PhD Studies at RISC

The RISC curriculum is open to Ph.D. students with a background in either mathematics or computer science and a strong interest (and preferably prior knowledge) in the respective other area.

Ph.D. students must already hold a master degree in mathematics or computer science which entitles them to pursue a Doctorate Degree in Technical Sciences at the Johannes Kepler University. Depending on the origin of the student, also moderate tuition fees may be required (students with EU/EEA citizenship are exempted). See this guide to start earning your degree at JKU for details.

RISC regularly publishes a call for applications to Ph.D. studies in Symbolic Computation; details on the application can be found below. An accepted Ph.D. student subscribes to the doctoral program at the Johannes Kepler University in order to start his or her work, typically at the beginning of the academic year (October).

The student is provided with a working place and a computer and gets access to the general RISC infrastructure, i.e. a modern computing environment, state of the art software systems, an up-to-date scientific library, etc. A member of the RISC faculty is assigned as a temporary advisor to assist the student in all academic matters at the beginning of his/her studies.

Usually, after the introductory phase, RISC-Ph.D. students are employed within the frame of research projects. There is no a priori guaranty, but the RISC Faculty usually succeeds to provide funding for the full duration of the Ph.D. studies.

HINT: The Austrian Academy of Sciences provides PhD-Fellowships. To apply for such a DOC Fellowship follow the steps described here.

The RISC Ph.D. program is equivalent to 210 ECTS points (which is somewhat more than the 180 ECTS points required by the official Curriculum of the Doctorate Degree Program). It typically takes 3-4 years and is organized as described below.

Preparatory Phase

At the beginning of the study, the student agrees with his/her temporary advisor on an individual training program which introduces the student to the basic working areas of RISC. Depending on the background of the student and his/her further goals, this program typically consists of attending courses such as

  • Thinking, Speaking, Writing (the training of mathematical working techniques and communication skills like giving talks and writing papers);
  • Computer Algebra (an introduction to one of the core topics of RISC);
  • Programming Project Symbolic Computation (a training on basic software development skills).

The student also attends some seminars in order to learn about the ongoing research at RISC (no presentation is required yet).

Ph.D. Topic

During the first semester, the student agrees with a member of the RISC faculty on the supervision of a Ph.D. thesis, typically in the frame of a research project directed by this faculty member which thus becomes the student’s thesis advisor (substituting the temporary advisor).

After the first semester, a Ph.D. Proposal has to be prepared and presented to the RISC faculty; this proposal (possibly after revision) also has to be defended and officially accepted in the frame of a doctoral thesis colloquium (Dissertationskolloquium) according to the rules of the degree program.

Course Work

The student attends during his/her study courses amounting to a total of at least 30 ECTS points (including the courses of the first semester but excluding seminars); this means roughly 10 courses of 2 hours each in addition to the standard requirements. The choice of courses has to be agreed upon with the advisor at the beginning of every semester.

Ph.D. Work

The student works on his or her thesis under the guidance of the advisor. The student is expected to take an active part in a seminar reporting there regularly on the progress of the work. At least once per year, the student gives a short presentation on his or her progress to the general RISC audience.

It is expected that the Ph.D. work results in at least one refereed (conference or journal) publication with the student as the main author.

Ph.D. Thesis

When sufficient results have been achieved, the student writes in accordance with the advisor his/her thesis document. This document is submitted to the university and published in electronic form in the RISC technical report series. The student gives a final presentation on the results of the thesis to the general RISC audience.

Ph.D. Defense

The thesis is presented and defended according to the rules of the Johannes Kepler University.

Application for a Ph.D. Study

Please submit your application electronically at

Applications are continuously considered. Ideally a RISC Ph.D. study begins in the fall or in the spring semester (October 1st, resp. March 1st). In any case, applications should be sent in timely (several months in advance).

The minimum requirement is a master’s degree, preferably in mathematics or computer science. For applying, please send the following material:

  • an application letter,
  • a curriculum vitae and a photograph,
  • a list of all courses that you have taken during your university studies, including the number of hours credited and the grades,
  • a copy of your master’s thesis or any other publications, if available,
  • ideally a written recommendation (e.g. by the former Master thesis supervisor).

Please be aware that the first year at RISC is a test period. After this year, the RISC faculty decides about your final acceptance as a Ph.D. student. For questions or comments to our doctoral program, please contact

Ralf Hemmecke
Graduate Studies Coordinator
RISC, Johannes Kepler University, A-4040 Linz, Austria.

Students at Austrian universities may be charged moderate tuition fees. Since these fees depend on citizenship we refer to this guide to start earning your degree at JKU for details.