Round Corner
Department of Computer and Information Science

PhD Studies

Life as a PhD student, and the acceptance process for PhD scholarships.

Covered topic:

  1. Qualifying for PhD Studies
  2. Becoming a PhD Student
  3. Becoming an Employee
  4. Expenses During the Studies

Other sources of information:

1 Qualifying for PhD Studies

The following three criteria must be met:

  1. The applicant's grade point average (GPA) from the two final years of the masters degree studies must correspond to an ECTS "B" or better. Also, the applicant's grade point average in the bachelor degree must correspond to an ECTS "C" or better.
    • In Norway, candidates with only a bachelor degree (BSc/BEng) are not qualified for PhD studies. All candidates must have completed their MSc/MEng degrees in computer science/computer engineering, or equivalent, before starting the PhD study.
  2. The applicant must document the ability to cover his/her daily living expenses for 3 full years before being accepted. Students planning to work (part time) to finance the studies are not accepted. Lånekassen, the national student financing bank, does not support PhD studies.
    • One must either have substantial savings available - minimum 10.000NOK/1250 USD per month for 36 months - or obtain a scholarship to be accepted.
    • Available scolarships are announced on our website. If none are announced, then none are available.
  3. The department must have a supervisor (professor/associate professor) available. To be considered for PhD studies, you may contact a professor directly provided your finances are in order. For announced scholarships the name of the appropriate professor to contact will accompany the announcement.


2 Becoming a PhD Student

The primary contact regarding your status as a PhD student is your main supervisor.
Contact Anne Berit Dahl regarding formalities.

2.1 Becoming a PhD Student

2.1.1 The Formal Application

The application form should be filled out by the candidate and the supervisor. The employment offer employment usually states that it is conditional, and that it is given provided the candidate is accepted as a PhD student no later than 3 months after having started in the position.

Read the instructions (and footnotes) carefully when filling the application. All details for each course must be precicely specified (i.e. whether the course is on PhD or ordinary level, the number of credits, how the course is assessed etc). Please observe the following details with respect to the composition of the plan:

2.1.2 The Research Plan

A temporary research plan (0.5 - 2 pages) must accompany the application. A complete plan (appr. 10 pages including references) must be available within the next 6 months. The plan shall be approved by the advisor(s) before it is sent to the Faculty, and consists of the following parts:

  1. Background
    • Give a brief description of the state of the art.
    • Give a brief description of the approach and issues that will be addressed in the doctoral thesis.
    • Why is the proposed thesis subject of interest in view of the current state of the art?
    • Describe the context of the project (i.e., external and internal collaborators and more informal links).
    • Describe new knowledge that is expected to result from the research work on the thesis. This should be outlined relative to the state of the art within this field and the candidate's previous work within the field.
  2. Objectives
    • The academic or scientific objectives of the PhD thesis work are to be specified.
    • The objectives are to be listed in points and formulated in a way that enables them to be examined and evaluated once the research is concluded.
    • Research hypothesis.
  3. Scope
    • Consider the limitations in the coverage and explain which topics are to be covered by the thesis and which issues are outside the scope of the work.
  4. Research method
    • The research content of the PhD thesis is to be specified.
    • Describe the specific research methods that will be used to achieve each of the objectives listed under point two above.
    • If experimental data is to be collected, describe the research design and data analysis that will be used.
    • Describe any potential ethical dilemmas that your work can lead to, and what can be done to handle this in advance (e.g., if sensitive data is collected, describe measures to protect the data, and the steps involved to get formal acceptance for the data collection).
  5. Expected results
    • The potential new knowledge that could result from the research is to be explained.
    • If relevant, show how the findings and results from the thesis can be applied in an industrial context or be useful to other sectors such as public administration.
  6. Work plan/work schedule
    • State the tasks that will be performed in order to achieve the stated objectives.
    • A schedule that shows the time required for each of the tasks in the work plan should be included.
    • Describe in detail the plans for the first publication: Venue, time table, and a brief description of the content.
    • Course plan.
    • Time of planned stay at other research institution (if applicable).
  7. References
    • The references used to describe the background and current state of the art should be included.

2.1.3 The Internal Committee

Each PhD student is required to have a committee of 2-4 persons following up on her/his studies. The default configuration is that the committee normally will have the following 3 members:

  1. The main supervisor (mandatory)
  2. A faculty member who is not to distant in research interests compared to the candidate and main supervisor, and whose main function is to give additional scientific guidance for the candidate in his/her work.
  3. An additional member who may be from one of the department's other research group, or from outside the department, and whose main focus will be on communication and the inter-personal relations between the candidate and her/his supervisors.

The committee will meet minimum once per year - preferably once per semester - to monitor the progression of the candidate, and to provide additional input to both the candidate and the supervisor, ref. section 2.2.2 below.

The internal committee is not the committee which will evaluate the final dissertation. The committee's purpose is to provide a mechanism for quality assurance throughout the study.

2.2 Being a PhD Student

2.2.1 Change of plans

Any change of plans regarding courses you are expected to attend, estimated date of thesis submission etc., must be accepted by the faculty's Research Committee. Therefore, all changes must be applied for explicitly, with a positive recommendation from the supervisor accompanying the application.

Important: Changes involving withdrawing from one or more exams, must be applied for no later than November 1st and April 15th the semester in which the exam was originally planned. Students failing to withdraw in due time will have the exam count as a "Fail" if not attending.

2.2.2 Progress and Reports

The candidate is annually required to deliver a written progress report. Normally this is done in connection with the annual (or more frequent) meetings between the candidate and the internal committee.

After two years a more excessive progress report - a "thesis proposal" of appr. 10 pages, must be delivered. Generally it has the same structure as the research plan submitted with the application (ref section 2.1.2), but in addition it includes a description of achievements to this point and a revised plan for completing the studies. The plan and an oral presentation of the status, will be reviewed by the internal committee. Based on the review, a statement is made on whether progression is sufficient. The committee may reject the plan and require a revised plan to be produced within 2 months. If the revised plan is rejected, a recommendation can be made that the candidate's PhD studies are aborted.

PhD Thesis Template

Tentative templates for structuring the thesis:

2.2.3 Registering for Exams

PhD students are automatically registered for exams according to the semesters indicated on page 2 of their applications. It should be noted that one must apply for a formal change in plans (ref. section 2.2.1) to be able to skip (postpone) an exam scheduled for a particular semester.

2.2.4 DION

PhD students at NTNU have their own organization to take care of their interests - much the same as a "trade union": DION.


3 Becoming an Employee

Your primary contact regarding IDI employment is Norun Brembo.

Practical matters concerning salary and taxes are handled by Anne Sørvik.

3.1 Becoming an Employee

3.1.1 Residence and Work Permit

To become an official employee, a residence and work permit must be issued. This is done at the Foreign Office at the police station. Bring your passport to the police station immediately upon arrival in Norway to have it stamped.

3.1.2 A Place to Stay

Living is expensive in Norway and there is no government organised housing.

The university has too few appartments to offer permanent housing for PhD students, but will try to aid with providing housing for a short time upon arrival.

Best tip is to start checking ads in the local newspaper (Adresseavisen) or at and find housing in Trondheim that suits your needs and wallet.

3.1.3 Salary, Taxes and Bank Affairs

Before foreign employees can receive their salary from NTNU, they must have a bank account in a Norwegian bank. You must also have a certificate ("Skattekort") from the Income Tax Authorities ("Likningskontoret"), stating how much tax you are required to pay.

To open a bank account and to have a tax certificate issued, you must first have been assigned your personal identification number ("personnummer"). This number is issued by the Population Registration Authority ("Folkeregistret"). This authority, however, only accepts applications after your passport has been stamped by the Foreing Office upon arrival in Norway. Please note: Expect up to 2 months processing time for having the identification number issued! Prepare to finance the stay in Norway for up to 2 months on your own, without having received the first salary. Calculate minimum 10.000 NOK/1200 USD/1200 EUR per month to cover rent, food and other expenses.

3.1.4 Office and Work Space

You will have your own work place, but PhD offices are usually shared with other PhD students. Desks in office landscapes with 2-4 colleagues may be used occationally.

Practical information:

3.2 Being an Employee

3.2.1 Accessories

Pens, pencils, staples, ring leaf files, folders, hole punchers etc. are stored in room 224 (located in the southern stairway of the building). Paper is stored in the copy/print/fax-rooms located on 1st and 2nd floors (rooms 154 and 254).

3.2.2 Teaching Duties

Normally, PhD students are offered a 4 year employment period regardless of the fact that the PhD study is a 3 year program. The extra time of employment must be returned to the department in form of teaching services - normally in the form of being responsible for exercises and laboratory work connected to the department's undergraduate and graduate courses.

One man-labour year at NTNU equals 1735 hours, implying that the teaching loads for one semester, when this load is spread out evenly over all 8 semesters, is 217 hours. Candidates are encouraged to fulfill the teaching duties during the first 3 years of employment, to ensure 100% concentration on the thesis the last year.

3.2.3 Vacations

In Norway, you are required to have 5 weeks of vacation each year. The Norwegian system has the following principle enforced for this:

  1. During one year, a portion of your salary is set aside for next year's vacation. You "earn" approximately 2 days of vacation every month, for a total of 26 days for a full year's work.
  2. Next year, up to 5 weeks of vacation with salary is allowed. You may, in one year, take more vacation than you have "earned" the previous year (this is particularly of interest the first year of employemnt, as one hasn't had time then to "earn" any vacation the previous year), but this excess vacation will then be vacation without a salary.
  3. The year you leave IDI, you can to some extent choose whether to have the vacation you have "earned" the previous year paid in cash, or to end your employment period with a vacation. Unless special cicumstances indicate otherwise, the rule is that you may have your excess days of vacation paid in cash if you period of employment ends before June 1st, and that you will be required to carry out your vacation as if you were to continue working at the department if you quit after August 1st.

You may not choose not to have vacation (e.g. with the excuse "I was to busy working on my thesis, so I didn't have time for vacation this year"), and then request the days "earned" the previous year to be payed in cash. If you choose not to have vacation, the benefit of a vacation with salary that year is generally lost. The exception to the rule: You may apply before November 15th every year, to have maximum 14 days of vacation (which you didn't have time to spend) transferred to the next year - for a total of 5+3=8 weeks of vacation with salary the following year. It is not possible to accumulate the number of days (i.e. 28 days if you have been busy for two years in a row). If vacation is transferred from one year to the following, you are required to spend the excess vacation during the five first months of the year. Vacation which isn't spent during this period, will be lost.

3.2.4 Leaves

You may have periods of leave - with or without salary - depending on the circumstances.
Common types of leave:


4 Expenses During the Studies

Contact Birgit Sørgård regarding bills, invoices, expenses, and economic information.

4.1 General Expenses

Annually each employee gets a fixed amount for general expenses ("Personal Annuum"/"PA"). For PhD students the amount is NOK 15.000 per year (proportionally reduced when arriving late or quitting early in a year). The PA may be used for any scientific purposes:

Important: The general allowance only applies to PhD students employed at the department. PhD students financing their studies by other means (private savings, employment at an external institution/company, loan, etc) will not be eligible.

At the Gnist Tapir bookstore, you may buy books and office/computer equipment you need for your studies/project without paying cash. Simply present your ID-card at the cashier desk and request the invoice to be sent to the department. The expenses will be drawn from your PA, or from the project's expenses account, if one is provided (only applies for externally financed projects).

When buying equipment or books elsewhere, and when buying tickets or paying conference fees, the normal procedure is that the vendor either sends the invoice to the department, or that you personally pay (cash or using your private credit card) for whatever goods you buy, and then brings the receipt and the amount refunded (it will be added to your salary the next day of payment).

4.2 Computer Equipment

New employees will normally be equipped with a new work station. It is expected to last for the duration of employment. You may choose between a stationary or a portable computer. The computer is the department's property, and must be returned to the department at the end of the employment.

Expensive and specialised equipment for research purposes may be applied for every year - normally once per semester. The department's Committee of Infrastructure and Research Equipment will announce this occationally on web, or by e-mail. Applications should be coordinated within each research group, and should be accompanied by a recommendation from your supervisor. Personal computer equipment (e.g. portable PCs, PDAs and their related add-on extras) will not be covered by these grants. Such expenses must be covered from your PA.

Computer equipment and software is normally ordered and installed by our technical staff. All requests and orders should be sent via e-mail to When buying equipment, your primary contact is Birgit Sørgård.

4.3 Conferences and Travels

You may apply for extra travel fundings. The department's Committee of Research decides once per semester who receives fundings, based on the applications received.

Normally the costs are covered by the Committee of Research if you contribute with a paper or with an invited talk at an international conference. Contributions to poster sessions do normally not qualify. Merely participating on a conference does not qualify, neither does contributions at national conferences - these should be covered using your PA.

Costs are normally covered if you are member of the program committee or have a similar function at a conference. Expect to have expenses for participation at a conference covered (contrary to what was just stated) as a bonus for having an article accepted in an international, refereed journal.


NTNU logo