Organization of the PhD programme at DTU

At DTU each department constitutes a PhD school headed by a member of the academic staff. All PhD schools have a PhD committee with members from the academic staff and the PhD student population at the PhD school. The Dean of Graduate Studies and International Affairs has the overall responsibility for the PhD programme.

DTU is imparting emphasis to the quality assurance of its PhD programme. With regard to DTU’s current initiatives, some are based on the Universities Act or on the Ministerial Order on the PhD Programme at the Universities; others are on DTU’s own initiative.

The PhD committees at DTU play an important role in quality assurance. The PhD committees consist of 6–12 members of which 3–6 are elected from among and by the academic staff, who are usually involved in managing the PhD school of the department. Another 3–6 are elected from among and by the PhD students at the PhD school. 

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 the PhD committee. 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 PhD plan
All PhD students must submit a PhD plan within 2 months after beginning their studies. The student prepares the PhD plan in collaboration with the supervisor(s), and the head of the PhD school approves it. The PhD plan indicates the scope of the PhD programme, and the student may regularly revise the plan if the scope changes later. The PhD committee reviews the PhD plan 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 checks the quality of the final recommendation of the assessment committee before it is forwarded to DTU's Academic Council. A main purpose of this quality check is 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.

Learn more about the international evaluations of DTU's PhD schools.