14.02.2019

Doctoral Dissertation Funding

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When planning doctoral studies, it is essential to prepare a funding plan. You have to make one already when applying for doctoral study rights, since getting the study right does not automatically mean that you would get funding from the faculty. There is no tuition fee, but however, the duration of post-graduate studies is approximately four years of full-time work and the student must consider the travelling expenses and living costs in Finland accordingly. Funding is not secured for all postgraduate students and the competition for posts is tough. Please also note that the departments do not employ teaching assistants. Therefore, you must apply for funding or arrange it separately.

Funding plans are often updated as doctoral studies advance. Your supervisors will help you to prepare a funding plan and apply for funding. It is your responsibility to consider your need for funding, search for different funding options, and apply for grants and positions recommended by your supervisors and the follow-up group.

Full- or part-time doctoral studies?

Some doctoral students pursue their studies on a full-time basis, while others do it part-time beside their other responsibilities. Some doctoral students have alternating periods of both types.

Please remember that even if you planned to take the part-time option, there may be a stage, such as data collection or finalising your dissertation, during which you may wish to concentrate on your studies on a full-time basis and need separate funding for it. A grant from your unit or a foundation or an adult education allowance may be viable options for such a period.

Options for funding full-time doctoral studies

In most cases, the funding of full-time doctoral studies consists of a combination of options:

  • The doctoral student is employed by a faculty or department
  • The doctoral student is employed in a University project
  • Personal grants from different foundations and financers
  • Adult education allowance
  • The state’s student financial aid

Tips for applying for funding: lecture "How to write a successful research plan when applying for PhD" by professor Laura Stark 

Funding granted by the University (faculty, department)

You can apply for funding from your faculty or department. Keep in mind that there are many doctoral students, and faculties and departments can provide funding only for some of them.

Each year (usually in autumn), the faculty announces vacancies for full-time doctoral students. The maximum length of the employment period is normally four years, including other funding from the University for the dissertation work. You can apply for a position if you have valid doctoral study rights. Other requirements are defined in more detail in the call for applications. Information about applying for funding is provided on the faculty’s website (the news section) as well as via the Humsocdoc email list (see the Guide for doctoral students). These channels are thus worth checking.

You can apply for working grants from your department. These are usually announced in the email lists of your department. The length of working grants from the University cannot exceed twelve months. Note that you are not eligible for such grants, if you have already been employed with the title Doctoral Student.

In special cases, the total funding period (grants and employment relationships) received from the University can exceed four years but not more than with six months and only if the dissertation is in preliminary examination and will be completed within the extended time. As a rule, doctoral education that exceeds four years must be funded by other means than University funding.

In addition, departments can award travel grants or offer an opportunity to use proofreading services (e.g. for the proofreading of publications). Departments define the amount of support and the times of application periods independently and inform about them according to their own practices, usually in their own email lists.

Doctoral students’ employment relationships in the University’s projects

The departments of the faculty are hosting many projects that have received funding, for example, from the EU, the Academy of Finland or Business Finland (formerly Tekes). These projects can hire doctoral students to employment relationships. Follow the email lists of your department, as project-based vacancies are usually announced there.

Grants awarded by foundations

The faculty’s doctoral students have received notable personal grants from different foundations. Hence, we encourage everybody to apply for such funding.

Information about foundations is available in the Aurora database website and on the website of the Council of Finnish Foundations.

It is advisable to get familiar with the calls for applications carefully and well in time, since grants vary between financers, for example with regard to the grant sum, the length of grant period, required application appendices and other related criteria. Note also that in most cases the grant application should be attached with recommendations and references, which you need to ask for early enough. These are usually written by the supervisor-in-charge or other supervisors. Remember to provide the writer of a reference with all necessary information and at least a draft version of your application.

Other options for funding full-time studies

If you are an adult student and working as an employee or entrepreneur, you can apply for an adult education allowance. More information about adult education allowances is available here.

Related information:

Funding for part-time doctoral studies

You can also pursue your doctoral studies on a part-time basis beside your job or other responsibilities. Requirements for part-time doctoral studies are equal to those for full-time studies, but when you are admitted to doctoral training, your target time for completing the degree may be longer than four years. If a part-time doctoral student decides to pursue full-time studies, the faculty/department determines a new target time after hearing the follow-up group and considering the work completed so far. Funding restrictions are determined according to the new target time. (See University of Jyväskylä Graduate School for Doctoral Studies: Structure and General Principles. Approved at the University Board meeting of 23 March 2011). 

Taxation and "Mela-payments"

University grants (including travel grants) are exempt from tax unless their sum (with the expenses deducted) within one tax year exceeds the amount of the annual grant of the Arts Council of Finland. The amount of the artist grant changes annually.

The recipient of a grant (or a scholarship) is required to report all the received grants in his/her tax return. The grants liable to taxation are to be reported as income of the year the grant has been withdrawable. In other words, the grant is not to be reported as income of the year it has actually been withdrawn and used. It is highly recommendable to consult a tax expert.

A grantee is not insured by the university and the pension insurance of the university does not apply to him or her. Since 2009, Mela (Farmers’ Social Insurance Institution) has been handling the statutory pension and employment accident insurance of those receiving a Finnish grant or scholarship. The university and several foundations have reported the information about awarded grants in science and in arts to Mela. Mela decides the requirement for pension insurance and invoices the grantee if needed. The grantee administers and pays the so called Mela-payments (social security, about 14 %) from the beginning of the working period.

If a foreign person stays in Finland for longer than six months, he or she will pay tax on their wages in Finland. In general, the taxpayer makes the tax return to Finland, reporting the received grants to the tax administration. This procedure is independent of the nationality of the person. Prepayments do not apply for grants, but in final taxation they may be liable to taxation according to the decision of the tax administration.

If a foreign person stays in Finland for a maximum of 6 months, a source tax will be collected on the pay. However, no source tax will be collected on the grant. The university reports all awarded grants to the tax administration annually. The tax administration reports all grants or scholarships from Finland to the authorities of the foreign person’s home state. Whether the grant is liable to taxation in the home state or not depends on the legislation of each country.

More information: