Required coursework and other academic training for PhD

The required coursework or other academic training must be equivalent to at least 30 credits, of which, as a general principle, at least 20 credits must be completed following admission to the PhD education. At least 20 credits are to be taken in established PhD level courses. Elements that are to be included as part of the required coursework or other academic training may not have been completed more than two (2) years prior to the date of admission.

Supplementary guidelines for the Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences

The training component must be relevant to the research project, thematically or methodically.

The plan for the training component must be specified in the application for admission.

If the candidate wishes to make changes during the doctoral training, they must apply for the right to do so. It must be specified which elements are to remain and which elements they want to remove from the plan. Applications for changes must be sent to the home department. The application form is available here.

Compulsory courses

A  minimum  of  8  credits  (and  maximum  of  10 credits) should be made out of basic courses in  scientific  theory,  ethics  and  communication of research findings. The compulsory courses are:

Introduction to research (SMED8004)   5 credits
Communication of science (SMED8005)  3 credits

The faculty reserves the right to make minor changes to the scope and content of the compulsory courses from one study year to the next. Other courses may be made compulsory for the specific candidate. In its admission decision, the faculty may require the candidate to include specific courses in their training component, even if the courses were not proposed by the applicant or supervisor. This applies where the faculty assesses that the candidate should take the course in light of the candidate’s background and the themes and/or methodology of the project.

20 credits should be completed after admission

Courses that are completed at the same time as the admission application is being processed will be considered as taken after admission, even if the exam is held before the faculty’s final decision on admission is made. In this instance a complete admission application must be submitted before the exam is held.

Courses taken more than two years prior to admission

Courses taken more than two years prior to admission might be approved if the course is still offered by the university and the academic content of the course has remained unchanged. Regardless of whether the content of the course is still relevant, dispensation may only be given for a maximum time limit of five years.

Exceptions for applicants with a background in the medicine Forskerlinjen research programme
Applicants with a background in the medicine Forskerlinjen research programme have completed the training component before applying for admission to the PhD study and are exempt from the rule that 20 credits must be taken after admission. They are also exempt from the two-year limit rule on courses at the date of admission. Applicants with a background in the Forskerlinjen research programme can also be made to take new courses if there is an academic basis in relation to the learning objectives for the PhD and the themes and/or methodology of the project. An assessment of this will be made in connection with admission.

Information about the 20 credits on PhD level

NTNU courses:
PhD courses at NTNU can be specified with the course code (8000-subject)

External courses:
Courses at doctoral level at other institutions, both nationally and internationally, may be incorporated into the training component. The faculty takes a positive line on PhD courses being taken at other national and foreign educational institutions. An application to incorporate external courses must provide a description of the course detailing programme, academic content, course literature and information on how the course is examined. Credits are calculated according to ECTS, which corresponds to 25–30 hours of work for each credit. For full-time candidates, the workload is considered to include time to acquire material, homework, assignments, tuition, group work, practicals and exams.

Supervisors must approve the application for incorporation. The PhD Programme Board will assess applications for incorporating external courses. If the external course is approved, the candidate must submit a course certificate once the course has been completed.

Information about other elements that can take part of the academic training plan (10 credits)

Up to 10 credits may be taken as other elements rather than established PhD courses. These may include Master’s level courses, presentations or research visits abroad.

Master's level courses
If a master's course is to be included in the required coursework or other academic training, the passing grade is equivalent to B or higher in terms of NTNU's grading scale. A candidate who has passed the examination in a course with a grade lower than B is only entitled to retake the examination in this course once in order to improve his or her grade. Up to 10 credits may be approved if these are assessed with a minimum grade of B or a pass grade.

Presentation of research findings
Up to two papers and 4 credits may be approved through communication performed during the doctoral training or which has been carried out during the medicine Forskerlinjen research programme. Communicating the same results several times only provides credits once.

The following communication activities may be approved:

  • Poster or oral presentation of results from own PhD project at an international conference: 2 credits per presentation
  • Poster or oral presentation of results from own PhD project at a national conference: 1 credit per presentation.

Documentation of the communication and confirmation that it was performed at the conference must be included. The documentation must be signed by the supervisor and the candidate.

Research visits abroad 

Up to 6 credits may be approved for research visits abroad of a continuous duration of at least two weeks. 1.5 credits are awarded for each week. The research visit must be carried out in the doctoral period.

An invitation letter from the department and an academic report signed by the supervisor and the candidate following the visit must be submitted.