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

Status of our students

PhD students are employed by ISTA. Prior to the Qualifying Exam, their activities consist of coursework, rotation projects within research groups, and preparation for the Qualifying Exam. Once the students have successfully passed the Qualifying Exam, they perform research on their PhD thesis project within one or more research groups, and they may assist in teaching activities.

All our PhD students receive internationally competitive salaries and full social security coverage. Students also receive financial support to attend scientific conferences and workshops during their studies.

Scientific interns are employed by ISTA. They are enrolled in a Bachelor’s or Master’s degree program in good standing at a degree granting institution (other than ISTA) while performing a research project within a research group of ISTA for a period of up to 1 year.

ISTerns receive a monthly compensation. The ISTernship program is developed in cooperation with the OeAD, the Austrian Agency for International Cooperation in Education and Research. The OeAD handles the scholarship payments for a period of up to 3 months between May 15 and September 15.


PhD student salaries depend on whether the student is holding a bachelor’s or a master’s degree at the time of admission. When students pass their Qualifying Exam (about 1.5 years into their degree), they receive a salary raise. Gross salaries in the year 2024 for PhD students range – dependent on the criteria above – from 2874 EUR/month to 3456 EUR/month (paid 14 times a year: once per month plus double payments in June and November).

ISTA offers scientific interns a minimum salary of EUR 1,462 gross per month.

Admission Costs and Tuition Fees

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

Research Funding and Awards

In all fields of research, funding is of paramount importance to sustain the resources needed by scientists. ISTA relies on diverse funding sources to support all its researchers.

The Grant Office is there to support applicants wishing to apply for external funding. PhD students at ISTA are no exception since it is best to acquire grant writing skills early on in one’s scientific career. For academic job applications, competitive peer-reviewed fellowships can be a powerful indicator that 1) you’re a scientist worth investing in, and 2) that your research projects are of the highest quality.

Fellowships which have been awarded to PhD students and interns at ISTA include:

  • DOC fellowships from the Austrian Academy of Science
  • Böhringer Ingelheim Foundation fellowships
  • IBM PhD Fellowship
  • FEMTech Stipends of the FFG, and
  • ISTernships (internally funded).

Students can also be part of larger projects within their research groups. ISTA has been particularly successful in receiving a large number of prestigious European Research Council (ERC) grants which reward innovative projects for their research excellence.

In addition, students may be involved in projects funded by more local sources such as:

  • the Austrian Science Fund (FWF)
  • the Land Niederösterreich (NFB)

The opportunity to network with other institutions is one of the highlights of the cooperative grants currently running at ISTA. These bring together eminent scientists (and sometimes companies) from across Europe and beyond to work on challenges in a specific field. They can also be specifically aimed at PhD student training, as is the case with:

  • Doktoratskollegs from the FWF
  • Initial Training Networks (ITN) from the European Commission

All scientists at ISTA are supported by the Grant Office in all matters related to external funding: from application, implementation, to reporting to the relevant funding organizations.

More about Awards.

The ISTA PhD program received funding (09/2015-10/2020) from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under the project ‘ISTScholar’ (grant agreement No 665385).

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