IST-EPFL Joint Doctoral Initiative

The Instituto Superior Técnico (IST) and EPFL have established a Joint Doctoral Initiative. The PhD program comprises a curricular component as well as a strong research activity.

During the duration of the PhD program, students will spend about 50% of their time at IST and 50% of their time at EPFL and be advised by faculty members from both institutions.

If you are interested in joining the Joint Doctoral Initiative, please follow the instructions and apply online.

  • When filling in your application form, you should indicate the EPFL doctoral program you wish to enter and the EPFL thesis director(s) you would like to work with.  Further information on the EPFL doctoral programs is available here.
  • Only relevant and complete applications can be assessed.
  • Applications will be considered separately by the IST Scientific Council and the EPFL doctoral program, as well as by the Selection Committee of the IST-EPFL Joint Doctoral Initiative.
  • The best applications will be retained and proposed to the FCT – Fundação para a Ciência e a Tecnologia for a scholarship.
  • At that time, you will be informed of your acceptance to or rejection from the Joint Doctoral Initiative, on condition of formal approval by the FCT. You will have to wait for the formal FCT confirmation and for your contract before starting your doctoral studies.
  • Once you have been informed of your acceptance for the Initiative, you will need to prepare the following documents:
    • Grant acceptance letter (see suggested template)
    • Original diplomas (will be returned after completion of the process)
    • Curriculum Vitae (you may update the previously submitted version)
    • Research plan, if available. Otherwise, you may send an updated version of your statement of purpose.
    • Supervisors’ acceptance letter, when applicable (see template)
  • These documents should then be sent by registered mail to IST at the following address, within two weeks of receipt of the selection letter:

  • You should receive final confirmation from FCT within two months of the receipt of your documents at IST.
  • While you wait for the final confirmation from FCT, you need to establish your study plan, as requested by Article 5 of Annex B of the agreements (see below, and the template).
  • After receiving confirmation from FCT you can enrol and begin your doctoral studies.
  • You are required to enrol at both institutions as soon as you begin your doctoral studies. If you begin in Lisbon, you should ensure that your EPFL doctoral program and the Registrar’s Office (Service académique) have received the correct information in order to create your enrolment record.
  • You should ensure you include sufficient time to prepare for necessary visas and/or residence permits before moving to either Lisbon or Lausanne.


Article 5 of Annex B of the IST-EPFL Joint Doctoral Initiative agreement states that:

a) For each candidate, a study plan shall be agreed upon at the outset of the collaboration, i.e. when the candidate is enrolled in the Initiative.

b) The study plan will be jointly established between the selected student and both his/her co-advisors.

c) The study plan describes

  • the general field of research
  • the names of both co-advisors
  • the doctoral program to be enrolled in
  • the number of ECTS credits required prior to the final thesis examination
  • where those ECTS credits should be acquired
  • the periods of stay at each institution
  • the required intermediate exams
  • the expected site for the final thesis examination process

d) Before the final thesis examination, students must obtain between 20 and 30 ECTS credits. Among those credits, at least one third must be taken at each site.

e) All courses taken at IST or at EPFL are formally recognized by the other institution.

f) If required, and with the acceptance of the candidate and both his/her co-advisors, the study plan may be adapted or modified during the course of study.