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PhD Training at Karolinska Institutet

Students from the U.S/NIH seeking a PhD degree at KI must identify a specific mentor (supervisor),  who will accept a PhD student. A research plan must be prepared (approximately four pages) that provides an overview of the proposed research, as well as plans for obtaining proper research training, including courses and intended learning outcomes. The plan must be approved by the KI supervisor and is then submitted to the graduate committee in the KI supervisor’s department. If the plan is accepted by the graduate committee, the individual is formally admitted to doctoral education and matriculated as a PhD student at KI.

The joint NIH-KI doctoral program in neuroscience tries to bridge U.S. and Swedish PhD requirements in a flexible manner and is open for students to apply from both the NIH and the KI side. During the application process via the NIH-intake, a U.S. student should prepare a brief (1-2 pg) description of the proposed thesis research and identify a mentor at NIH and a supervisor at KI with whom they envision doing their research. In doing so, this initiates communications between both potential supervisors and gives a better sense to the student of whether the intended pair of supervisors will support them upon admission into the graduate program. Once accepted into the NIH-KI program, and with the active involvement and concurrence of the two supervisors, the student should prepare a broader proposal (6 pg) of the future research plan and an individual study plan describing the intended learning outcomes, satisfactory supervision and an environment which promotes doctoral education of the highest quality. This research proposal should optimally be completed within two months of starting the program (typically late July/early August) and will be reviewed by the Program Director on the NIH side and the research supervisors to receive preliminary approval by the end of September. Please note that this is a preliminary approval. Formal admittance to doctoral education at KI takes place after the admission seminar at the department at KI to which the KI supervisor belongs. Different departments at KI have different time periods for when the admission seminars take place. For more information, please visit the websites of the different departments ( To facilitate the identification of research supervisors and provide focused time for writing the research proposal, students in the KI program, recruited through the NIH “intake”, come to the NIH during the July to September time frame of their first year. During this time instruction is given on how to write a research proposal and time is dedicated to communicating with the NIH and KI supervisors, reading background papers on the project proposed, and planning a research strategy. Ample guidance is given to students by supervisors and the Directors of the Program. It is highly recommended that the students work towards a goal of having the research proposal written and approved by the supervisors by the end of September.

The research proposal should describe a series of experiments equal to four years of full time studies some of which are to be performed at each institution. The two supervisors must not only approve the proposal but also have a strong commitment to participate actively in all aspects of the research, whether performed at NIH or KI. In summary, the research proposal should describe a scope of collaborative work and educational training that not only fulfills the technical and pedagogical requirements of the PhD degree from KI but also have the enthusiastic support of all three participants: student, supervisor and co-supervisor.

Language of Training and Thesis

English is widely and often excellently spoken by Swedes; hence, there is no real language barrier in the program. Almost all classes at KI are taught in English. The thesis must be in English.


The joint PhD program at NIH and KI offers unparalleled opportunities for training and productive dissertation research in neuroscience. The program is designed so that students and supervisors can create an individual study plan for each student that supports personal scientific growth and an international scientific experience.