Third cycle (doctoral) education Training

The Department of Microbiology, Tumor and Cell Biology (MTC) provides a dynamic research environment for approximately 100 or so postgraduate students engaged in many research activities.

Today MTC offers Third cycle (doctoral) education programs in the research areas, including Immunobiology, Infection Biology, Cell Biology, Tumor Biology, Vascular biology, Infectious Diseases and Microbiology.

All students are registered for a Ph D in Medical Science. The doctoral students at Karolinska Institutet may be affiliated to the medical students association (MF, Medicinska Föreningen). There is also an active departmental students association: the MTC-students association (MSA).

You can contact


IMPORTANT: You must refer to the study administrator to arrange your halftime and dissertation(date and time) before contacting the committee.



Velmurugesan Arulampalam

Telefon: 08-524 866 70
Enhet: Sven Pettersson grupp


Åsa Belin

Telefon: 08-524 865 87
Enhet: Forskarutbildning

Doctoral Grants Ordinance

The Doctoral Grants Ordinance is regularly updated and revised. For more information regarding salaries and stipends, please refer to the following link:


Study funding for doctoral students

New recruitment process

As off January 1 2014, all PhD positions where KI is the principal employment shall be advertised. As of now, it is mandatory for researchers receiving KID financing to advertise PhD positions.Exemptions include: positions for students with external stipends.


More information
Third cycle (doctoral) education Catalogue
Recommended literature
Third Level (Postgraduate) courses
Medicinska Föreningen
The Handbook For Third cycle (doctoral) Students
MTC Student News (intranet link)
Regler för forskarutbildning


Interested in Doctoral Education at MTC?

MTC welcomes excellent and highly motivated Third Level (postgraduate) students interested in our research areas to contact MTC research groups to inquire about student positions. MTC provides an international environment with excellent researchers and students.

Students who want to start Third Level (postgraduate) studies at MTC must always first contact an individual research group leader to inquire for a possible student position in that group. Positions are also advertised both at the Karolinska Institute jobsite

Job vacancies at Karolinska Institutet

More Information


Forms and Documents

Rules for admission to doctoral education may be obtained on the Rules and general syllabus website

Rules and general syllabus website

Relevant forms for admission can be downloaded from the forms and documents website

Forms and documents website


Third cycle (doctoral) Programs

The Karolinska Institutet has instituted several  Third cycle (doctoral) programs (Forskarutbildningsprogram) to organize Third cycle (doctoral) courses, mini-symposia and workshops, as well as to promote inter-departmental collaborations among students.

The number of programs now amounts to 12, three of which are available at MTC.

  • Allergy, Immunology and Inflammation
  • Postgraduate Programme in Biology of Infections and Global Health Programme (BIGH)
  • Tumor biology and Oncology

There is however no obligatory and formal registration to any of the programs.


It is strongly recommended that every student joins at least one of these programs, in consultation with her/his supervisor.


Please note that these programs are different from the Study subjects (forskarutbildningsämnen).


Related Information

Allergy, Immunology and Inflammation
Postgraduate Programme in Biology of Infections and Global Health Programme (BIGH)
Tumor Biology and Oncology


Study Subjects / Research Areas

Between 1 July 1998 and 28 February 2006 all MTC Third cycle (doctoral) students were registered in one out of 5 study subjects ( forskarutbildningsämnen) described below.

For students registered after 1 March 2006 these topics are research areas within the study subject Medical Science.

  • Immunobiology
  • Infection Biology
  • Cell and Tumor Biology


Immunobiology (Immunbiologi)

Study Plan for Immunobiology (Word file, 59 Kb)

The Immunobiology study subject operates on the principle that scientists working in modern immunology must also have a general knowledge of biochemistry, genetics, and cell biology to work creatively in their field. The overall theme comprises studies on the structure, function and regulation of immunological defence mechanisms including the cells and molecules of the immune system. Knowledge of adaptive and non-adaptive responses against self or non-self substances is relevant for infection, vaccination, transplantation, inflammation, allergy, cancer and autoimmune disorders. The study subject includes a wide range of specific areas for education and research such as immunochemistry, molecular immunology, cellular immunology, tumor immunology, cell activation, allergic inflammation, immunogenetics, and immune deficiency.

Combining research facilities and faculties of MTC and the adjacent Swedish Institute for Infectious Disease Control (SMI) the Karolinska University Hospital (KS) and the Huddinge Hospital (HS) the Immunobiology study subject offers opportunities in a wide range of laboratory experiences and considerable interaction among the four other PhD programs.

The academic program may be fulfilled by participation in seminars, journal clubs or sciences discussion groups.

Responsible for the study subject

Klas Kärre, Professor


Infection Biology (Infektionsbiologi)

Study Plan for Infection Biology (Word file, 61 Kb)

The Infection Biology study subject is a joint effort of faculty with specialization in virology, bacteriology, parasitology, immunology and tumor biology. The research interests are centred on the genetics and molecular biology of virus, bacteria and parasite replication, the role of gene products in abnormal cell growth, the use of microbes as probes for the study of signal transduction, transcription, translation, cell cycle regulation, cell differentiation, and cell death. Specific research areas include the biochemical mechanisms of cell growth control, transformation, signal transduction, and transcriptional regulation, the molecular genetics, molecular biology and molecular pathogenesis of latent, persistent and cytolytic infections, the characterization of receptor interactions and the mechanisms of cell entry, the interaction with cells involved in innate and adaptive immune responses, the pathogenesis of infection and rational drug design. The program offers several graduate courses including course on microbial pathogenesis, microbial modulation of immune responses, microbial variation.

Responsible for the study subject is:

Mikael Rhen, Professor


Cell and Tumor Biology (Cell och Tumörbiologi)

Study Plan for Cell and Tumor Biology (Word file, 77 Kb)

This area is focusing on basic mechanisms in causation of tumors and tumor progression, including host responses to tumor development. It is based on fundamental issues in cell and tissue biology, and immunology. It includes genetic factors and their protein products, such as oncogenes, cell cycle regulating genes, signal transduction genes, growth factors, apoptosis and cell ageing controls, and suppressor genes and susceptibility genes. This area also includes studies on genetic cancer susceptibility and familiar cancers, related molecular epidemiology, on the interplay between malignant and normal cells, cell adhesion, angiogenesis, metastasis formation, aspects on tumor regression, and research on the relationship between infections and tumor development, as well as related bioinformatics and biomcomplexity. The application of this knowledge in the development on experimental treatments, such as gene and immunotherapy and preventive measures is also included in this study area.

Responsible for the study subject

Yihai Cao, Professor


Courses and Follow Up

Yearly follow up

Changes in study plan

Registration of courses



Half-time control

Licentiate Seminar




Since March 2006, there is only one study subject for new Third cycle (doctoral) students at KI, namely "Medical Science".
First of all, contact a research group leader to inquire for a position and funding to register at MTC as a Third cycle (doctoral) student.
A group leader who is willing to accept a student and if the recruitment  criteria (from Jan 1 2014) is fulfilled, should inform the Study Administrator.

Next, fill out these forms:

These forms with all enclosures should be handed in to the Study Administrator, at least 14 days before the following meeting with the " Third cycle (doctoral) Research Committee" (Forskarutbildningsrådet) at MTC. The application must then be approved by the Director of Postgraduate Studies.

The Third cycle (doctoral) Research Committee, consists of five organizers for the study subjects at MTC, the Study Administrator, the Director of Third Level (Postgraduate) Studies, a student representative and two faculty representatives. The committee meets on the first Wednesday each month (excluding summer months).

During the Spring of 2016 the Third cycle (doctoral) Research Committee will meet on the following dates:

  • January 28
  • March 9
  • April 6
  • May 4
  • June 8

The applicant gives a 10 min presentation of the project followed by 5 min of questions from the committee. The committee decides if they recommend the applicant as a Third cycle (doctoral) student at MTC. The Head of Department decides.

For more information, see the link below



Do not forget to:

Inform the Study Administrator when a new student is about to be registered (and at which meeting the presentation will take place).
Hand in the documents on time (14 days before the meeting).
Plan a short presentation (max 10 minutes) of the project in English.

More Information

Karolinska Institutet Forms
Individual study plan for Third cycle (doctoral) studies
Recommended literature


Yearly Follow Up

The purpose of the follow-up, which consists of several parts, (economical, courses, research plan, supervisors etc), is to monitor the progress of the individual student. The intention is also to discuss general progress, potential problems, and future perspectives.

Yearly seminar + follow up discussion

At MTC  the progress of all its graduate students through is monitored through a yearly follow-up which consists of:

  1. A yearly student seminar of  approximately 15 minutes
  2. A subsequent discussion between the student, the supervisor and the chairperson from the MTC faculty according to HSV (Högskoleverket) rules.
  3. Completion of the book/oral examination beforehand ((MTC rule)

The student seminar can cover both previous achievements as well as future plans. The discussion with the MTC chairperson should follow immediately after the yearly seminar together with the main supervisor. Following the discussion, the yearly follow up form should be filled in and signed by all parties and given to the administrator of the Third Level (postgraduate) Studies.

These compulsory student seminars/follow-ups are to be held with one year intervals, except when the student is having her/his half-time control or Licentiate/PhD exam in the same term. However, it is important that even if a seminar is not held, due to leave of absence or other circumstances, the yearly follow up (without seminar) is still mandatory as long as the student is registered at MTC.


Yearly follow up without seminar

The KI form 4 is used and filled in by the main supervisor together with the student. The form must be handed to the administrator of the Third Level (postgraduate) Studies, no later than the 1st of May (students admitted on a spring semester)  or 1st of December (students registered in the fall).

All necessary information for your yearly follow up can be found in links below.

Yearly follow up forms

Yearly follow up form with MTC seminar (Word file, 106 Kb)

Yearly follow up form without seminar (Form 4)

Guidelines 2012 Student Seminars (Lathund) (Pdf file, 94 Kb)


Changes in Study Plan


During your Third cycle (doctoral) training there might be some changes in your individual study plan that you handed in before your registration. If you decide to change main supervisor, co supervisor(s), add another co supervisor, change your study subject, or interrupt your PhD training at MTC and move to another department you have to inform the Study Administrator.

Use the form "changes form" (See link below) for those changes. Do not forget to date the change.

If you want to quit your Third cycle (doctoral) training at MTC use the form "Deregistration Form" (See link below)

Changes Form (Word file, 117 Kb)

Deregistration Form (Word file, 101 Kb)


More Information

Third cycle (doctoral) courses/programs


Registration of courses

All Third cycle (doctoral) students must obtain at least 30 university credits

These 30 university credits

1)  Core courses are registered centrally by. If you have had some courses similar courses you may apply for credit transfer via your study administrator.

Please note that we cannot accept courses which were taken during the four first years of your basic university exam (240 university credits)

2) Other Courses organized at KI are registered by the responsible department.

3)  Courses organized by other universities, seminars, conferences and journal clubs should be registered by the Study Administrator at the department where the student is registered.

The student is responsible to send the certificate of courses/conferences/seminars/journal clubs taken outside KI to the Study Administrator.

The certificate should contain:

  • Title of the course/conference/seminar/journal club
  • Credits (or program for the course/conference)
  • Dates
  • Country


Half-time control

The Third cycle (doctoral) student are required to have a half-time seminar after four semesters of full times doctoral studies and no later than the end of the fifth semester. Before the control 7,5 university credits from courses in general science (baskurser) should have been obtained.  For students registered after 2009-07-01 both the KI introductory course and the general courses including statistics and research ethics must be completed.

Students at MTC are also required to have sat for the oral examination (book exam) according to the study plan.

Please download and print the file MTC literature examination guidelines and form below

Rules and information

See the More information link below and the Rules for Third cycle (doctoral) education at KI and General study plan for Third cycle (doctoral) studies in Medical Science

Do not forget to:

1. Book a time for the half-time seminar with the study administrator.

2. Book a room for the half-time seminar though the room booking system on the inner circle website at MTC. The seminar normally takes one to one and a half hour, including discussion.

3. Fill out the relevant forms for the half-time control: the MTC specific form and the general protocol from KI (see links below under more information) . Please note that at least one member of the committee should work outside MTC with competence within the research field (preferably assistant or full professor).

4. Send the MTC form to the professor responsible for the study subject (ämnesansvarig för forskarutbildningsämnet) and then send it three weeks before the seminar date to the study administrator. The administrator will then send the approved/signed form to the student and all the supervisors.

5. The administrator will advertise on the MTC external homepage, as well as in the weekly program on the inner website, on the MTC notice boards and in the KI calendar.

6. Write a short (approx 2 pages) summary of the project, presenting the obtained results and a plan for the future, and send it to the examination committee two weeks before the seminar, together with a Ladok print-out (UT90) and ethical committee approvals. However..

A more extensive half-time summary will be required from April 1, 2015

The Board of Doctoral Education have decided that doctoral students who perform their half-time review as of April 1, 2015, will write a more extensive half-time summary containing a literature review of the research field.

To encourage the doctoral students to put their own project in a scientific context at an early stage is expected to provide both pedagogic advantages and quality improvements.

Read more about the half-time summary

Registration for the later part of Third cycle (doctoral) education

If a student registered for a licentiate exam wants to continue to a PhD he/she has to be registered for the later part of Third cycle (doctoral) training. The individual study plan must then be updated. Fill out the forms  Individual study plan for Third cycle (doctoral) studies  and  Admission  and hand them in to the study administrator.

More Information

More Information
Yearly follow up form with MTC seminar (Word  file, 106 Kb)
Yearly follow up form without seminar (Form 4)
Information For The Supervisor (Pdf file, 37 Kb)
KI Protocol for half-time control
MTC application for half-time control/Licentiate seminar (Word file, 125 Kb)
Individual plan for Third cycle (doctoral) studies
MTC literature examination guidelines and form (pdf file)



Licentiate Seminar

Licentiate exam

Third cycle (doctoral) studies at KI can lead to two degrees: Licentiate or Doctorate. A Licentiate degree can mark the end of a Third Level (postgraduate) study period, or be a goal along the way to a Doctorate (PhD). The general requirements for a student to be eligible to obtain a degree at MTC are that he or she:

Has been admitted as a postgraduate student at MTC with a main supervisor affiliated to MTC.

Has done most of his or her research work at MTC.

The Third cycle (doctoral) student should give the licentiate seminar after 2 years, i.e., after four semesters of full time studies or, at the latest, during the fifth semester.

Before the seminar the student should have passed the 7.5 university credits Core Course in General Science and obtained 7.5 university credits for other Third cycle (doctoral) courses according to the study plan.

Students at MTC are also required to have sat for the oral examination (book exam) according to the study plan.

Please download and print the file MTC literature examination guidelines and form above

Planning your Licentiate seminar

The graduation must be planned carefully. There are some differences between the preparation for a licentiate seminar and that for the doctoral dissertation.

The application for a licentiate degree should be sent in 12-13 weeks before the planned seminar. For more information, see link below.

Do not forget

1) A date and time must be set. It is important to confirm the date with the Study Administrator to avoid double booking.

2) Book a room at the MTC intranet homepage.

Mail title, time and venue for the seminar to the Administrator of Third cycle (doctoral)Studies no later than the 15th of the month before the seminar. The monthly seminar is advertised on the MTC homepage, as well as in the weekly seminar program on our website, on the MTC notice boards and in the KI calendar.

3) Three copies of the licentiate thesis should be given to the Administrator of Third cycle (doctoral) Studies.

4) Bring the protocol to the seminar!

5) Apply for your degree certificate after notification from the study administrator

For more detailed information see the "more information" links below

Registration for the later part of Third cycle (doctoral) education

If a student, registered for a licentiate exam, wants to continue to a PhD he/she has to be registered for the later part of Third cycle (doctoral) training. The individual study plan must then be updated. Fill out the forms "Individual study plan for Third Level (postgraduate) studies" and "Admission" and hand them in to the Study Administrator.

More Information
Application and Protocol
Dissertation Committee
MTC application for half-time control/Licentiate seminar (Word file, 125 Kb)
KI application forms
Recommended Literature



Your completed application needs to be handed in to the study administrator at least 5 working days before the meeting deadline set by the dissertation committee. Failure to do so may delay your submission and subsequently your dissertation.

Timetable for dissertation process (pdf)

1) A date must be set and confirmed immediately with the Study Administrator. As a general rule only two dissertations are allowed at MTC in any one day i.e. one in the morning and one in the afternoon. The Study Administrator will help you to book a suitable lecture hall and date. It is important that you confirm this date with the study administrator at MTC

IMPORTANT: Before your thesis is sent to the printers it MUST be checked for plagiarism. You may contact your study counselor (Studierektor) for the exact procedure.

2) The Head of Department and the Study Councilor must sign the forms before they are sent to the Dissertation Committee. Please hand in the application at least four to five days in advance to the study administrator. Enclose with the application forms your papers in press and submitted manuscripts, as well as those in preparation (even if they are not yet finalized).

3) Mail title, time and venue for the dissertation to the Administrator of Postgraduate Studies no later than the 15th of the month before the dissertation. The monthly seminar lists will be mailed to interested parties outside MTC, advertised on the MTC homepage, as well as in the weekly program on our website, on the MTC notice boards and in the KI website.

4) Send three copies of the doctoral thesis to the Administrator of Postgraduate Studies. All theses will be bound in two different series and also exposed in the main entrance hall of MTC.

5) The main supervisor is responsible for booking a meeting room for the Evaluation Committee.

6) The protocol for the dissertation will be with  the chairperson of the dissertation, and should be brought to the Evaluation Committee meeting. The signed protocol should be handed to the Study Administrator. The newly qualified doctor is advised to make a copy of the protocol.

More Information

More information about the dissertation process