An overview of doctoral studies in Finland and in Sweden

Jari Lavonen, Helge Strömdahl
PREFACE Preface to special issue In this special issue of NorDiNa we introduce the Finnish Graduate School of Mathematics, Physics and Chemistry Education and the Swedish National Graduate School in Science and Technology Education Research (FontD) through articles of the graduate school students and recently completed doctorates. These articles give one view of current research projects at the graduate schools. Moreover, a brief overview of doctoral studies in Finland and Sweden is made and
more » ... eden is made and the graduate schools' structures and activities are described. The general aim of the doctoral studies in both countries is to provide students with an in-depth knowledge of the field of research and the capability to produce novel scientific knowledge independently. A doctoral degree can be completed within the faculties of Finnish and Swedish universities , respectively. Students can apply for doctoral studies after the relevant second-cycle degree by writing a research and a study plan. The application is accepted by the faculty council based on the evaluation of the application. However, the evaluation varies and typically at least a recommendation of the main supervisor is needed. In Sweden full funding is required to be appointed as a doctoral student. In Finland funding for studies is not required: some students are working in doctoral student positions, some in research projects, some in graduate school and some have a scholarship. However, most of the students are part-time students. In Sweden a doctoral student has one head supervisor (a professor or a "docent") and one or more co-supervisors. In Finland a doctoral student has one main supervisor (a professor of a faculty) and typically another supervisor: The main supervisor is responsible for "organising" the doctoral studies. Doctorates in both countries should take approximately 4 years of full-time study to complete. However, normally studies in Sweden are combined with 20% assistant work at the university department, so the total study time is 5 years. In Finland the studies consist of one year (60 credit points) of "formal" studies and writing of the thesis which demonstrates independent and critical thinking. The formal studies consist of studies in research methodology, philosophy and language studies. In addition, students participate in a research seminar and conferences abroad. The doctoral studies in Sweden are comprised typically of 90 credits of courses and 150 credits of doctoral thesis work. In both countries the thesis can be a monograph or it can be a combination of 3-5 research articles in refereed journals and a summary which combines these articles and gives relevant background and research methodology information in the field of study. A pre-doctoral degree of Licentiate may be taken in both countries before the Doctor's degree and it is equal to 2 years of full-time study.