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Consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic on KI’s doctoral education

[Updated 2020-05-25]

Major updates of this webpage

2020-05-25 New section: “To perform a doctoral education during the pandemic”

2020-05-13 Tip regarding supervision at a distance

2020-04-30 New section: “Admission of new doctoral students”

2020-04-03 New section: “Conferment ceremony” + updated information regarding courses

2020-03-30 Information about public defence moved to a separate webpage

There are many questions at present surrounding the coronavirus and the impact on KI’s doctoral education. Everyone is urged to keep themselves informed daily in order to take note of and act upon the recommendations that KI has issued for its staff and students

This webpage contains more detailed information of concern to doctoral education at KI. 

Doctoral students are to be considered  

  1. staff when working on their research project   
  2. students when they participate in courses

This means that: 

  • doctoral students continue with their research under the same conditions as other researchers  
  • doctoral courses are held as distance learning or are cancelled
  • half-time seminars and similar activities are conducted online, see below
  • thesis defences are to be conducted with possibility to attend online, see

To perform a doctoral education during the pandemic

Many doctoral students will be affected in different ways by the current situation. We recommend that all doctoral students review their individual study plan with their supervisors and discuss if plans need to be revised. This applies to both the research plan, participation on courses and study-related travels. The starting position is for doctoral education to continue at KI and we must all do what we can to help solve the problems that arise.    

The Swedish Agency for Government Employers (Arbetsgivarverket) have announced that if a doctoral student, as a consequence of covid-19, has been prohibited from performing his/her tasks as a doctoral student, it should be possible to prolong the employment beyond the stated four years. It is the KI department where the doctoral student is registered that decides if a prolongation should be considered. The assessment of the individual case is done on a case-by-case basis. To consider a prolongation, a revised individual study plan must be presented, the nature and cause of the delay must be described, and a revised financing plan, approved by the supervisor, must be judged as reasonable and doable. It is important to emphasize that there is no obligation for KI to grant a prolonged employment.

Doctoral students, who perceive that the current situation is affecting their plans, are recommended to document this. Such documentation will be of help at a later stage to judge if the delay is caused by covid-19, and of circumstances the student could not control.

Tip for supervisors: Effective Practices in Supervising Doctoral Candidates at a Distance, a webinar from the UK Council for Graduate Education from the 1 May now available on YouTube.


Regarding doctoral students’ research, the same guidelines apply to doctoral students as to all other members of staff.

The recommendation is that you reduce your social contact and work from home if you can, provided you obtain the consent of your immediate manager. Research at KI will continue, but with full observance of the recommendations. 

Admission of new doctoral students

According to the ordinary process for admission of new doctoral students, decisions of admission is taken continuously when a candidate has been selected and the recruitment process is concluded - without delay.

If the doctoral student, at the time of admission, hasn’t arrived at KI or for any other reason cannot begin their doctoral studies immediately, a study start date has to be decided. No research or educational activities are performed before the starting date. Under present circumstances, the period between admission and study start might be longer than otherwise, but the admission process is the same as usual.

Please note that doctoral studies can start without the student being on site. The doctoral student can participate in activities from a distance, for example writing the individual study plan, taking doctoral courses online, preparing for the ISP seminar, theoretical studies, participating in online seminars and meetings, etc.


KI is switching to distance teaching starting from Wednesday 18 March. For doctoral students, this means that courses will be given online with the tools available or cancelled. Your course director will notify you accordingly. This applies to all courses, including courses given within research schools.  

If this means that you are unable to meet your credit requirement before the public defence of your thesis, you can discuss with the Dissertation committee about the possibility of approving your application for public defence under condition that individual courses are taken after the public defence.  Please note that this means that the degree of doctor or licentiate cannot be issued directly after the public defence, since it is required that the entire course requirement has been completed.

If the course you have signed up for is cancelled, we recommend you to check out vacancies in other online courses during the spring term: Course catalogue and vacancies – doctoral courses

Further information for course providers: 

Half-time review

The recommendation is that half-time reviews are conduced remotely.

When you decide how the half-time review is to be conducted, try to ensure that it is done in a way that most effectively fulfils its purpose: i.e. that the student has a chance to obtain feedback, that the review serves as an educational element, and that the department is informed of the student’s progress.  

Try not to postpone the half-time review, but use it instead as an opportunity to discuss alternative solutions if the student’s study plan has to be revised on account of the prevailing situation. 

If you have any questions, contact your department’s director of doctoral studies. 

Public defences

Information about public defence during the coronavirus pandemic

Travel, research visits and international conferences

Doctoral students are to observe the same guidelines on travel, research visits and international conferences as all other members of staff.  

Personal presentations at international conferences are obligatory for KI’s doctoral students. However, the current situation can mean that some students will not be able to fulfil this requirement when the time comes for their public defence. This needs to be solved later. At present, the Dissertation Committee may still approve their application of public defence on condition that such conference participation can take place after the public defence.   

KI’s travel grant for research visits for doctoral research

Owing to the limited opportunities for doctoral students to conduct planned research visits, the travelling/utilisation time for KI’s travel grants for research visits for doctoral students has been extended to 2021. This also applies for travel grants for research visits for doctoral students advertised, applied for and granted in the spring and autumn of 2019.

 If you have applied for a grant for a trip that has to be cancelled, we ask you to repay the money, although the sum granted can be used to cover any costs you may have incurred in cancelling.

Information for international doctoral students

If you need to stay longer in Sweden than originally planned or need to leave Sweden earlier:

Conferment Ceremony

The Conferment Ceremony planned to 15 May will be postponed

Please note that the conferment ceremony, even though being a valued ceremony, has no formal significance and that degree certificates will be issued as usual.