Thesis and maturity test in Master's and Licentiate's Programmes

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.

An academic degree always includes a written thesis. As a student at the University, you are a full member of the academic community and an expert in your field. In your thesis, you will examine a research question or questions of interest to you and generate new scientific knowledge in your field for the benefit of the academic community. Typically, the thesis is written independently, but, depending on the situation, the related research may be conducted as part of a project or research group or in collaboration with a company or an organisation.

You can see the possible additional instructions for your degree programme by selecting your degree programme in the menu above. You can clear the selection of the degree programme by clicking on Clear the selection in the menu.

Thesis in Master's and Licentiate's Programmes

Thesis and thesis plan

As part of the advanced studies in the Master's Programme, you will prepare a written thesis of 30 credits in scope. If you study in the fields of medicine, dentistry and veterinary medicine, your written thesis is 20 credits in scope.

In the thesis, you must demonstrate your familiarity with the thesis topic, mastery of the necessary research methods, the ability to think scientifically and proficiency in academic writing. The thesis workload, including the collection and processing of the research material as well as the writing process, corresponds approximately to one term of full-time study.

Before embarking on the thesis project, or at its initial stages at the latest, you must draft a thesis plan, which will be discussed and approved in the manner specified in the degree programme curriculum. The plan must also indicate the supervisor(s) of the thesis.

You can complete the thesis independently or in a group or a wider research project, provided that your independent input can be clearly demonstrated and easily assessed. You can also complete the thesis as a commission. However, write your thesis independently. You can write the thesis as pair work with a fellow student only if your degree programme has separately decided to allow this. In such cases, the independent contribution of both students must be clearly demonstrable. 

You should write your thesis in academic language.

Thesis template and abstract

To ensure the accessibility of the thesis file, you can use the text styles contained in the University of Helsinki template and follow the instructions provided in the template. However, make sure your faculty and degree program's thesis guidelines before using the template. When the Word file is in order for accessibility, you can also easily create an accessible PDF file.

The thesis includes an abstract written in the language of the thesis. In addition, students who have completed their secondary education in Finnish or Swedish must write an abstract in the language of their secondary education if the abstract also serves as a maturity test with which the student demonstrates their proficiency in Finnish or Swedish. You can use the University's abstract document (a word document). Fill in the needed information on each line and write your abstract at the end. The length of the abstract is usually 1 page. The degree programmes and/or faculties can give more detailed instructions in the matter, please see also the degree programme-specific instructions. Attached is also a model document as a pdf. If needed, you can write the abstract also in other word processing programmes with the help of the model document. Attach the abstract file to the thesis file. 

If you give permission to publish your thesis in the University's open publication repository, please make sure the document is in an accessible format. See instructions on how to create accessible documents.


Your thesis will be assessed on a scale of 0–5. The assessment is conducted in Finnish, Swedish or English. Your thesis will be assessed by two examiners. The Faculty Council or, in the case of the Faculty of Science, the management team of the Degree Programme Steering Group approves your thesis and assess it based on the opinion given by the examiners.

If you are dissatisfied with your grading, you can lodge an appeal with the University’s Academic Appeals Board. Read more on the page Legal protection of students.

Maturity tests for master’s degrees

A maturity test is a scholarly text related to the field of your thesis, such as a part of the thesis or its abstract, or another piece of written work defined in the curriculum of your degree programme.

The maturity test demonstrates your familiarity with the field of your thesis.

Maturity tests are graded on a pass–fail basis. The person marking and approving a maturity test is usually a teacher in the degree programme (e.g., your thesis supervisor). The person approving a maturity test must be proficient in the language of the test.

A maturity test is an independent study attainment, but it is recorded in the student information system as having a scope of 0 credits.

Thesis Instructions in Your Degree Programme

Master's Programme in Data Science

The master’s thesis will focus on a data science problem and on applying the knowledge the student has learned during the MSc courses to solve that problem. Thesis topic and content is negotiated with the supervisor. A master's thesis should contain a definition of the research questions, a review of the relevant literature, and theoretical, constructive or empirical parts developing answers to the research questions. The grading scale and criteria follow the general University level regulations.

Your MS thesis starts by you finding a suitable supervisor and agreeing on a topic with the supervisor. In most cases, your supervisor must be a professor or someone with a doctorate. If you are interested in writing your thesis on a topic related to a course or seminar, the respective teacher is often the best first contact. In the MSc thesis Moodle you can find lists of possible supervisors for master's theses in Data Science. If you are looking for a thesis topic or supervisor, you can contact the programme in Moodle. Describe your ideas or preferences regarding the topic, and we will get back to you with ideas about who might be a good person to approach for supervision.

The pre-requisite for starting the thesis is that you have completed all of the courses relevant to your master's thesis topic, including most of the other courses. We recommend starting your thesis work during the second autumn, or possibly already during the summer. This gives you sufficient time to complete the thesis during the 2nd year of your studies.

You should prepare a topic description of about 1-2 pages in collaboration with your supervisor. The topic description should indicate the general problem area, the particular research questions you plan to focus on, methodologies (literature survey, experimental, …) and provide a few key references. It is your responsibility to write the topic description, discussing it until both you and your supervisor are satisfied with it. This is important and serves to ensure that you have a shared understanding of the topic, scope and methods of the thesis. 

You also need to provide the names of the responsible professor and the second reviewer of the thesis. If your supervisor is a professor (full, associate, or assistant) associated with the Data Science program, s/he will be the responsible professor. The second reviewer must have a doctorate, so if your supervisor is not a professor, s/he is the second reviewer. In this case, you should agree with your supervisor who is the responsible professor for the thesis.

Make sure you include your name and student number in the topic description. You can send it in the MSc thesis Moodle for approval. There are no special form for the topic description. After sending the topic description, you can start working on your thesis and we will be in touch with you in case there is any need for further clarifications.

Agree with your supervisor on the schedule for completing the thesis and the planned steps during the process. Also, agree on how often you will meet and what other communication between you two is expected. 

It is possible to apply for a thesis grant.

During your thesis process

There are no official checkpoints during your thesis writing process. Keep regular contact with your supervisor according to what you have agreed regarding meetings and ways of working.

There is a template for master’s thesis which you should use in writing the thesis. This is available in Moodle.

Grading the thesis

When you have finished your thesis and your supervisor agrees that it is ready for grading, you should submit the thesis to the reviewers for grading. The reviewers have one month of time to provide their statement about the thesis and submit the statement to the Data Science program steering group for official approval of the thesis. The final version of every master's thesis must also undergo the Ouriginal (Urkund) plagiarism check. You can find more information in these instructions and your supervisor will tell you which address to use for the check.

The supervisor will upload the thesis and review statement to the thesis tool Grappa. The reviewers will inform you of their statement and the grade they propose you for your thesis. They submit their report through the Grappa system where you will also need to acknowledge the report. You will receive an email from the system with instructions.

The thesis is accepted by the Steering Group of the Data Science Master’s Program in their monthly meeting. For a thesis to be accepted in a meeting, all of the grading steps must have been completed a week before the Steering Group meeting. To ensure your thesis grading proceeds to the board meeting, click the link in the Grappa email to submit your approval of the process, and submit your thesis to E-thesis.

The grading scale and criteria

Academic year 2022-2023

The thesis and review statement have to be returned to Grappa by this date Steering group meeting
12.9. 20.9.
10.10. 18.10.
7.11. 15.11.
12.12. 20.12.
23.1. 31.1.
20.2. 28.2.
20.3. 28.3.
17.4. 25.4.
15.5. 23.5.
12.6. 20.6.

In which language should a maturity test be completed?

The language of your maturity test depends on whether you completed one for your bachelor’s degree and on the language of your secondary education.

  • If the language of your secondary education was Finnish or Swedish and your bachelor’s degree included a maturity test completed in that language, you can complete your maturity test at the master’s level in Finnish, Swedish, English or the language of your thesis. You no longer need to demonstrate your language skills through the maturity test, but must demonstrate your familiarity with the field of your thesis.
  • If the language of your secondary education was Finnish or Swedish, but your bachelor’s degree included no maturity test in that language (e.g., you completed your bachelor’s degree outside Finland), you must complete a maturity test in the language of your secondary education. In doing so, you demonstrate both your language skills and your familiarity with the field of your thesis.
    This also applies to those studying in an English-language master’s programme or pursuing an English-language degree in a multilingual master’s programme. In the above cases, see the other language studies required for your degree.
  • If the language of your secondary education was not Finnish or Swedish or you completed your secondary education in a country other than Finland and are studying in a Finnish- or Swedish-language master’s programme or in a multilingual master’s programme in Finnish or Swedish, you can complete a maturity test in Finnish, Swedish, English or the language of your thesis. In doing so, you demonstrate your familiarity with the field of your thesis.
  • If the language of your secondary education was not Finnish or Swedish or you completed your secondary education outside Finland and are studying in an English-language master’s programme or in a multilingual master’s programme in English, you must complete a maturity test in English. In doing so, you demonstrate your familiarity with the field of your thesis.

Public access to and publication of master’s theses

Public access to theses

Master’s theses included in second-cycle (master’s) degrees are public documents. Public access to them is based on the Act on the Openness of Government Activities (621/1999). Public access to theses means that the University must make theses available to anyone upon request.

Public access to theses also includes their abstracts.


Secret material and theses

Because a thesis is available for public access immediately after its assessment and approval at a meeting of the faculty council, degree programme steering group or grading committee, the thesis must include no secret information. You can include secret information in the background material, which is not part of the thesis to be assessed.

The Act on the Openness of Government Activities (621/1999) contains provisions on secret official documents. Secret information includes that related to private business or commercial activities or a private individual’s health, assets, political convictions or family life.

You cannot include secret material in thesis appendices or abstracts. The thesis supervisor can gain access to secret background material, but must ensure that such material is not included in the thesis itself. The thesis examiner conducts their assessment based on the student’s written thesis, which must not include secret information. The examiner is not entitled to access secret background material.


Publication of theses

The University recommends the open publication of master’s theses and corresponding licentiate theses.

If you permit the online publishing of your thesis, it will be published in the University of Helsinki’s open publication repository Helda, where it will be available to the general public. Search engines will display resources contained in the publication repository prominently in search results.

Storing your thesis in the E-thesis system does not mean giving permission for the publication of the thesis. This permission will be requested separately in a message you receive from the E-thesis system after your thesis has been approved. If you do not permit the online publication of your thesis, it will be available for viewing only on the library terminals of Helsinki University Library.

The abstracts of master’s theses are always public and published in the open Helda repository.

If your thesis includes an article published in a journal, or an article is being prepared on the basis of your thesis, it is possible that your thesis cannot be published openly as such. If your article is published in a scholarly journal or other scholarly publication, its publisher can often provide information on the terms and conditions of open publishing. If you require further information on publishing your thesis in the open publication repository, please send a message to the following email address: e-thesis(at)


Delayed publication (embargo)

As a student, you may request that the publication of your thesis in the open publication repository Helda is delayed. A need for delayed publication (embargo) may arise, for example, if a thesis has been written in a research group and is closely related to research to be published later.

If the publication of your thesis needs to be delayed, please report this need on the thesis submission form under the item ‘Other notes’ when submitting your thesis for assessment. The dean may grant a delay of one year.

An embargoed thesis cannot be viewed in full even on the library terminals, but since the thesis is a public document, it must always be made available upon request. Description data (including the abstract) are always public and are openly available in the Helda repository. If you give permission to publish a thesis which has been embargoed, it will become available in the open publication repository on the date the embargo ends. Otherwise, your thesis will only be available on library terminals.