Admissions to doctoral studies

The University of Vaasa is looking for motivated, talented and research-oriented students for its doctoral programme.

There are two application periods for doctoral studies at the university in the year 2023. The spring application period is in February (1.2.-28.2.) and the autumn application period begins in August (15.8. - 15.9.). It is also possible to apply through rolling admission. More information about rolling admission from the Graduate School or your supervisor.

Students apply for admission to the doctoral programme. We carry out impactful research and educate experts that address the needs of society today, and in the future. We advance competitiveness, innovation and sustainable development in business, technology and society.

A doctorate degree consists of doctoral studies and research work. The main emphasis in the degree is put on the research work. The primary study right is given for a doctorate degree.The estimated duration of a doctorate degree is 4 years with full-time studies.

Please note that the admission to doctoral studies does not include financing. However, the university supports and trains doctoral students in applying for funding.

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Key steps in the application process

1. Check the application deadlines. Please note that it takes time to prepare a good application and compile all the required attachments. Do you have officially certified copies of your documents? Do you need to translate your documents to English?  Pay attention especially to the language requirements and if needed, take a language test within time.

2. Get to know the research groups, research platforms and researchers of the University of Vaasa. Which research group does your research idea fit into?  You may try to contact potential supervisors and discuss your research ideas. Don’t be discouraged if you didn't manage to get an answer. All  submitted and complete applications  will be evaluated equally.

3. Choose the target degree, research field and the main subject which is suitable for your educational background and research topic. Also check the admission criteria and make sure that you are eligible for doctoral studies. Check out the doctoral programme websites and the Study Guide.

4. Focus on preparing a good research plan. The choice of research topic and the drafting the research plan needs to be an individual process carried out by the applicant. Research plan should demonstrate the knowledge and the capability of the applicant as well as the relevance and novelty value of the research topic.

5. Submit the online application form via the Studyinfo -service and upload all the required attachments to the service. Do this in a timely fashion; do not  leave it to the last minute.

6. Applications will be processed and evaluated after the application deadline. All applicants will receive information on the result of the selection by e-mail.

Contact information:

Eligibility for doctoral studies

Those who are eligible for studies leading to an academic doctorate degree shall have completed

  1. an applicable higher university degree;
  2. an applicable higher polytechnic degree; or
  3. an applicable education completed abroad which in the awarding country gives eligibility for corresponding higher education.

The university may require a student admitted to study for an academic postgraduate degree to complete the necessary supplementary studies in order to acquire the knowledge and skills needed for the studies. (Universities Act 558/2009 Section 37.)

When considering the suitability for doctoral studies, the following are considered:

  • the quality and feasibility of the research plan
  • the grade of the master’s thesis
  • The study performance in the major subject in the previous degree
  • supervisory resources for the theme of the research plan
  • Other additional qualifying attainments that demonstrate the capability of doing research

Supplementary studies may be appointed upon the selection. These supplementary studies are not be included in the degree.

Admission criteria

The Graduate School of the University of Vaasa requires that the doctoral student candidates have adequate knowledge in the study field of their doctoral theses. The applicants should have completed their previous degree with at least the grade ’Good’ and have been awarded the grade ’Good’ or higher for their Master’s thesis (grade ‘Good’, 3/5 or other equivalent grade). In special cases, additional studies supplementing the awarded grade or other qualifying study attainments may be taken into account in the admission process. The applicants should also present a proof of their language proficiency.

Eligibility for doctoral studies is assessed on the basis of the previous degrees which must be completed before the study right for doctoral studies begins. In the case of the application period ending at the end of February, the previous degree must be completed and the degree certificate awarded by 15th August. In the second application round of the year, the application period ends in the middle  of September, and the previous degree must be completed and the degree certificate awarded by 31 December.

Applicants who have not finished their Master's degree by the application deadline may apply for admission to the doctoral programme during the final year of their studies. However, the grade of their final thesis must be recorded to their transcript of records or the thesis supervisor must give a statement about the thesis and its grade before the application deadline. Eligibility for the programme is evaluated based on the thesis grade among other criteria. Therefore the thesis grade must be presented in the application for admission.

The admission criteria confirmed by the Schools are applied to the selection of doctoral students. 

Application process and required documents

Applications to doctoral studies are submitted by filling an application form in the Studyinfo application system. The application form is available during the application periods.

Application Enclosures

All educational documents attached to your application need to be officially certified. Official certified copies are copies stamped, dated and signed by an official body and may be obtained e.g. from a notary public or the educational institution which issued the original documents, or other official body.

Copies certified correct by signatures of two individuals not representing an official body are not sufficient.

Translate the Educational Documents into English, Finnish or Swedish

The required educational documents (degree certificate, transcript of records) must be submitted in Finnish, Swedish or English. All translations of the required documents are to be made by an official translator and must bear the signature and stamp of the translator. An officially certified copy of the document in the original language must be submitted together with the translation.

The following documents must be enclosed in the application for doctoral studies (use the templates on the side):

  1. Officially certified copies of Degree certificates
  2. Transcript of Records of the previous degrees and explanation of the grading scale
  3. Photocopy of passport's information page
  4. Proof of language proficiency
  5. Curriculum Vitae. Please use the Europass CV form
  6. Preliminary research plan. The research topic of the doctoral thesis is presented in the research plan. The applicant should describe how the suggested topic is related to previous research in the field and how it is relevant to the interests of the University’s research groups. In addition to the description of the topic, the research plan must contain a preliminary schedule for the research, and a description of the material and methods applied to the work. Also, the applicant’s familiarity with the topic should be described in the research plan. See the guidelines for writing a research plan.
  7. Preliminary study plan of the doctoral studies. See the Study Guide and fill out the PSP-form.
  8. Motivation letter for doctoral studies.
  9. In the rolling admission, you also need a supervisor's statement. NOTE this does concern only the rolling admission, it does not apply for the spring and autumn application periods!

A preliminary study plan for doctoral studies should describe the contents and schedule of doctoral studies. More detailed information about the degree structure and requirements of doctorate degrees are available in the Study Guide.

Applicants may also submit other, optional documents supporting their application to the University. These may include, for example, recommendations from professors of the applicant’s home university.

At the University of Vaasa, plagiarism detection software is a part of the University's quality system of education and research.

Language requirements

English language proficiency needs to be met by every applicant. It is to be verified in the application documents with one of the following ways:

Language tests

  • TOEFL test results with minimum score of 580 in paper-based test or 92 in iBT (University Admissions Finland’s TOEFL institution code is 0647))
  • IELTS test results (academic band) with minimum overall band score of 6.5 (each section minimum 5.5)
  • PTE Academic (Pearson Test of English, Academic band) results with minimum overall score of 62
  • National Certificate of Language Proficiency (arranged by Finnish National Board of Education before 2012) with minimum overall language proficiency level 5
  • C1 Advanced test (Certificate in Advanced English) with minimum pass grade C – ID number and secret code need to be provided on the copy of the certificate
  • C2 Proficiency test (Certificate of Proficiency in English) with minimum level C1 – ID number and secret code need to be provided on the copy of the certificate
  • An applicant in the field of mathematics, statistics or business mathematics who has already been working in these fields at the University of Vaasa can demonstrate his/her English language proficiency by taking a test at the Language Center of the University of Vaasa if the prospective supervisor supports this procedure. For more information contact

Education in English

  • University level degree conducted in English language or with English language, literature or philology as the major subject in an EU/EAA country, United Kingdom, Switzerland, United States, Canada, Australia or New Zealand
  • English language studies included in a Bachelor’s or Master’s degree conducted in Finland
  • Studies as exchange student at the University of Vaasa

University of Vaasa does not apply a strict time limit to how recently the necessary verification for English language skills has been acquired. However, if the language skills verification is several years old it may have a negative effect on the admission decision.

Results of the application rounds

The dean grants study rights for doctoral students based on a statement by a representative of the relevant study field. In addition to the evaluation of applicant’s eligibility for doctoral studies, applicant’s study and research plan and the available resources of the unit providing the supervision and courses for doctorate degrees are taken into account in the admission process. A primary supervisor and possible other supervisors are appointed to each student if their applications are successful.

Results of the application round are announced in writing to all the applicants after the decisions have been made. The study right of the students who are accepted to the programme in the spring application period will begin on 1 August. The study right of the students who are accepted to the programme in the autumn application period will begin on 1 January. Students accepted to doctoral programme may register as attending doctoral students at the university from 1 August / 1 January. For information about the annual registration, please visit the section Studies.

Please note, that if you have been accepted to another Finnish university, you can accept only one doctoral study position.

Doctoral students should start their studies as soon as possible after the decision of acceptance is served. International students (persons not residing permanently in Finland) must return a binding confirmation for accepting the offered study place to the university by the deadline mentioned in the acceptance documents. The accepted students must confirm their study plan and prepare a written agreement about the main principles and responsibilities of supervision in the doctoral studies with their supervisors. The study plan is updated annually. The plan helps students to understand the structure of their studies, and it is also used to follow the progress in studies regularly.

The Graduate School of the University of Vaasa organizes twice a year an Orientation Event for new doctoral students. The aim of the event is to guide new doctoral students to get acquainted with the University of Vaasa as a study and research environment and to ensure a fluent start of the studies and research work.

There are no tuition fees or other mandatory fees for doctoral students.

Please note: Admission to doctoral studies does not automatically include any grant or right to research facilities.