Interested in Ph.D. studies?
- What is so special about Ph.D. studies?
- What should you (not) expect from Ph.D. studies?
- Can you earn a decent salary while doing your Ph.D. studies?
- What research topics can you work on during your Ph.D. studies with us?
If you have these or similar questions, see below and talk to us, we will be happy to answer!
What is it about?
Postgradual studies give you the opportunity to tackle the most interesting open problems and contribute to the state of the art in your chosen research field. You get to work on your most ambitious ideas and submit the results to the audience of the best experts. In other words – you work quite hard but you have the most fun ever !
In contrast to bachelor and master studies, which provide background in many fields, the doctoral studies are all about depth. You are expected to focus on a particular research field and make a real contribution – have a novel idea or create a novel system that will advance the state of the art in the field. Given the narrow focus, the structure of the program is quite flexible, for example the number of prescribed lectures is minimal and restricted to those closely related to the chosen field.
Typically, you will start by studying the existing work in the chosen field (practical systems as well as research publications). After getting acquainted with the most recent results, you will have a coarse idea what contribution to aim for – this will gradually morph into a more specific topic and more specific results. The results must be validated – this may involve a range of activities from writing formal proofs to creating prototypes and running experiments, and, most importantly, submitting the results for peer review and publication. The peer reviewed and published results will eventually form the core of your thesis, which presents the results in their entirety.
What to expect?
The hallmark of the doctoral studies is creative work, often within team projects, with novel results in international context. The holder of a Ph.D. degree is therefore very much welcome in jobs where the ability to innovate coupled with deep knowledge is a must, as opposed to jobs where the focus is more on routine use of specific technologies.
To provide a rough picture, our alumni have worked in a range of software engineering jobs at Google, Oracle, SUSE and other major international companies, have occupied senior management positions in companies such as Microsoft, GoodData, Seznam or HP, founded startup companies such as Logentries, or entered research positions at Purdue University, Northeastern University, and others. And if that sounds mundane, how about a flight software engineer at the European Space Agency?
That said, please do not expect a direct path to upper management. Ph.D. is for people who are willing to work hard and thus obtain skills necessary for advancement.
Doctoral studies amount to quite a lot of work, and cannot be finished with halfhearted effort. Expect to also do some work outside research: paperwork, communication with foreign partners, writing project proposal, reviewing papers, and teaching or grading. Typically, your work will be connected to the research projects of your team – this will help you steer your research topic (projects typically tackle problems that provide excellent research challenges), but also require coordinating your work within the project.
One of your responsibilities as a Ph.D. student is to write and publish research papers on international venues. Thus you can expect to travel to present your work and interact with other researchers in your field. It is also possible to attend summer schools, which help in getting familiar with your field from multiple different angles, and again meet other people working on similar topics.
A Ph.D. student is expected to take a light teaching load, typically managing labs for an existing lecture. This may take some time but is a valuable experience in its own right.
All Ph.D. students receive an unconditional basic stipend ranging from 10 to 16 thousand CZK, this consists of a fixed base plus extras for passing certain milestones such as exams or successful publications. This is supplemented with a standard salary of another 10 to 30 thousand CZK depending on the involvement in research projects. There are no tuition fees and some services, such as student housing, are provided at reduced cost. To put the numbers in perspective, the living costs in Czech Republic are about a third lower than in Germany or France.
What to do next?
1. Talk to people
Probably the best way to get more information is to ask around. Talk to current Ph.D. students, who can provide firsthand experience. They will surely share their enthusiasm as well as whatever disappointments they have faced during their studies.
Talk to the senior staff (lecturers, professors) as well. They can help you find a suitable topic or at least describe the topics they work on in their teams. Last but not least, it will help you introduce yourself. The best way to start is with information about yourself, especially your goals and your skills, but by all means avoid sending out template letters.
2. Find your advisor and your topic
The best way to find an advisor is to talk to people whose research topics are closest to your interest. Other people, for example your master thesis advisor, can also point you in the right direction. Be flexible in your choice of topic – computer science is a fast moving field and it pays off to be open rather than picky.
In order to become a Ph.D. student, you have to apply. The deadlines for application are December 31 and April 30! More information can be found at the faculty admission page. You have to finish your masters before you can become a Ph.D. student, but you can apply before that and defend your masters before starting your Ph.D. studies.
Ph.D. studies at D3S
Our research topics revolve around:
- smart cyber-physical systems
- software verification and program analysis
- performance evaluation of software systems
We believe that our work is interesting and rewarding, however, it is also intense. We look for people who are reliable and consistent and can dedicate their full capacity to research. In return, we do our best to help students progress towards successful graduation.