Supervisor to doctoral student

All doctoral students have one principal supervisor and at least one co-supervisor. The supervisor is appointed in connection with the decision on admission by the head of the department where the doctoral student is admitted.

The responsibilities of each supervisor are described in the individual study plan. It is important that all supervisors are aware of how their commitment is described in the study plan. 

Instructions for changing supervisors below.

Following requirements apply for a doctoral supervisor:

  • The principal supervisor must have the means to assist with good, professional supervision (must have ‘green light’)
  • Co-supervisor(s) shall contribute with relevant complementary expertise
  • All supervisors must have a doctoral degree
  • At least one of the supervisors must be an associate professor (docent) or a professor
  • The principal supervisor must be either employed by KI or formally affiliated to KI 
  • The LAS-age must be taken into account when appointing a principal supervisor1
  • At least one of the supervisors, preferably the principal supervisor, must be active in the department to which the doctoral student is admitted.
  • The principal supervisor must have completed doctoral supervisor training as below
  • Family relationships or other close relationships between doctoral student and supervisor is not allowed
  • Two persons with a close relationship or family relationship may not be in the same supervisor group
  • All supervisors shall be thoroughly familiar with KI's regulations governing doctoral education.

1According to Rules for employment after the right to remain employed is no longer valid: A position as principal supervisor should always be planned so that one can be ensured that these jobs can be completed in an efficient way. In this respect one must take the LAS-age into account. The LAS-age is 68 years of age today, but will be raised to 69 years in 2023. (LAS = Employment Protection Act)

Supervisor training

A principal supervisor must have completed doctoral supervisor training. The mandatory education consists of two parts:

  1. KI's web course for supervisors for doctoral students. A passing score on the web course cannot be older than 5 years prior to accepting a new doctoral student. The purpose is to ensure that all supervisors are familiar with the prevailing rules for doctoral education. This is mandatory for all principal supervisors, including those with equivalent knowledge as described below.
  2. KI's introductory course in doctoral supervision. The aim of the course is to prepare participants for the role of supervisor and to provide insight into the responsibilities that it entails.

Those who have equivalent expertise

  • have been principal supervisors for doctoral students who have graduated with doctoral degrees from, for example, a university in one of the Nordic countries or another country which has comparable doctoral education, or
  • have taken part of another research supervisor training equivalent to the KI course.

If you have taken a supervisor training course outside of KI and wish to have it assessed, send an application that includes a course certificate or diploma and a brief description of the content and scope of the course, to the coordinator in the Committee of Doctoral Education, Faculty Office, KI.

Each department is responsible for checking the qualifications of the proposed supervisor.

Changing supervisor

According to the Higher Education Ordinance a doctoral student who so requests shall be allowed to change supervisor. The department must try to comply with the wishes of the doctoral student, but situations can arise when this is impossible, for example when there is no suitable person available at KI or other factual circumstances. 

As it is the principal supervisor who usually finances the doctoral student, a change of principal supervisor cannot always be carried out. Instead, other solutions can be considered, for example a change of roles between principal and co-supervisor.

The doctoral student has no unconditional right to choose supervisor at his/her own discretion. It is the head of department who appoints supervisors. 

Below are the routines for changing supervisors. It is assumed that the doctoral student has a digital individual study plan (ISP). Contact the department if any questions. 

Changing principal supervisor

  1. New supervisors are appointed by The Head of Department. Submit form 15 to the administrator for doctoral education at your department. Note that the prospective principal supervisor needs to apply for a green light. 
  2. As soon as the decision is taken, the individual study plan (ISP) is transferred to the new supervisor. This is done by the ISP-support: Contact isp@ki.se
  3. The new principal supervisor creates a new version of the previously established ISP, and revises/updates the information regarding supervision.  
  4. A copy of the decision (form 15) is uploaded to the ISP system by the doctoral student or principal supervisor.

The above applies regardless of if the new principal supervisor was a co-supervisor to the same doctoral student.

If the doctoral student is changing department at the same time as changing supervisor, follow this routine instead.

Changing co-supervisor(s)

  1. New supervisors are appointed by The Head of Department. Submit form 15 to the administrator for doctoral education at your department
  2. Make sure the new co-supervisor has access to the ISP-system. If not, contact the administrator for doctoral education at your department
  3. The individual study plan (ISP) must be updated with information of the new supervisor(s). The recommendation is to wait until the next annual follow-up, but it can also be done immediately. A copy of the decision (form 15) should be uploaded as an attachment to the ISP.

If the doctoral student is changing department at the same time as changing supervisor, follow this routine instead.