Info for supervisors

Note: The new Degree Regulations of the University of Jyväskylä has taken effect 1.8.2015 (in Finnish, in English).

Extent of doctoral dissertation and the target time of graduation

The scope of the dissertation must be designed so that the doctoral degree can be completed within four years of full-time work (JyU Graduate School).


According to the Degree Regulations of the University of Jyväskylä (18§ in Finnish, in English) , each doctoral students shall have a main supervisor (supervisor-in-charge) who must have an employment relationship with the University of Jyväskylä, a doctoral degree and sufficient academic merits. At least one supervisor should be from the Department of Biological and Environmental Science; other supervisors can be from other departments or research institutes. The department and the University of Jyväskylä Graduate School for Doctoral Studies (in Finnish, in English) recommend that each doctoral student has at least two supervisors.

Supervisors of the doctoral student and research should be agreed upon before making a research plan. For cooperative projects, an agreement should be made as to which will be the main department/division (so that the appropriate department/division will receive credits for awarding the degree) and also who is responsible for research expenses. When several supervisors are involved, it should be agreed, who acts as the main, responsible supervisor and what roles the other supervisors have in supervising the dissertation research. If needed, additional supervisors can also be nominated later, after the student has begun PhD studies (see below).

In the supervisor's checklist (in Finnish, in English), you can find a list of duties which you should take in the different phase of PhD project.

The Finnish Advisory Board on Research Integrity (Tutkimuseettinen neuvottelukunta, TENK) has issued a set of recommendations on the ethical principles concerning the PhD project, including supervision  (in Finnish, in English). 

Doctoral degrees jointly supervised with international partner

If a doctoral student has a supervisor from the University of Jyväskylä and a foreign university and she/he will pursue studies and research at both universities, the Faculty may conclude a cotutelle agreement. A cotutelle agreement specifies post-graduate studies and the research related to the doctoral dissertation, arrangements of joint supervision and the principles of conferring the degree. It is signed at the University of Jyväskylä by the Dean, by the supervisor of the student’s doctoral dissertation, and by the student him/herself.

For further information

  • see Rector's decision on international joint degree programmes and Cotutelle agreements of doctoral students (in Finnish, in English).
  • contact The Faculty of Mathematics and Science: Marja Korhonen, Head of Student and Academic Affairs, Tel.: +358 40 770 7777, email: marja.e.korhonen(at)jyu.fi
  • contact International Office: Tuija Koponen, Head of the International Office, Tel.: +358 40 805 4343, email: tuija.h.koponen (at) jyu.fi

A change of a supervisor & adding a new supervisor during PhD project

For several reasons, the supervision relationship can end before the licentiate or doctorate degree is granted. If the supervisor cannot continue in the supervisor role, either the supervisor, or if that is not possible, the faculty will together with the doctoral student find another supervisor to the work (a natural possibility would be for a secondary supervisor to take over in the main supervisor’s role).

During PhD project, it may come necessary to make changes to the supervisory team for a variety of reasons, for example because of a shift in the focus of the research topic. If a doctoral student or current supervisor(s) wish to invite a new person to act as a supervisor, first the matter should be discussed with the current and intended supervisors. Further information of adding of supervisor please e-mail: doctoral-studies-science@jyu.fi.

If the employment relationship or grant agreement of a supervisor with the University of Jyväskylä ends and consequently none of the supervisors is from the Department of Biological and Environmental Science, a new supervisor who works at the department should be designated. Note: This applies also when she/he is able to continue as the supervisor.

Applying for admission to the Doctoral Programme and postgraduate studies

The application for PhD studies (in Finnish: hakemus jatkokoulutukseen) should include a plan for formal studies according to the curriculum of the department and a funding plan for the doctoral training, signed by the supervisor. More information on application process and application deadlines.

Note: The right of postgraduate study should be granted before the employment contract of the doctoral student with the University of Jyväskylä can be made (University of Jyväskylä Regulations 31 §, in Finnish, in English).

The supervision document

The supervision document needs to be signed by the student and his/her supervisors.The supervisor may refuse to sign the supervision document if the student’s doctoral studies and research work have not proceeded sufficiently during the previous academic year. In that case, the supervisor must start the study right deactivation process or contact the student’s supervisor-in-charge to start the process. The supervision document must include a collaboratively created plan for the supervision and completion schedule of the doctoral dissertation or licentiate thesis.  In practice, the supervision document will be registered in Korppi in connection of the postgraduate student’s annual registration. As a rule, postgraduate students will be directed to answer a Korppi survey that includes the supervision document when registering for attendance or non-attendance for the academic year. New postgraduate students register their supervisory documents collaboratively with their supervisors at the beginning of the student-supervisor relationship.

For more specific instructions on the registration and signing of the supervision documents see here.

Doctoral student working on a grant at the JyU

If a doctoral student does not have an employment relationship with the University of Jyväskylä (that is she/he work on a grant at the JyU), Agreement on conducting research (in Finnish: apurahatutkijan sopimus) using the University's premises and equipment is made. The agreement is signed by the head of the department. For making the contract, please contact: Anna Liisa Kotiranta.

Tasks and responsibilities of the doctoral student and the supervisor

The supervisor ensure that the student is well-versed in the scientific method, scientific ethics and generally in the specific study topic. This is important for the beginning of the supervision relationship. In beginning discussions together the student and supervisor can outline the work, main questions and the methodology to be employed. The supervisor(s) and student agree together each participant’s tasks and responsibilities based on the framework for degree requirements established by the Faculty. At this stage, it is important to discuss the research work’s goals, timeline, the supervisor’s hands-on involvement in the work, study plans for the required and freely-selected credits, and other questions that might arise during discussion. The supervisor(s) have a central role in outlining the dissertation work as a whole as well as planning its different parts—and the doctoral student’s research and study plans should be updated as needed. It is important to agree already at this stage who is primarily responsible for each part of the dissertation research (first authorship on papers published should reflect this responsibility). For cooperative projects (involving several doctoral students), the supervisor(s) and students should agree also which publication(s) will belong to each dissertation. A student’s independent role in for example, a dissertation of collective papers, is best shown in the student’s authorship of the broad introductory chapter as well as primary authorship on more than one of the collected publications.

At the beginning of the dissertation research, it is the supervisor(s)’ responsibility to clearly state the role and stage of the doctoral student in a proposal for research funding. In addition, the supervisor(s) should clearly state the possibility that the student will have for independent research in the same subject. An supervisor has the right to protect his/her own possibilities for continuing research in a common subject, taking into consideration the doctoral student’s needs during the dissertation research and as the student is in transition to being an independent researcher. The supervisor(s) can lead the doctoral student to continue their research collaboration with post-doctoral research or can support the student in transition to a new study subject or research group. Doctoral students may also consider other very different career choices and can be encouraged to develop these choices along with completing their studies.

Read more about rights and duties of a doctoral student and supervisor (in Finnish, in English). In the supervisor's checklist (in Finnish, in English), you can find a list of duties which you should take in the different phase of PhD project.


Resolving possible conflicts between a supervisor and doctoral student

During the dissertation research, different points of view could arise between the doctoral student and his/her supervisor(s). These conflicts can usually be resolved with open discussion. If discussion between the student and supervisor doesn’t lead to resolution, involvement of the Professor of the study subject or the Head of the Department, and as needed Administrators or the Dean of the Faculty can be asked to help resolve the conflict. Conflict resolution should ensure that the rights of both student and supervisor are respected and that the responsible conduct of research principles are upheld.

If the doctoral student decides not to complete the dissertation

If the doctoral student cannot continue the research work, the supervisor may find someone else to complete the goals. Interruptions in the dissertation research should not prohibit the supervisor from continuing the interrupted research, but goals for continuing the work should be agreed upon with the doctoral student, especially if the student plans to continue the work later. Dissertation projects can end because funding for the project ends. The legal rights in these cases are that the research results belong to all of the participants. Both student and supervisor are naturally expected to uphold these scientific principles. Read the recommended policy in cases when interrupting studies is considered.


The supervisor of a thesis must ensure that the student sends the thesis to be checked with the plagiarism detection software. She/he is responsible for interpreting the results of comparison made by the plagiarism detection software. The preliminary examiners and evaluators of a thesis must be informed that, upon request, they are entitled to receive the comparison report produced by the software and use it as they see best when assessing the work.

Here you can find pre-formulated modes of expressions used at public examinations and the progression of the public examination (in English, in Finnish).

See also:

Info for custos.

More info about the schedule of dissertation and the main steps examination process.

Recommendations concerning ethical principles in the process of the PhD project

  • Finnish Advisory Board on Research Integrity (Tutkimuseettinen neuvottelukunta) (in Finnish, in English).

Articles on supervision

da Costa T.P.S. 2016. Supervisor types: which one is your match? Cell Death Discov. 2: 16060.