Full-Time Doctoral Studies Grants, Finland

Publish Date: Jul 22, 2015

Deadline: Aug 06, 2015

20 grants available for full-time doctoral studies (deadline: August 6, 2015)

The Helsinki Doctoral Education Network in Information and Communications Technology (HICT) is a collaborative doctoral education network hosted jointly by Aalto University and the University of Helsinki, the two leading universities within this area in Finland. The network involves at present 60 professors and over 200 doctoral students, and the participating units graduate altogether more than 40 new doctors each year. The activities of HICT are structured along five research area specific tracks:
  • Algorithms and machine learning
  • Life science informatics
  • Networks, networked systems and services
  • Software and service engineering and systems
  • User centered and creative technologies
The quality of research and education in both HICT universities is world-class, but the education is still practically free as there are no tuition fees in the Finnish university system. Helsinki has been ranked as the World's Most Livable City (Monocle, 2011), and is the capital city of Finland, which is in the top 10 of the most highly educated nations in the world (OECD, 2013), and has been selected as the world’s best country to live in (Newsweek, 2010).
The participating units of HICT have currently 20 fully funded positions available for exceptionally qualified doctoral students. The purpose of the call is to evaluate the candidates so that the participating units can then offer the funding to the most successful applicants. The grants cover full-time employment in one of the participating units for the remaining duration of the doctoral studies, and the maximum extent of full-time doctoral studies is four years.
In this call you can either apply to a research group in general or/and to a specific research project. The group descriptions can be found through the list of HICT supervisors at "http://www.hict.fi/supervisors”, and the call-specific projects are described at "http://www.hict.fi/projects”.

General information

Who is eligible to apply?
(i) Current doctoral students of HICT supervisors (see list at http://www.hict.fi/supervisors).
(ii) Potential new doctoral students who are willing to start their doctoral studies under one of the supervisors participating in the call (see list at http://www.hict.fi/supervisors) by the beginning of the funding period.
In both cases, in order to be successful in the call, the applicant needs to be an exceptional student. Although the number of grants is relatively high, we expect to receive hundreds of good applications, and the process is extremely competitive.
While all applicants who have submitted an application by the deadline will be appropriately considered, Aalto University and the University of Helsinki reserve the right to consider also other candidates for the announced positions. They may decide to make offers to exceptional candidates already before the end of the call.
In the Finnish university system, a person must have a Master's degree in order to enroll for doctoral studies. In case you wish to pursue graduate studies with a B.Sc. background, please apply first to one of the participating units' Master's programs (Aalto SCI, Aalto ELEC, U. Helsinki). Highly qualified new M.Sc. students may apply for a position as aspirant members of the HICT network via a separate process (to be established later), and for these honors students it will then be straightforward to continue studies as a doctoral student after the mandatory M.Sc. phase.
When does the funding period start?
The exact starting date can be negotiated between the student and the supervisor, but the recommendation is to start in January 2016. The student must have completed his/her M.Sc. degree before HICT funding commences.
New students also need to go through the standard doctoral student enrollment process of the hosting university/school before the start of the funding period. The supervisors will help in this process, once the best candidates have been identified and linked to a supervisor.
How long is the funding period?
The maximum length of the funding period is four years (for starting doctoral students).
How much is the grant?
The exact amount of monthly salary depends on the stage of the doctoral studies and varies between 2,000 and 3,000 euros/month. The level of the salary is sufficient for a funded student to focus on his/her doctoral studies full-time, without the need to resort to other sources of income.
What are the duties and benefits of a doctoral student?
Funded doctoral students are typically hired as full-time employees for the duration of their doctoral studies. The contract includes the normal occupational health benefits of the employing university, and Finland has a comprehensive social security system.
The annual total workload of research and teaching staff at Finnish universities is 1600 hours. In addition to doctoral studies, persons hired are expected to participate in the supervision of students and teaching following the standard practices of the recruiting unit.
Where are the doctoral studies to take place?
Physically the main work location is at the department of the supervisor: in case of the Aalto departments, these are located in the Otaniemi Campus, while the Department of Computer Science of University of Helsinki is located at the Kumpula Science Campus. The joint research institute HIIT that coordinates the activities of HICT operates on both campuses.
Both campuses are easily reachable from Helsinki city center by public transportation.
The distance between Otaniemi and Kumpula is only some 15 kilometers, and the participating departments collaborate frequently in research and education (in doctoral education through the HICT network). It is administratively very easy to incorporate courses from the other university as part of a doctoral degree in the other university. HICT will also organize joint seminars, lecture series, workshops and other events for its students.
If I come to study in Helsinki, do I need to learn Finnish?
No: the working environment of doctoral students is highly international, and the working language is English. You can normally also cope in English outside work as most Finns have a very good command of English.
More information for international applicants:
  • University of Helsinki pages for international staff
  • Aalto University pages for international staff

Problems with the application process?

  • Please do not contact any of the supervisors, but first read all the material carefully, and if your problem is still unsolved, only then send email to hict-apply[at]hiit.fi.

Application process

HICT Autumn call 2015 consists of two phases. See below the key dates of the application process.
Phase 1: Application form: https://apply.aalto.fi/?ff/HICT_application_2015_autumn 
When does the call open?
The electronic application form opens June 26, 2015 at 16:00 EEST (UTC+3) EET (UTC+2). You can already start preparing the necessary materials (see the instructions below) before the form opens.
When does the call close?
The application form closes on August 6, 2015 at 12:00 (noon) EEST (UTC+3) EET (UTC+2). Incomplete applications or applications arriving after the deadline will not be considered.
How are the applications submitted?
Applications need to be submitted through the online application server (electronic form). Applications sent through any other means will not be processed.
What material is required in the application?
Compulsory information/attachments (all text documents to be provided in pdf):
  • Motivation letter
    • For current students, it is sufficient to identify the supervisor and briefly explain the present status of the studies.
    • Please do not contact the potential supervisors directly, but spend your efforts in making your motivation letter as convincing as possible, so that one of the potential supervisors gets interested. If you have arguments concerning your application, do not send them by email, but state them in the motivation letter.
  • For potential new students, the background and future plans of the student, and in particular the reasons for selecting the three potential supervisors (you can get more information on the participating supervisors through their web pages).
  • For new students: a ranked list of three potential supervisors from the list of participating supervisors (see http://www.hict.fi/supervisors).
  • A study transcript provided by the applicant's university that lists studies completed and grades achieved by the end of June 2015.
  • A copy of the M.Sc. degree certificate. If the degree is still pending, then a plan for its completion must be provided. The degree must be completed by the time HICT funding commences.
  • A copy of passport or ID card
  • A complete curriculum vitae, describing education and employment history​​​
Optional information/attachments :
  • ​Names, positions, affiliations and e-mail addresses of at most 3 senior academic people available for providing recommendation letters upon request from HICT. We will contact you and recommenders separately afterwards, if and when recommendation letters are required.
  • Copy of English language proficiency certificate (TOEFL, IELTS, CAE/CPE). The universities participating in HICT have strict language skills requirements for doctoral students (Aalto University, University of Helsinki). These must be satisfied in order to be enrolled as a doctoral student, and while the language proficiency certificate is optional at the first application stage, it will be required from the applicants who continue into later stages. 
What happens after the call closes?
HICT Autumn call 2015 consists of two phases:
Phase 1: Student-supervisor matching
If you wish to be considered as a potential new doctoral student, please fill in the HICT application form. The application form closes on August 6, after which we review applications. Promising applicants will be invited to a skype interview at the end of August. Based on the review and interviews, top candidates will continue to the Phase 2. 
If you do not yet have a HICT supervisor, you must submit an application in this Phase 1. Doctoral students who already have a designated HICT supervisor can go directly to Phase 2.
Phase 2: Full application
To enter Phase 2, you must have a committed supervisor, with whom you prepare the full application (including the application form, research plan, study plan, financial plan, and mobility plan).
Full applications are prepared during September and reviewed in October. Funding decisions are announced after this. Most of the funded positions commence in January 2016.

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