Admission to doctoral education at KI

The purpose of the admission process at KI is to ensure that every doctoral student has the prerequisites for a high-quality doctoral education.

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

Step 1: Establishment of doctoral position

Purpose of this step: To ensure, at an early stage, that all doctoral students have good conditions and the resources needed for a high-quality doctoral education.

A prospective principal supervisor applies to his/her department to establish a doctoral position by submitting the form Establishment of doctoral position

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

  • The scientific project is viable and suitable for doctoral study.
  • The principal supervisor satisfies the Green Light criteria. The form Application for green light  is an attachment.
  • The supervisor constellation is relevant.
  • The doctoral student can be offered a sound doctoral study environment (see below).
  • Ethical permit(s) (if required) is held or planned.
  • There is a financial plan. Form Financial plan for doctoral student.

Also assessed at this stage is whether there is reason to make an exemption from the requirement to advertise the doctoral position, see below.

To proceed to recruitment and admission, a decision on establishment of a doctoral position is needed.

Questions to consider when assessing the environment:

  • Are there opportunities for contacts with other doctoral students and researchers, e.g. through networking activities, seminars etc.?
  • Is there support available for the doctoral student's studies, e.g. in the form of postdocs, statisticians, biomedical analysts and other researchers? 
  • Are there opportunities for international exchange/contacts? 
  • Have alternative ways to achieve the objectives, should those outlined not lead to success?
  • What previous experience of supervision does the supervisory group have, i.e. the principal and co-supervisors? 
  • Presence of the supervisors in the group - full or part-time, the same physical workplace, etc.? How many doctoral students are currently being supervised?
  • How well described is the supervisory approach? 
  • How will the supervision of the proposed doctoral project be organised (in which way will the various competencies of the supervisors be utilised in the project)?

Step 2: Recruitment

Purpose of this step: To ensure that the potential doctoral student is eligible and has the ability to perform doctoral studies. 


The basic rule is that all doctoral positions at KI are advertised.

Information on the recruitment and selection process when advertising doctoral positions.

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.

#: A template for an agreement for funding of the externally employed doctoral student can be obtained from the Legal Department by sending an email to Please provide supporting information about your request. Please note that this template is not suitable for doctoral students employed by Region Stockholm.

If exemption applies to a specific doctoral position is decided by the study director when the doctoral position is established (step 1).

Assessment of eligibility

  1. The applicant uploads the relevant documents to the Varbi recruitment system as instructed in the advertisement.
  2. Officers at Professional Services assess the eligibility of all applicants.
  3. The selection process takes place, 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 an “eligibility statement” is issued by Professional Services. This statement should be appended to the admission decision.
  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 is 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

Assessment of suitability and ability

The KI department has a responsibility to ensure the suitability and ability of the doctoral candidate, even if the position is exempt from the advertising requirement.

Recommendations for how the selection process can be done:

  • 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.

Step 3: Admission decision

The admission decision is taken by the head of the relevant department on the recommendation of the departmental director of doctoral education. Appointing supervisors is included in this decision.

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.

Step 4: Individual study plan (ISP)

What is an individual study plan?


  1. Work on the ISP begins the moment studies commence (note that the research and financing plans have already been prepared). The principal supervisor creates a new study plan in the ISP system, and the doctoral student and supervisors fill in jointly all required information. 
  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. If needed, adjustments are made to the ISP.
  6. The director of doctoral studies approves the ISP. All doctoral students are to have their ISP approved and adopted within three months of the commencement of studies.

Log in to the ISP system - the digital system for individual study plans 

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.
  • 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 a regulatory decision 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 was therefore amended 2018 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.Department of Neuroscience
  • H5.Department of Laboratory Medicine
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