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4.5-6 years
Full time
Doctorate / PhD
Scholarships available
On campus
September 2021
Application deadline: 08 January 2021

Program description

PhD in Biology

Biology at IST Austria encompasses a wide variety of research areas, from structural and molecular biology to cell and development biology to systems and evolutionary biology.

Biology is the largest track in the PhD program, and students benefit from a vibrant research community with collaborations within and across sub-fields. State-of-the-art facilities and interactions with mathematics, computer science and physics allow scientists to address complex problems with interdisciplinary scope.

Admission requirements

IST Austria 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, neuroscience, mathematics, computer science, physics, data science and scientific computing and related areas are encouraged to apply.

Selection criteria

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

Scientific promise:

  • Undergraduate performance: overall, with a special focus on relevant field-specific courses
  • 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;
  • 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.;
  • 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.


  • Quality of the undergraduate background, i.e. quality of the institution attended
  • Transferable skills: e.g. communication skills, experience with working in teams, previous mobility and international experiences, leadership experience as demonstrated in student organizations, etc.;
  • Diversity: e.g. a woman in computer science/math/physics; an applicant who switched fields, etc.

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Program content

  • Evolutionary Genetics
  • Plant Developmental Biology
  • RNA-based Gene Regulation
  • Social Immunity
  • High-Resolution Optical Imaging for Biology
  • Genes, Circuits, and Behavior
  • Developmental and Cell Biology of Plants
  • Systems and Synthetic Biology of Genetic Networks
  • Physical Principles in Biological Systems
  • Morphogenesis in Development
  • Genetic Dissection of Cerebral Cortex Development
  • Tissue Growth and Developmental Pattern Formation
  • Evolutionary Genomics
  • Self-Organization of Protein Systems
  • Structural Biology of Membrane Protein Complexes
  • Structural Biology of Cell Migration and Viral Infection
  • Neuroimmunology in Health and Disease
  • Invasive Migration
  • Morphodynamics of Immune Cells
  • Theoretical Biophysics and Neuroscience
  • Medical Genomics
  • Sex-Chromosome Biology and Evolution

Scholarships & funding

All our PhD students are fully funded, at internationally competitive salary levels, and receive full social security coverage.

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About this institute

Institute of Science and Technology Austria logo

Institute of Science and Technology Austria

Located just outside Vienna, the Institute of Science and Technology Austria (IST Austria) is an international institute dedicated to basic research and graduate education in Biology, Computer Science, Data Science & Scientific Computing, Mathematics, Neuroscience and Physics. In 2019, IST...

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Contact info

Institute of Science and Technology Austria

Am Campus 1
3400 Klosterneuburg

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