Applying for admission to doctoral training and preparing a doctoral study plan

How do you apply for admission to doctoral training?

Application process

Faculties/departments provide a general application period for doctoral training either once or twice a year. In special cases, a faculty has the right to admit doctoral students also outside of the general application period.

Candidates who meet the eligibility criteria may apply for admission to doctoral training. Before submitting an application, applicants must contact the professor representing their subject at the department that organises doctoral training for the discipline. This will ensure the availability of doctoral training supervision.

At the beginning of postgraduate studies (in most faculties already before applying for the right to pursue postgraduate studies), doctoral students and their supervisors collaboratively create a study and research plan and discuss dissertation funding opportunities. Both the study plan and the research plan should be revised annually in the follow-up group meetings, for example.

Application information

Doctoral study plan

The doctoral study plan is created in cooperation with the dissertation supervisor, and it is approved by the faculty or department. The instructions for preparing the plan vary between the faculties. It is good to create a plan that follows the degree structure of the doctoral programme.

Doctoral studies 

The faculty decides the extent of required studies. A student shoud familiarize with these requirements before preparing the doctoral study plan. Studies consist of a minimum of 30 ECTS credits and a maximum of 60 ECTS credits depending on the faculty. Doctoral studies include both complusory and optional courses. Studies may also include other kinds of study attainments such as presentations or practical training. A common requirement is that the studies included in the degree must support doctoral students’ research work or employability after graduation.

Discipline specific skills

Discipline specific studies constitute at least half of required studies. Discipline specific studies may include, for example, the following obligatory or freely selectable studies:  

  • Advanced studies in the student’s field of science and doctoral training courses
  • Doctoral training seminars
  • Studies in the theory of science
  • Orientation studies for doctoral students
  • Researcher mobility to support the dissertation study
Transferable skills studies

Transferable skills studies constitute at the most half of required studies.

Research competence

Studies to promote research competence may include, for example, the following obligatory or freely selectable studies:

  • Research ethics
  • Research methods
  • Research project management
  • Academic publishing
  • Open science

All curricula of doctoral programmes must include obligatory research ethics studies of at least 1 ECTS credit.

Communication skills

Studies to promote communication skills may include, for example, the following obligatory or freely selectable studies:

  • Academic writing and communication
  • Interaction competence
  • Language skills and international competence
  • Media skills
  • Presentation skills

All curricula of doctoral programmes must include obligatory communication studies of at least 2 ECTS credits.

Other competence to support the construction of professional expertise

Other competence to support the construction of professional expertise may include demanding specialist work at the University or outside the University (max 20 ECTS credits). Excluding research and research visits related to the student’s dissertation. Other competence to support the construction of professional expertise may also include other activities or completed courses (max 4 ECTS credits), for example, in the following:

  • Pedagogical skills
  • Leadership skills
  • Entrepreneurship competence
  • Quality and development activities
  • Knowledge of working life


In addition to doctoral studies, a student admitted to doctoral training must write a dissertation and have a public examination of it. The writing of dissertations must follow the principles of the University’s dissertation requirements. Dissertation is based on a research plan devised by the student in cooperation with the supervisor. The work process involves presenting the dissertation or parts thereof at national and international seminars, conferences, etc. The scope of dissertations must be limited so that it is possible to complete a doctoral degree within four years of full-time study. In full-time students, the dissertation manuscript should be ready at least two months before the four-year target time has passed. Doctoral studies can also be pursued on a part-time basis at the University while simultaneously working outside of the University. In part-time students, the target time may be longer than four years. 

Transferable skills studies

Transferable skills studies are courses, training programmes and support services open to all doctoral students, irrespective of academic discipline, designed to support dissertation work, doctoral studies and postdoctoral employment. The transferable skills studies approved by the faculty as parts of the postgraduate study plan can be included in the postgraduate degree. Transferable skills studies may be included in required studies as compulsory studies or they may be included in postgraduate study plan as optional studies.

It is advisable to choose courses that support student's personal needs for development as optional transferable skills studies. Those needs may be inflected e.g. by previous studies and work experience, career plans and aspirations regarding postdoctoral employment. It is good to remember that transferable skills form a minor part of doctoral training. Discipline specific studies, research and writing a doctoral dissertation will take the majority of student's time. One should consider how much time it is possible and wise to use for transferable skills studies.

Student and supervisor should discuss students' personal needs for development as well as the career and employment plans when preparing the postgraduate study plan. Carefully considered transferable skills studies included in postgraduate study plan ensure that the student will have adequate skills and knowledge for research. These include for example:

  • research ethics, professional responsibility and good practices in student's discipline
  • research methodology relevant for student's research topic
  • principles of scientific writing and conference communications
  • skills of information retrieval and management
  • skills of information and communication technology
  • language skills

When doctoral training proceeds (3. - 4. year) transferable skills such as communicating student's own research results and skills that support student's aspirations regarding postdoctoral employment become important. Doctoral study plan may be updated during the dissertation work to ensure the plan meets student's needs even when the research plan is refined or student's career plan changes. Important skills at the last parts of doctoral studies are for example:

  • adding the visibility of research to the international scientific community
  • communicating research to the public and to the target groups important for future career and employment
  • defending the doctoral dissertation
  • managing the publishing process of doctoral dissertation
  • skills that support students aspirations regarding postdoctoral employment
  • recognizing acquired skills and knowledge and marketing them to employers
  • recognising effective working methods and maintaining well-being at work

The University of Jyväskylä Graduate School for Doctoral Studies is responsible for coordinating the studies promoting transferable skills. In addition to the faculties and the Methodology Centre for Human Sciences (IHME), transferable skills studies (and services promoting these skills) are provided by various divisions of the University Services, as well as by the University Library, the Language Centre and the Open University. Most of the organisers also offer customised training for the faculties, departments or doctoral programmes. The Graduate School communicates the training opportunities in transferable skills to doctoral students in cooperation with the organising units.

Transferable skills studies may be included in the doctoral training offered by the faculties or doctoral programs and many transferable skills may be trained outside the academia for example in leisure activities, social interactions and working life. It is not most important were these skills are trained. More important is that the preconditions for effective working are met in the different phases of doctoral education and that the person has the necessary skills for a successful transition to working life after the doctoral degree is completed.