Doctoral studies

Faculty of Biological and Environmental Sciences offers Doctor of Philosophy degree. The doctoral degree comprises the doctoral dissertation and its defence in a public examination and 40 credits of theoretical studies that support the research work.

The core part of a postgraduate degree consists of the student’s own research work, conducted under an experienced researcher’s supervision usually in a research group. The degree also consists theoretical studies that support the student's research and provide skills needed in research work and in other demanding tasks of an expert.

A doctoral degree consists of a doctoral dissertation and its defence in a public examination and theoretical studies that support the research work. Completion of the doctoral degree (dissertation and studies included in the degree) is estimated as four years of full-time study.

The students who were granted the right to doctoral studies before 1 August, 2017,  must complete postgraduate studies in the major subject according to the study plan as well as other studies that support the research work (at least 60 credits in total). Information about these requirements is in Instructions for Students.

They may transfer to a new degree structure system during the three years transition period, until 31 July 2020.

In new system starting on 1 August 2017, each doctoral programmes has its own degree requirements designed to support research work and development of expertise in the different disciplines working under the doctoral programme. The doctoral degree consists of a doctoral dissertation and 40 credits of theoretical studies. Information on the degree requirements of each doctoral programme can be found from the doctoral programmes' websites as well as from the WebOodi Course Catalogue Service.

Each postgraduate student must be assigned one or two supervisors that are appointed at the application stage. For special reasons, a student may have three supervisors. Supervisors must hold at least a doctorate, and at least one of the supervisors must hold the qualifications of a docent or equivalent academic qualifications. If two or three supervisors are appointed, each of their roles must be described in the postgraduate study plan.

In addition, each postgraduate student must be supported by a personal thesis advisory committee.

You can look for suitable doctoral thesis supervisors from the websites of the research groups:


In addition to supervisors, each new doctoral student will be assigned a coordinating academic (sometimes also called responsible professor or resonsible person). The coordinating academic is a professor of the student’s home faculty or a docent employed by the faculty with good knowledge of the requirements and practices of Doctoral studies at the University of Helsinki.

The coordinating academic’s duties do not include actual supervision responsibilities, but one of the supervisors may be assigned to be the coordinating academic, if they fulfill the above-mentioned criteria. The coordinating academic will be appointed at the same time as the supervisors.

Duties of the coordinating academic:

  • signs the application to pursue a doctoral degree in HU
  • when submitting the thesis to the Faculty for pre-examination she/he proposes the pre-examiners, the opponent, the faculty member(s) (if needed) and the custos
  • checks the plagiarism report (Urkund) of the thesis
  • accepts the study modules in the doctoral study module registration form in case no other responsible person (study planner of the doctoral program) has been nominated to do this

On the Instructions for teaching -service there is more about the role of a coordinating academic.

The coordinating academics in the Faculty of Biological and Environmental sciences:

Ecosystems and Environment Research Programme

Molecular and Integrative Biosciences Research Programme

Organismal and Evolutionary Biology Research Programme