Getting started with your PhD

Below you will find information on admission to NMBU's PhD programs, the PhD contract, your supervisory team, the education plan/ required coursework and the data management plan.

Candidates at the PhD programme Veterinary Science are advised to go to the Faculty page for procedures and information (p.t. in Norwegian).

  • The NMBU Faculties are the admission authorities for their own PhD programme(s) and process admission of PhD fellows at NMBU and applications from potential "external candidates" who wish to conduct their PhD education at NMBU.

    External candidates may be employed at an external R&D institution, a research institute, in an establishment, public organisation, or similar.

    Admission to a PhD programme at NMBU prerequisites documentation of education qualifications, English language skills, and funding for the entire period of admission (see below).

    PhD fellow at NMBU?

    Admission to one of NMBU's PhD programmes will be handled in connection with employment in a PhD fellow position.

    The faculty may, when necessary, request the NMBU 1.1 Application for admission to be completed and sent to the faculty.

    External PhD fellow? External funds?

    If you are employed at an external institution/establishment, or have otherwise secured funding for a PhD education, you must apply to the relevant NMBU Faculty for admission into a PhD programme.

    You must send the NMBU 1.1 Application for admission to the faculty, at the latest within two months of the start date for funding of the PhD project/education.

    In addition to the application itself (which is a Word form), you must fill in a digital form that is used to obtain sensitive personal information such as social security number, copy of passport etc. which cannot be entered into the Word document (cf. the GDPR regulations).

    The faculties must obtain the following information both from all potential PhDs:

    • The education that will form the basis for the admission
    • English proficiency skills
    • Passport if the applicant is not a Norwegian citizen
    • Full financing of the entire PhD education/programme period
    • The proposed supervisors and affiliation to an academic environment
    • Project outline including an academic description of the project and a progress plan
    • Description of any special needs for professional and material resources, such as access to the necessary infrastructure to carry out the PhD project
    • Information about planned main place of work
    • Information on any intellectual property matters and an account of any legal and ethical issues raised by the project
    • Information on whether the project depends on permission from research ethics committees, permission to process personal data or other permissions. Such permissions should, if possible, be enclosed with the application.

    Processing and decision

    The faculty processes applications for admission and makes a decision normally within four weeks of receipt.

    In order to process the application, the faculty may require the applicant to send any missing documentation.

    A prerequisite, but not a guarantee for admission, is that the requirements for education, funding and English skills have been met.

    Admission to a PhD program at NMBU can be limited by the relevance of potential PhD projects to the research environment, the faculty's PhD supervisor capacity or other factors.

  • An independent research work consists of gathering research results, analyses and scientific publishing. This As a PhD candidate at NMBU you must have a main supervisor and one or more co-supervisors, together they will be your supervisory team.

    It is a requirement that the supervisor has a doctoral degree within the field of study and that he/ she is an active researcher.

    The main supervisor must be an employee of NMBU and have previous experience of or training in the supervision of PhD candidates. When academic considerations so require, an external main supervisor may be appointed.  Reasons must be given and the appointment must be based on a written agreement between the main supervisor’s employer and NMBU. A co-supervisor from the Faculty must be appointed if the Faculty appoints an external main supervisor.

    Cooperation with the supervisors

    The supervisors are your closest partners, and it is important that you at an early stage go through what expectations you and your supervisor(s) have in this collaboration.

    The supervisors should give advice on formulation and delineation of topics and issues, discuss and evaluate hypotheses, methods, data collection, and data management, results and their interpretation, discuss presentation and implementation of the production, as outline, linguistic form and documentation, and provide assistance with orientation in professional literature and data.

    The supervisors should provide the PhD candidate with guidance on research ethical issues related to the PhD project and the thesis.

    The PhD candidate and supervisors should have regular contact. The contact frequency should be stated in the annual progress report. The PhD candidate and supervisors have a mutual duty to stay informed of the progress of the work and to evaluate it in relation to the progress plan. The supervisors are obliged to follow up on academic matters that may lead to delays in the completion of the PhD program, so that the programme can be completed within the specified time.

    Change to the supervisory team

    The PhD candidate or supervisor may together or individually ask the faculty to appoint a new supervisor for the PhD candidate. The supervisor cannot resign until a new supervisor has been appointed.

    The faculty is responsible for immediately appointing a new supervisor for long-term illness, leave or the similar. A request for changes to the supervisory team should be made by using the form NMBU 2.2 PhD Changes supervisory team.

  • Admission to the PhD program shall be formalized through a written agreement NMBU 1.2 PhD contract, an Education Plan and a Data Management Plan no later than four months after start-up. 

    The NMBU 1.2 PhD contract must be entered into by the PhD candidate, the faculty, any external parties involved, and by each of the appointed supervisors. The PhD contract regulates the parties' rights and obligations within the contract period and mentions, among other things, funding, supervision, reporting, publication and ownership of results.

    When working with an external institution

    If you have funding from, or receive supervisory support from an external party such as a research institute, company, public sector establishment etc., the external party should also be involved when you enter into the PhD contract.

    Should it be necessary to regulate other legal issues than those mentioned in the PhD contract, this can be enclosed with the PhD contract (in appendix). If you have any questions, please contact Legal Advisor vegard.arnhoff@nmbu.no.

    If you are allowed to complete your PhD programme in a collaboration between NMBU and another graduate institution - a university in Norway or abroad - you (and your university) need to enter into the form NMBU 1.4 Cotutelle agreement. Please note that this agreement comes in addition to the regular PhD contract.

    Change of the PhD contract (admission) period

    If you experience delays during the PhD education, the form NMBU 2.2.1 Changes contract period must be completed and sent to the faculty PhD coordinator. In case of statutory interruptions or agreed leaves of absence (such as parental leave and sick leave), the PhD candidate must send documentation / confirmation to the PhD coordinator in order to have the absence registered in the NMBU student database (Felles Studentsystem - FS).

  • The form NMBU 1.3 Education plan consists of a progress plan for the PhD project, a plan for the required coursework component, a publication plan, and a plan for stays at other institutions (at home and abroad).

    Required coursework

    In accordance with more detailed specifications from the faculty, the required coursework component must include courses equivalent to 30-60 credits (ECTS).

    Together with the work on the thesis, the required coursework must be such that it provides the necessary academic breadth and specialization. In addition to academic subjects, the PhD candidate should include training that provides general competence (see below). The required coursework must be completed, passed, and approved by the faculty before the thesis may be submitted for evaluation.

    Level of courses

    Courses to be included in the required coursework must be at PhD or master’s degree level. 

    Research Ethics is mandatory

    A course in research ethics and the philosophy of science, of a minimum of 5 credits (ECTS), must be included in the required coursework. By completing e.g. PHI401, MINA400 or VET400, this requirement will be fulfilled. If you have completed another research ethics and philosophy of science course, you may present the course description and the course certificate to your faculty and apply for approval of this course. Your faculty will consult the NMBU Ethical Board if the course content must be evaluated.

    General skills

    PhD candidates are also expected to acquire general skills – for example skills in presentation techniques and in dissemination, scientific writing etc.

    NOTE: Not all courses within generic knowledge and skills provide credits. In addition, your faculty may have rules for how many of such courses you can include in your training section.

    Courses at NMBU

    For courses offered at NMBU, please see this page.  You can find the deadlines for registration in the NMBU Academic Calendar.

    Courses at other institutions

    If NMBU itself does not organise all the required coursework, arrangements must be made to ensure that the PhD candidate is given appropriate training at other institutions or units that provide accredited PhD education. Courses at other universities must be identified by the PhD candidate.

    NMBU belongs to networks such as NOVA University Network (the Nordic Forestry, Veterinary and Agricultural University Network)

    It is important that candidates are familiar with the admission rules for such courses and find out about deadlines for application, enrolment for examinations etc.

    Information about courses organized by the National Research Schools.

    NMBU employees may receive scholarships for short training stays at universities, companies and organizations in the EU.

    The stay must be approved by your manager and be useful and relevant to your area of ​​work, as well as contributing to the internationalization work at NMBU. Information on this can be found on the web page for Funding Options under the Erasmus + Program.

    Special syllabus

    If no suitable courses, a special syllabus at PhD level may be approved as part of the required coursework.

    Before a PhD candidate goes ahead with special syllabus, NMBU 3.1 Agreement for special syllabus must be in place. Fill in the digital form in order to be registered with the course in the system. The form is sent to the PhD coordinator at your faculty.

    Changes in the required coursework

    If you see that you need to replace a subject (s) in the training section, you must complete and submit NMBU 2.2 PhD Changes required coursework component. The subject (s) must be changed before the new subject (s) have been taken. The faculty decides whether you can exchange courses.

  • The Norwegian Research Council and EU are demanding Data Management Plans (DMP) for all projects they are funding. NMBU demands that all PhD candidates have a Data Management Plan.

    A Data Management Plan (DMP) describes the type and scope of the research data generated in the project, how it will be stored safely during the lifetime of a project and made available after the project has ended.

    The Data Management Plan (DMP) shall describe the type and the scope of research data generated in the PhD project. In addition, the DMP shall describe where the data will be stored during the project and how it will be archived and possibly made available after the project is completed. 

    As a minimum, you and your main supervisor must in connection with the yearly progress reporting go through the data management plan and assess the need for adjustments.

    Tools and service providers to create a data management plan

    You are recommended to use the Sikt DMP tool, or to use the Data Stewardship Wizard tool (particularly for life science research data). There are also other reliable tools, and some of them are listed below.

    Courses on data management

    Handling personal data in research (5 t)


    6 October - 10 November (6 x 3t): Life Science RDM course (arr.: ELIXIR og Digital Life)

    NB: Section below on research data is currently not translated. See Norwegian site Forskningsdata

    Read more: 

    • Policy and guidelines for research data management at NMBU
    • Privacy in research (including handling of personal data in research)
    • Storing research data in ongoing projects
    • Archiving research data