Doctoral Dissertation Funding


Funding options should be discussed with the supervisor already when creating the research plan and the postgraduate study plan, which must include a funding plan.

There are no tuition fees for postgraduate students. However, the duration of post-graduate studies is approximately four years of full-time work and the student must consider the living costs in Finland accordingly. 

NB! Admission for postgraduate studies does not automatically include faculty funding, a scholarship or research facilities. 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.

Postgraduate students generally search for funding independently. Already at the time of applying for postgraduate studies, the candidate should map out possible funding sources for his/her dissertation work. 

Several options exist for financing full-time doctoral training, such as obtaining a doctoral student position at the University or in a project, by receiving personal grants, or with the government’s financial aid for students. Postgraduate studies can also be pursued on a part-time basis while simultaneously working outside of the University.

The department or faculty and the supervisors collaboratively aim to ensure that the students have sufficient funding for four years of full-time study. The student is expected to participate in fundraising by applying for grants and doctoral programme positions recommended by the supervisors and the follow-up group. 

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

Funding by the university (Faculty, Department)

Faculties and departments are able to finance only part of doctoral students in the doctoral schools of faculties.

A faculty can take a doctoral student for full-time employment, which can normally last, together with other funding from the University for the dissertation work, no more than four years. A valid doctoral student’s study right is always a prerequisite for the employment. Other requirements are detailed in the call for applications. A call for funding applications is published on the faculty’s website (the news section) and using the Humsocdoc email list (see the Guide for doctoral students).

Departments may grant short grants for dissertation work. The total length of such grants cannot exceed twelve months. Any grant periods awarded by departments can take place only before the doctoral student’s employment relationship.

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.

Related information:

Other funding options

Personal grants from foundations: Doctoral students are encouraged to apply for personal grants from foundations. Information on research funding can be found on the Aurora database website and Council of Finnish Foundations website. The amount of funding offered, the length of the funding period, the application procedure and the eligibility criteria differ among the institutions. Note that some of the foundations only award grants to Finnish citizens. Make sure you check the eligibility criteria of the foundation in question before starting the application procedure. It is important to pay attention to the application announcements. Usually the applicant needs letters of recommendation as attachments for the applications. Recommendations are generally written by the supervisor-in-charge. Recommendations should be requested well before the application deadline and the supervisor needs to be provided with all the required information and at least a draft of the application.

Project funding: external project funding (the Academy of Finland, Tekes, the EU) forms an important part of the funding of doctoral students. Supervisors are required to apply for project funding. 

Part-time doctoral students and funding

Doctoral studies can also be pursued on a part-time basis at the University while simultaneously working outside of the University. Admission to part-time doctoral training also takes place through an application process.

Requirements for part-time doctoral studies are equal to those for full-time studies. Upon admission to doctoral training, a target time is determined, and it 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. This is done after having heard the follow-up group and considering the work completed to date.

Funding restrictions depend on the new target time.  

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.


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