Doctoral education

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As Director of Doctoral Studies for the Department of Clinical Neuroscience I welcome you to our homepage. We work actively towards ensuring a happy and stimulating environment for doctoral training. As one of the largest KI departments, with over 200 registered students, we certainly have the potential to achieve this goal. I hope that you will take a few minutes to familiarize yourself with how doctoral training within our department is organized and run.

Bob Harris, Director of Doctoral Studies

General information

Doctoral Training within the Department of Clinical Neuroscience, Karolinska Institutet, offers research training leading to either a PhD or Licentiate exam. Doctoral Training can be conducted either full-time or part-time (minimum 50 %) for a 4-year (or equivalent time) period.  

Every student and supervisor team devises an individual doctoral training plan that reflects any prior research experience of the student as well as the current research interests of the supervisors.

The student is expected to initiate their project directly following admission. Before halftime control it is mandatory to have completed the basic courses for doctoral training. Progression in training is formally assessed annually.

In accordance with the aims of Karolinska Institutet, within the Department of Clinical Neuroscience we strive to train doctoral students to conduct innovative research of high quality, with the intention of them becoming professional researchers within the academic, clinical or industrial sectors on completion of their training.

Prior to thesis defence it is expected that doctoral students can:

  • Formulate and test scientific hypotheses and independently utilise methodologies relevant to their scientific area.
  • Demonstrate expert and general knowledge of their scientific field that exceeds the knowledge obtained through practical conduct of their project. Such theoretical areas should be well defined in the individual study plan for each student.
  • Communicate scientific results and theories both orally and in writing using appropriate media tools and techniques.
  • Understand and evaluate new scientific ideas from a discipline through both scientific and societal perspectives.
  • Work both independently and as part of a team.

For General information:

Term dates for PhD/Licentiate Thesis Defence

Autumn 2016                  August 17th - December 18th

Spring 2017                    January 9th - June 22nd

Autumn 2017                  August 14th - December 20th

Term dates for Halftime control

Spring 2016                7 January - 22 June

Autumn 2916              15 August - 31 December

Last day for submission of applications to doctoral training

2016:                                              2017:

16 September                                             10 February                        5 May

6 November                                                15 September                      10 November

Our main research areas

Doctoral training can be obtained in both clinical and basic research topics at the Department of Clinical Neuroscience. There are currently twelve main areas of specialization:

  • Clinical Drug Abuse and Dependence
  • Clinical Neurophysiology
  • Epidemiology
  • Experimental Neuroscience
  • Neuroimaging
  • Neurology
  • Neuroradiology
  • Neurosurgery
  • Ophthalmology
  • Psychiatry
  • Psychology
  • Social medicine

CNS123 – application for approval of doctoral training environment

The Departmental Board (Institutionsråd) has approved the use of CNS123, an annual evaluation of a presumptive doctoral training environment, in which the proposed main supervisor applies for departmental approval to be able to (i) apply for KI doctoral student funding, (ii) advertise an open doctoral student position, (iii) submit an application for admission to doctoral training within the Department. Information regarding the supervisor’s research project quality, supervisor’s track record as a supervisor, their perceived availability for supervision, the reputation of the working environment, and the perceived economic resources of the research group is reviewed by a team within the Department. The Departmental Head makes the final decision (Approved, Conditionally Approved, Non-approved) depending on the cumulative review. For Non-approved applicants the Prefect is able to refuse signing of application for faculty funds etc. A supervisor may resubmit their CNS123 application if their situation has improved.

Info CNS - Application for approval of doctoral education supervisor

Ansökan projekt

Application for admission

All vacant doctoral student positions at KI have to be advertised:

For general information

In order to be admitted as a doctoral student it is essential that the applicant meets the general and specific entry requirements (eligibility). More information:

Rules for doctoral education

Internal CNS forms:

Applications must be submitted in an original, unstapled form to Eva Holmgaard, CNS Administration, Tomtebodavägen 18 A, 5th floor, 171 77 Stockholm at the latest on the day of deadline. Documents that should be enclosed with the application are indicated in the checklist.

Applications are assessed by the Admissions Board regarding the quality of the project plan and feasibility of the time frame allowed for postgraduate curriculum. Financial plans are assessed by the administrative director Karin Blomberg. If the perceived economy cannot be guaranteed for the entire four-year period the application cannot be processed.

After the admissions board review the applicant and supervisors are called to an admissions seminar during which the applicant will make a brief presentation of the project in English and be prepared to discuss all aspects of the proposed individual study plan, including any revisions requested by the board.

After the admission seminar the Departmental Director of Studies and the Prefect make a decision whether to approve or reject the application. Once the application has been approved and signed the student and supervisor will be informed about the decision and the application is registered in LADOK.

KI's doctoral introduction is mandatory. Registration is done via the web form:

CNS introduction for PhD-student:

Individual Study plan

All doctoral students at KI should achieve knowledge objectives equating to a combined minimum of 30 higher education credits for their doctoral degree, or at least 15 higher education credits for a licentiate degree.

Activities implemented before registration must be told and discussed in connection with the admission seminar. Activities should not be older than 5 years

Individual study plan must be signed by the applicant, principal supervisor, co-supervisor and head of clinic (if parallel clinical activity is planned).

All postgraduate courses are presented twice a year at the KI intranet for graduate studies (KIWAS). Specific neuroscience-related courses are provided through the Doctoral training neuroscience programme. Additional courses and other postgraduate activities relevant to the doctoral student's research interests can be taken through other KI programmes or at other universities nationally or internationally.

 A.                 All students at KI admitted to doctoral/third level education have to participate in a general and compulsory two-day introduction to doctoral education at KI as soon as possible and at the latest within one year.

 B.                 General science courses - at least 7.5 credits

Mandatory elements:

• Statistics – at least 1.5 credits
• Research Ethics – at least 1.5 credits

Optional elements:

• philosophy of science
• education/presentation skills
• bioinformatics
• research documentation
• how to write a scientific report
• medical information retrieval
• how to apply for research grants
• Good Laboratory Practice
• Good Clinical Practice

The general science courses must be completed before the half time review can be achieved or a licentiate degree can be completed.

C.                  Project and subject-specific courses - at least 9 credits for a doctorate or 4.5 credits for a licentiate degree.

The relevance to the individual study plan of these subject-specific courses is determined by both the student and supervisor.

For all doctoral students who will conduct some of their doctoral education in a laboratory it is compulsory to obtain knowledge in laboratory safety (minimum 1.5 higher education credits; Course No. 2690 Title: Basic laboratory Safety).

For all doctoral students who will be performing experiments using laboratory animals, the KI course in laboratory animal science, or equivalent, is compulsory (minimum 3 higher education credits). The course shall have been successfully completed before the experimental animal studies are initiated.

D.                  Other credit-awarding elements - a minimum of 6 credits for the doctoral degree or 3 credits for a licentiate degree

• Courses at other universities nationally or internationally – at advanced or doctoral level
• Participation in seminar series, journal/book clubs
• Research visit to a research group at another university
• Participation in international conferences with own oral presentation or poster
• Teaching within own research area

The Director of Doctoral Studies will determine in each case which and to what degree courses can be accredited.

Registration of postgraduate courses and other credit awarding elements

General Science courses are automatically registered into LADOK by the department responsible for that particular course.

Credit points for participation in international conferences longer than three days including oral or poster presentations shall be certified with an extract from the abstract book along with a certificate of attendance or invitation. Use form 16.

Credit points for a course in conjunction with the international conference will be certified with a certificate from the course. Use form 13.

Credit points for participation in seminars and journal/book clubs must be correctly certified with a list of the attendance and with the theme of the seminars, dates and seminar length per occasion, and be verified by the responsible organizer. Use form 16.

Credit points for research visits must be certified with a certificate from the host scientists. This certificate must indicate location, time period, tasks and possibly a review from the person signing the certificate. Use form 16.

Credit points for teaching within a specific and relevant research area should be certified with a certificate from the course coordinator and must indicate the level of education, e.g. medical student programme term 9, subject, date/time and number of hours of teaching. Use form 16.

Credit transfer

For general information:

The extent of these prior activities must be openly disclosed and discussed during the admissions seminar.

Application is made using Form 13 Credit transfer.

Original of form 13 should be sent along with the certifying documents to study administrator Eva Holmgaard, Tomtebodavägen 18 A, plan 5. a new form for each activity.

Doctoral students who passed doctoral course before doctoral student registration must notify the study administrator, Eva Holmgaard, by submitting a copy of the course certificate together with form 13.

Certificates from courses/otheractivities conducted at other universities relevant to the student’s specific study plan should be sent by post to Eva Holmgaard. Please note that course certificates should include the student´s name, personal identification number, course name, course date, examination date, course credits and signature of the course organizer, and should not be older than five years prior to admittance to doctoral studies.

 After approval by the Director of Doctoral Studies the credits will be registered in the student’s LADOK.

Annual follow-up 

The individual study plan and the student's progress within their doctoral training programme must be followed-up in writing once a year at the request of the Departmental Director of Doctoral Studies. The form should be submitted in original to study administrator Eva Holmgaard, Tomtebodavägen 18 A, 5th floor, each year January 31st at the latest.

The report shall be signed by the doctoral student and supervisor, and shall contain the following information:

  • progress towards achievement of individual learning outcomes                                                 
  • completed elements in accordance with the plan
  • an update on the research project or credit-generating elements that are planned
  • an update of the planned timetable or funding plan
  • other parts of the current individual study plan that are to be revised.

The Departmental Director of Doctoral Studies will review the report and decide on any potential minor changes to the individual study plan. A completed annual follow-up shall be registered in LADOK.

Activity report

Each term, the KI departments report the % research education activity for each of their students. This information is important for Statistiska Centralbyrån and the allocation of central funds by KI. A particular form (activity report) is sent to all students and it is mandatory to complete and submit this report to study administrator Eva Holmgaard at the requested time. The student's activity is registered in LADOK.

Half-time review

For general information:

A half-time review shall be conducted for each doctoral student planning to take a doctoral degree. The principal supervisor and the doctoral student are responsible for and will take the initiative in organizing the half-time review.

The review shall, if there are no special circumstances, take place following the equivalent of two years of full-time doctoral training. Furthermore, the student must have completed at least 7.5 higher education credits of general science courses, including 1.5 higher education credits in statistics and 1.5 higher education credits in research ethics. The timing of the half-time review is not dependent on the generation or the number of manuscripts/published articles.

After proposal by the supervisor, the Director of Doctoral Studies will appoint a board consisting of three researchers with adequate knowledge of the subject and who are independent from the project and have obtained a doctoral degree. The board, together with the supervisors and the doctoral student, shall assess the prospects of the project leading to a doctoral degree and propose any necessary changes to the individual study plan.

The PhD student / supervisor is responsible for booking room for the seminar and that half the time advertised on the KI website.

After completing half time, the protocol shall be signed by the board and then sent in original to the study Administrator Eve Holmgaard, Tomtebodavägen 18 A for registration in Ladok.


For general information:

The application is checked by the student and the supervisor together, so that all documents necessary for the assessment of the Dissertation Committee are included.

Contact Eva Holmgaard for a LADOK excerpt (UT90) to be attached. Certificate from the web LADOK is not sufficient in this context.

Supervisor verifies and signs that the student has "All courses completed".
Subsequently submitted the application to the Director of Studies and Head of Department for approval.

Spending on the opponent's fee (10,000 + LKP) and any hotel room, meals for examining board and printing of the thesis are funded by the supervisor.