Principal supervisor and project supervisor

For each PhD student enrolled, the head of the PhD school appoints a principal supervisor, who is overall responsible for the PhD study. The principal supervisor must be a professor, a senior associate professor, an associate professor, a senior researcher or someone with corresponding academic qualifications and be a full-time employee at DTU. (It is not considered sufficient to be an external associate professor).
The principal supervisor is normally a permanent DTU staff member associated with the PhD school/department applied to. Furthermore, the student will usually be associated with the PhD programme committee that serves the PhD school/department in question. In certain cases, however, the head of the PhD school may approve a principal supervisor from another PhD school/department.
If particular academic aspects justify it, a principal supervisor who is not a permanent DTU staff member may be appointed, provided that it can be documented that the prospective supervisor has qualifications at associate professor level and is permanently affiliated with DTU via externally funded employment. In order to ensure continuity in the PhD study programme, the PhD student should as a principle rule have the same supervisor for the duration of the study programme.

At least one co-supervisor must be appointed unless this is not practicable considering the subject in question. The co-supervisor should be qualified within the relevant research field. DTU recommends that there be no more than three supervisors on a PhD project. If there is a request for more than two co-supervisors, this must be supported by an academic/professional motivation.
Industrial PhD students under the Innovation Fund Denmark scheme have a supervisor both at the university and the company, in addition to a co-supervisor at the company. The company supervisors must be qualified within the relevant research field.
It is the responsibility of the principal supervisor to inspect that the PhD student conducts his/her studies in accordance with the determined scientific contents and that the time schedule of studies is observed.
Thus the principal supervisor is responsible for:

  • preparation and submission of a study and project plan
  • preparation of the half-year reports
  • preparation of the principal supervisor’s concluding statement which forms part of the assessment as to whether the thesis is ready for submission
  • submission of proposal for members of the assessment committee
  • planning and conducting the defence session.

DTU strongly recommends that the PhD student be involved in the tasks concerning study and project plan and half-year reports as part of his/her learning process.

It is mandatory for academic staff at DTU to participate in the course 'Supervision of PhD students at DTU' before taking on the role as main supervisor on a PhD project for the first time. Read more about the course here.