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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 Neuroscience

Neuroscience at IST Austria covers multiple approaches, from structural, molecular, cellular, and systems level of analysis, to computational neuroscience and the study of neurodevelopmental disorders.

Understanding the function of the brain is one of the major challenges in modern life sciences. Particularly intriguing questions are how higher brain functions in brain circuits, such as encoding of information, learning and memory, neuronal basis of innate behaviors and dysfunctions such as epilepsy, autism, or schizophrenia emerge from elementary processes, such as molecular, cellular, and synaptic components and their development. In the multidisciplinary neuroscience track, we aim to examine brain function at multiple levels in both health and disease, as well as develop advanced techniques and optical tools for addressing these research questions.

A wide variety of cutting-edge techniques such as nanophysiology, nanophotonics, electron imaging, patch-clamp recording, genetics and genomics, mosaic analysis with double markers (MADM), 4D live-imaging, optogenetics, signal processing, computational modeling, neuronal network and behavioral analysis are employed to probe the complexity of animal neuronal systems.

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

  • Systems Neuroscience
  • High-resolution Optical Imaging for Biology
  • Genes, Circuits, and Behavior
  • Genetic Dissection of Cerebral Cortex Development
  • Synaptic Communication in Hippocampal Microcircuits
  • Neuroethology
  • Tissue Growth and Developmental Pattern Formation
  • Genetic and Molecular Basis of Neurodevelopmental Disorders
  • Molecular Neuroscience
  • Neuroimmunology in Health and Disease
  • Theoretical Biophysics and Neuroscience

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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