Surveys targeting doctoral education

Karolinska Institutet (KI) has 2,000-plus doctoral students distributed over 22 departments. To get an overall picture of KI’s doctoral education and the study/work situation of the doctoral students, KI uses a number of surveys and polls:

Exit poll

An exit poll has been sent out to all of the university’s newly graduated doctors since 2008. The poll contains about 45 questions and has a response rate around 75-80 percent. It is accessible 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 

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.


The questionnaire has the following sections:

  • General questions
    • Full-time or part-time studies
    • Plan after degree
    • International mobility
  • The doctoral students opinion on: 
    • The doctoral education overall
    • Degree outcomes
    • Supervision
    • Courses
    • Information and administrative support
    • Work environment
  • Background information (age, gender, educational background etc)


The survey is anonymous, and the respondents should be aware that their identity are protected and that all answers are treated with the utmost confidentiality.

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.

The comments given in the open-end questions are read by a small group at the Faculty office and by the Academic vice president of doctoral education. Sometimes someone leaves such detailed information that it is possible to identify people, but even if the information is serious or upsetting no one will be approached about it due to the promise of anonymity. If a respondent has knowledge of any situation that should be acted upon, we recommend contacting the Academic vice president or the Central study director directly. The doctoral student’s ombudsperson can also be contacted.

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 an important part of the systematic quality work within doctoral education. The Exit poll reports are also published on this webpage, see below. 

When there are enough answers to ensure anonymity, usually every fourth year, the accumulated results are divided into the different departments to give the department a chance to revalue their quality work.

The data are also used to answer specific questions such as: How many doctoral students have attended a research school, or how many have spent time abroad. The data base is also a useful tool for deeper analyses, for example finding solutions for the group students combining doctoral education with clinical duties. 

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.

Research internship programme (forskar-AT) and research residency programme (forskar-ST)

In the spring of 2021, an anonymous survey was sent out to those awarded forskar-AT or one of the “clinical career programmes” during the period 2006–2019. The “clinical career programmes” consist of four different financing programmes; the research residency programme (forskar-ST; for doctoral students), clinical post-doc, clinical researcher and higher clinical researcher.

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: