Applying as a doctoral student in Sibelius Academy – Applied Study Programme

Applying to the Applied Study Programme

The objective of the Applied Study Programme is for the candidate to develop specialised knowledge and skills through a music-related research and development project. The degree can be academic/scientific or artistic. The demonstration of proficiency (the doctoral portfolio) comprises studies related to new and proven methods, applications and procedures, and other outputs related to the development project.

Applicants to the Applied Study Programme are accepted on the basis of a project plan (see the content of the plan under Application Documents – Applied Study Programme), other application documents, and an interview, if necessary. Applicants planning to include artistic studies in their degree should prepare for an assessment of their artistic skills.

Students in the Applied Study Programme prepare a doctoral portfolio, which always includes a written report. Other elements may include educational material, music editions, recordings, concerts, research articles, multimedia productions, software, etc. More important, however, is the information and knowledge the study for the degree is intended to produce and how the demonstration of proficiency describes this information and knowledge. Targets for development may incorporate novel methods, new applications of an existing method, new ways of presenting or analysing existing data, etc.

Students are advised to discuss their project plan with the relevant professor or supervisor before submitting it.

The project plan must show that the intended studies are in accordance with the objectives set out in the Decree on University Degrees (794/2004).


Application documents – Applied Study Programme

All applications must include the following documents:

  1. A free-form application to the doctoral study programme addressed to the Sibelius Academy Academic Council. A statement that the application is for the doctor of music degree and the intended programme is the Applied Study Programme. The application must also mention whether the candidate is applying for the academic/scientific or artistic orientation.
  2. A project plan, including the applicant's objectives in developing as a professional and contributing to his/her field, the project content, and a doctoral portfolio. The recommended length of the plan is approx. 10 pages. (Extent of studies is 165 ECTS credits.)


  1. A short description of the applicant's reasons and resources for doctoral study and his or her motivation and goals for individual professional development and for the development of the field.
  2. A description of the development project:
    • An account of the need for development and the background of this need.
    • The immaterial objective or goals of the development project. These objectives can be, for example, new visions or skills.
    • Project background: taking into consideration central concepts and limitations and related research, artistic work, or development projects, etc.
    • Focal points of the project (for example, pedagogical).
    • A description of the process and methods or tools of the development project, i.e., what will be done, and how the project will bring the applicant closer to completing the objective.
    • A list of equipment or other objects that will be produced in the project. These objects will be physical (concerts, recordings, music editions, teaching material, online material, etc.).
    • What tacit knowledge or immaterial skills the project will produce.
    • How the functionality of the methods, materials, etc. produced in the project will be tested and how the test results will be utilised.
    • The goals of the applicant’s degree.
    • How the applicant’s project can benefit the music scene.
  3. Description of the demonstration of proficiency: The plan must provide an idea of the type of demonstration of proficiency that will be used to display the results of the project so that they can be evaluated. The demonstration of proficiency must show that the objective has been reached and that the nature of the degree is arts oriented. The demonstration of proficiency must also include a report on the project as an entity and the process. If the demonstration of proficiency includes several parts, the plan must establish how they are interconnected and form an entity.
  4. Schedule: a study plan detailing the time allocated for courses and the order in which they will be completed.
  5. The applicant may wish to include a reference list of key literature in the field.
  1. Planned theoretical and practical studies, constituting a meaningful entity. They must include studies in the philosophy of art and science worth at least 15 ECTS credits. It is not necessary to define individual courses, but a plan of the type and amount of studies is needed. The extent of the supportive studies is 75 ECTS credits.
  2. Personal details and contact information.
  3. A curriculum vitae.
  4. A description of earlier degrees and studies and other matters that the applicant considers relevant to his/her eligibility for the doctoral programme.
  5. Candidates applying to the Research Programme must include an abstract and grade for the written presentation or equivalent submitted for a previous degree, and, if the thesis is online, a relevant URL. Candidates applying for the Artistic Study Programme must also announce the programme they will perform at the artistic proficiency test, if required.

The applicants are advised not to submit references, reviews, or other material that has not been mentioned above.

Please see Specific features of the Applied Study Programme (below) 


Applicants are also advised to explore the following pages:

Doctoral projects by the current doctoral students at the DocMus Doctoral School

Doctoral projects by the current doctoral students at the MuTri Doctoral School

Theses by students who have completed their artistic doctoral studies in the Arts Study Programme


Specific features of the Applied Study Programme: outcomes, development objects, report

The output generated in the Development Study Programme will represent three different levels:

1) First-level outputs are immaterial or abstract, for example, new information, skills, or knowledge.

2) On the second level, this immaterial or abstract output will be articulated as or operationalised into functional entities, such as new methods, practices, or applications.

3) The third level will consist of hands-on material necessary for the practical implementation and/or presentation of the innovation. The material may include learning materials, music editions, recordings, teaching demonstrations, concerts, compositions, musical instruments, technical equipment, multimedia performances, or software.

The focus of the degree is the target for development. The material result of the degree, a demonstration of proficiency, is a portfolio consisting of several items (as listed above).

During the project, the output, skills, and knowledge generated must be tested in an appropriate manner. An appropriate method of testing is, for example, to publish articles in peer-reviewed publications or to implement an experimental adaption of the output of the development study project: the suitability and sufficiency of the candidate’s competence and the project’s subject in practical settings is tested or examined and then supplemented and revised as required.

In addition to other relevant materials, the doctoral portfolio must include a report on the development project. The summary covers, for example, the context, starting points, background assumptions, objectives, previous work on the subject matter, links between such work and the current project, and methods. In addition, the report must account for the other items of the demonstration of proficiency, clarify their relationship to the target of development, and describe how the items are connected to form an entity.