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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 at the Sibelius Academy on Monday 2nd of December 2019 at 16:30–18:00 in the Helsinki Music Centre room S-3101. More info.

Study programmes, specialisations, and doctoral schools

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

The doctorates can be completed in classical music, church music, music theory, composition, folk music, jazz, music technology, arts management, or music education. Doctoral education takes place in two doctoral schools: DocMus and MuTri.

Structure of doctoral study

The minimum number of credits for the doctoral demonstration of proficiency is 165 ECTS credits. In addition, the degree includes a total of 75 ECTS credits’ worth of supportive studies, of which at least 15 ECTS credits must be earned in studies in ethics and in the philosophy of arts and science. The minimum number of credits for the licentiate demonstration of proficiency is 75 ECTS credits, and the licentiate degree includes a total of 75 ECTS credits’ worth of supportive studies.

  • In the Arts Study Programme, the focus is on independent artistic work, complemented by studies that enhance conceptual understanding of the field. The demonstration of proficiency combines artistic and research-oriented approaches. The demonstration of proficiency usually includes five artistic components (concerts and recordings or an equivalent combination) and a thesis.
  • In the Research Programme, the focus is on academic research and complementary studies in research skills. The demonstration of proficiency in the Research Programme is a traditional dissertation.
  • In the Applied Study Programme, the students 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 includes various components, for example, new and proven methods, applications, programmes, materials, or theories.

Applications

The next application period to the Sibelius Academy’s doctoral schools starts on 2 January 2020 and ends on 31 January 2020, at 4.00 p.m. EET. Eligibility for doctoral studies requires that candidates have a master of music degree or equivalent. Eligibility may also be based on other prior studies, subject to the Academic Council’s assessment of the candidate’s prospects for successful study in the programme.

Sibelius Academy directions for doctoral degrees:

Applications to the doctoral schools must be directed to the Academic Council. Based on the application,

1. the student can be granted the right to study towards the doctor of music degree,

2. the student can be granted the opportunity to be admitted as a preparatory external student (at the doctoral school head’s discretion),

3. or the application can be rejected. 

An application form is available online at Studyinfo.fi.

Admission decisions and announcement of the results

A central criterion for acceptance is the applicant’s prospects for successful doctoral study. After hearing from the expert panel and the doctoral school in question, the Academic Council assesses the candidate’s doctoral study plan based on the candidate’s application. If the council approves the application, it makes a proposal of admission to the dean. For external preparatory students, the doctoral school’s head makes the decision based on the assessment of an expert panel.

All applicants will be informed of the results by 15 June 2020. 

Appeal request

In accordance with the Finnish Universities Act 558/2009 section 82, a person who has applied for entry to a university may lodge a request in writing with the university for a rectification of the decision concerning admission within 14 days from the publication of the admission results. The appeal request must be submitted in writing to the University of the Arts Helsinki’s registry.

How to submit an appeal request and what to include

The request must be submitted to the registry within 14 days after the publication of the admission decision. Requests for appeals are sent at the sender’s own risk. If you submit the appeal request by email, write the name of the appropriate academy in the subject line. The name and contact details of the appellant and the statement, as well as the grounds for the request, must be included.

University of the Arts Helsinki Registry

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

Application instructions to Arts Study Programme

Doctoral students into the DocMus Arts Study Programme are accepted on the basis of (1) an approved artistic proficiency test, (2) application documents, (3) an interview, and (4) a writing test. For those applicants whose mother tongue is not Finnish, Swedish, or English, the writing test will simultaneously serve as a language test. Applicants in conducting or choir conducting are additionally required to attach a DVD recording to the application (see below for more information on submitting the video).

Applicants are requested to submit the application documents to the Sibelius Academy no later than 23.59 Finnish time on 31 January 2019.

Application documents – Arts Study Programme

All applications must include the following documents:

  1. A free-form application for the right to study and registration for the proficiency test. Applications to the doctoral schools must be directed to the Academic Council.
  2. A plan for the artistic demonstration of proficiency (concert and thesis plan, including the topic, goals, and research problem); the extent of studies is 165 ECTS credits (see the instructions). The degree includes five concerts by the student (or an equivalent artistic programme), a thesis, and supportive courses.
  3. A general description of the content (subjects) and the extent and schedule of the doctoral studies. The content of the studies should be suitable for and supportive of the set of topics included in the artistic project. A doctoral degree in the Arts Study Programme includes a minimum of 75 ECTS credits’ worth of supportive studies, of which at least 24 ECTS credits must be earned from comprehensive studies, which prepare the candidate for the artistic components. In addition, a minimum of 15 ECTS credits must be earned from studies in the philosophy of arts and science. In the Arts Study Programme, the supportive studies are courses in the arts or research or other higher education courses appropriate for the doctoral programme. Their extent and topics must be mentioned in the doctoral study plan.
  4. A programme for the proficiency test. The programme must be related to the theme of the degree concert programme and as varied as possible. Programme duration is max. 15 minutes.
  5. An essay written according to DocMus instructions (see Essay instructions). (Only DocMus-applicants!)
  6. Personal details and contact information.
  7. A curriculum vitae.
  8. A description of earlier degrees and studies and other matters that the applicant considers relevant to his/her eligibility for the doctoral programme.

As part of the application documents, conductors and choir conductors will submit to the platform used by Uniarts Helsinki a technically and artistically high-quality DVD recording that predates the proficiency test by 2 years at the most. The recording will be used to assess the applicant’s chances of passing the proficiency test. The recording, on which the applicant conducts compositions planned for the proficiency test programme, should be recorded with a professional- or professional-student-level orchestra/choir. The duration of the recording is max. 30 minutes. It should include 2–3 sections, in which the applicant both rehearses and conducts, and it should be filmed from the point of view of the orchestra/choir so that the conductor/choir conductor is seen from the front and musicians/singers are seen as well.

The contents of the doctoral study plan should be discussed with the relevant professor or supervisor.

Applicants can put forth their own suggestions regarding their preferred academic supervisors in the plan.

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

Artistic proficiency test

Once the application period has closed and experts’ statements have been received, the heads of the doctoral schools will decide which applicants shall be invited to take the proficiency test.

Applicants to the Arts Study Programme must complete the artistic proficiency test. Doctoral students cannot be accepted on the basis of recordings. Applicants from outside Europe can submit a DVD that predates the proficiency test by 2 years at the most to a platform to be announced later for a preliminary estimate of their chances of passing the proficiency test. The duration of the recording is max. 30 minutes, and the recording must feature a programme related to the planned doctoral project.

The artistic proficiency test for the DocMus Doctoral School will take place 6–7 April 2020. The interview and the writing test for those applicants who have passed the proficiency test will take place 8 April 2020. The schedules for the MuTri Doctoral School proficiency test will be announced later.

Interview and language test (as applicable)

Applicants who pass the proficiency test can be interviewed about matters that were not apparent from the application documents as well as about the aims of the applicant and his/her chances of completing the doctoral degree.

For those who have passed the artistic proficiency test and have been invited to the interview, a writing test can also be arranged, following the interview. The applicant will be asked to write a text of approximately 2 pages on a subject connected to the substance area of the doctoral plan. The subject will be given to the applicant after the interview. (Only DocMus-applicants!) In addition to determining the writing skills and the knowledge of the applicant on the given subject, the test will act as the language proficiency test for non-Finnish-speaking applicants.

Instructions for the doctoral degree study plan

The doctoral degree study plan must describe the applicant’s goals for the doctoral degree. These may include artistic and professional aims as well as specific goals relating to content, musicianship, etc.

Applicants should consider how they will demonstrate artistic proficiency (for example, in concerts) in achieving their stated goals, how their artistry is likely to evolve over the course of the concert series, and what they have chosen as the common theme for the series. Applicants will also be expected to describe the concert programmes in general terms and address the role of each individual concert in the series. The applicant is responsible for organising the concerts (for example, hiring musicians or an orchestra or choir).

Also required is a brief plan (2–3 pages) for the thesis, which must describe the thesis’s role within the artistic studies element of the doctoral degree and in reaching the goals stated in the study plan. The applicants must also present a plan for the supportive courses necessary for the degree and a schedule for the studies.

Applicants to doctoral studies in folk music and music technology must also describe how their doctoral project combines artistic work and research and how the demonstration of artistic proficiency and the thesis together constitute an artist- and arts-oriented or art pedagogical research project.

Application documents – Composition                

All applications must include the following documents:

  1. A free-form application.
  2. A selection of scores (4–6 items) with recordings, if possible.
  3. A preliminary doctoral degree plan (4–6 pages in total) with separate, detailed sections that include the following items:
  4. A description of the compositional idea: What does the composition project consist of? What unifies the works into a whole?
  5. The thesis topic (it is recommended that the thesis connects to the composition project). The applicant is required to state how he/she thinks the thesis will support his or her artistic work and help in reaching his or her doctoral study goals.
  6. A concert plan with music composed for 2–3 concerts. At least one of the concerts must be a compositions concert that is open to the public. Some of the works mentioned in the concert plan may have been written prior to the approval of the doctoral degree plan if there is a valid reason to include them in the degree. The applicant is responsible for organising the concerts (for example, hiring musicians or an orchestra or choir).
  7. Curriculum vitae (music technology: also, a portfolio).
  8. An essay drawn up according to the instructions provided (see essay instructions).

The proficiency test requires the aforementioned selection of musical scores (and music excerpts, if available) and a preliminary doctoral degree plan to be submitted to the board.

The application process may include an interview and language test.

For those who have passed the artistic proficiency test and have been invited to the interview, a writing test can be arranged, following the interview.

The applicant will be asked to write a text of approximately two pages on a subject connected to the substance area of the doctoral plan. The subject will be given to the applicant after the interview. In addition to determining the writing skills and the knowledge of the applicant on the given subject, the test will act as the language proficiency test for non-Finnish-speaking applicants.

Application instructions to Research Study Programme

In the Research Programme, the focus is on academic research and complementary studies in research skills. The demonstration of proficiency in the Research Programme is a traditional dissertation.

Applicants to the Research Programme are accepted on the basis of a research plan, other application documents, and an interview, if necessary. A central criterion for acceptance is the applicant’s prospects for successful doctoral study.

Application documents – Research 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.
  2. A research plan outlining the basis and objectives of the research project, earlier research related to the project, and the topics and research methods of the project. The recommended length is approx. 10 pages. (The extent of studies is 165 ECTS credits.) See the instructions for making a research plan and the Academy of Finland’s research plan guidelines 
  3. A general description of the supplementary studies, their extent, and their subjects, which must be discussed with the relevant professor or supervisor. (The extent of studies is 75 ECTS credits.)
  4. Personal details and contact information.
  5. A curriculum vitae.
  6. A description of earlier degrees and studies and other matters that the applicant considers relevant to his/her eligibility for the doctoral programme.
  7. An abstract and grade for the written presentation or equivalent submitted for a previous degree, and, if the thesis is online, a relevant URL.
  8. A verified copy of the previous degree certificate.
  9. Optional documents: samples of previous activities (publications or other material with which the applicant wants to demonstrate his or her knowledge and skills).

Students are advised to discuss their study plan with the relevant professor before submitting it.

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

Applicants will be interviewed. Application documents may be referred to in the interview. A language test for applicants whose mother tongue is not Finnish, Swedish, or English will be administered at a later date. Applicants will be notified of the time of the interview and language test.

Application instructions to 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.)

Contents:

a. 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.

b. 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.

c. 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.

d. Schedule: a study plan detailing the time allocated for courses and the order in which they will be completed.

The applicant may wish to include a reference list of key literature in the field.

3. 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.

4. Personal details and contact information.

5. A curriculum vitae.

6. A description of earlier degrees and studies and other matters that the applicant considers relevant to his/her eligibility for the doctoral programme.

7. 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.