PhD Program Frequently Asked Questions

Below, you will find FAQs about the PhD program at INSAIT. If you have specific questions related to admissions, please go the the Admissions webpage and its FAQ section.

Will my studies be financially covered?

Yes. All admitted candidates will receive a full doctoral fellowship. The fellowship amounts to 36,000 EUR / year gross. The goal of this competitive fellowship is to empower a doctoral student to fully engage in world-class research. Doctoral fellowships are also available from big-tech companies such as DeepMind and Amazon Web Services.

How long is the doctoral program at INSAIT and how is it structured?

The duration of the program is up to 5 years, split into two parts: in the first part (up to 2 years), the candidate works on a research topic with the goal of defining a PhD thesis topic with their adviser to be defended in front of an INSAIT graduate committee. If successful, in the second part (up to 3 years), the candidate works on that topic with the goal of producing strong research results, significantly deepening the research conducted during the first part.

As a rule of thumb, a Ph.D. thesis should be based on at least three publications in top academic venues (for an example selection of such conferences, please see those used to produce CSRankings). However, the thesis itself is not merely a compilation of previous publications, but rather a single coherent body of text. Ph.D. students are further expected to supervise and work with potential M.Sc. students and encouraged to collaborate with other doctoral students.

Who will issue the degree?

Legally, INSAIT is part of Sofia University, thus, the official degree will be issued by INSAIT at Sofia University.

How does the advising process with an external (remote) adviser work?

If the PhD student is primarily supervised by an external adviser (e.g., a professor at ETH Zurich), then that student is expected to closely collaborate with the group of that adviser, and to also regularly visit the adviser’s place of work for a total of roughly 3 months a year (e.g., about a week a month, or split according to how the adviser and student deem appropriate), where all visits will be fully covered by INSAIT. This would allow the PhD candidate to work closely with the particular group and to benefit from on-site presence at top institutions. Additionally, external mentors will visit INSAIT several times a year in order to further engage with their INSAIT students. Finally, external advisers are required to spend no less than several hours a week only with their INSAIT students on technical advising. Combined, these ensure that an INSAIT graduate student receives an outstanding mentorship, both from the particular adviser but also in terms of working with PhD students of established world-class research groups.

What are the job prospects for INSAIT PhD graduates?

We expect INSAIT PhD graduates to benefit from a multitude of opportunities, such as those enjoyed by graduates from places such as ETH Zurich, MIT, Stanford and similar. These opportunities include careers in academia (e.g., professors), start-up founders, or joining big-tech research labs (e.g., DeepMind, Google Brain, Microsoft Research, Amazon, etc.) or R&D departments of engineering firms, both local and international.

Is it possible that the first part of 2 years includes not just a choice of the given PhD topic but also a broader exploration?

Yes, at the end of the 2 years a student should have formulated the theme of their PhD. However, during these 2 years, active exposure to multiple areas is encouraged. Even during the 3 years that follow, a student is encouraged to collaborate and work with others in order to broaden their horizons, in addition to of course working on their thesis topic.

If a candidate fails the doctoral program, do they need to return the salary they were paid up to that point or to make any other payments?

No, there are no such requirements on the candidate.

Is it required that PhD students are full-time engaged and do not work other jobs?

Yes, upon the start of their doctoral program at INSAIT, students should be 100% focused on their research at INSAIT.