Frequently Asked Questions on the ISTernship program

The following is a list of frequently asked questions on the ISTernship program at ISTA.

ISTernship Program Overview

  • What is the ISTernship program?

    The ISTernship is a summer internship program at ISTA which offers research opportunities to outstanding undergraduate students interested in biology, computer science, data science, mathematics, physics, neuroscience and interdisciplinary areas.

    Interns will choose a group to work in, will be assigned a specific project and will conduct research under the close supervision of one of the members of the faculty and, for experimental labs, a lab mentor.

    Interns will receive an introduction to research at ISTA as well as an introduction to the ISTA Graduate School. The program culminates with a research symposium, where the interns present their work to their peers, faculty and lab mentors.

    Internships are full-time and will be conducted exclusively in English.

  • How long is the ISTernship program?

    The duration of the ISTernship program is 2-3 months between May 15 and September 15. Selected candidates choose the exact length and dates together with the supervisor.

  • Do I need to speak German?

    No. English is the language used for communication at the Institute.

  • Which projects can I work on?

    In your application, you need to indicate your preferred professor(s) to work with. The participating faculty will be announced latest when the call opens. Selected candidates will be assigned to a research group and will decide on a project to work on together with their host professor.

    You do not need to contact the professor(s) during the application phase.


  • What should I do if I notice a mistake in my application, but I have already submitted?

    Please do not try to rectify mistake by creating a second account/application. If you notice that you have made a mistake in your application or you want to make amendments for any other reason, please send an email to We can then reopen your application for you to make any changes and resubmit. Please note that this can only be done up until the application deadline! Thereafter we can no longer make changes to your application.

  • I cannot find my university/institute in the list. What should I do?

    We are using the Research Organisation Registry (ROR). If your college is associated with a university and not listed as a separate institution in the database, you will need to indicate the university listed in the database. The search function should enable you to find the correct name used for your institution in the database. We do not maintain the list and thus cannot add institutions to the list.

    If your institute is not listed in ROR, you will need to choose another institution and then mention this substitution in the following section of the application: additional information.

  • Who is eligible to apply?

    Candidates must be enrolled Bachelor- or Master of Science students (or similar) in good standing at a degree granting institution. They must have completed at least the fourth semester of their bachelor’s studies (before the respective start date). Students accepted to or enrolled in a PhD program are not eligible to apply. We welcome applications from all over the world.


  • How do I apply?

    The application period for the ISTernship program opens each year around mid-December when a link to an online platform is published. The deadline for the applications is usually in February, with reference letters also due at the same time. Due to the recent cyberattack on ISTA, the application portal will open in early January 2023, with the deadline on 15 February 2023 (15:00 CET). More specific information about updated dates and deadlines will be published here.

  • When is the application deadline?

    The application deadline is expected to be 15 February 2023 (15:00 CET). However due to the recent cyberattack on ISTA, this is subject to change. More specific information will be published  on this page once the application portal opens.

  • What documents do I need?

    To complete your application, you will need the following:

    1. Your resume/CV: include

    1.   your educational history from high school onwards
    2.   relevant work experience
    3.   additional qualifications
    4.   list of publications (if any)
    5.   scholarships, awards, etc. (if any)

    2. Statement of purpose: a one-page essay in which you explain

    1.   your research experience and the research area(s) you find the most interesting
    2.   your motivation for applying to the ISTA ISTernship program
    3.   which professor(s) you are interested in doing research with

    3. University transcripts/diplomas of current and completed/previous degrees

    4. One or two referee(s) who taught or supervised your work in an academic setting: you will need to enter

    1.   their names
    2.   institutions, and
    3.   email addresses

    The referee(s) will be contacted directly by us (by email) and asked to submit a reference letter for you. The reference letter is needed to complete your application.

  • What is a letter of recommendation?

    The letter of recommendation is a statement where the referee assesses the qualities, characteristics, and capabilities of the applicant in terms of that person’s suitability for the ISTernship.

    You need to indicate at least one referee in your application. These are people who have taught you or supervised your work and are, therefore, able to evaluate your academic and research performance.

    Referees are contacted directly with a link to a recommendation form. Your application is complete only if at least one of your referees submits a letter of recommendation.

    Please be aware that the deadline to submit the letter of recommendation is the same as the application deadline. Therefore, please give your referee(s) enough time to submit the letter.

  • Do I need a language certificate?

    No language certificates are mandatory for the application. You may upload a language certificate for English if you want to.

  • How and when will I be notified of the results?

    Notifications to all complete applications are usually sent out around mid-March. However due to the recent cyberattack on ISTA, the timeline for the 2023 call is subject to change. Notifications may therefore be sent out later than usual, depending on the final timeline.

    After receiving an offer to join the ISTernship program, selected candidates will need to accept the offer within about a week.

  • What are my chances of getting accepted to the ISTernship program?

    The acceptance rate for the ISTernship is normally around 3 %.

Financial Support

  • Is there compensation for ISTerns?

    All ISTerns receive a monthly scholarship payment of around 1 000 euros, as well as access to affordable health insurance and subsidized housing.

    In addition, ISTerns receive an allowance for their travel costs.

  • How will I receive my monthly scholarship?

    ISTA has entered into an agreement with OeAD in order to facilitate administrative matters.

    After accepting your offer to the ISTernship, you will receive the official scholarship document from OeAD. In case you need a visa for coming to Austria, OeAD will send a confirmation to the respective Austrian representative.

    OeAD will disburse the monthly scholarship and travel allowance, and arrange an insurance after your arrival if necessary. Note: for visa applications, you will need to take out a travel insurance valid for 10-14 days. For further information, please see

  • Is accommodation available?

    Housing is available on the ISTA campus. Space is limited and rooms are booked on a first-come, first-served basis.

    If you do not get a room or if you prefer to stay in Vienna, mark your interest in the respective field on your scholarship document (sent out by the OeAD) and you will be linked to the OeAD Housing Office which will provide accommodation in Vienna for you.

More about ISTA

  • How do I get to ISTA from Vienna?

    By public transport:

    1. Take the U4 subway (green line) in the direction of Heiligenstadt until the last stop “Heiligenstadt”.

    2. Take the ISTA Shuttle Bus or Bus 400 to the stop “ISTA”. The trip takes approx. 25 minutes.

  • How do I find out more about ISTA?

    The best way is to browse our website, the most up-to-date source for events and institute-related announcements. If you’d like to find out more about the PhD program at ISTA, please visit:

    You’re also invited to “like” our Facebook page, follow us on Instagram or connect via Twitter to stay in the loop about ISTA and the whereabouts of our scientists!

    In addition, there is the quarterly newsletter, which is a summary of the highlights of our institute, in a compact quarterly format.

  • Whom do I contact if I have questions?

    If you have any questions about our ISTernship program, feel free to contact us:

Campus & Community
  • Is on-campus housing guaranteed?

    ISTA strives to guarantee on-campus housing for the duration of your internship and/or for the first year of study as a PhD student, however this is not always possible due to demand. Certain groups, f.ex. those relocating from further afield, may be given priority.

    Students selected for the ISTernship summer program can choose between housing on campus, according to availability, and housing in Vienna provided by the OeAD.

  • What extracurricular activities are available on campus?

    There is a variety of extracurricular activities such as sports, student groups and social clubs. Read more here.

  • What dining options are available on campus?

    You can choose to have breakfast or lunch at the cafeteria. Other options include a café/pub, a Starbucks corner, coffee kitchens in each building, and vending machines. See more about Dining here.

  • Where do ISTA students come from?

    At the moment, we have scientists from over 70 different countries and a very diverse and international student population. About a quarter of our students are Austrian.

    ISTA is committed to promoting diversity and equality, and we encourage applicants from all over the world to apply to the PhD program at ISTA.

  • Do I have to pay for health insurance?

    Austria has a statutory social security system; this means that you will be automatically covered by social insurance as soon as you start your PhD program or scientific internship at ISTA. ISTA will take the necessary steps to register you with the Austrian health insurance company (Österreichische Gesundheitskasse – ÖGK). Social insurance is funded by social insurance contributions, which are paid both by the employer – ISTA – and the employee – PhD student or intern. Insurance contributions are calculated on the basis of the employee’s gross income. Read more here.

    The OeAD will support students selected for the ISTernship summer program with their registration with the Austrian health insurance company (Österreichische Gesundheitskasse – ÖGK).

  • Do I need to speak German?

    No. English is the language used for communication at the Institute.

    However, being able to speak German makes a lot of things much easier in daily life in Austria. For this reason, ISTA provides free German courses for students enrolled in the PhD program.

  • Do I need a visa?

    If you are not from an EU/EEA country or Switzerland, you will need to apply for a visa in order to legally take up employment and register as a PhD student at ISTA.

    When you get an offer from ISTA, you will be sent information on how to apply for your visa from abroad.

  • Where is ISTA?

    ISTA is located just outside of Vienna, in Lower Austria. The ISTA campus is a 25-minute bus ride from Vienna Heiligenstadt station (U-Bahn line U4) using the ISTA shuttle bus. Please see this page for directions to the institute.


  • Where can I live?

    Housing is available on the ISTA campus. International students are prioritized if they choose to live on campus.

    There is a guesthouse with 38 rooms (24 single rooms, 6 single rooms equipped to be suitable for persons with disabilities, 4 double rooms, 4 junior suites), for short stays of up to 2 months. For longer stays (2 months to 1 year), there are 28 short term apartments and 90 long term apartments. There are both single and family/shared apartments.

    A room or apartment can be rented for a period of up to one year after arrival, giving incoming international students time to find suitable accommodation for the subsequent years. Housing on campus is subject to availability.

    Please find more information on the ISTA website.

    Students selected for the ISTernship summer program can choose between housing on campus (subject to availability) and housing in Vienna provided by the OeAD.

    Many ISTA PhD students and staff actually prefer to live in the hustle and bustle of Vienna, since Vienna is consistently voted one of the best cities in the world to live in, with affordable accommodation and excellent public transport connections meaning there is no problem in commuting to campus.

    Students also have the choice of living in the nearest town of Klosterneuburg (a quiet area with beautiful woods and close to the world-famous monastery Stift Klosterneuburg).


  • What is student life like at ISTA?

    Our PhD students are an integral part of the scientific community, and apart from scientific research activities, they are also actively involved in various sports and other leisure activities.

    There is the annual ISTA Institute Retreat, which scientists and staff of the whole Institute are invited to attend, and at which students are a significant presence.

    Some of our students also live on campus, and are actively involved in all the activities that the Institute has to offer.

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