15 grants available for full-time doctoral studies (deadline: Feb. 14, 2014)

Deadline: Fri, 14.02.2014, this call is closed


15 grants available for full-time doctoral studies (deadline: Feb. 14, 2014)

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 55 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 six research area specific tracks:

  • Algorithms and machine learning
  • Creative technologies
  • Life science informatics
  • Networks, networked systems and services
  • Software and service engineering and systems
  • User centered information technology

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 15 fully funded positions available for exceptionally qualified doctoral students. The purpose of the call is to evalute 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.

General information

  • Who is eligible to apply?
    • (i) Current doctoral students whose supervisor is listed in the list of supervisors participating in the call (see below).
    • (ii) Potential new doctoral students who are willing to start their doctoral studies under one of the  supervisors participating in the call (see the listbelow) 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 programmes (Aalto SCIAalto ELECU. 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 most supervisors expect new students to start by the beginning of the next academic year (September 2014). 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 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?
  • 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@hiit.fi.

Application process

  • Application form: https://apply.aalto.fi/?ff/HICT_application_2014 (open February 3 - February 14, 2014).
  • When does the call open?
    • The electronic application form opens February 3, 2014 at 00:01 EET (GMT+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 February 14, 2014 at 15:30 EET (GMT+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):
      • A complete curriculum vitae, describing education and employment history
      • A copy of passport or ID card
      • 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 study transcript provided by the applicant's university that lists studies completed and grades achieved by the end of 2013
      • For new students: a ranked list of three potential supervisors from the list of participating supervisors below
      • 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).
        • 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 current students, it is sufficient to identify the supervisor and briefly explain the present status of the studies.
    • Optional information/attachments:
      • Names, positions, affiliations and e-mail addresses of at most 3 senior academic people available for providing recommendation letters. The recommenders can submit their letters through the e-form "https://elomake.helsinki.fi/lomakkeet/47768/lomake.html". The deadline for submitting the recommendations will be February 21, 2014 at 15:30 EET (GMT+2), so please give the letter writers sufficient advance warning. You will also need to inform them of a specific case-id code that you get when you start preparing your application in the online application system. Recommendation letters can be either typed directly onto the recommendation e-form or uploaded in pdf.
      • Note: Recommendation letters for current doctoral students of HICT supervisors are NOT required at this stage; they will be requested separately as needed.
      • Copy of English language proficiency certificate (TOEFL, IELTS, CAE/CPE). The universities participating in HICT have strict language skills requirements for doctoral students (Aalto UniversityUniversity 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?
    • The named potential supervisors review the applications, and if interested, contact the applicant directly for further discussions. If the discussions are fruitful, the applicant then prepares, together with the potential supervisor, a complete research plan and a study plan, and is moved to the next stage of the evaluation process.
    • Potential new students who will not get a new potential supervisor in the first phase of the selction process will be informed that they cannot continue in the second stage of the curent call, but you will be able to indicate in your application form whether your application can be used in filling other vacancies that may become open later in the recruiting units.


Supervisors participating in this call:

The following supervisors from each of the HICT tracks have expressed interest in recruiting students from the present call:

  1. Algorithms and machine learning
  2. Creative technologies
  3. Life science informatics
  4. Networks, networked systems and services
    • Prof. Mario Di Francesco (Aalto/CSE): mobile computing and networking, energy-efficient communications
    • Prof. Keijo Heljanko (Aalto/CSE): distributed cloud computing methods for big data analysis
    • Prof. Heikki Hämmäinen (Aalto/COMNET): techno-economics of new Internet architectures and protocols big data,  analysis of mobile Internet usage
    • Prof. Raimo Kantola (Aalto/COMNET): customer edge switching (generalization of NATs), trust management for  the Internet including privacy preservation, software defined networking applications for mobile networks
    • Prof. Jukka Manner (Aalto/COMNET): mobile network and device data analytics, security of SDN-based networks
    • Prof. Jörg Ott (Aalto/COMNET): Internet protocols, network architecture (e.g., DTN, ICN),  distributed systems
    • Prof. Antti Ylä-Jääski (Aalto/CSE): mobile and cloud computing, energy-efficient computing and communications, disributed systems and services
  5. Software and service engineering and systems
  6. User centered information technology
    • Prof. Eero Hyvönen (Aalto/ME): semantic web, linked open data, artificial intelligence
    • Prof. Giulio Jacucci (UH/CS): human computer interaction, ubiquitous computing, exploratory search
    • Prof. Mikko Kurimo (Aalto/SPA): machine learning for speech and language processing, conversational spoken and multimodal interaction
    • Prof. Antti Oulasvirta (Aalto/COMNET): user interfaces, human-computer interaction
    • Prof. Tapio Takala (Aalto/ME): web technologies, computer graphics and animation, new interaction technologies
    • Prof. Petri Vuorimaa (Aalto/ME): web technologies, web of things, web based UIs