The licentiate degree
In Finland there are actually two degrees available after a Masters, one is a doctorate (tohtorin tutkinto) and the other is a licentiate (lisensiaatin tutkinto).
The licentiate degree is a shorter research degree, roughly comparable to a UK MPhil. It takes two-years and is recognised as a pre-doctoral qualification. It includes the coursework from the doctoral degree and a dissertation that amounts to half the work of a PhD student.
As with a standard PhD programme you will have pass a public thesis defence in order to obtain the licentiate qualification.
A licentiate could be a good choice if you want to complete a shorter project or plan to pursue a professional - rather than academic - research career. Otherwise, you'll be better off studying a full PhD - and that's what the rest of this page is about.
Types of Finnish doctorate
There are two types of doctorate in Finland: the more common national doctoral programme and the standard research PhD.
The national doctoral programmes are designed to bring together researchers and facilities in each discipline nationwide. Each discipline within Finland has an associated doctoral programme adopted across all institutions. These programmes are typically fully funded.
If you don’t want to study within a doctoral programme, you can do a tailor-made research PhD. Similar to other countries you will propose your own research topic and pursue it independently - though you may need to find your own funding.
The Finnish academic year begins on the 1st of August and finishes on the 31st of July.
Universities are autonomous in organising their semesters, however there are typically two: an autumn and spring semester. Some institutions will also have a third semester during summer-time, depending upon their courses.
You will study for your PhD in Finland for 4 years as a full-time student.
The Finnish PhD process
PhD students in Finland tend to be very independent, with the main focus of your doctorate being your research project, which you will start from year one.
In parallel to your research project you may be required to attend courses, seminars and conferences. All of these will be decided upon by the graduate school or your supervisor and must be related to your research.
You'll produce an original doctoral thesis during your research and this will be the main component of your final PhD assessment.
You will typically be assigned one supervisor who is an expert in your field of study.
In addition to this it is common in Finland for PhDs in appropriate subjects to have links with industry. Therefore, you may also be advised by an instructor from outside your university, with relevant professional or enterprise experience.
Alternatively, you may be part of a joint-degree PhD programme, where your PhD will be co-supervised by an academic at a partner institution.