Doctoral education at the Department of Biosciences and Nutrition (BioNut)

Doctoral/third level education in Sweden normally requires a total of four years full-time studies. At Karolinska Institutet, there is no general admission to doctoral education. Admission of doctoral students at BioNut follows the process decided centrally at KI with some minor modifications. Decision of admission is taken by the head of the department.

For prospective doctoral students

For principal supervisors

The admission process of new doctoral students follows the: Rules for doctoral education at Karolinska Institutet.

The committee of doctoral education at Karolinska Institutet has decided on procedures for the four different parts of the admission process – establishment of a doctoral position, selection of a candidate, admission decision and individual study plan.
For detailed information see: Admission to doctoral education

Establishment of a doctoral position

The following are to be in the application to establish a doctoral position:

The form: "Application and decision, establishment of a doctoral position" with the following attachments:

  1. Approved "Form, Application for green light"
  2. Research plan, including background, research questions, methods, planned studies and significance (max. 5 pages including references) together with a preliminary time plan for judging the feasibility as doctoral project. Important, within the research plan a clear description of the specific role of the doctoral student in the studies.
  3. CV of supervisors (max. 2 pages each)
  4. Description of the competence of each supervisor in relation to the research project
  5. Description of doctoral education environment including physical (e.g localities, equipment), competence (surrounding supportive persons e.g. senior scientist, postdoc and other students) and academic resources (e.g. seminars, journal clubs, group meetings)
  6. Financial plan
  7. If exemption from advertising applies, a document verifying this should be attached to application to establish a doctoral position

The above are to be handed in to the educational officer for doctoral studies at BioNut:

Profile image

Monica Ahlberg

Educational officer, Doctoral/Third level education and courses

That the scientific project is viable and suitable as doctoral project will be subject to collegial evaluation by the study director of doctoral education at BioNut and member(s) of the doctoral education board at BioNut. If needed, external expert will be consulted.

Peter Swoboda

Study director for Doctoral Education

Decision to establish doctoral position is taken by the head of BioNut.

Advertisement of doctoral position and selection of a candidate

The recruiting supervisor should use existing HR competence at the department as well as KI’s recruitment guide and guidelines to recruit doctoral students.

Announcements of doctoral student positions must be advertised via the recruitment system at KI (Varbi), using the template available in the system. Please contact departmental HR officers for help with this:

When selecting among the eligible candidates a collective assessment should be done of merits and suitability. The following assessment criteria should be used:

  • Documented subject knowledge of significance to the research project;
  • Analytical skills; and
  • Other documented knowledge/experience of potential significance to doctoral education in medical science.

The recruiting supervisor should make a written documentation of the recruitment process.


  1. The selected candidate applies to be admitted to doctoral education at the department.
  2. The admission decision is taken by the head of the department on the recommendation of the departmental director of doctoral education.
  3. The decision is made on the following grounds:
  • The "Form Decision: Admission to doctoral education"
  • Revised financial plan (only if the situation has changed, since the financial plan was approved at the time of establishment of the doctoral position)
  • Certificate of completed supervisor training
  • Copy of the decision to establish a doctoral position
  • Eligibility statement from the University Administration
  • Description of the processes of selection and ability/suitability assessment


Black doctoral hat

Individual study plan (ISP)

The ISP describes the scientific project, the courses and other learning activities planned, and how the student, within the research field in question and on the basis of the specific project, is to attain the intended learning outcomes of doctoral education. 

The student and supervisor are to submit a proposed ISP within a month of the commencement of studies. The ISP must be updated annually irrespective of study rate.

Doctoral students admitted from February 2021 must use the electronic ISP system. Doctoral students admitted earlier than February 2021 must transfer their ISP to the electronic ISP system before December 2021. However, doctoral students who expect to defend their thesis at the latest during spring semester 2022 can use the ISP system or keep their paper version if they so choose.

Together with the proposed ISP should also be submitted the filled-in form:

ISP seminar

  • To be held within three months of the commencement of studies.
  • To serve as an introductory seminar and to welcome the new student.
  • To provide the student with an opportunity to present the research project from his/her perspective and to obtain feedback on it.
  • To be a learning activity for the student (note that the seminar is to be held in English).

Guidelines for the ISP seminar:

  • Maximum 20 minutes (~15-20 slides)
  • Brief introduction to the research area
  • Define the overall goals for the research proposal
  • Define the specific goals of the proposal
  • Highlight most important results already obtained
  • Provide a working scenario and time plan for the project, including possible pitfalls
  • Relate the research proposal to the current state of knowledge in the field and highlight novel information that is anticipated to be obtained
  • Try to provide reasonable answers as to why the suggested research is worth pursuing

Approval of ISP

The director of doctoral studies approves the ISP (provided that the head of department has delegated the right of decision) after ISP seminar. All doctoral students are to have their ISP approved and adopted within three months of the commencement of studies.

Several nailed theses hanging from a pillar

For current doctoral students

Mandatory early follow up

One year after commencement of studies an early follow up should be done and also one year after half-time seminar. Form to fill in for early follow up to be found at: Forms and documents for doctoral education

Half-time seminar

The half-time seminar should always be held after two years after admission or when two years of full-time doctoral education or equivalent has been completed. Monica Ahlberg reminds the student and the supervisor at the beginning of the fifth semester after registration/start date. Starting from 1 January 2020, the doctoral student notifies the department of an up-coming half-time review by filling in Form 5, Half-time review (notification and report). The doctoral student and the supervisor fill in part 1 and give the form to Monica Ahlberg. A Ladok transcript should be attached. 

The study director for doctoral studies (Peter Swoboda) appoints the half-time committee by signing the form, where after the doctoral student can send documents to the appointed committee.

Please note that before the form can be submitted, the doctoral student and his/her supervisor must have had a discussion regarding scientific writing and a discussion regarding ethics and ethical permits

More detailed information and instructions can be found on the general KI pages regarding Half-time review.

Woman presenting her thesis in front of the board, screens with her presentation is showing in the background

Apply for public defence of your thesis

The student should prepare his/her defence application well in advance, ideally three months or more, of the chosen defence date. General information and detailed instructions how to apply:

Pre-dissertation seminar

In good time before thesis defence, the student is strongly recommended to give a regular research seminar in which the main results and conclusions are presented.

Announcements of BioNut Half-time reviews and Dissertations

Upcoming Half-time reviews and dissertations should be announced in the KI Calendar and advertised on the Neo screens.
Send an e-mail with your information to: Sara Bruce

Content reviewer:
Sara Bruce