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Frequently Asked Questions

I understand that I will need to identify mentors from NIH, and KI. Where can I find a list of potential mentors at NIH? Can I contact them directly?

NIH has a large number of postdoctoral trainees but a relatively small number of graduate students. For this reason, scientists at NIH are eager to hear from potential graduate students, and almost all are happy to provide advice and guidance. Feel free to contact them, probably initially by email. Before you contact them, review their lab web sites and some recent publications. About 20% of the NIH faculty have identified themselves as neuroscientists and provide a brief description of their research at:

Please email or call them with information about yourself, your interests, and whether they may be interested in being a mentor to you in this NIH- KI program. If they do not currently have space in their lab for a graduate student, ask them to recommend other mentors. Please refer them to this web page for further description of the program. Finally, if the faculty member clearly has interest in the program, s/he must be aware of their obligations as a mentor. (NIH Mentoring FAQ,

See “A Guide to Training and Mentoring in the Intramural Program at NIH.” (

How can I identify a co-mentor from KI?

As a rule, it’s best to first identify a mentor at NIH. Then, working with your NIH mentor, review potential co-mentors at KI. However, this program is quite flexible and it may, at times, work well in reverse order. Faculty at the following four departments are the most likely to be co-mentors in neuroscience:

Department of Neurobiology, Care Sciences and Society

Department of Clinical Neuroscience

Department of Neuroscience

Department of Cell and Molecular Biology

Department of Physiology and Pharmacology

How long is the PhD Program?

The PhD should be completed in four, but no more than five, years from the date when the student is admitted as a PhD-student at KI.

How much time should I spend at each institution?

As a general goal, the student should spend approximately half their time at each institute, however, a minimum of 18 months should be spent at each institute. To maintain funding from NIH throughout the four to five years of training, at least 50% of the student’s time must be at the NIH. This time could certainly include large blocks (e.g., 1-2 years to complete a major component of the work), as well as shorter visits to complete smaller experimental components at one institution or to take courses.

How can I keep my mentor and co-mentor coordinated for the successful completion of my PhD dissertation?

The NIH mentor and KI co-mentor will agree to serve in this capacity after a specific research plan is proposed and both endorse the merit and utility of such a project as a joint collaboration between labs. The research plan should outline what components of the project to be performed at each institution with a proposed timeline of effort. To enhance communication, regular telephone conference calls, skype meetings and/or routine emails (with a copy to mentor, co-mentor, and student) should be established. Reciprocal visits should also be promoted.

Is a stipend provided?

A stipend is provided for the NIH-KI Program. Students who enter the graduate program through the NIH will be financially supported by their respective NIH institute and students who enter through the KI will be financially supported by KI. A stipend paid by a Pre-doctoral Intramural Research Training Award (IRTA) is provided to students who enter through NIH admission. The first year stipend for graduate students at the NIH is currently $30,350 for the 2017-2018 academic year. Small increments are scheduled for subsequent years. The NIH mentor is responsible for the stipend, medical insurance via FAES (currently $5319 for individual and $11,535 for family as of calendar year 2016), and travel benefits are provided at the discretion of the PI or NIH institute. NIH mentors can ask their Scientific Directors for their institute specific policy.

As of 2010, NIMH assumed from the central Graduate Partnerships Program the administrative management of this joint PhD program. NIMH charges overhead for these administrative services; however, the mentor’s institute must provide stipend, health insurance, and travel.

For current NIH Pre-doctoral IRTA stipend levels, please see:

Are funds provided to support travel?

The provision of travel funds is strictly dependent on the specific NIH institute and their established regulations on travel benefits. Some institutes in addition to stipend, provide up to $4,000 per annum for travel between the two institutions but again this is an important factor to discuss with your selected NIH mentor.

Travel arrangements between NIH and KI are arranged for students by the NIH Administrative Officers (AOs) of their respective mentor within the designated institute. All travel done while on a Pre-Doc IRTA fellowship at the NIH must receive pre-approval and clearance prior to the student beginning their travel to KI or back to the NIH. No personal funds should be committed at any point for travel accommodations (flights, hotel, conference registration fees, etc.) without approval since that is considered an illegal purchase and will not be reimbursed.

Does KI charge tuition or laboratory fees to students or their mentors?

No, as a national university of Sweden, KI does not charge tuition for PhD-students.

How can I arrange housing in Bethesda and Stockholm?

The Graduate Partnerships Program’s office is available to help you find housing in the Bethesda area. Housing at KI is generally off campus. A graduate student office at KI (comparable to the GPP at NIH) is available to help find student housing. Public transportation in Stockholm is excellent. Students frequently find housing on referrals from fellow students or via internet sites such as e.g.  and More information regarding housing during the visit at KI can be found on KI's Accommodation for Students web page:

The NIH Office of Intramural Training & Education (OITE) has assembled a helpful resource to students who are new to the DC area:

Does the NIH have a graduate student activities office?

The graduate students at NIH (about 500 and growing) use the numerous workshops and activities for graduate students sponsored by the Graduate Partnerships Program and also have a Graduate Student Council to represent their academic interests and to foster social interactions. For example, the Graduate Partnerships Program sponsors an annual graduate student retreat, and all students are highly encouraged to attend. The Graduate Student Council plans social and professional development events, such as teaching classes through the Foundation of Advanced Education for the Sciences, planning and participating in community service events, organizing the annual Graduate Student Symposium, giving seminars to the NIH community, and visiting various historical sites and museums in Washington DC.

For more information on activities and resources for graduate students at the NIH, please visit:

Many of the NIH Institutes have Training Offices which also provide numerous career and professional development workshops and seminars as well as career guidance. For Intramural Institute Training Contacts, please visit:

What does a thesis look like?

KI posts all accepted theses at a public web site. You may wish to review the theses of two students from our joint program: Garth Terry in 2009 and Stal Saurav Shrestha in 2014. For more information, please visit

What are the requirements for PhD Degree?

A full description of the rules and requirements for obtaining a PhD degree from KI can be found here: In brief, doctoral education at KI is, to a great extent, based on the doctoral student's individual research project, which is complemented with a specific knowledge requirement with a minimum of 30 ECTS points (equivalent to half a year of studies) of classroom work (i.e. courses or other relevant activities such as e.g. active participation at international research conferences or attendance at seminar series). One full week of classroom work: approximately 9 AM–5 PM, Monday through Friday is defined as 1.5 points ECTS (equivalent to three US graduate credits). Karolinska Institutet requires 7.5-points (or 5-weeks of full-time studies) of core courses on topics like biostatistics, laboratory safety, research ethics, etc. The remaining 22.5 points are elective courses on an advanced level relevant for the student’s research. In addition, a compulsory introduction course that does not entitle for any credits needs to be completed within the first year after admission. Please see KI’s Course Catalogue for courses offered at KI. The NIH also offers many courses that can substitute for the core and elective courses at KI. However, the substitution needs to be approved by the Director of Doctoral Education at the KI department where the PhD-student is admitted. Courses at NIH are available via FAES (Faculty for Advanced Education in the Sciences, please see:

Nevertheless, students are encouraged to take at least half of their total courses (30 ECTS points) at KI.

The student’s research project should be presented in a written doctoral thesis. Most theses from KI are cumulative theses, based on a number of separate original papers (not reviews). One of the constituent papers can be a systematic survey article, for example a meta-analysis. The requirement for such an article is that is creates new knowledge. At least half of the constituent papers, which are included in the cumulative thesis, must have been accepted for publication in a peer-reviewed journal. The number of constituent papers in a thesis varies, but they must have a scope and quality that in total, in the opinion of the Examination Board at KI, is equivalent to four years of full-time doctoral education.

The rules and regulations for doctoral education at KI are updated on a regular basis. For the latest updates, please visit

Who can I contact for additional questions about this program?

The KI-NIH Partnership has Directors at both the NIH and KI. The NIH Director is Janet Clark, PhD ( and the KI Academic Coordinators are Pia Steensland ( ) and André Fisahn (