Evaluation of the doctoral education

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 the individual doctoral student’s study/work situation. 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 since 2008. The poll, which is in English, contains about 45 questions, and is accessible online via a link that is sent to the respondent by email within one month after the defence of the 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 respondents should be aware that their identity are protected and that all answers are treated with the utmost confidentiality.

During the data collection period one administrator at the central administration has access to the incoming answers in order to administrate the questionnaire, but when the survey closes at the end of each year names and e-mails are deleted automatically.

The annual reports, with accumulated results, are made with respect to the respondents and is thoroughly reviewed to make sure that nothing is revealed regarding specific persons. We take extra measures protecting the data concerning discrimination and harassment issues, and we guarantee that no supervisors, research group leaders or similar have access to any individual answers or information regarding who has participated or not.

Comments given in the questionnaire are read by a small group of people including the Academic vice president of doctoral education, since this is important information. But please be aware that no one will act on these individual cases due to the promise of anonymity.

Results from Exit poll

How the results are used

Once a year, a report is presented for the Committee of Doctoral Education with the accumulated responses from the last year. This is important information for the Committee 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 Committee 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.

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.

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.


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: