Study PhD in Finland – A complete Guide in 2022-2023

how to apply for PhD in finland
how to apply for PhD in finland

Study PhD in Finland: Most international students who want to apply for PhD programs in Finland often wonder if they can study on scholarship to lower the cost requirements of their program.

Scholarships do exist in Finland and Finland is one of the most popular study abroad destinations for international students who want to run PhD programs.

Its amazing scenery, safe cities, and high quality of life make Finland a friendly and welcoming place for international students running a PhD program.

Finland is home to a lot of modern facilities that support an excellent higher education system, especially among international PhD students.

The country has a striking situation and magnificent landscapes which provide natural beauty and excellent research opportunities.

Straddling northern Europe and the Scandinavian Peninsula: Finland welcomes PhD students from all walks of life as long as they pass the admission requirements for any of the programs they are applying for.

Because Finland supports education and attracts students into various academic disciplines, we taught it wise to engineer a guide that will help you apply for a PhD program in Finland.

Here in this guide, you will find out what the cost of undertaking a PhD program in Finland is.

If you’re in need of a scholarship, you will find out what scholarships exist in Finland for doctoral programs and how to get a scholarship for a Finnish PhD program.

Also, you will find the list of requirements you will need to gather to apply for any of the available programs for international PhD students.

This information sets you up for a successful application and gives you prior knowledge on what to expect when you are applying for PhD in Finnish universities.

Are you ready?

Welcome Aboard Scholar!!!

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Table of Content

Why Should I Study for a PhD in Finland?

Before you make a choice to study in Finland you should weigh it against other good options.

Is Finland a good idea for a PhD program?

Finland has amazing scenery, its cities are safe and the quality of life is high.

The capital of Finland is known to be the safest city in the world and this has remained so annually.

This makes Finland a friendly and welcoming place for study abroad programs including a PhD. 

For international students, you wouldn’t have to worry about language barriers because the majority of Finns speak English and most Finnish universities offer a lot of English-taught degree programs.

Basically, these are some of the reasons why Finland is a good consideration for study abroad.

#1. Most Universities In Finland Maintain High Ranking Among Other Universities in The World.

Finland has a number of globally recognized institutions.

Out of the 35 universities in Finland, eight universities rank in the top 500 major university league tables, this includes the University of Helsinki.

As of 2022, Finnish universities have developed to the point that most of them rub shoulders with high-class universities from major study abroad countries.

Most Finnish universities are globally ranked institutions and they have developed policies that encourage international students to apply. 

Applying to a Finnish university will be a good investment because you will get a quality education in return.

#2. PhD Programs In Finland Do Not Require International Students To Pay Tuition Fees.

Yes, you heard that right.

PhD programs in Finland do not cost international students much because doctoral programs in Finnish universities do not require you to pay tuition fees.

And this no tuition rule applies to all doctoral students regardless of their nationality.

That’s a good reason to study for a PhD in Finland.

#3. Finnish Universities Is Home to Novel Research And Development

In Finnish Universities, there are a lot of research projects going on that enhance the development of the country as well as making major inputs in different spheres.

With many PhDs including that of industrial link, doctoral students can apply their research skills in a working environment.

#4. PhD Students Can Extend Their Stay After Graduation

PhD students have access to postgraduate work.

Regardless of your nationality, you can work in Finland after graduation.

There is no restriction on working for EU, EEA, and Nordic citizens and all other international students in Finland.

All you have to do is to extend your visa for a year to find work.

#5. Finland Offers You A Good Study Abroad Experience.

Besides academics, Finland offers you one of a kind study abroad experience..

Good scenery plus the visible northern light every other clear night in Lapland and in southern Finland.

If you get to stay in Finland during Christmas, you will get to see Father Christmas himself. 

I mean the real Santa Claus!!!

Do All Finnish Universities Offer PhD Programs?

There are 35 universities in Finland but not all Finnish Universities offer PhD programs.

Basically, there are two types of higher education institutions in Finland: Finland universities of applied sciences and Finland universities for PhD programs.

There are 22 applied science universities in Finland, and these universities do not offer PhD programs. 

Finland universities of applied sciences only provide higher education for professional expert jobs.

They also carry out applied research and development in activities that promote industry

If you want to carry out a PhD program in Finland, you will have to apply to either of the 13 universities in Finland that offer PhD programmes.

These PhD schools promote independent academic research and provide higher education based on research.

Therefore if you want to apply for a PhD in Finland you should apply to the 13 universities that have that option.

Here is a list that will help you for a start;

  • Aalto University    
  • University of Oulu    
  • Tampere University
  • University of Vaasa    
  • University of Helsinki
  • The University of Turku
  • University of Jyväskylä    
  • University of Eastern Finland    
  • Lappeenranta-Lahti University of Technology LUT   

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What Kind Of PhD Programs Are Offered in Finland?

If you want to study for a PhD in Finland, you should know that different doctoral programs exist in the country.

In 2005, the Finnish higher education qualifications were made compatible with the Bologna Process.

What this means is that a Finnish PhD is a third-cycle qualification that allows PhD Degrees obtained in Finland to be recognized in the European Higher Education Area (EHEA) member countries.

This is a great advantage for students who only want to study in Finland and find jobs in other countries.

Talking about PhD programs available in Finland, there are two types of doctoral degrees you can obtain in Finnish universities;

#1. The Licentiate Degree

One of the doctoral degree programs you can obtain in Finland after a Masters is a licentiate ( tutkinto).

The licentiate degree is a PhD program in Finland that is comparable to the UK MPhil program.

It is a shorter research degree that takes two years to complete.

Also the Licentiate PhD degree is recognised as a pre-doctoral qualification. 

The program includes coursework just like a normal doctoral degree and a dissertation that amounts to half the work of a PhD student.

The Licentiate PhD degree requires you to pass a public thesis defense in order to obtain your qualification.

This type of PhD program is a great choice for students who want to earn a professional PhD degree and not an academic PhD degree in a shorter time.

If you’re looking for an academic PhD degree, the Licentiate PhD degree is not for you.

#2. The National Doctoral Programme

The next type of PhD program in our list of PhD programs offered in Finland is the national doctoral program.

The national doctoral program is the most common PhD program in Finland.

The program is designed to be a center point that brings researchers and facilities across disciplines nationwide. 

All disciplines offered in Finnish universities have an associated fully funded doctoral programme adopted across all institutions.

And this is only available for the national doctoral programme.

#3. Standard PhD Program

If you are looking for a tailored fit PhD program in Finland you should apply for the standard PhD program.

In the standard PhD program, you are to propose your own research topic and pursue it independently.

This kind of PhD programs in Finland does not come with a scholarship, you may need to find your own funding.

The standard PhD program is open for students who want to run an academic PhD program.

Consider these PhD programs in Finland Before you make a choice of school to apply to.

The type of doctoral program you choose will affect the type of school you settle for.

What Are The Entry Requirements To Study For A PhD in Finland?

At this point, you know what is obtainable to study PhD in Finland but that list will not be complete if we did not mention the requirements you need during your application.

First things first in the requirements for PhD in Finland is that you must have a Masters degree or its equivalent from a recognised institution.

The major language instruction in Finnish Universities is English and Finnish.

Depending on the program you choose, you will have to study in either language.

If you’re opting for English-taught programs, you will need to provide proof of English language proficiency which is either by taking the IELTS or the TOEFL test.

There is no test benchmark score set. 

The test score requirements for English language proficiency is school dependent.

However, if you’re enrolling to study in Finnish, you are also expected to show proof that you know the Finnish language before applying. 

If you’re an international student, you have to have an intermediate-advanced level qualification in the Finnish National Certificates of Language Proficiency (YKI).

You will also need the following requirements for PhD in Finland;

  • Full academic transcript and other degree certificates from your previous institution translated into Finnish and approved by a lawyer.
  • At least two references with your application from academic members of staff who have worked with you previously.
  • Cover letter or statement of purpose explaining why you are interested in a specific PhD program and describe your suitability for it.

All other requirements for a PhD student in Finland will depend on the topic you are applying to the research.

Also, a lot will depend on your choice of university.

Besides that, these are the requirements for PhD in Finland.

How Do I Apply For A PhD Program in Finland?

When you’re applying for a PhD program in Finland keep in mind that the process is not one and the same as in other study abroad destinations.

Unlike in most countries where you have to apply for PhD programs because they were advertised, Finland does not go through that route.

Finland has a graduate school with multiple doctoral programmes where students can apply directly.

To be apple to go through that successfully here is how you can apply to study PhD in Finland;

#1. Find A Program

As we have mentioned, there are no advertised PhD positions in Finland.

You have to scout for what’s available and enroll.

When you do, you will have to apply directly to the university for admission into one of its doctoral programmes.

If you can’t find a PhD program that suits your interests, you should consider contacting the relevant department at your chosen university to discuss other PhD options they might offer.

Skipping this step will mean you do not have to continue. 

First things first, you will have to find a program that suits your academic needs.

Here is a tip of advice, you can contact the school in advance and discuss the opportunities they have available.

#2. Proceed With Your Application

Once you have found a program, you can complete your application.

Gather the requirements you need for PhD in any of the universities in Finland.

Like we specified earlier, the required documents will vary depending on your discipline and institution.

#3. Get Ready For Interviews and Examinations.

Applications for a Finnish PhD are often competitive, as universities don’t charge fees and will only have the resources to fund a certain number of students. 

Therefore, you may have to complete an interview as part of the selection process.

Interviews for international students will typically be conducted over a web chat facility such as Skype.

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How Does A PhD Program Run in Finland?

Once you have passed the requirements test to enroll in PhD programs in Finland, you will be welcomed into one of the Finnish universities.

Now as a Finnish PhD student, you are very independent and your main focus is your doctorate research project.

While doing that, you may have to attend courses, seminars, and conferences in line with your projects as approved by the graduate school or your supervisor.

Yes, you will be assigned one supervisor who is an expert in your field of study.

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.

Once you complete your project, you will have to produce an original doctoral thesis of your research.

This will be the main component for your final PhD assessment.

How are PhD students assessed in Finland?

Finnish PhDs use the European Credit Transfer System (ECTS) in accordance with the Bologna Process to assess students.

All doctoral students are to complete 240 credits in total to earn a Finnish PhD degree.

As an extension, you’re to write regular reports on your research and write papers detailing your results.

Once you submit, two stages follow;

  • The preliminary exam is where two experts evaluate your manuscript and produce a written statement declaring whether it meets the standards set for dissertations or not.
  • The second stage is the public defense. Here up to two external examiners debate your dissertation with you before an audience.

Once this is done, you will be graded on a pass-fail basis.

That means you will either graduate with the degree, or you don’t.

Some students are fortunate to receive an additional grade ranging from pass (approbator) to outstanding (laudatory).

It all depends on how generous your supervisors and graders are.

What Is The Cost of PhD Programs In Finland?

An important consideration to check when applying for PhD in is how much it will cost you to undertake a program.

In Finland, we bring you great news about the cost of PhD programs.

As it looks, you may not need to secure a scholarship to run a PhD in Finland because there is no tuition for doctoral programs in Finnish universities.

In Finland, there are generous higher education policies that make Finnish universities very suitable for your PhD study abroad. 

At the moment, there are no doctoral fees for any students regardless of nationality

This no tuition policy is only for doctoral programs.

If you are running a Finnish Bachelors’ or Masters program and you’re a non-EU student, you’re will have to pay tuition fees.

See how to get a PhD scholarship in Finland below!!!

Can I Study PhD In Finland With scholarship?

Although there is no cost attached to PhD programs in Finland, most students still look out for scholarship opportunities to help foot other financial needs.

As you would find out below, the cost of living in Finland may require you to seek funding while completing your PhD.

Here are some scholarship opportunities for international students you can apply to help you find your PhD program or living costs in Finland;

  • Finnish National Agency for Education (EDUFI) Fellowships – open to doctoral students from all countries, providing €1,500 per month for 3-12 months
  • Fulbright Grants – providing €1,000-1500 per month for 9 months to US students studying abroad in Finland

You can also look out for specific University funding that stands as scholarship openings for PhD students in Finland.

Finnish Government/EU Scholarships for International Students

  • Finnish Government Scholarship Pool: The Finnish government provides three- to nine-month scholarships for doctoral studies and research at Finnish universities or public research institutes in all academic subjects. The scholarship cannot be used for master or post-Doctoral studies/research. Young researchers from Australia, China, Cuba, Egypt, India, Israel, Japan, Mexico, Mongolia, Namibia, Republic of Korea, Turkey, Ukraine, and the United States are eligible for the Finnish Government Scholarship Pool. Monthly payment of EUR 1500 is included in the scholarship.
  • EDUFI Doctoral Fellowships in Finland: The EDUFI Fellowships program is open to young Doctoral level students and researchers from all nations and disciplines who intend to pursue their Doctorate (or Double Doctorate) at a Finnish university. The program does not support master’s level studies or post-doctoral study/research. The scholarship length can range from three to twelve months. The monthly allowance of EUR 1,500 is meant to cover a single person’s living expenditures in Finland.
  • Erasmus Mundus Scholarship Programs in Finland: Finnish universities take part in a variety of study programs financed by Erasmus Mundus Scholarships. Visit the European Commission’s Erasmus Mundus catalog to learn more about the Erasmus Mundus program’s possibilities!

How Long Is A PhD Program in Finland?

PhD in finland with scholarship
PhD in finland with scholarship

According to the Finnish academic calendar, school begins on the 1st of August and finishes on the 31st of July the next year.

Although most universities 8n Finland do not have a standard academic structure, some run third semesters during summer-time, and others stick to a two-semester calendar.

However it works for your school of choice, you will study for your PhD in Finland for 4 years as a full-time student.

What Is The Average Cost Of Living For PhD Students in Finland?

So far you know that you don’t have to pay any tuition cost to study any of the PhD programs in Finland.

However, other costs await you, especially living costs.

Living in Finland can be relatively expensive compared to other countries.

As a PhD student, it is recommended you have between €700-900 to foot your living cost in Finland per month.

This average cost of living can be higher or lower depending on factors such as the city you choose to study in and your lifestyle.

In addition to your living costs you will also need to pay a student’s union fee in school which ranges from €80-100 annually.

Now you see why most PhD students seek to study on a scholarship.

Do I Need A Student Visa To Study PhD in Finland?

Whether or not you need a student visa to study in Finland as a PhD student depends on your nationality.

EU, EEA (and Nordic) citizens will not need a visa to enter Finland and they can remain in the country for up to 90 years without registering your presence. 

Non-EU / EEA citizens on the other hand will need a student residence permit to study in Finland. 

This visa is only valid for the duration of your PhD program.

So if you will be needing a student visa, here are the requirements you need to apply for a PhD student visa in the Finland embassy near you;

  • A valid passport
  • Valid travel and health insurance
  • The official letter of admission from your institution
  • Proof of funds (showing that you will have access to at least €6,720 per year during your degree)

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Frequently Asked Questions About How To Apply To Study PhD in Finland

Can I Work In Finland after my PhD?

Yes, international students who have successfully completed their doctorate degree in Finland can work in Finland.EU, EEA and other Nordic students will not need a permit to seek work in Finland after they graduate.
But other international students have a visa extension scheme that allows them to find work after graduation. 
If you’re in this category, you have to apply to extend your residence permit by one year while you look for a job.
You should send in this application while your original student residence permit is still valid.
If it’s approved, you have one year to spend in Finland after your graduation. 
If you’re fortunate to get a job, you can apply for a residence permit based on employment.

Does Ranking Matter When Choosing A University For PhD Study?

Not quite.
Rankings do not really matter when you’re choosing a school for PhD.
However, it helps you choose a PhD project or programme, provided you know what to look at.

What Cities in Finland Have The Best Universities?

Finland has a relatively small number of institutions. Here are the cities in Finland where you can find good schools of higher learning: 
Oulu
Turku.
Tampere  
Helsinki
Jyväskylä.

When Is The Application Deadline For Application Of PhD Programs In Finland?

Application deadlines will vary.
Some universities have specific application windows, others will be happy to hear from students throughout the year.

An investment in education is a worthy venture.

And choosing to study PhD in Finland is one step in the right direction. 

Be careful to follow our guide so as to make a good choice of PhD programs and gather the appropriate requirements to apply to universities in Finland.

If you cannot afford the cost of living in Finland, you can look out for a PhD scholarship open to international students and apply.

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We wish you the best out there Scholar!!

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