• Fully-funded PhD

  • Interdisciplinary program

  • Cutting-edge research

  • Bachelor’s and Master’s students eligible to apply

  • English-taught program and English-speaking campus

  • International community

  • Modern facilities

  • Support and development services

One of the hallmarks of the ISTA PhD program is the shared graduate school experience.

Our aim is to train broad-minded scientists who perform cutting-edge, curiosity-driven research. An initial stage of exploration encourages broad exposure to important scientific approaches and problems. This allows students to lay a solid foundation for intensive research in the second phase of the PhD program.


Financial support for PhD students and interns is a key priority for ISTA.

PhD students are employed by ISTA and receive internationally competitive salaries and full social security coverage. Interns also receive a monthly compensation and health insurance.

ISTA does not charge any tuition fees. No application fee is required to apply to our PhD and internship programs.

More about Funding.


Our Graduate Program is characterized by modern comprehensive training with a special focus on interdisciplinarity.

There are seven tracks of PhD study:

What is special about the ISTA PhD curriculum is its flexibility—students come in with different goals and are able to shape their own educational and research trajectories. Some students come to ISTA looking to explore, others have a clear idea of where they want to go. Our program accommodates both.

Listen to what students say about the PhD program at ISTA.

In case you cannot access YouTube, this video is also available here.

Cutting-edge research

Students work closely with outstanding faculty within small research groups, and have access to first-rate facilities.

In 2019, ISTA was ranked #3 in the world-wide Nature Index ranking (normalized). In 2018, ISTA was ranked within the top ten of Nature Index Rising Stars “Top 30 academic institutions under 30” list and was featured in this article in Nature Index. For more details, browse our Nature Index research profile. In 2018 we also had the highest ERC Grant success rate (at 48%), ahead of the Weizmann Institute, ETH Zurich, Cambridge and Oxford and the Max Planck Society. Our faculty are also the recipients of many distinguished honors including the Erwin Schrödinger Prize, the Ludwig Boltzmann Award and the Carus Medal.

You can see the full list of student publications in the ISTA Research Explorer database.

Research groups

More about our PhD Program.

Entry with a Bachelor’s or Master’s Degree

ISTA welcomes students with different academic backgrounds who can bring their skills and experiences to the scientific setting.

We welcome applicants holding (or expecting to hold before enrollment) a Bachelor’s or a Master’s degree in biologyneurosciencemathematicscomputer sciencephysics, chemistry, and related areas.

More about application requirements for our PhD program.

International English-Speaking Environment

ISTA has a diverse and international student population coming from over 50 countries. The institute brings together scientists and staff from 72 different countries.

The working language of ISTA is English.

More about ISTA.

State-of-the-Art Facilities

No matter what your field of study, you will have access to cutting-edge equipment to perform research at an internationally competitive level. From bioimaging and electron microscopy to nanofabrication and high performance computing: centralized scientific services support cutting-edge research. 

PhD Degree

ISTA is a research institute with the right to confer the titles Master of Science and Doctor of Philosophy. ISTA is an independent legal entity under public law and has its own governance and management structures pursuant to the Federal Act on the Institute of Science and Technology Austria (BGBl. I no. 69/2006).

As our degree-granting authority stems directly from an Act of the Austrian Parliament, ISTA is exempt from the Austrian Universities Law.

Support and Career Development Services

ISTA’s faculty and administration can provide information, advice and support throughout your studies. Academic support services include guidance from study track representatives, mentors, and the Graduate School Office. With regular career talks, skills training sessions, as well as visits from industry leaders, graduate training and career development programs prepare scientists for their next steps—in academia, industry, and beyond.


The Institute is only a 25-minute bus ride from Vienna, which is consistently voted one of the best cities in the world to live in. Our students have the choice of living in Klosterneuburg, a quiet area surrounded by beautiful woods, or right in the hustle and bustle of Vienna. We also have a number of housing options on campus.



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