Admission to doctoral education at KI

On 1 July 2018, KI introduced new admission regulations for doctoral education. Under these regulations and in order to ensure the university’s ability to provide high quality doctoral education, the Board of Doctoral Education has decided on procedures for the different parts of the admission process.

The admission process begins with the establishment of a doctoral position (step 1), to which a prospective student is then recruited (step 2). The process ends with the head of department’s decision to accept the candidate into doctoral education (step 3), upon which an individual study plan is adopted (step 4). See below for a more detailed description of each step.

Step 1: Establishment of doctoral position

Quality assurance of: Research project, supervision and general doctoral educational environment

A prospective principal supervisor applies to his/her department to establish a doctoral position by submitting the form Establishment of doctoral position. Contact details are available on the departmental website.

An application for Green Light approval is appended to the application, therefore forming part of the assessment process for this step.

The following requirements must be met before a doctoral position can be established:

  • The scientific project must be viable and suitable for doctoral study.
  • The principal supervisor must satisfy the Green Light criteria – i.e. has time for supervision, a good track record and sufficient financial resources.
  • The supervisor constellation must be relevant to the project.
  • The doctoral student can be offered a sound doctoral study environment (see Rules for doctoral education at KI, chap. 2.1.2).
  • An ethical permit (if required) must be held or planned.

Also assessed at this stage is whether there is reason to make an exemption from the requirement to advertise the doctoral position, as set out in the Higher Education Ordinance (chap. 7, section 37), see below.

To proceed to the next step in the admission process, recruitment and admission, a decision on establishment of a doctoral position is needed.

Step 2: Recruitment

Quality assurance of: The prospective student’s eligibility, suitability and ability

Assessment of eligibility

The eligibility of applicants to an advertised doctoral position is assessed as follows:

  1. The applicant uploads the relevant documents to the Varbi recruitment system as instructed in the advertisement.
  2. University administration officers assess the eligibility of all applicants.
  3. The selection process, see Assessment of suitability and ability below. Please note that the selection is made only among eligible applicants.
  4. When a candidate has been selected, the department notifies the university administration officers, who issue an “eligibility statement” for him/her. This statement must then be appended to the admission decision.

Entry requirements (eligibility) for doctoral education

The eligibility of applicants to a position that is exempt from the advertising requirement is assessed as follows:

  1. The supervisor or the candidate for the doctoral position contacts the doctoral study administrator at the department, who gives the candidate access to the Varbi recruitment system.
  2. The candidate uploads the required documents as instructed in Varbi.
  3. The university administration officers assess the eligibility for the person in question.
  4. If a candidate is considered eligible, an “eligibility statement” is issued. This statement must be appended to the admission decision. Please note that for candidates outside Sweden, the assessment must be done before arrival.

Entry requirements (eligibility) for doctoral education

An exemption from advertising requirement may be granted if:

  1. the prospective doctoral student is to study within the framework of employment by an employer other than the higher education institution# (e.g. Region Stockholm, another higher education institution or a company)
  2. the prospective doctoral student has already begun his/her doctoral education at another higher education institution, or
  3. there are similar special grounds – KI defines special grounds as positions where the student already has been selected in a competitive recruitment process.

#: In such cases an agreement for funding of the doctoral education of the externally employed doctoral student may be necessary. An agreement template for externally employed doctoral students can be obtained from the Legal Department by sending an email to Please provide supporting information about your request when contacting the Legal Department. Please note that this template is not suitable for doctoral students employed by Region Stockholm or other regions, but that another template is under construction. 

Assessment of suitability and ability

The department must ensure the suitability and ability of the doctoral candidate, even if the position is exempt from the advertising requirement.

Recommendations for quality-assured selection and assessing ability and suitability:

  • Potential candidates are invited to the research group for interviews and/or demonstrations of ability
  • A recruitment group is set up to assess candidates
  • The recruiting supervisor should use existing HR competence at the department as well as KI’s recruitment guide on the web.

Further information on the recruitment, selection and assessment of doctoral students

Step 3: Admission decision

This stage involves making the following decisions:

  • To accept the applicant to doctoral education on the grounds of steps 1 and 2.
  • To appoint supervisors.
  • To approve the financial plan, with confirmation that the department has ultimate responsibility for ensuring that the student is supported during the planned study period.

The admission decision is taken by the head of the relevant department on the recommendation of the departmental director of doctoral education. Decisions are taken continuously when a candidate has been selected and the recruitment process concluded without delay. Note that the date of decision by the head of department is not necessarily the date of commencement of study (e.g. if the candidate has not yet arrived in Sweden).

The decision is made on the following grounds:

After admission, a decision is also usually taken on employment. Further information on the employment and funding of doctoral students.

Contact details are available on the departmental website.

Step 4: Individual study plan (ISP)

Quality assurance of: The individual study plan

The Higher Education Ordinance (chap. 6, section 29) provides that an individual study plan (ISP) shall be drawn up for each doctoral student. 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 ISP remains as a roadmap for the doctoral student and his/her supervisors. A thoroughly worked-out ISP makes expectations clear and provides a solid ground for quality supervision.


  1. Work on the ISP begins the moment studies commence (note that the research and financing plans have already been prepared, see steps 1 and 3).
  2. The student and supervisor are to submit a proposed ISP within a month of the commencement of studies.
  3. The director of doctoral studies makes sure that it is correctly completed and thorough.
  4. The ISP seminar (see below).
  5. The director of doctoral studies approves the ISP (provided that the head of department has delegated the right of decision). All doctoral students are to have their ISP approved and adopted within three months of the commencement of studies.

The ISP system

KI has initiated a project of digitalizing the individual study plans. Implementation of the ISP system will start during 2019 at some departments. Before the system is implemented individual study plans are drawn up on paper using form 3.

The ISP-seminar


  • 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).
  • To help the department ensure that all doctoral students have an ISP.

The form of the seminar varies from department to department. See the relevant departmental website or contact its director of doctoral studies for more details.

UKÄ’s regulatory decision on KI’s admission process

The Swedish Higher Education Authority (UKÄ) concluded in is regulatory decision of 13/3 2018 that the admission process KI applied for its doctoral students contravened the Higher Education Ordinance and the Higher Education Act. KI’s admission procedure for doctoral students has therefore been amended in accordance with the UKÄ’s clarification.

The following points were raised:

  • It is not permitted to have what may be understood to be a trial period prior to admission to doctoral education. A candidate for a doctoral position is to be admitted as soon as the recruitment process is completed.
  • Candidates may only be selected from amongst eligible applicants. Eligibility must therefore be assessed before the selection process.
  • The individual study plan (ISP) is to be drawn up in consultation with the admitted doctoral student and thus may not be established and approved until after the admission decision.

More information for logged in staff

There is more information for those of you working in the following groups

  • C4.Neurovetenskap
  • H5.Laboratoriemedicin
Log in with KI-ID