Information for International Doctoral Researchers
The journey of international doctoral researcher goes from prospective higher education applicants to active alumni of the University of Turku, Finland – how do the University, City of Turku and their partners support doctoral researchers to study and to stay?
Get acquainted with the doctoral researchers' path and support services along the journey!
1. Starting the research career: Applying to the Doctoral Programme
Are you ready to start your research career at the University of Turku? Our university is typically ranked among the top one or two per cent of all the world’s universities in university rankings (QS World University Rankings). The University of Turku Graduate School (UTUGS) provides an international research community and a high-quality supervision, with emphasis on supervisors’ expertise and commitment to personalized supervision of doctoral researchers.
There are 16 Doctoral Programmes covering all the disciplines of the University of Turku, with approximately 2,000 doctoral researchers in total from over 70 countries. More than 180 doctoral degrees are completed each year. To apply for studying for a doctoral degree, study rights for doctoral training are applied through doctoral programmes. The application period for a right to study a doctoral degree occurs twice a year.
There are approximately 200 fixed-term doctoral researcher funded positions under an employment contract that you can apply for in the autumn application period. The Finland Fellowship funding is a new option for gifted non-EU/EEA doctoral researchers who are admitted to doctoral studies at the University of Turku. The Finland Fellowship consists of a salary paid by the University of Turku Graduate School (UTUGS) and a separate one-off compensation for expenses.
>> How to apply for doctoral training and funded positions/Finland Fellowship funding (https://www.utu.fi/en/research/utugs/how-to-apply)
>> Get to know our Doctoral Programmes (https://www.utu.fi/en/research/utugs/doctoral-programmes)
>> Read about the experiences of our student ambassadors (https://www.utu.fi/en/study-at-utu/utu-ambassadors)
There is also a possibility to come to the University of Turku as a visiting researcher, or to do a joint doctoral degree between two universities. Cotutelle – also known as joint doctoral supervision – concerns an arrangement where a doctoral researcher pursues a doctoral degree at two separate universities or other institutions of higher education in two different countries. The doctoral researcher works on their doctoral dissertation equally in both universities under the joint supervision of at least two supervisors. The objective of a Cotutelle agreement is that the candidate receives a degree from both universities but completes only one doctoral dissertation.
>> Read more about the Cotutelle agrement (https://www.utu.fi/en/research/utugs/cotutelle)
Educating future experts who will solve complex scientific questions and social issues and build a sustainable world is a strategic goal of the University of Turku. In doctoral training, this goal is met by providing high-quality supervision, with emphasis on supervisors’ expertise and commitment to personalised supervision of doctoral researchers. Many doctoral programmes require the applicants to find the supervisors in advance prior to applying.
>> Get to know our research (https://www.utu.fi/en/research)
>> Get to know our researchers (https://www.utu.fi/en/search-people)
>> Get to know our faculties (https://www.utu.fi/en/university/faculties)
You can find a lot of useful general information and advice about living in Finland, the Finnish culture, Finnish society, travelling in Finland, and much more at various webpages.
>> University of Turku's website about studying in Finland (https://www.utu.fi/en/finland-a-superpower-of-education-and-innovations)
>> ThisisFINLAND forms a window on Finland for everyone interested in our country, its culture and its people. ThisisFINLAND covers anything related to Finland and Finnish society (https://finland.fi/)
>> VisitFinland offers you the best places to go, things to do and practical tips (https://www.visitfinland.com/en/)
2. New doctoral researcher: Preparing for the move and settling in Turku
Congratulations for being admitted to one of our Doctoral Programmes at the University of Turku! Moving to a new city and country to complete research and study is a major life change. There are several services and links that help you to get settled to your new study place.
As an international doctoral researcher, you are welcome to reach to our International Staff Services, no matter what source of funding you have.
>> New doctoral researchers coming from abroad are offered International Staff Services (https://www.utu.fi/en/university/for-international-staff)
In issues like residence permits and accommodation, the University provides the doctoral researchers with links and contact information to local and national organisations. The University works closely with International House Turku (IHTurku), which can advise admitted applicants on immigration and other formal matters. IHTurku also provides multilingual advice and guidance services regarding employment, education, social services, networking, accessing public services, housing, free-time activities and completing official paperwork. These services are available in-person or online. The doctoral researcher can contact the IHTurku as soon as they are admitted to the University of Turku.
>> The Finnish Immigration Service (Migri) deals with issues concerning residence permits (https://migri.fi/en/researcher)
EURAXESS and HEI LIFE have also published a "Guide for International Researchers and Their Families" that will help find your way around the practicalities and everyday life
>> Guide for International Researchers and Their Families (https://sway.office.com/ZkNBf2qCy2OVITsb?ref=Link)
There are also many events and programs that can help the new doctoral researcher find their place in the university community and Finnish society.
Twice a year, the Graduate School UTUGS organises an orientation event “My UTUGS” to all its doctoral researchers of the University. In addition, the Faculties and Doctoral Programmes have their own orientation and networking events. It is highly encouraged to participate in different events and network among your peers. The coordinator of the doctoral programme sends information about these events by email.
Don't forget our university's Student Union TYY; information on TYY and its services in English is available on the TYY website at www.tyy.fi/en. Membership is not compulsory for doctoral researchers but you can get a student card and get some discounts, for example cheaper lunch at the University campus Unica restaurants. As a member of TYY, doctoral researchers can also use services of the student lawyer and consultation services from the TYY specialists. The membership payment is done together with the annual registration to the University in Oili system and if it's not possible to register in Oili, the doctoral researcher must send an email to disco (a) utu.fi in order to get the payment information by email.
The city of Turku also offers many services around the themes of networking. The ‘Welcome to Turku!’ series from IHTurku includes webinars on key topics and in-person networking events for new international residents and their families. The Friendship Programme connects international students with locals in the Turku area and offers a chance for mutual cultural exchange and new experiences.
UTU’s buddy programme is designed to help international researchers and their partners within the first few months when arriving to Finland. Buddies, the "local resource persons", can have international experiences without leaving their home town, learn from other cultures, practice their language skills and have a new international friend.
>> UTUGS’s services for doctoral researchers (https://www.utu.fi/en/research/utugs/for-doctoral-researcher)
>> Student Union TYY (www.tyy.fi/en)
>> Student card (www.frank.fi/en)
>> Read more about the buddy program (https://www.utu.fi/en/university/for-international-staff/checklist/buddy-resource-person-for-an-international-newcomer)
>> Turku’s Friendship programme (https://www.turku.fi/en/study-turku/events/friendship-programme)
>> Information about events organised for international talents by the Career in Turku and Southwest Finland, a collaborative initiative that aims to attract and welcome highly skilled internationals, and encourage / get them to stay and thrive in the region long-term (https://careerinsouthwestfinland.fi/events/)
The University of Turku offers Finnish language courses at the Centre for Language and Communication Studies for international staff members, researchers, scholarship holders and doctoral researchers. These courses are free of charge and take place during working hours. They can be found from the staff-training calendar Konsta. Other training opportunities are also available as well and all doctoral researchers (no matter what their funding situation is) can participate in them. You can also find Finnish discussion groups (free of charge) through IHTurku.
>> UTUGS Finnish for Beginners course (https://opas.peppi.utu.fi/en/programme/90830?period=2022-2024)
>> Staff training calendar Konsta (https://www.utu.fi/stafftraining)
3. High-quality learning experience, integration into the research community, funding and well-being
Doing research can be lonely but it doesn't have to be! A high-quality research and learning experience, integration into the research community and networking with colleagues and peers is a vital part of the University of Turku doctoral studies. Learn also of alternatives to finance your studies and research at the University of Turku.
At least two supervisors are nominated to each doctoral researcher to support their research and doctoral education. Supervisors encourage the doctoral researcher’s dissertation research and familiarize the doctoral researcher with the principles and practices of academic work.
All doctoral researchers in co-operation with supervisors’ tailor the content of their doctoral studies to fulfil not only the curricula of the Doctoral Programme, but also the researcher's personal interests and ambitions. Activities, courses and events organized by the University of Turku Graduate School, Doctoral Programmes, Departments and the University of Turku Human Resources Unit are accessible for the doctoral researcher and provide not only discipline specific courses but also studies supporting doctoral researchers’ working life skills and networking possibilities. In addition to courses and events, the University of Turku Graduate school provides services for doctoral researchers, for example the first article language checking service.
The Doctoral Programme coordinator is happy to help you find solutions to questions related to your doctoral studies. Moreover, Doctoral Programme coordinator informs you of the topical issues and events. The doctoral researcher's feedback is regularly asked and greatly appreciated in order to develop the courses, events and actions of both the University of Turku Graduate School and Doctoral Programmes.
>> Link to the website of Doctoral Programmes Curricula (https://opas.peppi.utu.fi/en/postgraduate-studies/14003?period=2022-2024)
>> Link to the website of Discipline specific Master’s level courses organised by the departments (https://opas.peppi.utu.fi/en/masters-degree-programmes/22230?period=2022-2024)
>> Link to the website of University of the Turku Graduate School of Transferable Skills in the study guide (https://opas.peppi.utu.fi/en/programme/90830?period=2022-2024)
>> Link to the UTU intranet site of Staff Training Courses organised by human resources unit (https://intranet.utu.fi/index/developing-professional-skills-and-qualifications/Pages/default.aspx)
>> Link to the website of First Article Language Checking Service (https://www.utu.fi/en/research/utugs/for-doctoral-candidate/falcs)
>> Link to the website of UTU doctoral programmes (https://www.utu.fi/en/research/utugs/doctoral-programmes)
Moving to a new country is exciting but you might need help with the integration or you might feel lonely especially at the beginning of your journey. Do not worry, the University of Turku and City of Turku offer a wide range of services that supports your integration and well-being. The International House Turku brings together counselling and guidance services promoting and supporting your integration in Turku. In order to boost your integration into Finnish society, you are encouraged to register for the Finnish language courses. In order to network with colleagues and find new friends, you are invited to peer-support groups, seasonal recreational events and other events organized by Doctoral Programmes, Departments and the University of Turku Human Resources Unit. The Friendship Programme and Buddy programme offer a chance for mutual cultural exchange by connecting internationals and locals in Turku.
>> Link to the website of the International House Turku (https://ihturku.fi/en/)
>> Link to the website of the Friendship Programme (https://www.turku.fi/en/study-turku/events/friendship-programme)
>> Link to the website of the Buddy Programme (https://www.utu.fi/en/university/for-international-staff/checklist/buddy-resource-person-for-an-international-newcomer)
In order to boost your studies, join sport services provided by Campus Sport. The University of Turku On My Mind Project targets to resolve problems in studying or mental health with the help of peer tutors. To find solutions to issues in studying and learning skills, motivation or time management, the University of Turku study psychologist services are at your disposal. If needed, the University of Turku accessibility planning officer advises a doctoral researcher in different questions addressing the accessibility at the University.
>> Link to the website of Campus Sport (https://www.campussport.fi/en/info-en/)
>> Link to the website of the On My Mind Project (https://sites.utu.fi/mielenpaalla/en/)
>> Link to the intranet site of the University of Turku Study Psychologist Services (https://intranet.utu.fi/index/Study_Psychologist/Pages/default.aspx)
>> Link to the Accessibility website (https://www.utu.fi/en/university/accessibility)
A right to study a doctoral degree at the University of Turku does not include the funded doctoral researcher position or scholarship. As the secured funding is listed as one of the most important factors promoting the progress of the doctoral studies, it is highly recommended acquainting oneself with the research funding landscape in Finland before starting the studies. In Finland, it is typical that doctoral dissertation research is done either in an employment relationship or on a personal grant provided by a private foundation or other funding organizations.
In order to guarantee a funded doctoral researcher position for the best researchers, the University of Turku Graduate School provides approximately 200 funded positions. Positions are open in September and the maximum length for a funded doctoral researcher position is four years. The call of funded doctoral researcher positions can be found the webpages of each Doctoral Programme.
>> Link to Open Vacancies at the University of Turku Including the Funded Doctoral Researcher Positions (https://www.utu.fi/en/university/come-work-with-us/open-vacancies)
>> Link to Open Research Funding Opportunities in Finland (https://research.fi/en/results/funding-calls?status=open)
>> Link to UTUGS Web Pages Listing the Doctoral Programmes (https://www.utu.fi/en/research/utugs/how-to-apply)
If you do not have an employment relationship or a personal grant, your supervisors assist you in applying for funding from private foundations and other funding organizations by providing information on available options. Furthermore, it is recommended that you sign up to the University of Turku Graduate School course "Writing a grant proposals" giving practical tools in grant writing.
It should be noted that the ground rules of making the doctoral studies in an employment relationship or on a grant are different. If you are working in an employment relationship, your employer has formal expectations and standards for your working. The salary is taxable income, but you are entitled to occupational health care and you have insurance to cover accidents and the pension. If your form of funding is a grant, you have more autonomy. The grant is tax-free up to circa 20,000 euro, but you are not entitled to occupational health care and you should apply a pension insurance from Mela, the social insurance institution for Finnish farmers and grant recipients. In addition to pension insurance, Mela has other types of insurances, which provide security for grant recipients.
Importantly, a doctoral researcher is entitled to treatment in the Finnish public healthcare system if one is the resident of a Finnish municipality. For that purpose, a Kela card should be applied.
>> Link to Mela (https://www.mela.fi/en/grant-and-scholarship-recipients/)
>> Link to Kela Card (https://www.kela.fi/web/en/kela-card1)
It is recommended that a researcher conducting research without employment relationship will do a research agreement with the University of Turku. This agreement determines the status, rights and responsibilities of a researcher.
>> Link to Research Agreement intranet page (https://forms.utu.fi/private/yliopistositoumus?lang=en)
Last but not least, a researcher conducting research without employment relationship is asked to introduce themselves to an electronic workbook to support well-being at work for researchers with scholarships.
>> Link to an electronic workbook to support well-being at work for researchers with scholarships (https://www.tjs-opintokeskus.fi/julkaisut-ja-aineistot/verkkoaineistot/tyohyvinvointia-apurahalla-tutkivalle)
4. Growing connections, getting to know Finnish working culture and planning the future career
Completing your doctoral thesis is just the first step on your journey: where will your future career lead you? The University supports the professional networking and development of transferable skills of the doctoral researcher through various services and events. The nature of conducting research at the University as part of the research group also facilitates the doctoral researcher getting to know Finnish working culture possibilities after the doctoral degree.
Throughout doctoral studies, the doctoral researcher develops and improves a multitude of transferable skills. Where they decide to take their subject-specific knowledge and a bank of more general transferable skills is up to the wishes of the individual. Where do doctors work after their degrees? The options range from continuing work at Universities or Universities of Applied Sciences with an academic career or teaching to working in the public or private sector.
For all doctoral researchers who are considering their career options from the start to the end of their doctoral degrees, the Graduate School UTUGS aims that all doctoral researchers have the opportunity to have a career and review discussion together with their supervisor and/or administrative supervisor once a year. These discussions are to discuss potential career paths in an open and supportive environment.
>> Link to more information about career planning and where individuals with a doctoral degree work, and the career and review discussion (https://www.utu.fi/en/research/utugs/for-doctoral-researcher/career)
The University of Turku Careers Service's events and services are open for all doctoral researchers. The Career's service can advice the doctoral researcher on how to bring across your skills to a potential future employer, for example, by aiding the doctoral researcher with creating or tailoring their CVs to a specific type of job. The doctoral researcher can also schedule an appointment for individual counselling about their career plans.
>> Link to the Careers Services (https://sites.utu.fi/rekry/en/)
>> Link to the Careers Services' How to Work in Finland self-study materials, where the international researcher can go through topics such as Finnish working culture, how to find jobs in Finland and helps with the doctoral researchers career planning (https://sites.utu.fi/rekry/en/how-to-work-in-finland-self-study-package/)
>> Link to information about career after studies at the University of Turku (https://www.utu.fi/en/study-at-utu/career-after-studies)
>> The JobTeaser-portal hosts open vacancies listed by the Careers Services. Link to the JobTeaser instructions (https://sites.utu.fi/rekry/en/open-vacancies/)
>> Open vacancies at the University of Turku (https://www.utu.fi/en/university/come-work-with-us/open-vacancies)
Mentorship can be a very valuable tool to hear about experiences in different employment sectors and to grow the individual's network. The University of Turku hosts a mentoring programme for its doctoral and postdoctoral researchers, where mentors can be either from academia or outside academia, e.g. from the private or public sector, or from industry. For international doctoral researchers, this is an opportunity to get to know the working life in Finland whilst growing their network and explore their possible career options.
>> Link to the mentoring programme (https://www.utu.fi/en/research/utugs/for-doctoral-researchers/mentoring-for-doctoral-researchers-and-postdoctoral-researchers)
From the Turku and Southwest Finland region all the way to the whole of Finland, there are multiple avenues to hear about working in Finland and exploring potential career paths for international researchers. Keep an eye out on networking events and explore related LinkedIn groups for opportunities.
>> Link to the Study and Stay in Turku event, where also career options in Finland are explored (https://sites.utu.fi/study-and-stay-turku/)
>> Link to the Career in Southwest Finland website, with information about working in Finland (https://careerinsouthwestfinland.fi/)
>> Link to the Career in Southwest Finland’s Jobs in Finland job portal (https://jobsinfinland.fi/)
>> Link to the Empower Wednesday programme, aimed at networking and hearing about Finnish working life among other topical topics (https://careerinsouthwestfinland.fi/home/living/empower-wednesday/)
>> Link to the Turku Business Region’s information about setting up a startup (https://turkubusinessregion.com/en/startupkit/)
>> Link to the Turku Business Region’s website about founding your own company (https://turkubusinessregion.com/en/from-idea-to-enterprise/)
The University of Turku is home to many international postdocs. If the doctoral researcher’s focus is on continuing the researcher career with a postdoc position, there are several options. Doctoral researchers are encouraged to get familiar with the research areas of the University, get in touch with group leaders or principal investigators to inquire about possibilities, read the open vacancies, or have a think about how their research area could fit into the University’s research.
>> Link to the University of Turku’s website listing opportunities and information for postdocs (https://www.utu.fi/en/research/postdocs)
>> Open vacancies at the University of Turku, including listed postdoctoral researcher positions (https://www.utu.fi/en/university/come-work-with-us/open-vacancies)
The University of Turku has two multidisciplinary research collegia with a high international standard: one for humanities and social sciences, the Turku Institute for Advanced Studies (TIAS), and one for science, medicine and technology, the Turku Collegium for Science, Medicine and Technology (TCSMT). The collegia have open calls for applications for fixed-term positions, either for Postdoctoral Researchers, or for Collegium Researchers. For being a researcher in one of the collegia, of major importance are the scientific excellence of the researcher’s work, and their international research experience and mobility.
>> Link to Turku Institute for Advanced Studies (TIAS) website (https://www.utu.fi/en/research/research-collegia/tias)
>> Link to Turku Collegium for Science, Medicine and Technology (TCSMT) website (https://www.utu.fi/en/research/research-collegia/tcsmt)
If the researcher is considering a postdoc position in industry, doctoral researchers near the end of their degrees or graduated doctors can apply for the Post Docs in Companies programme (PoDoCo).
>> Link with more information of the PoDoCo programme (https://www.podoco.fi/)
During doctoral studies, the multidisciplinary research environment of the University, from the faculties, departments, research groups or supervisors, facilitate the growth of the doctoral researcher's connections to the research community and the world beyond academia. The doctoral researcher's research environment may provide knowledge or connections to relevant companies or work places in the research field of the thesis work.
The curricula of the doctoral programmes allow for the possibility of including study credits from industrial placements or internships, as well as other opportunities that encourage researcher mobility. Postgraduate studies can include courses that have a focus on developing transferable skills.
Depending on the doctoral programme, even the thesis work can include connections to the world outside of the academic environment: it may be possible to have supervisors from outside of academia or from other research institutes, or the thesis can be a collaboration between a company and the University of Turku in the industrial PhD Training (iPhD) as part of the Drug Research Doctoral Programme (DRDP). Ask the doctoral programme coordinator for more information, as this depends on the doctoral researcher's programme.
>> Link to the DRDP doctoral programme website (https://www.utu.fi/en/research/utugs/drug-research-doctoral-programme)
To explore career options or to grow the professional network of the doctoral researcher, international doctoral researchers can take part in the Uniting Companies and International University Talents (UNICOM) project's 1-3 month industry placements in Health/Tech/Clean companies located in Southwest Finland.
>> Link to the University of Turku UNICOM website (https://www.utu.fi/en/yliopisto/unicom)
>> Link to the Career in Southwest Finland UNICOM website (https://careerinsouthwestfinland.fi/unicom/).
Once the doctoral researcher has graduated, they are invited to register as an alumnus of the University. Registration allows the international doctoral researcher to maintain their connection to the University and peers, for example by being invited to all the alumni events together with the rest of the alumni from the University or specific Faculties.
>> Link to the alumni webpages (https://www.utu.fi/en/foralumni)