Extensions for PhD candidates due to the coronavirus pandemic

Guidelines for extensions for PhD candidates due to the coronavirus pandemic. Revised July 2021.

Norsk versjon: Forlengelse for stipendiater på grunn av korona

Topic page about PhD


Since March 2020, the coronavirus pandemic has placed severe constraints on PhD candidates. To ensure quality and progress in the doctoral programme, PhD candidates whose work has been delayed may be granted an extension of their employment in accordance with the

NTNU has several tools for assessing progress beyond the day-to-day follow-up through supervisors and the academic community. These tools include appraisal interviews, progress reports and midway evaluations. It is important that the candidate and supervisor use these tools to keep the department/faculty informed about the candidate’s progress.

Guidelines for extensions for PhD candidates due to the pandemic were drawn up at NTNU in May 2020, and the guidelines described here are a revision of these. The purpose of the revised guidelines is to clarify the basis for granting an extension due to the coronavirus pandemic and the rights to an extension for reasons unrelated to the pandemic. This information is a guide to PhD candidates, supervisors, managers and executive officers for questions about extensions.

Extended employment period due to the pandemic

The coronavirus pandemic has been and is still an extraordinary situation that influences the work situation of PhD candidates in many cases. Changes in research activity, project plans and progress can be demanding, and for some candidates they will trigger a need for an extension. As a first step before assessing the need for an extension to the employment period, the PhD candidate and supervisor have a joint responsibility to consider revising project plans to reduce any potential delay. At the same time, NTNU is responsible for making sure that the prerequisites for completing the PhD education are in place, such as information about the use of laboratories, offices, and other necessary infrastructure.

If the PhD candidate continues to be delayed due to the coronavirus situation after considering possible measures to minimize the delay, an extension can be considered under Section 2-3 (6) of the Employment Regulations (ansettelsesforskriften): «For a stipendiat [employed PhD candidate], the appointing body may in specific cases grant an extension of the period of appointment owing to circumstances that have hampered the progress of the doctoral education.»

If a PhD candidate is absent from work due to the coronavirus pandemic, this may entitle the candidate to an extension. To document absence, the PhD candidate has a duty to inform their employer in accordance with the department’s procedures for such absence, as well as to register the absence in the HR portal/Paga, regardless of whether the absence entitles the candidate to an extension. Undocumented absence does not entitle the candidate to an extension.

In connection with a potential extension, the faculty or department must conduct an individual assessment for each PhD candidate. The basis for this is usually an application for an extension submitted according to the procedures in effect at the unit. Progress reporting, midway evaluation and appraisal interviews can be used as documentation and background material for the application. The PhD candidate and supervisor should discuss the basis for an application for an extension on the grounds of the coronavirus pandemic. Then get in touch with the contact person at the faculty or department for more details about procedures for submitting applications. (See the separate section on administrative procedures at each faculty.)

Under the Public Administration Act (an unofficial English translation), an application should be processed within a month. If not, a preliminary response should have been received. If there is no reply to the application within a month, the candidate is recommended to contact an HR staff member at the faculty. The faculty is responsible for ensuring an independent assessment of appeals against a rejected application for an extension.

Guidelines for equal treatment of PhD candidates

NTNU wants equal treatment of PhD candidates so that everyone with the same needs receives the same extension, with the aim of ensuring the quality of PhD education. NTNU has drawn up a guide for assessing extensions due to the coronavirus pandemic under Section 2-3 (6) of the regulations: “The appointing body may in special cases grant extension of the period of appointment owing to circumstances that have precluded the progress of the doctoral education”.

An extension of the employment period due to the pandemic must be justified by major obstacles to the candidate’s completion of their education and compensatory measures must have been considered. Examples of such compensatory measures include adjustments to the project that are necessary to ensure good progress. If compensatory measures have not been implemented, the reason for this must be given.

Examples of major obstacles include:

  • Lack of or reduced access to infrastructure for research and artistic research such as laboratories, data collections, libraries, or studios.
  • Reduced opportunity for fieldwork, visits to archives, data collection and the like
  • Inadequate supervision during the PhD period due to the supervisor's illness or absence resulting from the pandemic
  • Mandatory work from home that entails a demanding work situation
  • Care of children and close family
  • For people in risk groups, access to research infrastructure, campus offices and the opportunity for fieldwork, etc., may depend on medical advice. In such cases, this may be a key factor in the consideration of a possible extension.

For some of the obstacles, the following factors for consideration have been formulated to help with the assessment:

  • Access to research infrastructure
    • Duration
    • Scope for performing other tasks/adjusting the project or time schedule
  • Fieldwork/visits to archives, etc
    • How central the visit, stay or excursion is for the project
    • Scope for changing the project/adjusting the schedule
  • Delays due to mandatory work from home
    • Demanding work situation at home (noise and disturbance, children, equipment, and Internet facilities)
    • What has been done to compensate for this?
    • Duration
    • Frequency

In principle, no compensation is granted if the candidate has chosen to work from home when the employer has enabled presence on campus, even if the situation for working from home is otherwise covered by the assessment criteria.

  • Care of children and close family

PhD candidates with caring duties for children who are at home because the child is ill or in mandatory quarantine/waiting quarantine are in principle entitled to an extension for absence of more than ten working days. A prerequisite for this is that the absence complies with the applicable regulations for care benefit days, has been agreed with the manager, and is continuously registered in the HR portal/Paga.


  • Single parents or where the spouse/partner works in a function essential to society – see the Government’s 15 defined critical areas (an English summary available here) – are entitled to an extension from day 1 of the absence period. Documentation from the partner’s employer must be provided showing that the partner has a critical function according to the criteria.
  • PhD candidates who need to reduce their hours of work to care for children must in principle apply for leave. The same applies if the cause of the reduced position is related to the pandemic.
  • PhD candidates with extraordinary caring responsibilities for close family members can apply for compassionate leave. If the period of care is related to the pandemic either in extent or as a complicating factor, it is possible to apply for an extension due to the added burden. Documentation may be required.

Extended period of study due to the pandemic

In Section 7-2 last subsection of NTNU’s PhD Regulation, the maximum period of study is set at 6 years. Extensions related to the coronavirus pandemic are not to be included in the period of study. The faculty decides on any extension of the period of study.

Administrative procedures at the faculties

In this section, each faculty can describe its procedures for applying for an extension, or link to wiki pages if they have them.

Faculty of Architecture and Design (AD): Yoy may use this form to apply for an extension of your employement. For questions or more information plese contact

Faculty of Humanities (HF): For further information, please see HF’s own wiki page.

Faculty of Information Technology and Electrical Engineering (IE): Please contact your local HR-employee for more information. (If you do not know who this is contact Signe Johanne Talukder, Wenche M. Olsen eller Kenneth Hågensen at the faculty level.)

Faculty of Engineering (IV): Please contact your local HR-employee for more information.

Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences (MH): Contact

Faculty of Natural Sciences (NV):

Faculty of Social and Educational Sciences (SU): Please contact HR Manager Kristin Skogen for further information.

Faculty of Economics and Management (ØK): For further information, visit our page about applying for extended employment as a PhD due to the coronavirus pandemic

NTNU University Museum (VM): Please contact HR Manager Christen Torvik for further information.

See also:

Changes in the PhD regulations due to the coronavirus pandemic

Extensions for postdocs due to the coronavirus pandemic