Computer Science, PhD

  • Application Deadline
  • 36 months
  • Tuition
    Tuition (Year)
    Tuition (Year)
  • English (take IELTS)
Free University of Bozen-Bolzano ,
The Computer Science PhD Programme lasts three years and the official language of the programme is English. PhD students are expected to work full-time on their research. During the PhD, it is advisable to spend a period of 6-12 months at a National or International research center. The Free University of Bozen - Bolzano offers this Computer Science PhD programme.
  • Overview
  • Programme outline
  • Key facts
  • Admission requirements
  • Fees and funding


The PhD Programme lasts three years and the official language of the programme is English.

The Free University of Bozen - Bolzano offers this Computer Science PhD programme. PhD students are expected to work full-time on their research. During the PhD, it is advisable to spend a period of 6-12 months at a National or International research center.

Candidates are strongly advised to contact their desired research centers at the Faculty of Computer Science before applying. This way, they can obtain a clear idea of the specific research carried out at the Faculty.

The Selection Committee selects PhD students based on a comparative assessment of the qualification of applicants, taking into account also feedback from potential supervisors, especially those who have grants available to support the PhD students, and determines the winners based on the merits of each candidate.

The Selection Committee also selects those candidates who are qualified to start a PhD program at the Free University of Bozen/Bolzano, but who cannot be admitted for lack of space. Should a selected winner not accept the position, such candidates will be next in line for the position.

The goal of the programme is to enable students to conduct independent research in Computer Science. This includes the ability to efficiently communicate ideas orally and in writing and to work in teams.

To successfully complete the programme a student has to do original research on a selected topic in a manner that advances the state of the art in an area of Computer Science.

Given the duration of the programme of three years, it is of crucial importance for students to focus their efforts on their research work.

Students are guided in this task in four ways:

  • The programme is divided into four phases, ending at month 6, 12, 24, and 36 of the programme, respectively.
  • For each student the Teaching Body appoints one of its members as the supervisor. As additional support for the PhD student a second supervisor can be appointed.
  • Together with their tutor each student sets up a research and study plan, which defines the research goal and the steps to achieve it. The latter include subjects where the student needs to deepen his or her expertise. The Research and Study Plan is updated continuously, taking into account both the progress that has been made and new developments that arise in the area of research during the course of the PhD work.
  • There are four milestones at the end of the four phases at which students report on their work and the Teaching Body assesses their progress. The updated Research and Study Plan is one of the deliverables for each milestone.

Detailed Programme Facts

  • Full-time duration 36 months
  • Study intensity Full-time
  • Credits
    180 ECTS
  • Languages
    • English
  • Delivery mode
    On Campus
  • Project Type Predefined
  • Educational Form Academic

Programme Structure

Research Areas

Research in the Faculty of Computer Science is focused on three areas that are treated on a long-term basis by research groups whose members collectively examine topics related to each of the three research areas. The research areas, with a selection of topics, are:

Information and database systems engineering
  • Spatial and temporal databases
  • Approximation Techniques in databases
  • Query optimization in databases
  • Cooperatve interfaces for information access and filtering
  • Data mining techniques for preference elicitation and recommendation
  • Cloud computing and big data
  • Agile development & human aspects of software engineering
  • Software startups and open science
  • Design based Hardware engineering
  • Technology enhanced learning

The research activities in the area of database and information systems focus on key aspects of applied computer science, including data warehousing and data mining, the integration of heterogeneous and distributed databases, time-varying information, data models, and query processing. The research approach is primarily constructive in its outset, and it includes substantial experimental and analytical elements.

The development activities cover the design of data models and structures, and the development of algorithms, data structures, languages, and systems. The experimental activities verify real world artifacts with the help of prototypes and simulations. The analytic activities include the analysis of the algorithmic complexity and the evaluation of languages. The main goal is theoretically sound results that solve real world problems.

Knowledge Representation and Databases
  • Logic based languages for knowledge representation
  • Intelligent access to databeses
  • Semantic technologies
  • Visual and verbal paradigms for information explporation
  • Temporal aspects of data and knowledge
  • Extending database technologies
  • Inter-operation, verification, and composition of business services and processes

The research topics in knowledge representation are focused on foundational and practical aspects of knowledge representation technologies applied to information systems. The whole life cycle ranging from the design to the deployment of such technologies is covered: the conceptual modeling of various types of knowledge, the linguistic and logical aspects of knowledge, the integration of heterogeneous knowledge sources, including information coming from the Internet, the usage of knowledge to support the intelligent retrieval of information, and the usage of knowledge to create virtual services on the net.

Software Engineering
  • Agile methods, lean management, and open source
  • Measurement and study of software quality, reliability, evolution and reuse
  • Distributed computing and service-oriented architectures (mobile and distributes services)
  • IT and business alignment
  • Software reuse and component based development
  • Interoperability in collaborative systems
  • IT for automation
  • Energy-aware systems

The research topics in software engineering are focused on the empirical and quantitative study of innovative models for software development. The target analysis techniques include both traditional statistics, and new approaches, such as computational intelligence, Bayesian models, and meta-analytical systems.

The innovative software development techniques include (a) methods based on lean management, such as agile methods, with a specific interest for benchmarking and identification of defects, and (b) open source development models, with specific attention for self organizing systems and the analysis of the resulting qualit

The doctoral works treat topics from the three research areas that develop from the ongoing work of the groups.

The following list contains possible topics for doctoral work
  • Optimizing a sequence of recommendations
  • Decision making, rationality and recommendations
  • Fast real-time analysis of time series data
  • Scalable query processing in temporal databases
  • Spatio-temporal query processing with MapReduce
  • Robust query optimization for database management systems
  • Itinerary planning for tourist applications
  • Extreme apprenticeship and new methodologies in computer science education
  • Software measurements:definition of softwre management metrics and measurement methods
  • Agile and lean software development methods and practices research on effective adoption and use of agile and lean software development methods and practices in software teams and organizations
  • Application of complex adaptive systems to organizing software development processes- research on the application of basic concespts and principles of complex adaptive systems in the organization of software development
  • Innovation in software business - Ideation and innovation processes in the early phase of software development, focusing on the context of software startups
  • Corporate innovation initiatives and strategies, internal startups and aligment
  • Human aspects (affects, emotions, moods, performance, etc.) in empirical software engineering with psychological measurements
  • Modeling, verification and analysis of data-centric and artifact-centric business processes
  • Data-centric declarative distributed computing
  • Social commitments for complex business interaction
  • Data quality for linked open data
  • Process-aware business intelligence
  • Management od business processes and data
  • Graph-structures data management
  • Information integration in cyber-physical systems
  • Knowledge driven information access
  • Databases and ontologies
  • Intelligent conceptual modelling of information systems
  • Designing knowledge base systems
  • Semantic web technologies
  • Efficient quering of data under temporal constrains
  • Entily and aspect diversification in search results
  • Ranking models
  • Opinion mining
  • Mobile software engineering
  • Data mining of open source systems
  • Software reliability and testing
  • Internet-based software engineering
  • Energy-aware software systems
  • Mobile and embedded systems
Doctoral candidates can furthermore specify their own topics together with their designated supervisor, as long as they remain related to the research areas outlined above.

Academic Requirements

Every year the Free University of Bolzano decrees the institution of a new PhD cycle, and announces a public competition for the admission to the corresponding PhD reserach programmes.

The public competition is open to all, regardless of sex, age and citizenship, who possess a Master's Degree (Laurea magistrale), and Italian undergraduate degree from the old system or a foreign degree equivalent to the degrees mentioned above.

The admission procedure for the PhD in Computer Science does not foresee an entrance exam: candidates are evaluated on the basis of their qualification. A good knowledge of the English language is required. A prerequisite for the admission to the PhD is a deep knowledge of the fundamental techniques and methods used in computer science.

It is expected that students are able to write and speak fluently in English.

Tuition Fee Per Year

  • EUR 160 International
  • EUR 160 EU/EEA


Grants are assigned following the rank list drawn up by the Evaluation Committee. If an applicant decides to forego a grant, the next enrolled applicant on the rank list will be offered the grant.
The annual study grant amounts to € 17,000 gross.

  • Intake with grants from the University: 9 places
  • Intake with no grant: 3 places

StudyPortals Tip: Students can search online for independent or external scholarships that can help fund their studies. Check the scholarships to see whether you are eligible to apply. Many scholarships are either merit-based or needs-based.

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