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 various 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.


Study Administrators

HR officer

Åsa Belin

Phone: +46-(0)8-524 865 87
Organizational unit: HR

Director of Doctoral Studies

Senior researcher

Velmurugesan Arulampalam

Phone: +46-(0)8-524 859 95
Organizational unit: Forskarutbildning

MTC Student Association

All students are registered for a PhD 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

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Interested in Doctoral Education at MTC?

MTC welcomes ambitious 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 at the Karolinska Institute jobsite

Recruitment process

As of January 1 2014, all PhD positions where KI is the principal employer 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.

Job vacancies at Karolinska Institutet

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Forms and Documents

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

Relevant forms for admission can be downloaded from the 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).

More Information

Third cycle (doctoral) courses/programs

Green Light for Supervision

As of August 1st 2017, KI requires all supervisors to obtain departmental approval (the so called “Green Light”) before any PhD recruitment process can begin. This is irrespective of how the PhD students are financially supported. The official application form may be downloaded below. After completion, this form should be sent to Åsa Belin (The third cycle educational administrator at MTC)

Please refer to the directive issued by the Board of Doctoral Education, where additional information may be found:

Read the directive.

Please note that the ‘green light’ routine does not replace the admission seminar or diminish the responsibility of the admission board. All candidates will still have to undergo and pass the admission seminar before being registered as a PhD student

Download the Green Light application form here (word file)


Since March 2006, there is only one study subject for new Third cycle (doctoral) students at KI, namely "Medical Science". Students registered before 2006 are asked to contact the study administrator for the relevant information.

Related Information

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, must inform the Study Administrator.

Next, fill out these forms:

  1. General eligibility for Third cycle (doctoral) studies (Form 1)
  2. Admission (Form 2)
  3. Individual study plan (Form 3)

Application for eligibility assessment

All prospective doctoral students must meet both the general and the specific eligibility requirements for doctoral studies. The application for eligibility assessment (application form 1 above) should be submitted to the central administration at Karolinska Institutet (to the address found in the application form).

Please note that the application for eligibility assessment (application form 1 above) must be approved before you can apply for admission (application form 2 above). The processing times for eligibility assessments may be up to three weeks. If your application is incomplete, it may take longer.

These forms (Form 1 General Eligibility for Third Cycle (doctoral) studies, Form 2 Admission and Form 3 Individual Study Plan above) with all enclosures should be handed in to the Study Administrator, at least 14 days before the meeting with the " Third cycle (doctoral) Research Committee" (Forskarutbildningsrådet) at MTC. The application must then be approved by the Director of Postgraduate Studies.

The Registration Seminar

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

During the Spring of 2018 the Third cycle (doctoral) Research Committee will meet on the following dates:

Dates of Registration Seminars Application to be received by
2018-01-17 2018-01-03
2018-02-07 2018-01-21
2018-03-07 2018-02-21
2018-05-02 2018-04-18
2018-06-13 2018-05-30

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

For supervisors

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

Guidelines for Postgraduate Studies Yearly Follow Up at MTC

A. Yearly Follow Up Seminar

MTC monitors the progress of all postgraduate students via a yearly student seminar and a follow up discussion with the student, main supervisor and an appointed chairperson. The chairpersons are representatives of MTC and KI and should implement the rules and regulations in a constructive way to help the student achieve their academic goals.

The follow ups are to be performed with one year intervals, except when there is a half-time control, licentiate exam or dissertation already scheduled during the same semester. In this case, please refer to section B below. The seminar should be around 20 minutes followed by questions and discussion. The discussion should preferably be held right after the yearly seminar, but the parties may also agree on a separate time to meet.

For the student

  1. No later than one week before the seminar you should send your individual study plan, the research plan and the previous follow up form or the half-time control protocol (if applicable) to the chairperson. You should also include a brief summary of your progress during the year.
  2. Together with your main supervisor you should prepare a 20-minute seminar detailing your progress. Please bring your own computer to the seminar.
  3. Fill out the MTC form: “Postgraduate studies yearly follow up” (see yearly follow up forms below) and bring it to the seminar to be completed by the chairperson.
  4. After the meeting you should hand in the completed form and any revised documents to Åsa Belin, study administrator, to be signed by the head of department.

For the chairperson

The seminar should be followed by a discussion between the student, the main supervisor and the chairperson. The chairperson should complete the yearly follow up form after discussion about the progress of the PhD studies.

1.    Please fill in the comments concerning the past year and the presentation. Do focus less on individual experiments, and more on overall comments. Note that written statements are very helpful, i.e. more than 2 words. Topics to discuss:

  • General impression of the progress of the work. Is there a clear line? Does the student have his/her own project? Briefly summarize the achievements. Discuss if there are any specific problems in the project.
  • General impression about the student’s situation, e.g. the contact with the main supervisor, co-supervisors?
  • Ask about valid ethical permits. Emphasize that this is a major cause of delayed theses and be aware of unfamiliar permits from collaborators.
  • How many graduate courses have been taken? Suitability of courses, e.t.c?
  • Is there a plan for a half-time control? Normally between 2 and 2,5 years after registration.
  • Should the student plan a date for the PhD/Licentiate? Balance between “time limits” and getting a good thesis to defend.
  • Ask about the Literature Examination before the halftime.     


  1. Fill in the comments concerning the coming year. From the discussions above, which recommendations do you give to the student when it comes to planned courses, conferences, exams or other details?
  2. Revision of the study plan. Tick the appropriate boxes only if there are major changes, e.g., change of supervisors, completely new project, change of study subject, different type of financing, etc.
  3. Sign the form together with the student and the main supervisor.
  4. If you feel there are problems with the student’s situation which you are not able to handle, please discuss this further with the study counsellor.

B. Yearly follow up without seminar

Note that every student, regardless of activity, must hand in a completed yearly follow up form. If no seminar is held for any reason, the KI Form 4: “Yearly follow-up of the individual study plan” (and not the MTC form), is to be completed and signed by the student and the main supervisor and handed in to Åsa Belin during this semester. If your halftime/dissertation is planned for the following semester, you may be asked to complete KI form 4. In this case, contact the Educational Administrator.

The yearly control is an obligatory part of the student’s education plan, which is required by all universities.

C. Yearly Follow Up Schedule

The seminars will start in the beginning of each semester and will be held on Thursdays at 13.00 in MTC conference room A302. Any changes to the schedule sent out should be reported to Åsa Belin immediately.

Yearly follow up forms

Changes in Study Plan

You have to inform the Educational administrator of any changes in your individual study plan, research plan, financial plan, supervisor(s) and mentor. Please use the form "MTC Changes form" (See link below) for those changes.

If you want to terminate your studies at MTC use the form "MTC Deregistration Form" (See link below)

Credit transfer of courses and accreditation of credit-bearing activities

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

All doctoral students must obtain at least 30 university credits when applying for thesis defense.
Credit transfers are done using two different forms:

  1. Form 13 for University and other courses
  2. Form 16 for other credit-bearing activities which do not include courses

The signed form together with attachments should be handed in to the Educational administrator for approval and registration in LADOK. Doctoral courses passed at KI are automatically entered into LADOK (no form is needed).

The forms and instructions can be found by following the link:

Forms and instructions

Guidelines for half-time review at MTC

Rules and regulations

All PhD students are required to have a half-time review after four semesters of full time studies and no later than the end of the fifth semester. Before you can apply, using the application form provided below, you must:

  1.  Have at least 7,5 university credits from courses in general science (baskurser). Statistics and ethics are mandatory courses.
  2.  Have completed the KI introductory course.
  3.  Have passed the MTC Literature Examination according to the study plan, see below for guideline and form.

Do not forget to

  1.  Book a time and room for the half-time review with Åsa Belin, the Educational administrator. The review normally takes one to two hours, including discussion.
  2.  Complete the MTC application form below and hand it to Åsa Belin at least 3 weeks before the scheduled review. Please note that at least one member of the committee should work outside MTC.
  3.  Make sure the committee is given the “KI Protocol at half-time review” (form 5), see below. Ensure that the committee spends some time when filling in the form. Please ask them to avoid using one or two word descriptions of the progress e.g. "Good", "Nice work" etc. Not essays, but one or two lines would be much more informative and helpful. The completed half-time protocol should be handed in to Åsa Belin for registration in Ladok.
  4. Karolinska Institutet has a set of rules and regulations governing the half-time review. Please refer to the link below for the proper procedure. Note that the supervisors and the doctoral student ensure that the half-time board receives the documents at least two weeks before the seminar.

KI rules and regulations for half-time review

Relevant forms

Licentiate Seminar

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

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 cycle (doctoral) studies  and  Admission  and hand them in to the study administrator.


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

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.

Deadline to Åsa
for signatures
Deadline to the
Dissertation Committee
Earliest possible
date of defence
2018-01-16 2018-01-23 2018-04-13
2018-01-29 2018-02-05 2018-04-27
2018-02-13 2018-02-20 2018-05-11
2018-02-26 2018-03-05 2018-05-25
2018-03-15 2018-03-22 2018-06-15

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 Councelor must sign the forms before they are sent to the Dissertation Committee. Please hand in the application at least 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. After approval from the KI dissertation committee following the appraisal by your examination committee, mail the following information to your study administrator:

  1. Title
  2. Name
  3. Time
  4. Venue

4.  Send two copies of the doctoral thesis to the Administrator of Postgraduate Studies for official use.

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

The dissertation process