Quality assurance of DTU’s PhD programme

Admission to the PhD programme
Before starting a PhD, applicants are academically approved by the head of the PhD school based on the recommendation of one of the five PhD committees. The head of the PhD school ensures that the subject of the fellow’s individual PhD programme is in accordance with DTU’s strategy and that it includes a balance between theory and practice. DTU has established clear admission requirements. DTU thereby ensures that applicants are academically qualified to complete a PhD programme satisfactorily. Dropout is therefore low at DTU. In connection with admission, the PhD committee further assesses the individual PhD programme and the choice of supervisors. DTU stresses the importance of having solely active researchers as principal faculty supervisors for PhD students. In addition, the PhD committee ensures that supervisors have the appropriate academic qualifications for the individual PhD programme. Many individual PhD programmes at DTU are carried out with external partners, who have also assessed the programme before it is approved.
 
DTU’s PhD courses
A PhD committee approves PhD courses before they are incorporated into the course catalogue or are integrated into a PhD fellow’s curriculum as specialized courses. The PhD committees thereby contribute to ensuring that DTU’s course offerings are relevant and adequate.
 
Approval of the curriculum
All PhD students must submit a curriculum within 2 months after beginning their studies. The student prepares the curriculum in collaboration with the faculty supervisors, and the head of the PhD school approves it. The curriculum indicates the scope of the PhD programme, and the student may regularly revise the curriculum if the scope changes later. A PhD committee approves the curriculum; this committee has accumulated vast experience on compiling individual PhD programmes through its work and thereby contributes to ensuring that the programme can be completed within the time allotted.
 
Half-year reports
DTU has decided to continue to require half-yearly reports from PhD students. These reports are an important tool for the PhD student and the faculty supervisors to keep the PhD programme on track. The half-year reports can be considered milestones for the programme. They assess the work of recent months and plan for the coming months. As part of the half-year report, the PhD student and supervisors select one of the following three options as an overall assessment of progress.

  1. The programme is progressing satisfactorily. The student is keeping up with the curriculum in academics, dissemination and coursework.
  2. The programme is not progressing completely satisfactorily. A plan for rectifying the situation is outlined. There have been problems during the reporting period in relation to the schedule established but both the supervisor and the PhD student expect that the programme can be completed successfully within the normal time allotted. Plans have been prepared and approved for rectifying the situation.
  3. The programme is progressing unsatisfactorily. The PhD student is offered to rectify the situation within a 3-month period in accordance with § 10 of the Ministerial Order on the PhD Programme at the Universities. If the PhD student is unable to reinstitute progress on the curriculum within the 3 months, the PhD programme is interrupted.

Interview after one year of studies 
After the first year of the programme, the PhD student is asked to meet the department’s academic staff member of the PhD committee for an informal conversation. Some departments schedule conversations after submission of the half-year reports. The talk will bring up positive and negative aspects of the programme and is intended to defuse minor problems before they get to be insurmountable. The experience obtained from these conversations is collected at the joint meetings of the PhD committees (see below).
 
Performance and development review
As employees of DTU, PhD students review their performance and development with their immediate supervisor, usually their principal supervisor or programme supervisor. This provides additional assurance that PhD students' qualifications are developed optimally.
 
Supervisor’s report
The supervisor prepares a report on the PhD programme as a whole. The report is submitted at the same time as the dissertation. The head of the PhD school approves the supervisor’s report, which forms the basis for the PhD student defending the dissertation.
 
Assessment of the dissertation
An assessment committee with three members assesses the dissertation. One member is from DTU and the other two are external to DTU, including one from outside Denmark. All members of the assessment committee from outside Denmark are subsequently asked to assess the academic level of the dissertation relative to the academic level of dissertations at their own university.
 
Recommendation on awarding the PhD degree
The PhD committee reviews the recommendation of the assessment committee together with the curriculum and supervisor’s report to ensure that the course of study has been in accordance with the approved curriculum and to monitor the academic level of PhD dissertations at DTU through the statements of the assessment committee. The work of the PhD committee provides DTU with quality assurance that cannot be obtained in any other way.
 
Network of administrators
All DTU’s departments have administrative staff members who handle administrative matters for PhD fellows. A campus network has been established to rapidly disseminate information to these administrators. Further, the PhD administration holds information meetings for this network 1–2 times per year.
 
Joint meetings of the PhD committees
The members of the PhD committees meet 1–2 times per year to discuss relevant topics related to the PhD programme. In addition, the Dean meets with the chairs of the PhD committees about 4 times a year.
 
International evaluations of DTU's PhD schools - read more here.