The industrial doctorate is a cooperation between the university, the partner organisation and the doctoral student. In industrial doctorate, the student's research proceeds from the needs of the partner organisation.
Objectives of industrial doctorate:
Industrial doctorate refers to cooperation between the university and a partner organisation that does not grant doctoral degrees. Partner organisations may include companies, public-sector bodies and R&D institutions.
Partners' agreements are laid down in the cooperation agreement, which the doctoral student follows in their activities. Negotiations on the cooperation agreement should start early, already before applying for funding (from the measure) and for the student place at the university. It will take at least 1.5 to two months from the start of negotiations until the entry into force of the cooperation agreement.
Pay attention to the following topics in the cooperation negotiations:
The success of a doctoral project depends on the partners’ capability to supervise the research and their smooth cooperation.
The research topic may be proposed by the partner organisation or the university.
One of the supervisors must have an employment contract with the University of Tartu: that person is the supervisor in charge under the Regulations for Doctoral Studies. An exception can be made if the partners agree in the cooperation agreement that the supervisor from the partner organisation will be the supervisor in charge.
The supervisor must hold a doctoral degree. In justified cases, a leading practitioner in the field may be appointed as one supervisor regardless of holding a doctoral degree.
If the supervisor needs to be changed, the other party to the cooperation agreement must be informed in good time.
The progress of an industrial doctoral student is assessed on the same basis as that of other doctoral students.
The partners agree on covering the costs of doctoral studies, research, and creating the job position.
The university advises dividing the costs into three parts:
The cooperation agreement sets out who will cover which costs. The coverage of the student's salary costs and variable costs depends on the agreement between the parties, the student's workplace and the specifics of the research. The partner organisation can cover the university's costs based on an invoice or a grant agreement. If the university issues an invoice to the partner for covering the costs, a VAT of 20% is added to the amount.
See the possibilities for partial coverage of costs in the chapter "Applying for funding".
In the research collaboration between a university and a partner organisation, intellectual property and confidentiality issues are important and need to be discussed in good time. For example, answers should be found to the following preliminary questions.
What is intellectual property?
In the context of an industrial doctorate, intellectual property is defined as intellectual assets created in the course of teaching and studies, research and development; for example, research project results, reports, technological know-how, software, presentations, scientific articles, doctoral theses, etc.
The issues of intellectual property rights depend to a large extent on whether the doctoral student is working at the university or in a partner organisation.
Doctoral student works in a partner organisation
Doctoral student works as a junior research fellow at the university
An industrial doctoral student is generally an employee of the partner organisation whose main duty is research and development activities related to the doctoral thesis. The parties can also agree that the doctoral student works at the university as a junior research fellow.
The employment contract is concluded with one employer for the entire period of doctoral studies. The employer ensures the availability of work premises and equipment, compliance with health and safety requirements, reimbursement of business travel costs, etc.
Research and development activities related to the doctoral thesis must account for the bulk of working time, 75–80% depending on the requirements of the funder or employer. Tasks under the employment contract must align with the doctoral student's individual plan.
The job title of the doctoral student at the university and the research and development institution is junior research fellow. In another partner organisation, the job title is chosen according to the organisation's recruitment principles.
The period of the employment contract depends on the standard period of study and the conditions of the funder. Working full time, one can complete doctoral studies in three to four years. The period of study of a doctoral student, including suspensions of doctoral studies, may not exceed eight years unless the doctoral studies are suspended for caring for a child of up to three years of age or for conscription or alternative service in the Defence Forces.
Partner organisation: a private-, public- or third-sector body that does not have the right to award doctoral degrees and whose main contact persons are the doctoral student's supervisor and the signatory of the cooperation agreement (may be the same person).
Academic unit of the university: institutes involved in the teaching, research and development at the university's four faculties, with the head of the institute and the doctoral student's supervisor as the main contact persons.
On behalf of the university, the dean of the relevant faculty signs the cooperation agreement.
An early-stage researcher willing to carry out research for a partner organisation. The parties to the cooperation agreement must inform the person interested in applying to the programme of the admission requirements and the doctoral student of the terms of the cooperation agreement.
Office of Academic Affairs: a support unit whose specialists and legal consels advise on the general organisation of admissions and doctoral studies and prepare a draft cooperation agreement.
Centre for doctoral studies: a faculty-level centre that coordinates activities related to doctoral studies and pools information on cooperation agreements.
The Grant Office and the Centre for Entrepreneurship and Innovation: support units that process funding-related cooperation agreements and coordinate project management. The Grant Office pools and facilitates funding opportunities. The Centre for Entrepreneurship and Innovation provides guidance and support on intellectual property rights and confidentiality issues.
Generally, the research topic is proposed by the partner organisation with whose needs and activities the project will be linked. In some cases, the initiative may come from a research team at the university, who will find a suitable partner for the topic.
The partner organisation specifies the main objectives and research questions related to the topic, the opportunities arising from intellectual property rights, and which competencies a PhD holder is expected to have.
The academic unit at the university assesses its supervision capacity within the proposed research topic and finds a potential supervisor, if possible.
The partners define the project's initial concept and agree on the principles of organising admission and the preferred time of matriculation.
Assessment of the suitability of the candidate
If the partner organisation has a suitable candidate, a preliminary assessment of their suitability for doctoral studies can be made at this stage. For that, the candidate's CV must be sent to the academic unit of the university. If the candidate holds a master's degree from a foreign country, copies of educational documents must also be sent. An international candidate must also provide proof of the required level of English. Based on the CV, Student Admissions makes an initial assessment of the candidate's suitability.
If the partner organisation does not have a suitable candidate, the parties agree on organising a public competition.
For more information about organising admission, see the chapter "Finding the candidate and organising admission".
The university's academic unit sends the following information to the Office of Academic Affairs:
The legal counsel of the Office of Academic Affairs prepares a draft cooperation agreement that will be the basis for further negotiations.
Contact person of the Office of Academic Affairs: Monika Tasa, firstname.lastname@example.org, 737 6534
The partner organisation and the university's academic unit compile an activity plan for the project, agree on the division of costs related to the student place and prepare the cooperation agreement for signing.
For more information about negotiations about the cooperation agreement, see the chapter "Cooperation negotiations".
The university's academic unit applies for a non-state-funded student place, after which the assessment and admission of the candidate can be organised. The final version of the cooperation agreement is required to open the student place.
If the partners have agreed that the university employs the doctoral student, also a state-funded student place can be used for the cooperation agreement.
There are several funding options for the industrial doctorate: 1) funded by the partner organisation itself, 2) the partner organisation applies for external funding, or 3) the university applies for external funding. External funding generally covers only part of the costs related to the student place and workplace (see also the chapter "Funding").
The partner organisation can apply for funding from two measures:
To apply for funding from these measures, the data and schedule of the research project must be submitted. The university must be ready to matriculate the candidate or organise a competition. It is therefore strongly recommended to agree on the terms of the cooperation agreement before applying.
Grant for the recruitment of junior research fellows at positively evaluated R&D institutions : Pille Pikker, Pille.Pikker@hm.ee
"Inter-sectoral mobility support": Kaidi Rekker, email@example.com
If it is agreed in the cooperation agreement that the university will receive the money, the signed agreement must be sent to
The specialist at the support unit adds the project to the grant web, based on which the Finance Office opens the financial account. The budget must be used purposefully.
Immediately after the start of the project, the doctoral student, the supervisor from the partner organisation and the supervisor from the university attend a kick-off meeting to prepare for future collaboration. The expectations worksheet helps to conduct the first meeting. Within one month of the matriculation of the doctoral student, the supervision agreement is concluded between the doctoral student, the supervisor(s) and the university.
The doctoral student and the supervisor must proceed from the university's regulations on doctoral studies and the learning outcomes and compulsory activities of the doctoral programme.
In cooperation with the supervisor, the doctoral student plans the research and study activities for the entire study period in the individual plan to be submitted by the first progress review. The period plan lays down the activity plan for the following semester or year.
The institute and the centre for doctoral studies agree with the doctoral student on the time of starting studies. The time of matriculation of an industrial doctoral student does not necessarily coincide with the start of the semester. It must therefore be specified when the university expects the doctoral candidate to be present at the university (information day, introductory course to doctoral studies, field-specific courses, etc.).
At the University of Tartu, the progress review of doctoral students takes place twice in the first year of study and once a year later on.
During the project, the following aspects must be considered:
The project ends successfully if the doctoral student has fully completed the doctoral programme and defended the doctoral thesis.
In the cooperation agreement, the parties agree on whether the partner organisation participates in the work of the council awarding doctoral degrees.
The thesis of the industrial doctoral student is assessed on the same bases as other doctoral theses. When planning the project, it should be borne in mind that the doctoral student will normally be expected to publish papers. In justified cases, restrictions can be applied to publishing the doctoral thesis.
If the cooperation agreement specifies the university as the doctoral student's place of work, the university organises a public competition to find a candidate. If the doctoral student would work at the partner organisation, the partner organisation may submit an existing candidate to the university for evaluation or organise a public competition to fill the position.
The candidate must meet the requirements for applying for doctoral studies at the university: have a master's degree or an equivalent qualification. An international candidate must prove that they meet the language requirements.
The conditions for selecting the candidate are agreed upon in the cooperation agreement, proceeding from the university's admission rules for doctoral studies.
Before organising the competition or assessing the candidate, the supervisor from the university must apply for a non-state-funded student place. If the partners have agreed that the doctoral student is employed by the university, also a state-funded student place can be used for the cooperation agreement. University staff can find materials about that on the intranet.
Before the successful candidate can be matriculated, the partner organisation must confirm that it has concluded an employment contract fulfilling the individual plan with the future doctoral student.
The competition is organised by the university or the partner organisation.
Public competition of the University of Tartu
The candidates will be assessed by the admission committee comprising representatives of the speciality of the doctoral programme and a representative of the partner organisation.
Public competition of the partner organisation
When organising the public competition, the partner organisation must follow the general requirements concerning the qualifications and language skills of the student candidate. Other conditions for admission and the documents required for application are agreed upon in the cooperation agreement. The supervisor from the university is involved in assessing the candidates. If necessary, the Student Admissions unit of the university is involved in assessing the qualifications.
There are no time limits for organising the competition. It must be considered that
To be matriculated to a doctoral programme, the successful candidate must submit an application for starting doctoral studies at the university, the template of which will be sent to the candidate after the competition closes.
If the industrial doctoral student works at the partner organisation and the partner has a suitable candidate, organising a public competition is not compulsory. In this case, the candidate must meet the general requirements regarding qualifications and language skills.
Other conditions for admission and the list of required documents (incl. the application for doctoral studies on the template provided by the university) are agreed upon in the cooperation agreement. The assessment of the candidate aims to ensure that they are suitable for doctoral studies and able to meet the research objectives. The university may ask the candidate to submit the doctoral thesis project describing the planned research and development or another type of written work and a CV. In addition, the candidate will be interviewed by a committee consisting of both the supervisor from the university and a representative of the partner.
The following deadlines must be followed: