Thessa online tool for reporting, please acquaint yourself also with the instructions on how to use Thessa.

Does your doctoral programme not have instructions related to the thesis committees yet? Don't worry – this only means that your doctoral programme has not yet adopted thesis committees. When your programme introduces thesis committees, you will be informed of the fact, and we will publish your programme's instructions on this page.

The regulations behind the instructions

The decision to utilise thesis committees as part of the support for doctoral dissertations was made by Rector’s Decision 801/2017. The general disqualification principles applied in all workings of the university (Universities Act §30) are provided in the Administrative Procedure Act (section §27 and §28). The disqualification of thesis committee members from acting as preliminary examiners or opponents is based on Rector's Decision 498/2017.