Evaluation of the doctoral education

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Given the way Karolinska Institutet’s (KI’s) 2,000-plus doctoral students are distributed over 22 departments, each with his/her own individual study plan, it is something of a challenge to follow up the quality of KI’s doctoral education and build up a complete picture of an individual doctoral student’s study/work situation and integration on the global labour market. Much of the quality work is done at departmental level. Surveys and polls are sent out to KI’s doctoral students at regular times, such as after each course and in connection with their public defence. Occasional surveys have also been sent to different categories of respondent, such as alumni, supervisors and examination board members.

Exit poll

An exit poll has been sent out to all of the university’s newly graduated doctors/licentiates since 2008 (only doctors as of 2015). The poll, which is in English, contains about 40 questions, and is accessible online via a link that will be sent to you by email within one month after the defence of your thesis. If you have any questions about the survey, please contact Karin Vågstrand at the Faculty Office.

The purpose of Exit poll

The purpose of the poll is to develop and improve doctoral education at KI. Finding out the attitudes of former doctoral students to their education will help us remedy whatever aspects of it are considered unsatisfactory. To get a full picture of the situation of the doctoral students at KI it is important to have a high response rate!


The poll is anonymous and your answers will be treated with the utmost confidentiality. Only one administrator can see who has answered or not in order to send reminders, but it is impossible to see who gave which answers! The annual reports are made with respect to the respondents and is thoroughly reviewed to make sure that nothing is revealed regarding specific persons. If there are any important message in the open-text comments that should be read by people in charge, we make sure that the Dean see the whole comment, but it is not spread outside a very small group of people.

Results from Exit poll

90 percent were satisfied with their doctoral education in Exit poll 2017. The results from exit poll for doctoral students from 2013 – 2016 have been compiled and presented in a report. Comparing with the period 2008 – 2012 we can see a positive development.

In exit poll 2017, 13 per cent of the doctoral students answered that they at some point during their doctoral education have experienced unequal treatment, discrimination, degrading behavior and/or harassment. The number is too high, but lower than previous years.

“The Board of Doctoral Education’s assignment is to work for high quality in KI’s doctoral education and the survey results indicate that this work has been successful so far, even if there still are aspects that can be improved. It is highly prioritised for the board and for KI to strengthen the research training environments and to decrease the vulnerability of individual doctoral students”, says Marianne Schultzberg, dean of doctoral education at KI.

Report: Exit poll for doctoral students - results from 2017

Report: Doctoral students combining doctoral education with clinical work (data from Exit poll 2017)

Report: Exit poll for doctoral students 2013-2016

Report: Exit poll for doctoral students - results from 2015

Report: Exit poll for doctoral students - results from 2014 (in Swedish)

Report: Exit poll for doctoral students 2008-2012 (in Swedish)

How the results are used

Once a year, a report is presented for the Board of Doctoral Education with the accumulated responses from the last year. This is important information for the Board as it is almost the only way to get a full picture of the situation of the doctoral students at KI. When there are enough answers to ensure anonymity the accumulated results are divided into the different departments, usually every fifth year, to give the department a chance to revalue their quality work.

The Board of Doctoral Education uses the results of the exit poll to identify areas that need working on. Since 2008 when the concept was launched, it has taken a number of steps to improve student welfare and the quality of doctoral education.

In the autumn of 2012, the responses students gave to questions concerning their experience of their study/work environment in the exit polls from 2008 to 2011 were compiled. It was found that 16.5 per cent of all respondents had been discriminated against, harassed or victimised at some point during their doctoral studies at KI. Representatives of the Board of Doctoral Education then visited KI’s departments in order to spread good examples of preventative work and propose a raft of measures to improve the students’ study/work environment.

Report from the departmental visits in 2013 based on the results of the Exit Poll 2008 - 2012

Questions in Exit poll

The poll contains a large battery of questions on attitudes towards various aspects of their studies, such as courses and other learning activities, supervision and working environment.

The survey is updated annually to keep up with academic developments. However, some key questions are retained in the interests of trend analysis.

Questions in Exit poll

Response rate

The response rate to the exit poll in recent years has been around 80 per cent.

Alumni survey

A survey was conducted in the autumn of 2011 of all doctoral graduates from 2003/4 or 2007/8 from KI and from the medical faculties at Gothenburg, Linköping, Lund and Umeå universities in order to evaluate their education and describe their entrance onto the labour market.

A survey aimed at doctoral (PhD) graduates from KI (defending their theses 2010 or 2014) was conducted in 2018.

The results of the alumni survey 2018

18 % of the doctoral graduates had been unemployed at some point after their dissertation (44 % among those with a background in natural sciences). During the measurement week, 96 % were employed or self-employed and only 1 % were actively looking for work.

Of those who were working, 45 % were employed in academia, and of these, 87 % stated that their work involved research and 53 % stated that their work involved teaching. More than 50 % of the entire group had received a research grant after graduation. 21 % were employed by a county council and 25 % in the private sector.

71 % stated that a doctoral degree is formally required for their work tasks and 27 % that a licentiate degree or a 4-5-year higher education would have been enough. 77 % stated that their work tasks fully or partially coincides with the thesis research field, while 86 % stated that critical scientific thinking to a large extent is a requirement for their current work tasks.

86 % stated that the doctoral courses were generally of high quality (a big improvement compared with the survey sent out 7 years ago where the corresponding figure was 58 %). 90 % responded that they would recommend KI to prospective doctoral students.

Report: "Forskarexaminerade vid KI - om utbildningen och inträdet på arbetsmarknaden" (in Swedish)

Report: PhDs – their research training and entry into the labour market (five faculties)

Report: Alumni survey 2018 – doctoral education and the entry into the labour market (KI)


A mid-poll was sent out during three semesters (spring and autumn 2011 and spring 2012) to coincide with the half-time review, and will henceforth be issued every three years. There are fewer and less detailed questions in the mid-poll than in the exit poll and they focus more on supervision and teaching than on the working/study environment.

Examination board survey

An anonymous survey of examination board members was conducted in the spring of 2013 on the quality of KI’s doctoral students and theses

External evaluation

In the spring of 2010, KI decided to have an external audit made of its quality work with a focus on the efforts that the university is making in the field of education.

Report: "Bedömning av kvalitetsarbetet vid KI 2011" (in Swedish)


Report from the Employee Survey 2017, personnel group doctoral students (in Swedish)

Doctoral education