Apply to doctoral studies in music

Application instructions to doctoral studies at the Sibelius Academy.

General instructions

Q&A session on applying to the doctoral studies was on Wed 9.12.2020 at 4 pm in Zoom. The recording of the session can be seen here: Admission information session to the doctoral studies at the Sibelius Academy 9 December 2020.

Doctor of Music degree and study programme

Doctorates can be earned in three different study programmes: Arts, Research, or Applied Study.

A Doctor of Music degree may be completed in one of three study programmes:

  • The Arts Study Programme involves producing a thematically coherent and research-oriented artistic demonstration of proficiency.
  • The Research Study Programme focuses on scientific research and on studies that augment research skills.
  • The Applied Study Programme focuses on a particular issue in music from the perspective of both knowledge and skills, and on the development aspects thereof. The degree may have either an artistic orientation or a scientific orientation.

The scope of the Doctor of Music degree is 240 ECTS credits. Completion includes a demonstration of proficiency scored at 165 ECTS credits and supporting studies to a total of 75 ECTS credits. The scope of the Licentiate of Music degree is 150 ECTS credits, of which the demonstration of proficiency accounts for 75 ECTS credits and supporting studies for 75 ECTS credits.

The supporting studies must be university-level studies and must cover a command of the relevant branch of the arts, research basics and methods, research communications and working life skills (see https://opinto-opas.uniarts.fi/en/degree-programme/8379).The supporting studies must be compatible with the problem space addressed in the demonstration of proficiency.

Applications instructions

The next round of applications for post-graduate studies at the Sibelius Academy will start in January 2 2021 (deadline for applying is Fri, Jan 29th at 16.00 Finnish time).

You are eligible for post-graduate studies if you have completed a Master of Music degree or a comparable previous degree at the Sibelius Academy or any other applicable Master’s-level university degree. You may also be eligible for post-graduate studies on the basis of other previous studies, if the Doctoral Education and Research Chapter of the Board of the Sibelius Academy considers that you have the capability to successfully pursue post-graduate studies.

You must submit your application through the Studyinfo.fi website.

When filling in the application form in Opintopolku, you may download the application documents once you have selected which study programme you wish to apply for (Arts, Research, Applied Study).

Your application for doctoral studies must be addressed to the Doctoral Education and Research Chapter of the Board of the Sibelius Academy. On the basis of your application, you may be:

1. granted the right to study in a programme leading to a doctorate (decision of the Dean),

2. granted the opportunity to enrol as a student preparing a post-graduate study plan (decision of the Head of Doctoral School), or

3. rejected. 

Admission decisions and announcement of the results

The key criterion in deciding on admission is the evaluation of your capability for successfully pursuing post-graduate studies. Admissions are based on applications and on the material appended thereto by you in the application system, and also on entrance examinations.  An expert examination board will evaluate entrance examination performances in order to establish your knowledge, skills, capability and educability. Evaluation shall be based on the following general criteria and the subsequent special criteria for each study programme.

General admission criteria

  • your capability to successfully complete the post-graduate degree intended
  • application documents and, if any, entrance examination performances
  • feasibility of completing the degree within the normative study times (Doctorate with full-time study in 4 years, Licentiate’s degree in 2.5 years, from the time when the right of study for post-graduate studies is granted)
  • originality of the proposed degree project
  • significance and impact of the proposed degree project in its field and in society at large
  • suitability of the project for the artistic and research profile of the university

The results of the admissions process will be announced to applicants immediately after the decision is made, though no later than 15 June 2021.

Due to the coronavirus situation, changes may have to be made to the planned timetable for admissions in spring 2021.

Claim for a revised decision

Under section 82 the University Act (558/2009), a person applying for admission may submit a claim for a revised decision in writing to the university within 14 days of the admissions decision being announced. Such a claim for a revised decision must be submitted in writing to the registry of the University of the Arts Helsinki.

Content and delivery of a claim for a revised decision

A claim for a revised decision must be received at the registry within 14 days of the decision being announced. Sending a claim for a revised decision is at the sender’s risk. If you submit a claim for a revised decision by e-mail, include in the subject line which academy of the University of the Arts Helsinki it concerns. The claim for a revised decision must include your name and contact details, your demands and the grounds for those demands.

Registry contact information

University of the Arts Helsinki Registry
P.O. Box 38 / Töölönlahdenkatu 16 C
FI-00097 University of the Arts Helsinki
kirjaamo@uniarts.fi

Further information

DocMus/Sirpa Järvelä, sirpa.jarvela@uniarts.fi, +358 40 710 4286
MuTri/Hannu Tolvanen, hannu.tolvanen@uniarts.fi, +358 50 5680 584

Current doctoral projects at the Sibelius Academy

Applying for the Arts Study Programme

The Arts Study Programme involves producing a thematically coherent, research-oriented artistic demonstration of proficiency

The specific goals of the Arts Study Programme are to provide students with:

  • the capacity for excellent and insightful artistic expression
  • the capacity for conceptual clarity in producing information
  • the capacity for generating new information through artistic and research methods and theories
  • the capacity to engage in constructive interaction in the arts community, in the academic community and in society at large.

The demonstration of proficiency to be completed in the Arts Study Programme must be a thematically consistent, research-oriented project consisting of artistic components, a written component (thesis) and a summary. You must define the goals, content, scope and interrelation of these components in your post-graduate study plan that must be included in your application. The post-graduate study plan will be updated as your doctoral studies progress.

  • The artistic components of the demonstration of proficiency may be recitals, compositions, artistic productions, liturgies, recordings, online materials, videos, etc. These components must amount to at least two and at most four concert programmes or similar artistic entities for a doctorate (at most two for a Licentiate’s degree).
  • The demonstration of proficiency also includes a written component, which may be a thesis in a form of a monograph, a comparable multimedia research text, or consist of at least one peer-reviewed research article. The written component must form a coherent research project when taken together with the other components of the demonstration of proficiency.
  • The summary must be a concise report of the goals, framework and components of your demonstration of proficiency and of their interrelations, along with a review of the results and a discussion of the significance of those results. If the written component is a monograph-form thesis, then you include the summary in that. If the written component is an article, then you write the summary separately.

Doctoral students are admitted on the basis of: 1) application documents, 2) the artistic proficiency test, 3) the interview, and 4) the material test. The purpose of the material test is also to gauge your command of the language of study.

The members of the expert examination board will evaluate your knowledge, skills, capability and potential for success in post-graduate studies. The evaluation criteria include:

  • clarity of your post-graduate study plan
  • artistic and technical proficiency
  • originality, distinctiveness, and maturity of musical expression
  • ability to present an argument for your artistic and research goals
  • potential for revising artistic practices and for producing new information
  • potential for interaction and for reinforcing the status of arts and research in the academic community and in society at large.

Application documents – Arts Study Programme

Your application documents must comprise the following items, with items 1 to 3 combined in a single PDF file and item 4 submitted as instructed separately, see below:

  1. Freeform application for doctoral studies

Freeform application addressed to the Doctoral Education and Research Chapter of the Board of the Sibelius Academy. The application must include the programme for your proficiency test, your personal details and your contact details.

  1. Post-graduate study plan

Your post-graduate study plan (maximum 20,000 characters including spaces) must describe the goals of your degree studies, the components of your demonstration of proficiency and their interrelations, the content of your supporting studies and the schedule for your studies. The post-graduate study plan must include the following details:

– artistic and research basis for the demonstration of proficiency, task definition, and goals

– content of the various components of the demonstration of proficiency, their interrelation and focus (how will you seek to attain your goals through the demonstration of proficiency, and how do you combine artistic activities with research?)

– the thematic ideas in the artistic components of the demonstration of proficiency, programme outlines and how each individual component relates to the entire project; please note that you yourself will be responsible for organising the artistic components, including things like hiring assisting instrumentalists or an orchestra or choir, as the case may be

– preliminary description of the research question for your thesis, research article(s) or exposition, your theoretical framework, methods and materials, and the relationship of your written component to other components in the demonstration of proficiency

– evaluation of the significance of your demonstration of proficiency for your branch of the arts and research therein, and for society at large

– outline of the supporting studies totalling 75 ECTS credits that you will need to complete in order to attain the goals defined for your degree (subjects, scope)

– proposed schedule of your post-graduate studies

You should discuss the content of your post-graduate study plan with a professor or other teacher at the Sibelius Academy well ahead of the application period. You may propose a small amount of material previously produced by you for inclusion in your degree, provided that it is seamlessly connected to the themes and content of your demonstration of proficiency. You are encouraged to attend the public admissions info briefings for the Sibelius Academy doctoral programme during the autumn term. You have the right to include supervisor suggestions in your post-graduate study plan.

3. Motivational essay

See the separate instructions for writing a motivational essay.

4. Portfolio

Your portfolio must include your CV and samples of your artistic output that are of relevance for your post-graduate study plan. These may include a) video and audio recordings of performances, b) a selection of scores (4 to 6) with recordings, c) audio samples (3 to 5) with scores or other documentation of how the compositions were realised, or d) any combination of the above.

See the separate instructions for compiling a portfolio.

Entrance examinations

Artistic proficiency test

Once the application deadline has passed, the heads of the doctoral schools will consult the experts of the examination board and decide which applicants to invite to an artistic proficiency test. If you are applying to study for a degree containing artistic components, you must attend an artistic proficiency test. The programme performed in the proficiency test must be integrally related to the subject of your proposed demonstration of proficiency. The length of the programme must be no more than 15 min.

It is not possible to admit applicants to a doctoral programme on the basis of recordings only. Applicants from outside Europe are given the option of uploading a video recording to a platform to be announced later for the purpose of being returned a preliminary evaluation of whether they have potential for a successful performance in the proficiency test. Such a video recording must be of technically high quality and no more than two years old. Its duration must not be more than 30 min, and it must contain repertoire that is relevant for the applicant’s proposed demonstration of proficiency.

The artistic proficiency test for the DocMus doctoral school will be held on 24–25 March 2021, and the interview and material test for those who pass the proficiency test will be held on 26 March 2021. The timetable for proficiency tests for the MuTri doctoral school will be announced later.

If you are applying to the DocMus doctoral school for composition, your proficiency test consists of submitting to the expert examination board the scores included in your portfolio (4 to 6), with audio recordings.

Interview, material test and eventual language test

If you pass the proficiency test, you will be given an interview to discuss in more detail any things that are not apparent in your application documents and to explore your goals and potential for completing a doctorate.

Applicants who pass the proficiency test and are interviewed will also be given a material test after the interview. The assignment in this test is to write an essay about two pages long on a topic related to your proposed doctorate; the topic will be given to you at the interview. The purpose of the material test is to gauge your writing skills and your familiarity with the subject matter of your proposed doctorate. It is also a language test for those applicants who intend to produce the written components of their demonstration of proficiency in a language that is not their native language and whose native language is not Finnish, Swedish or English.

Applying for the Research Study Programme

The Research Study Programme focuses on scientific research and on studies that augment research skills. In this case, the dissertation constitutes the demonstration of proficiency. Applicants are admitted to the Research Study Programme on the basis of their research plan and other application documents, and possibly also an interview. The members of the expert examination board will evaluate your knowledge, skills, capability and potential for success in post-graduate studies. The board will evaluate the clarity of your research plan, the contextualisation of your research and the clarity of your argumentation. The board will further evaluate how interesting your subject is and how impactful and effective your project would be in its field and in society at large.

The specific goals of the Research Study Programme are to provide students with:

  • the capacity to produce information at a high level of quality
  • the capacity for interaction in the academic community and in wider contexts
  • the capacity to integrate into the international research community, and
  • the capacity to enhance the status of scientific research.

Application documents – Research Study Programme

Your application documents must include the following:

  1. Freeform application addressed to the Doctoral Education and Research Chapter of the Board of the Sibelius Academy.
  2. Research plan detailing the basis and goals of your research project, principal outline of previous research relevant for the project and the research problems and methods of the project. The recommended length of this text is about 25,000 characters including spaces.
  3. Here is a link to how to prepare a study plan.
  4. Outline of supporting studies for the research project, including their subjects and scope. These should be agreed with the appropriate professor or supervisor. (Supporting studies amount to a total of 75 ECTS credits.)
  5. Your personal and contact details
  6. Your CV
  7. Report on previous qualifications, degrees and studies and any other matters that you consider relevant for your eligibility for post-graduate studies.
  8. Summary and grade of a previously completed degree thesis and, if it was published online, its URL.
  9. Certified copy of the certificate of a previously completed degree
  10. Optional: samples of previous work (publications or other material selected to demonstrate your expertise)

You are recommended to discuss the content of your post-graduate study plan with the appropriate professor or supervisor.

Applicants will be interviewed. Application documents may be used as background material in the interview. Also, a language test will be held for applicants whose native language is not Finnish, Swedish or English. The interview and eventual language test will be held at a time to be announced later. Applicants will be informed personally.

Applying for the Applied Study Programme

The Applied Study Programme focuses on a particular issue in music from the perspective of both knowledge and skills, and on the development aspects thereof. The degree has either an artistic orientation or research orientation. The demonstration of proficiency must consist of reports concerning new and existing methods, applications and practices and other outputs related to the object of development.

Applicants for the Applied Study Programme are admitted on the basis of the project plan, application documents and eventual interview. The members of the expert examination board will evaluate your knowledge, skills, capability and potential for success in post-graduate studies.  The evaluation will consider how well you have identified a development need, how original your project is and what it will yield to the music community, your contextualisation of the subject and your argumentation, your clarity of language and your logic. Applicants proposing an artistically oriented degree will also be evaluated on their potential to complete the required demonstration of proficiency.

The demonstration of proficiency in the Applied Study Programme always includes a written component but may also include teaching materials, music editions, recordings, concerts, research articles, multimedia productions, computer software or other components. However, what is more important than these concrete outputs is the information that will be generated during the project and that is described by the components in the demonstration of proficiency. Such an abstract object of development may be a new method, an application of an existing method, a new practice, a new way of presenting or analysing existing information, and so on.

You are recommended to discuss the content of your project plan with the appropriate professor or supervisor.

Application documents – Applied Study Programme

Your application documents must include the following:

1. Freeform application addressed to the Doctoral Education and Research Chapter of the Board of the Sibelius Academy. You must state in the application that it is for a Doctor of Music degree and in the Applied Study Programme. You must also state whether you intend to complete the doctorate having an artistic orientation or a research orientation.

2. Project plan containing a description of your goals in improving your professional skills and your field of activity, a description of the project content and a description of your proposed demonstration of proficiency. The recommended length of this text is about 20,000 to 25,000 characters including spaces.

The content of the Project plan:

a. Brief description of why you wish to undertake post-graduate studies, what your potential is for completing the studies, what your motivation is and what your goals are for improving your professional skills and your field of activity.

Description of the development project

  • Development need and its background
  • Objective of development, i.e. the goal(s) sought. These may include new insights, new skills or new capabilities. This is an immaterial objective.
  • Background to the project: key concepts, limitations, outline of previous relevant research, artistic activities or development efforts, etc.
  • Project focus (e.g. pedagogical)
  • Progress of development work: what is to be done, with what tools and how this will contribute to attaining the stated goals.
  • What tools or other outputs will be created in the development project. These are concrete outputs (concerts, recordings, music editions, teaching materials, online materials, etc.).
  • Potential ‘immaterial’ outputs: knowledge, skills or competence
  • How the procedures, methods, materials, etc. created in the development project are to be tried or tested, and how experience or knowledge gained in the development project is to be used.
  • Goals of the degree
  • Potential benefits of your project for the music sector

c. Description of the demonstration of proficiency: Describe the demonstration of proficiency that will allow the outcomes of the development project to be presented for evaluation. The demonstration of proficiency must show that the goal has been attained and that the degree has an artistic or research orientation. A description or report of the project as a whole and its progress must be included. If there are several components in the demonstration of proficiency, you must explain how they form a coherent entity.

d. Schedule: a plan showing in which order and in what time you intend to complete the studies.

e. List of essential literature in the field read or referred to.

3. Plan for feasibly selected theoretical and practical studies. You do not need to specify these studies in detail, but you do need to indicate the kind of studies and their credit scores (see https://opinto-opas.uniarts.fi/en/degree-programme/8379). (Supporting studies amount to a total of 75 ECTS credits.)

4. Your personal and contact details

5. CV (degree with research orientation) or portfolio (degree with artistic orientation)

Your portfolio must include your CV and samples of your artistic output that are of relevance for your post-graduate study plan. These may include a) video and audio recordings of performances, b) a selection of scores (4 to 6) with recordings, c) audio samples (3 to 5) with scores or other documentation of how the compositions were realised, or d) any combination of the above.

See the separate instructions for compiling a portfolio.

6. Report on previous qualifications, degrees and studies and any other matters that you consider relevant for your eligibility for post-graduate studies.

7. For a degree with research orientation in the Applied Study Programme, you must also include the summary and grade of a previously completed degree and, if the thesis has been published online, its URL. If applying for a degree with artistic orientation in the Applied Study Programme, you must list the programme that you will perform at the artistic proficiency test if requested.

You should not include in your application any references, reviews or other material not specified above.

Applicants to the Applied Study Programme are advised to review doctorates previously completed and in progress at the Sibelius Academy, particularly those in the Applied Study Programme: