Thesis Committee

The thesis committee (TC) and tracking progress toward the degree

Every doctoral candidate at the University of Helsinki is required to assemble and meet regularly with a thesis committee/follow-up group (Rector’s decision 82/2013) until the thesis defense. The overall goals of the thesis committee (TC) are to aid and support the doctoral candidate in scientific and other issues and to monitor the progress toward the doctoral degree.  


TC members support the doctoral candidate and act as mentors throughout the doctoral training phase. The TC will monitor the progress of the candidate’s doctoral thesis project and formal training until the writing of the doctoral thesis.

All interactions within the TC are considered confidential. In cases of disagreement between the supervisor and the doctoral candidate, whether the disagreement involves the project, facilities or supervision, the TC members should be contacted. Furthermore, the TC should strive to support the doctoral candidate at all appropriate times. The TC may propose alternative arrangements for supervision if necessary.


The TC is typically composed of at least two external experts not involved in the research project.  (Please note the checklist for proposing thesis committee members at the bottom of this page).

- TC members must hold a doctoral degree and substantial knowledge in the field of the project.

- At least one external member must also hold at least the title of docent or the equivalent.

Conflicts of interest:
TC members should be sufficiently independent of the supervisor to be able to provide critical comments on the project and progress and to support the doctoral candidate in the event of conflicts. Such sufficiency of independence can be assessed by the following:
- The external members should not be currently involved in the thesis project.

- The external members should not be a close collaborator of any of the supervisors or doctoral candidate. Joint research projects or shared grants, as well as several joint publications typically indicate a close collaboration.
- The external members should not have supervised or been supervised by the doctoral candidate or his/her supervisors within the past three years
- The external members should not be a relative, close colleague or friend of the doctoral candidate or supervisors.

NOMINATION OF TC MEMBERS  (if you do not have a thesis committee nomidated yet)
(within 6 months from receiving the right to pursue doctoral degree)

1. Suggest and discuss potential TC members with your supervisor(s). Carefully consider the requirements for the qualifications and potential conflicts of interest. (Checklist for proposing thesis committee members).

2. Invite the potential TC members and confirm that no conflicts of interest are present as far as is known at that time in the project. Membership in a TC is a position of trust, with an aim to guide the doctoral candidate throughout his/her doctoral training.

3. Once the TC members agree to serve on the TC, inform the doctoral program by filling out the "Nomination of Thesis Committee Members" form.



To meet the goals set out for the TC, the doctoral candidate is required to meet with the TC at least once a year until the thesis defense.  Specifically, the purposes of the annual TC meetings are to:

  • ensure that the project is scientifically valid and suitable for a PhD project
  • ensure that the student’s coursework supports the PhD project and provides the expected skills
  • evaluate the progress and future plans of the PhD project including overseeing the timely graduation of the student

Arranging the TC meeting

TC meetings include the doctoral candidate, supervisor, and TC.  The doctoral candidate is responsible for formally requesting, scheduling, arranging, and running the TC meeting.  At least one week prior to the meeting the doctoral candidate prepares and sends a written report to the thesis committee members. The report template as a Word or PDF file below. 

It is recommended that part of the meeting is held in the absence of the supervisor.

After the TC meeting, the doctoral candidate is expected to update the report with the meeting information and all suggestions and comments given by the TC members. Final report with the TC comments is submitted within one week of the TC meeting by email to the following:  1) doctoral program coordinator, 2) TC members, 3) supervisor(s).  


  • Forming the TC:  Within 6 months from receiving the right to pursue the doctoral degree.
  • TC meetings:  At least once per year.
  • Deadline for final annual report submission: (Preferably) within one week of the TC meeting. Failure to submit the report without a valid reason prohibits the allocation of DSHealth and doctoral program travel grants to the doctoral candidate.



Thesis Committee Meeting Report (Word)


Thesis Committee Meeting Report (PDF)




Nomination of Thesis Committee Members e-form