We are looking for highly qualified candidates to apply for the PhD program at ISTA.

A cyberattack in late October/early November has affected all ISTA databases, including the application portal.

The PhD application call for entry is September 2023 is once again OPEN. If you had already created/submitted an application, you will need to recreate this and submit your documents again – including referee details and references – as all previous data has been lost as a result of the attack.

The application deadline has accordingly been pushed back to 28 February 2023. Early application is strongly encouraged; however the timing of your application will ultimately not impact your chances of admission. 

PhD application tool (GenApp)


Bachelor’s and Master’s Students Eligible to Apply

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

Students with a Bachelor’s or Master’s degree in biology, chemistry, neurosciencemathematicscomputer sciencephysics, data science and scientific computing and related areas are encouraged to apply.

How Do I Apply?

ISTA processes applications to its PhD program once a year. The application portal is now reopen. To apply, you have to create an online account, which will allow you to track your application through its various stages. We do not accept applications and documents received outside of this system.


PhD application tool (GenApp)


Deadline to submit your application is 28 February 2023 (15:00 CET). Referees have until 5 March 2023 (23:59 CET) to submit recommendations.

Please download the instructions manual here.

Please fill out the form using a web browser on a desktop computer. Web browsers on mobile devices (i.e. Android, iPhone, iPad, etc.) are not supported.

NB. If you had already created/submitted an application for the 2023 call, you will need to recreate this and submit your documents again – including referee details and references. All previously submitted data has been lost as a result of the attack. 

What Application Materials Are Required?

We ask you to upload the following documents to the application portal:

  • CV
  • Statement of purpose that explains your research experience and your motivation for applying to the ISTA PhD program. It should be 1-2 pages maximum. In your statement, specify up to three research groups you find the most interesting. At this stage you do not need to contact potential supervisors.
  • University transcripts and diplomas of all degree programs and all years you have attended and/or are currently enrolled in (in English and in original language)
  • Contact information of 3 referees

All documents have to be submitted in English and copies of university transcripts also in their original language.

What Are the Selection Criteria?

The selection committee uses a collection of indicators to evaluate the applicant’s preparedness, motivation, and potential. The following will be considered:

  1. undergraduate performance: overall, with a special focus on relevant field-specific courses
  2. reference letters provided by professors and senior scientists: one letter from industry is acceptable, but letters from an academic background are given priority; referees are asked to address analytical capabilities, technical proficiency, ability to work independently and motivation/commitment;
  3. statement of purpose: the applicant’s past research experience and motivation for applying to this particular PhD program: is it a good academic fit? does the program contribute to the candidate’s future career plans?, etc.;
  4. additional relevant skills (field-specific): demonstrated in, e.g., internships and/or participation in research projects, participation in science Olympiads, programming languages, lab techniques, etc.
  5. transferable skills: e.g. communication skills, experience with working in teams, previous mobility and international experiences, leadership experience as demonstrated in student organizations, etc.;
  6. diversity: e.g. a woman in computer science/math/physics; an applicant who switched fields, etc.;

Application and Selection Timeline

The application call for 2023 opens, by exception, on 16 December 2022 and ends on 28 February 2023. The first review process will be completed in March. Candidates will notified about their status in early to mid-April.

Shortlisted candidates are invited for interviews, to take place in late April and mid May. Interviews may be conducted either remote or onsite. Offer letters will go out in late May or early June, and candidates can accept or decline the offer of admission by 30 June. The start of the PhD program is uniformly on 15 September.

Application opens 16 December 2022
Application closes 28 February 2023 15:00 CET
Pre-selection meetings late March/early April
Student Interviews late April/mid May
Final selection meetings late May
Offers sent out after the final selection meeting
Offer need to be accepted 30 June 2023
Start of PhD program 15 September 2023

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

For more information about the application process and PhD admissions, please read the FAQ page.

Download an instruction manual here.

If you have any questions about the PhD program, please contact phd.admissions@ista.ac.at


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