PhD Studies

PhD studies and DoCS


Due to the information technology boom, there is a shortage of people with a PhD degree in computer science in both universities and the business world. To meet this shortage of researchers, the universities have started different programmes, like graduate schools, research institutes and centres of excellence. In addition, IT businesses have invested heavily in R&D by establishing their own research centres, among other things. This makes the situation very favourable for research and PhD studies in computer science.


The goal of a PhD degree in computer science is to gain deeper knowledge of some sub-field of computer science and the ability to attain new scientific insights in it. PhD studies are usually based on the MSc degree. While the general theme of the DoCS programme is Computer Science, the focal areas of the programme are Algorithmic Bioinformatics; Algorithms, Data Analytics and Machine Learning; Data Science; Networking and Services; and Software Systems.

At the beginning of 2014, the University of Helsinki introduced a new doctoral education system consisting of four doctoral schools. One of these doctoral schools was established in the field of natural sciences. These schools consist of doctoral programmes. All the PhD students in computer science belong to the Doctoral Programme in Computer Science (DoCS). This programme is a part of the Doctoral School of Natural Sciences that is formed by the doctoral programmes in the Faculty of Science.

Postgraduate degrees

The goal of the PhD studies may be the Licentiate degree, and/or the Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) degree. A central part of the studies is the independent writing of a licentiate or doctoral thesis. Licentiate research should show that the student is well acquainted with the research field, and that s/he is able to perform independent work in writing scientific texts and performing scientific work. In the doctoral degree, the requirements for the thesis are on a higher level: the thesis should show academic maturity and contain internationally significant new knowledge.

PhD students are recommended to aim at the doctoral degree. Usually, a preliminary version of the doctoral thesis can then be accepted as a licentiate thesis. The doctoral thesis may also be developed from the licentiate thesis, if the topic is suitable. In most cases, students should aim at internationally publishable results as soon as they have achieved certain basic skills. Results may be published as journal and conference articles even before the thesis is finished, and it is possible to have a collection of such articles assembled into a thesis. The other possible form of a thesis is a monograph that presents the research as a whole.

More information

More general information about PhD studies at the University of Helsinki can be found on

PhD Studies

PhD Studies