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Supervision - PhD

The supervisor of the PhD candidate is responsible for advising and guiding the candidate through the PhD programme. Here you will find information on the supervision, including the co-supervisor, and change of supervisor.

Expectations for the supervision

The Departments nominate supervisors and enter into contracts with external supervisors. The distribution of work tasks between the supervisors is clarified upon admission to the PhD programme. When the candidate and the supervisor sign the admission contract, they simultaneously enter into a reciprocal contract.

The candidate and the supervisor are required to maintain regular contact and to keep each other continuously informed of any factors of importance to implementing the supervision. If the supervisor or candidate finds that one of the parties is not fulfilling the requirements of the contract, the person concerned should immediately contact his/her unit.

Read more about the obligations and rights of the candidate and the supervisor in the PhD programme.

The scope of the supervision

  • A total of 180 working hours is the guiding norm for PhD supervision (including the supervisor’s preparatory and follow-up work).
  • The supervision sessions are distributed between the main and second supervisor by agreement between the parties and the unit.
  • The guidelines for calculation of the mandatory teaching component establish the hourly rates for supervision at PhD level.


When appointing co-supervisor a separate contract is entered between the co-supervisor and the candidate's home unit (Department/center) specifying the distribution of supervision hours between the main supervisor and co-supervisor, as well as monetary compensation for co-supervisors external to the Department/Faculty. The Faculty is not part of such an agreement. The guidelines for "distribution of working hours" (see this Faculty of Humanities explanation of "arbeidspliktsregnskap (in Norwegian)") determine hourly rates for supervision on the PhD level. Some Departments have their own guidelines and routines for appointing supervisors.

In the case of problems with the supervision

It is important not to let a poorly functioning supervision relation persist over a long period. Expectations for- and experiences with the supervision is an issue that should be discussed by the candidate and the supervisor. If the supervision fails to meet expectations for either the supervised or the supervisor, this should be discussed directly between the two. If circumstances makes this difficult, the next step is to contact the Head of the Department, or optionally the Head of Research or PhD coordinator at the home Department. The PhD coordinator has a clearly defined responsibility as an ombudsman for PhD candidates enrolled in the programme. Employee interviews,  meetings with the PhD coordinator, as well as yearly reporting from both the candidate and the supervisor should ensure the supervision is of adequate quality.

In the case of changes in the supervision

If a new supervisor or a co-supervisor is appointed, or if for other reasons there are changes to the supervision relation, the Department and Faculty coordinator must be notified. Either a new supervision agreement must be created, or the existing agreement must be amended and sent to involved partners for re-signing.

Joint supervision agreements (Cotutelle)

Candidates may enter joint supervision agreements involving admittance, supervision, and research stay at foreign educational institutions as well as the University of Oslo. It is the candidate or supervisor who must initiate such an agreement, including establishing contact with the cooperating external institution. The Faculty decides whether the agreement should be entered or not.

Contact the research administration at your Department to find out more about the possibilities for entering a joint supervision agreement.

Here you will find The University of Oslo guidelines for joint supervision agreements (cotutelle).

Upon application for admission/scholarship

The PhD applicant submits the application without any formal ties to- or pre-approval from a supervisor. Candidates admitted to the programme is allocated a supervisor by the relevant Department. The supervisor should normally be employed at the Faculty. Admission and granting of scholarship presupposes that the Faculty possesses the competence and capacity to supervise the candidate within his/her subject field.

The supervisor must be a professor or have a PhD/equivalent qualification. A PhD project will normally be academically anchored to the Faculty through a supervisor employed at the Faculty. Nonetheless, if the project is interdisciplinary in nature it is possible to have a supervisor employed at another unit at the university. Candidates may enter into agreement with external supervisors, but note that no extra funds are allocated for this. If the candidate is admitted, the division of labor between the main supervisor and co-supervisor, including remuneration for a possible external supervisor, must be determined.

Supervisor's Handbook

Patentløsninger og Fingerspitzengefühl. Om å veilede til PhD-graden (pdf)
By Ingvild Folkvord (In Norwegian only)

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Published Apr. 22, 2015 8:22 AM - Last modified Jan. 7, 2016 9:42 AM