Support to doctoral students

There are various kinds of support function for doctoral students at Karolinska Institutet (KI).

The principal supervisor

The principal supervisor is the first person of recourse for students in need of support and advice. Doctoral supervisors at KI are required to take a professional approach to their role, which means ensuring that all education and research that is planned and executed is of a high standard and realistic in scope relative to the students’ individual study plans.

Supervisors are expected to make themselves available to their students, to be clear and consistent in their supervision, and to critically review the results obtained. Supervisors are also required to promote equal treatment by taking a firm stand against all forms of discrimination and harassment and to be fully familiar with the rules and conditions of doctoral education.

Read more about supervision


The main role of the co-supervisor is to complement the scientific expertise that exists within the project. The specifics of the role can vary, however, and must be clearly detailed in the students’ individual study plans.

Directors of doctoral studies

The directors of doctoral studies role include ensuring that the Faculty board’s intentions can be implemented and helping the students by providing support and information on such matters as admissions, individual study plans, credit transfer, half-time procedures, degree requirements and supervision as well as on problems or conflicts should they arise. They also play an important part in following up the students’ academic progress.

Description of duties and responsibilities for Directors of doctoral studies

Administrators for doctoral education

The administrators for doctoral education at the departments provide the students with information and practical administrative support and advice, for example regarding admissions, individual study plans, credit transfer, half-time procedures and degree requirements.

External mentor

Each student has one or more mentors to supplement the input of the supervisors. The external mentors can come from within the university or from the council health services, industry or other sector of society, and are there to help students seeking independent advice on, for example, career planning or contact with healthcare consumers and other extramural sectors, or on any other issue they feel uncertain about.

Visit the Doctoral Student Association's virtual meeting place to get help to find a suitable mentor within or outside of academia

The Doctoral Students’ Ombudsperson

The student and doctoral students’ ombudspersons are independent experts employed by the Medical Students’ Union (Medicinska Föreningen) to support the doctoral students. The ombudspersons work under complete confidentiality, unless explicitly told otherwise by the doctoral student that seeks advice.

Central director of doctoral studies

The central director of doctoral studies/coordinator Ingeborg van der Ploeg advises on matters requiring central support, such as those relating to the student-supervisor relationship. She also provides support to the departments’ own directors of doctoral studies.

Occupational health and counselling helpline

Avonova offers preventive and rehabilitative occupational health services for doctoral students who are employed at KI or scholarship-holders.

Doctoral students (both employed at KI and scholarship-holders) may also call the counselling helpline operated by Falck Healthcare, whose experienced consultants give advice on work-related psychosocial issues and private matters of a legal or financial nature.

As a doctoral student, you are also welcome to contact the Student Health Centre regarding study-related questions.

Safety representatives for doctoral students

Safety representatives and Student safety representatives have the mission to watch over and work for good working conditions (physical, organizational and social). They collaborate with managers and doctoral students, but they are not responsible for taking measures etc.

The Student safety representatives represents all students (including doctoral students) in their departments. 

Doctoral students with an employment at KI may also discuss work environment issues with a local safety representative at the department. Ask the Work environment group at the department whom to contact.

Organisation, roles and responsibility relating to the work environment

Report an incident

Have you been involved in or witnessed some kind of irregular or unlawful situation or noticed a potential danger? The more we get to know, the more effectively we can act, and the better placed we will be to make KI a safer, more secure and more sustainable workplace. Doctoral students report incidents via the staff portal. Read more about Work environment & health!

Equal opportunities and the Discrimination Act

KI's work on equal opportunities is based on the Discrimination Act (2008:567). The law states that, for example, that universities and health and medical care are obliged to investigate alleged harassment and discrimination as weill as work preventively. There are seven grounds of discrimination: gender, transgender identity or expression, ethnicity, religion or other belief, disability, sexual orientation or age. Doctoral students are covered by the Discrimination Act. More information about KI's work on equal opportunities.

Studying with disabilities

Information about studying with disabilities and how you apply for special support

Career Service

KI's Career service offers activities and information to help doctoral students build a career.

International staff services

KI’s International staff services gives practical information to overseas students on residence permits, Swedish courses for doctoral students and other such matters.

More information for logged in staff

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

  • H5.Department of Laboratory Medicine
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