Systematic quality work in doctoral education

A doctoral degree from Karolinska Institutet (KI) is and must always be a nationally and internationally recognised hallmark of quality.

High quality doctoral education

High quality doctoral education entails turning out not only high quality theses but also employable, competent and independent graduates. Achieving this requires, in addition to high standard research, an educational environment characterised by solid leadership and focused on turning students into autonomous researchers.

Quality work in doctoral education at KI is systematic and based on three aspects/levels:

  1. University level (i.e. general management and frameworks),
  2. Departmental level (i.e. individual students), and
  3. Courses and other learning activities.

Quality work in doctoral education follows the principles given in KI’s general quality assurance guidelines, as illustrated below:

See also the documents (in Swedish):

1. Quality work at university level

Quality work at university level is focused on producing frameworks that will allow all doctoral students to obtain a quality assured education.

Quality work at university level is guided by means of rules, organisation and resource management. Decisions are based on the results of follow-ups and evaluations.

While the Faculty Board has overall responsibility for doctoral education, quality development, assurance and evaluation fall under the Committee for Doctoral Education.

Committee for Doctoral Education

Surveys targeting doctoral education


2. Quality work at departmental level

Quality work at department level involves quality assuring the individual student’s education and development and is centred on the student and his/her supervisor. A student may only be admitted once it has been established that the conditions exist to ensure that he/she receives a high-quality education.

Personal academic development from newly admitted doctoral student to doctoral graduate is by nature dynamic and highly individual. It is therefore important for doctoral students to receive regular follow-ups not only to help and support their supervision and progress and but also to enable KI to keep track of their personal development so that any necessary intervention may be made.

Student progress and goal-fulfilment at KI are monitored as followed:   

  • After 1 year: Student and supervisor follow up on and revise the individual study plan, which is then submitted to the departmental director of doctoral studies for approval. All students are offered a meeting with the director of studies at this point in order to establish initial contact and to address any problems or difficulties there might be.
  • After 2 years: The student attends either the half-time review, at which an impartial committee assesses his/her progress and the project’s implementability (PhDs); or the licentiate seminar (licentiates).
  • After 3 years: Student and supervisor follow up on and revise the individual study plan, which is then submitted to the departmental director of doctoral studies for approval.
  • After 4 years: Examination by means of public thesis defence. Apart from Examination Board’s assessment, goal-fulfilment is established through the student’s personal reflections on his/her academic development and the supervisor’s attestation.

Admission process

Individual study plans

Half-time review

Description of duties and responsibilities for Directors of doctoral studies

3. Quality work – courses and other learning activities

The quality work for courses and other learning activities (e.g. seminars, workshops, lectures) constitute the third part of the cyclical principle.

Course are needs-based and a course that does not attract a sufficient number of students will eventually be phased out.

The Course and Programme Committee has been set up by the Committee for Doctoral Education to approve syllabuses, to allocate funds to courses and other learning activities held outside the programmes, and to follow up on and coordinate programme activities.

Doctoral programmes are inter-departmental thematic networks that are charged by the Faulty Board /Committee for Doctoral Education to coordinate courses and other learning activities within specific subject fields.

Research schools: In addition to the above courses, which are open to all doctoral students, courses are also held within research schools. A group of doctoral students are admitted together to a research school to form a cohort for the duration of the course component of their doctoral education. Most research schools are designed specifically for doctoral students with clinical placements and are therefore set up and run in close association with Region Stockholm.

Arranging doctoral courses and activities

Evaluation and analysis of doctoral courses

Quality in doctoral courses